Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 21, June 1977


The daughter of Lord Bunce of England married the butler, John Farmer, against her father's wishes and as a result John and his wife emigrated to Canada. They settled there for some years and she bore him 11 children. They must have lived in reasonably comfortable circumstances for when the family began to grow up, they decided to emigrate to New Zealand bringing their family, with the exception of the two older girls who had previously married.

The parents took up farming in the Manawaru District. Two girls soon married, one to Tom Stanley, who was Mayor of Te Aroha for some years. The other lived in Auckland after her marriage. Of the seven boys, Andrew, George, Walter, and John (my father), all took up farming in Manawaru where Walter remained until his death in recent years. In 1904 Andrew left Te Aroha and purchased Kawau Island, being the last sole owner of it. He lived there with his family and mother for some years, gradually selling parts of the Island. He finally sold the last 46 acres and Mansion House in 1922. Dan, grandfather of Dan Farmer of Waihi, married but died as a young man, leaving one son, Dan (Dally).

Will and Sam Farmer went prospecting at Owharoa in 1875 and discovered the Smile of Fortune gold mine which they mined for some years. About 1895, Sam sold his home to Billy Edwards. Sam Farmer with his family left New Zealand and sailed for Russia for further mining operations. They stayed until forced to leave at the time of the Russian Revolution when the Czar and his family were murdered. They returned to New Zealand in 1917 and Sam died in Auckland in 1918. Our family presumed he was also buried in Auckland but perhaps he was taken back to Paeroa. (Ivy Ball makes mention of Sam Farmer's funeral in Journal 13, October 1970 Page 14 [see Journal 14: The Shepherd Family of Karangahake - E]). Will Farmer died in the late 1920's but his family stayed on in the family home. One daughter and four grandchildren still live in the Waihi-Paeroa area.

Billy Edwards who purchased Sam Farmer's home (next to Sonny Frearson's parents at Owharoa) came to Owharoa in 1895 to work on the construction of the Waikino Battery bridge after which he worked as a carpenter in the Battery until his death in 1922. My husband, also Bill Edwards, worked as a carpenter in the Battery for most of his working life, leaving there in 1914 for the First World War and he took part in the Gallipoli Campaign. We returned to Waikino in 1920 and our family of three grew up there, the two boys having their first jobs at the Battery, during the depression, one of them learning the electrical trade. We left Waikino in 1946 when we knew the Battery days were numbered.