The Batten sisters were the daughters of James William and Emma Rebecca
Batten nee Todd. In 1879 the family came
to New Zealand on the Sobraon via Australia, and then settled in Lyttelton,
where they resided for some years. On
the 9 March 1891, they came to Taranaki and took
up land at Ketemarae, near Normanby where they went dairy farming. While there, the family took an active part
in church affairs especially in the work of the Anglican Church at Normanby. In 1901 the family settled at Tokaora, near the Waingongoro River, when the Waipapa
block was opened up.
England, James Batten had a friend, Thomas Barnardo, who has spent some years
studying medicine, hoping later to go to China as a medical missionary. Then after seeing some appalling things in London’s East End, where orphan boys
were sleeping outdoors with no coverings, or dying in the dark alleys from
starvation and neglect, he realised that there was vast work for him to do
right at hand without going to China. So he began his great work in the East End, and in 1866, under
the patronage of the famous Lord Shaftsbury, he had founded his children’s
Battens in New Zealand continued to take an interest in the work of their old friend, and
in 1905 Emma Batten and her daughters parcelled up some garments which they
thought might come in handy for Barnardo children and despatched them to the
homes. The gratitude received encouraged
the family to send more. Friends and
neighbours soon heard of these activities and began passing on their old
garments which were patiently sorted, washed and mended, and the NZ Shipping Co
(James Batten being a former employee) began shipping the packing cases, free
of charge. Flannelette was quite
reasonably priced then and Emma began buying it by the bolt, and she and her
daughters made it up into warm petticoats.
After a few years, the family began to include some soft toys.
Emma Batten died
on the 23 May
1930 at Tokaora,
aged 90 years, and was buried at the Hawera cemetery. After her death, the family carried on as
usual with the Barnardos parcels. Apart from the knitting and sewing they did
for the children, between them they made over 76,000 soft toys.
May Lilian Batten was born on the 31 January 1869 in London. The day of her arrival in New Zealand was her 10th birthday, and as a special treat she was
the only passenger on board to be allowed ashore. She married William Hooper in 1905, and she
and her husband farmed on Ketemarae
Road, Normanby until his
death in 1916. She was a staunch church
worker for the Normanby Anglican Church and acted as organist in her younger
days. May Hooper died on the 26 March 1970 at Hawera aged 101 years and is buried at Hawera cemetery.
Ida Mary Batten
was born about 1870 in Loughton, Essex, England. She was a keen amateur
photographer, a painter and a musician of no mean order, playing the cello in
the family’s own orchestra. Ida was a
staunch worker for the Anglican Church and for many years was a member of the
church choir. She bought her first car
in 1930, when she was over 60 years of age and became a competent driver. Ida made a trip to Auckland in her
baby Austin. Ida Batten died on the 14 September 1960 at Hawera aged 90 years, and is buried at the Hawera cemetery.
Batten was born about 1876 in Essex, England. For 45 years, she assisted
her brother, Hamilton, with the farming activities on the family farm at Tokaora. During that
time she travelled twice to South Africa and England to see her sister (Norah Nettleton Cockerton)
and cousins. In the war years, Hilda and
her brother Hamilton, and sister Ida, took up spinning for the men of the
merchant navy and during the whole period skeined as
much as 280 pounds of wool, the sisters knitting most of the quantity into
comforts for the sailors. After the war,
they continued their spinning for Barnardo boys who were emigrating to face the
harsh Canadian winters. Hilda was a
regular attendee of St Mary’s Anglican Church, Hawera and was chief chorister
for many years. She was also a keen
member of the Tokaora branch of the WDFU and was an
enthusiastic gardener. Hilda Batten died
on the 20
January 1946 at Hawera, aged 70 years and
is buried at the Hawera cemetery.
Various obituaries and articles
Also see THE BATTEN FAMILY.