The story of the Bevans in Otaki and Manakau has been related through the
“Otaki Historical Society Journals” in the reprint of “The Reminiscence of An Old Colonist” 1907 by Thomas Bevan Senior. (OHSJ Vol 5, 6, 7.) While the author was known as Thomas Bevan
Senior his father was also named Thomas Bevan.
The founding father of the Bevans, Thomas, born 1801, with his wife Mary, left their home in Whitchurch, England in 1841 with five sons and two daughters on
the ship The “Lady Nugent”. Also aboard were Thomas's sister Mary Ann and husband Edward Prince, two daughters and three sons. Before the end of the voyage Mary Bevan, Nugent Bevan, a daughter
born at sea on the 6th Jan 1841, Henry Bevan and John Prince, would all die at sea.
Thomas started the ropemaking business (Rope Walk) in Wellington and moved to Waikawa (near Otaki) when the Maoris cut
off his flax supply. He took with him his two eldest sons George and Edward leaving two daughters and two sons with the Prince family in Wellington. After Thomas was satisfied that it was safe to move the rest
of his family to Waikawa and after an aborted sea trip, a trusted Maori guide, Ropina, led the children over land and along the coast to their new home. Margaret the eldest child was 13, Mary 11, Thomas 9
(author) and William 7. The story of this walk has been featured in school journals and on radio. Ropina the guide was still alive in 1907 when the book was first published and no doubt provided much of the
detail about the walk.
Thomas's eldest son George, married Elizabeth Wood in Otaki in 1852 but he died in 1866 in Wanganui, a storekeeper. I have no knowledge of any offspring or what happened to
Edward the second son married in Otaki in 1848 a Waikawa chiefs daughter Huiputea. There is no knowledge of any offspring here or the fate of Huiputea. I have very little other information on
the eldest Bevan sons Edward and George.
Margaret, the eldest daughter, married William Clark, a draper, in Wellington in 1854 and their son Walter Mace Clark established the drapery shop in Levin
in 1894. The business still operates in the Oxford Street Levin and is run by Maurice Campbell a descendant.
Mary married Joseph Greatbatch in Wellington 1858. All descendants with the Greatbatch name,
including cricketer Mark, are descendants from these two.
Thomas Bevan Snr. (author), born in 1836 was married in Otaki in 1858 to Hannah Ransfield. Her parents were James Ransfield and Erena Ngawehenga.
(See OHS V2 page 44-45 and V5 page 44). There were at least 13 children but there are 11 adult family tree branches from these two. The family home was at Manakau.
William Bevan was married in 1872 in
Otaki to Annie Ngapaki. There were 9 children in this family, all brought up in Otaki.
Thomas Bevan, (born in 1801) the father, was remarried in 1858 in Otaki to Eliza Upfield, aged 40, and lived in
Otaki, passing away on 16 July 1881 at the age of 81.
There are a number of questions relating to this family which I would like answered.
In 1842 Zacharia Bevan or Hakaraia Te Whena was born. It
is believed he is a Bevan offspring but which one?. He married Mere Ruiha and all children took the Hakaraia surname. He was the proprietor of the Central Hotel Otaki built in 1893. On 4 April 1908 Hakaraia
passed away and Mere followed seven months later. They had lost a son Watene the same year in January. It is said Mere would not disclose who Hakaraia's parents were to descendants.