|William Webster (11.05.1816 - 23.11.1904)
William Webster was the first settler in the Wairere Boulder valley and erected New Zealand's first waterdriven timber mill.
William Webster was born in 1816 in Montrose Scotland. He was in the process of studying medicine in Glasgow when the travel bug hit him and he wanted to try his fortune in the colonies and left in 1839 for New Zealand. He arrived at Wellington on Sunday 23.02.1840 on board the Bengal Merchant.
He arrived in Hokianga on the "Arora". The "Aurora" loaded up spars for England.
brother John had left Scotland one year before William but his first
destination was Australia.
William settled at Wairere in the Hokianga where the big Kauri trees grew. He brought out with him a sawmill plant. This was New Zealand's first water driven timber
mill. Production started in
genial nature caused the natives to place great confidence in him. For
years in the early days he held services amongst them,
and before there
was a doctor on the river, he attended to their ailments with
May 1841 William had a
happy reunion with his brother John,
who decided to join him and help him to get the mill going.
1842 they were joint by a third brother named George.
He stayed with William and John,
but went back to Scotland in l845 when the troubles with
Hone Heke began.
1851 William married Annabella or Hana who’s
mother was a close relative of the big Ngapuhi chief Nene. Her
father was Colin Gillies, a Scotsman who landed in NZ in l825 .
This marriage of William’s inlaws is believed to be the first
legal marriage between Maori and Pakeha.
Hana and William had 7 children, 2 girls and 5 boys. Thanks to Annabella Mary, the youngest child, we have some interesting accounts of the Webster’s early Hokianga time.
A flood damaged The Webster's saw mill. The timber business declined and he abandoned operations. He sold the mill and parts of the machinery was put at Mahurangi in a flour mill. The circular saw etc was sold to Thomas Henderson.