Search billions of records on



Kate Toomer Russell was born at Ringwood, Hampshire on 1 January 1851 the daughter of Charles and Mary Russell nee Toomer.  Even after the early death of her father, Kate was educated to a high standard in French, music, painting and drawing and worked as a teacher before her marriage.


On the 21 March 1877 she married John Feaver at Ringwood, and the couple then moved to Hastings in Sussex where John had a chemist shop which the family lived over.  In 1895, with their seven children the Feavers arrived in Wellington on the Ruahine, and came to live in Opunake.  Kate was not daunted by the unfamiliar colonial environment but quickly became involved in the affairs of the community.


Only a few months after her arrival Kate was playing the organ in the newly erected St Barnabas Anglican Church.  She continued her close involvement with the church in the area, as an organist and Sunday School teacher.


She became a true and trusted friend of the Maori people, and as a mark of their respect, a valuable greenstone tiki was presented to her, with the instruction that it was to be handed down through the eldest daughter in line.


Kate endeavoured to provide some cultural opportunities in the Opunake district and an advertisement in the "Opunake Times" of July 1897 announced: " Mrs Feaver advertises that, should sufficient pupils be forthcoming, she was willing to open a Ladies School, also a Preparatory School for little boys." Opunake was far removed from the educational centres and there was no opportunity for girls to get more than a primary school education.  The paper continued that Mrs Feaver has had considerable experience in teaching at home (England) and is thoroughly competent.


The school opened in August 1897, and in 1898 Kate is advertising again "that she would give music lessons.  Terms on application at the dispensary or Opua Road.  Also lessons in French, drawing and painting."


Her good works were not just confined to the church and education. She was a member of the Egmont Nursing Association, and a keen patriotic worker during World War One, providing many comforts for soldiers overseas.  She also nursed through the 1918 influenza epidemic when an emergency hospital was opened in the primary school across the road from her home.


Kate Feaver died on the 11 September 1921 at New Plymouth and is buried at Opunake.



Feaver Family Reunion Booklet (Ann Hickey)