Community Contributed

Pioneers of Foxton : Book Two.

Kete Horowhenua2020-03-23T16:51:12+00:00
Foxton Historical Society compiled a set of four books containing biographies of early Foxton residents.


Most of the families in this booklet have intermarried. It is somewhat disturbing to find that so many pioneers first took a Maori "wife" - indeed they were thrust upon them by the Maori Chiefs because each tribe wanted its "own Pakeha" for the trade goods that could become available through him. Iron tools and utensils, blankets and European clothing were much sought after but most of all, firearms, to maintain supremacy over neighbouring tribes.

It is presumed that most of these “wives” went back to tribes taking their children with them when settlers decided to take a European wife. Rauti is said to have been upset when Henry Symons married Ann Maria because she, Rauti had married Henry by “putting her hand on the Bible”. Both Henry and Charles Symons had Maori wives as did John Best and George Enoch Trask.

Ann Maria Bruce arrived in New Zealand as the wife of Sidney William Barnett, with sons William and Thomas. After Barnett died she married Dr. Best and after he died she married Henry Symons. Her son William Barnett, married Mary Symons, the daughter of her third husband, Henry and his Maori wife, Rauti . Ann Maria’s daughter Sarah Barnett married George Enoch Trask, prior to this marriage, Trask had a liaison with Erenora Taratoa, daughter of Nepia Taratoa.

Charles Henry Symons married Miriam Nash. Two of their daughters, Annie and Elizabeth, married father and son William and Alex. Toogood, making complicated relationships.

The Historical Society would be pleased to receive any additional information from families as much of what we have been told is difficult to authenticate.


1. Ann Maria and Sidney William Barnett

2. John Maitland Best

3. Matilda Best

4. Henry Morshead Symons

5. Charles Henry Symons

6. The memories of Phyllis Sewell

7. James and Ann Nash

8. Norman and Ellen Nash

9. William and Mary Barnett

10. Nepia Taratoa

11. George Enoch Trask


We are grateful to Mr. Ian Matheson for the use of his extensive notes and for his help and suggestions.

Mrs. Kath Walker for permission to use her booklet produced for the Symons – Barnett – Tunstall, Ashley reunion.

Mr. Bruce Symons for the use of material collected by his late mother Mrs Judy Symons. Mr & Mrs M. Collins for “Symons”information.

Mr Iwi Nicholson for information on Nepia Taratoa

Information has also been gleaned from:

The files of the “Manawatu Herald”, “Evening Standard”, Old “Manawatu” and Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1897..

Families of the Pioneers.


When referencing this book please use the following:

Pioneers of Foxton : Book Two. [Foxton, N.Z.] : Foxton Historical Society, 1988.