This Reunion is to celebrate 144 years in New Zealand and we hope that all those present will enjoy themselves and bridge the gaps in our family that have eventuated over the years. We are here to honour our Bee forbears and to learn a little of the hardships they endured by leaving their homeland, England, to make a new life in a new colony.
Francis Bee was born in Nottingham in 1820 and married Annie Harris who came from the same County and was born in 1822.
In January 1842 they, with their small baby Ellen, immigrated to New Zealand and arrived on the “London” on the 1 May 1842.
For a while they lived in huts and tents on the Petone Beach but eventually they shifted to Thorndon where Francis started a Bakery. He had brought with him mill stones and intended to set up a flour mill but a flood washed these mill stones out to sea. Later he bought the Nelson Inn and around about this time he took a voyage to Australia to try his luck at goldmining. Annie, by this time, had four children – Ellen, Annie, Frank and George – and she was left in charge of the Nelson Inn in Francis’s absence. Francis did not make a fortune at the gold fields but Annie did quite well at the Inn and it was shortly after Francis’ return that he decided to take up a sheep run on the Coast of Hawke’s Bay. He drove the sheep up after arranging for a lease of the Waipuka Block from the Maoris. Annie and the children arrived on the “Sallopian” in January 1853. Five more children were born while they lived in very primitive conditions on the Waipuka run these being, Frances (Fanny), Kate, Elizabeth, Phoebe and Maria. Unfortunately Frank, a lad of about thirteen, was drowned at Ocean Beach when he was washed out to sea while crossing a stream in flood.
In about 1863 the family shifted to Havelock North and shortly after this in July 1864, the other branch of the Bee family arrived in the “Rangoon” from England. George Bee was born in Nottingham in 1829 [HBKB – previous chart states 1924] and his wife Mary also came from there. They brought with them six children, these being Ellen, Frank, Bessie, Mary, Ann and little Eliza who was born at sea. This family took up residence at Havelock North and lived there for many years. George was a builder and was much in demand in the growing village. He built St Luke’s Church, the school and many other buildings. Two other children were born to them, these being George (Buzz) and Alice.
At the time of the Land Wars, Francis and his son George were members of the Militia. George fought at the Battle of Omaranui [Omarunui] out of Napier.
Francis and Annie and their children, except Ellen who by this time married Gavin Peacock, shifted around about this time. The unrest in the country and the threat of the Hau haus made land values drop and Francis took the opportunity to buy land and increase his block of sheep. The[y] first settled at Mangahararu [Maungahararu] and later leased Mohaka Station and Springhill Station. Later still George purchased Putorino and Kakariki Stations.
The family was at Mohaka at the time of Te Kooti’s raid but unlike some other settlers in the District, they did not sell up and shift to safer quarters but stuck it out. George who was a lad in his teens at this time, was often camped in the back country and it is said that he always slept with his pistol nearby in case of an attack by the Hau haus.
When peace between Maori and Pakeha eventually came in 1873, George married his cousin Ellen (Nelly) Bee with whom he had fallen in love when he first met her on arrival from England. This couple set up home at Springhall [Springhill] Station where ten of their eleven children were born. The eleventh (Chris) was born at Pakowhai in 1897.