Great Barrier Island History

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The Sanderson Family

This information has been compiled from a multitude of sources by Margaret Peacocke, a great-great- grand-daughter of Edward & Annie Paddison. COPYRIGHT 2007 in its entirety.

Sanderson was another Barrier name that was always regarded as family.

William and Ann Sanderson emigrated to New Zealand leaving England on the Tyburnia in 1863 with two children, Sarah (15) and Benjamin (12) (Four other children had died before they left Workington, Cumbria in England) and arriving at the wharf in Auckland three months later with three, Annie Tyburnia having been born enroute.

Initially, they went to Thames hoping to make their fortune from the gold rush. When this didn’t happen, they moved to Great Barrier and made camp at Tryphena. They worked hard chopping firewood for the Auckland market.

Very soon, they were able to purchase 50 acres of land at Okupu and built their home and stone dairy in 1864. By 1865, they had increased their holding to 200 acres. They were the first settlers at Okupu (Blind Bay) which is on the western side of Great Barrier south of Whangaparapara Harbour. Their youngest child, William was born in 1866.

They continued to make a living from selling firewood whilst breaking in their land for farming – sheep and a small dairy herd.

Rev J Hazelden visited the island in about 1883 and made this observation in his report in the Auckland Weekly News.

“Mr Sanderson Snr has a large block of land, but it is not of good quality. It is well-suited for a sheep run, and should pay its genial owner very well some day.”

In 1893, the Sanderson brothers, Ben and William (sons of William and Ann) discovered silver at Blind Bay. An article in the Weekly News reporting on the find included the following –

“Credit is due to the Sanderson Bros who, without any experience of silver bearing ores toiled for months prospecting the various reefs in the neighbourhood of their own property without meeting much encouragement, until they made their discovery.”

The remnants of the mine can still be seen alongside the Whangaparapara Road at Oreville.

After their marriage in 1894, William and Amy Sanderson moved to the Stark’s (Amy’s grandmother’s) property at Whangapoua building a house there in 1900. It is possible that they moved there to look after Elizabeth and George in their old age. (They died in 1902 and 1912 respectively) In fact, at the time of writing (2007) Gwenda Burke, Roly’s daughter is still living on this plot of land and the old homestead of her grandparents, although dilapidated, is still standing.

Amy Paddison is Bert Le Roy's Aunt. Bert became a great friend of their son, Roly (Roland) and visited this cousin often in his latter years.

Annie Sanderson, who married Thomas Flinn, is buried on a low promontory above the southern end of FitzRoy Harbour. She died of measles and was followed just a few days later by her two-month old baby, Ann who also had measles and couldn’t survive without her mother’s milk.

When these early pioneers came to New Zealand with the promise of owning their own piece of land – the 40 acre scheme - the large number of immigrants was so overwhelming that the surveyors could not keep up with the demand so the plots were not ready when the new arrivals landed. This caused great distress to many families who had nowhere to go, no job and little chance of securing paid work, simply because in the early days no one could afford to pay workers.

However, in time, Edward Paddison, the Sandersons and Captain Le Roy all received their promised plots of land – all were in Rodney, so some of these families have ‘branches’ that spread to Matakana. Samuel Paddison moved there to develop the Paddison land and to raise his family. Some of his descendants still live in the area.

Samuel Paddison married in turn two sisters, Annie & Elsie Phillips, (The Phillips family also received a plot of land in Rodney) whose parents had arrived in New Zealand in 1859 on the ‘Whirlwind’ with the Moors (who settled the land adjacent to the Paddisons and who also received land in Rodney). William Phillips (brother of Annie and Elsie) married Mary Jane Moor, a cousin of Joss Moor who married Ada Le Roy.

Examples such as this of intermarriage between pioneering families, the frequency of use of the same christian names (especially of father, son and grandson), the reference to women by their husband’s name and the lack of women’s names on most legal documents makes the task of putting the pieces of the genealogical puzzle together accurately very difficult.

But it also tells much about the times, when young adults tended to live at home until they got married and even then, did not venture far. They were often given a piece of the family land and, because of their proximity, were able to look after their elderly parents. Work and entertainment were often communal events and in times of hardship, crisis, or tragedy the community pulled together coping to the best of its ability.

The greatest example for this community was when the ‘Wairarapa’ was wrecked and just a handful of families looked after the 114 survivors, buried the bodies of those who were not so fortunate and cleared the beaches of washed up wreckage, of course saving anything that could be useful one day. A large orange tree on the Coopers’ land at Okiwi is a reminder of such resourcefulness, as it was planted from seed of an orange washed ashore on Whangapoua Beach.


William Sanderson Born: probably in Cumbria, England.  Died: 1898.
Married: Ann (Died:1903)  Both buried at Sunbeam Bay, Okupu, Great Barrier Island
Sarah Sanderson, Born: 1848, Aged 15 when she arrived in NZ in 1863.  Married: 1871 (William) Bill Alcock from the pioneering family at Harataonga, Great Barrier Island
Benjamin Sanderson, Born: about 1851 in England.  Aged 12 when he arrived in NZ in 1863. Married: 1874 to Eliza-Jane Bailey, daughter of a family from Tryphena, Great Barrier Island.
Annie Tyburnia Sanderson, Born: 1863 on the journey from England. Married: 1887 to Thomas Flinn, son of a pioneering family from Wairahi, Port FitzRoy.  Child: Ann Winifred 1893.  Died of measles aged 2 months.
William Sanderson, Born: 1866, Married: 1894 to Amy Paddison (1873-1962), Died:1918, Buried: Okiwi along with his wife and children.
Children: George Sanderson (1897-1906), Edith Sanderson (1900-184)
(William) Roland Sanderson Born: 1901, Died: 1982, Buried: at Okiwi with his wife Myrtle Rose.
Child: Gwenda (Mrs Burke) still living on her parents and maternal grandmother's land at Whangapoua.

1881 Electoral Roll

Name Property Occupation Electorate
Le Roy, Emilius Freehold Sailmaker Parnell
Sanderson, Benjamin Freehold
Blind Bay, Lot 148
Farmer Rodney
Sanderson, William Freehold
Blind Bay, Lot 149
Farmer Rodney
Cooper, William Residential
Port FitzRoy
Settler Rodney
Cooper, George Residential
Port FitzRoy
Settler Rodney
Cooper, Samuel Residential
Port FitzRoy
Settler Rodney
Stark, George Freehold
Great Barrier, Lot 123
Farmer Rodney
Paddison, Edward No Record    

Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee - 1897
To celebrate this event, school children throughout New Zealand signed a tribute.  From the Great Barrier families of interest, the following participated;
Le Roy, Ada Marie - Great Barrier School
Le Roy, Amy Alice - Great Barrier School
Le Roy, Elsie Annie - Great Barrier School
Le Roy, Daisy - Parnell, Secondary School
Paddison, Edith Annie - Great Barrier School
Paddison, Frank William - Great Barrier School
Paddison, Harvey Roy - Great Barrier School
Paddison, Herbert Allison - Great Barrier School
Paddison, Ralph Lingard - Great Barrier School
Sanderson, Benjamin - Tryphena School, Great Barrier Island
Sanderson, William - Tryphena School, Great Barrier Island
Benjamin and William Sanderson were probably children of Ben Sanderson, older brother of William who married Amy Paddison

Please make contact if you have information to add or comments to make.