Page 1: Biography
Crosse, Latima George
Farmer, community leader
Crosse, Thomas Ezekiel
Farmer, community leader
This biography, written by Hilda Timms, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1993.
The birth of Thomas Ezekiel Crosse on 1 June 1855 was not without drama. His parents, Charles Grant Crosse and his wife, Elizabeth Thorby, farmed land they had leased at Mangamaire, seven miles south-west of Pōrangahau in southern Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. The journey from Napier was arduous, on foot and by canoe, and on the way Thomas Crosse was born, at Pātangata, about 50 miles from Mangamaire.
Charles and Elizabeth Crosse had 10 children. Latima George (known as George) was born on 12 September 1858. He claimed to be the first Pākehā boy born at Pōrangahau. The children were educated at a settlers' school at Pōrangahau, and later the boys attended Napier Grammar School. On 21 January 1871 Charles Crosse died after a fall from a horse, and both boys were required to help their mother on the farm. They learned farming the hard way. They mustered on foot, and carried wool down the Pōrangahau River by canoe to meet the wool schooner at Blackhead.
Early in the 1880s the Crosse family left Mangamaire. Thomas took up land at Kumeroa near Woodville. This consisted of 4,000 or 5,000 acres of heavy bush which Thomas cleared, grassed and farmed. He travelled to England in 1884 to study refrigeration. On his return journey he met Susan Barker, whom he married in Christchurch on 30 March 1886. Susan died at Mangamaire on 19 April 1887, six days after the birth of Susan Amy, their only child. On 19 June 1889 at Pōrangahau Thomas married Susan's sister, David Ann Thompson Barker (known as Dolly). They were to have five children. In 1902 Thomas sold some of his Kumeroa land to the government and bought a block of 10,000 acres at Pātoka, 30 miles north-west of Napier, and also a property near Hastings which became his home and provided a fattening run for stock bred at Pātoka. He was one of the first to investigate dairy farming at a time when many believed that the Hawke's Bay climate was unsuitable for it.
Breaking in new land might have fully occupied Thomas Crosse's energies, especially as he developed his properties to a high standard, but he was also extremely active in community affairs. He was chairman of the Hawke's Bay Rabbit Board for 60 years, and served on the Hastings Borough Council and three county councils – Pātangata, Waipawa and Hawke's Bay. He was a director and major shareholder of the Heretaunga Co-operative Dairy Company, a member of the Napier Harbour Board for 16 years, and president of the Hawke's Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Society. He showed an active interest in education as an early governor of Woodford House, and a member of the Napier High School board of governors and the Te Aute Trust Board. His recreations were polo and golf.
In later years Thomas and Dolly Crosse lived in a cottage in Napier, from which Thomas continued to travel to Pātoka to class wool. After his wife's death on 8 June 1943 he moved to Hastings, where he died on 19 September 1952 at the age of 97.
When Thomas took up farming at Kumeroa, George Crosse went to Wainui (Herbertville), where he became an inspector for the Hawke's Bay Rabbit Board. His outstanding achievement was supervising the erection of a rabbit-proof fence between the Waimata River and the Manawatū River near Woodville, to stop rabbits travelling north from Wellington province. Over the years he purchased land at Weber, mostly bush, which he cleared and developed into a profitable farm, named Kelvin Grove. On 13 May 1891 at Wainui he married Annie Jessie Munro. They were to have six children.
Like his brother, George Crosse was involved in local body affairs. He served on the Weber County Council, Weber Road Board, and both the Waipawa and Dannevirke hospital boards. He was also active in the Waiaruhe Dairy Company and the Weber–Waione Co-operative Dairy Company, the Dannevirke Agricultural and Pastoral Society, and the North Island Dog Trials Association. He was a strong supporter of the Anglican church at Weber and Pōrangahau. Active and vigorous until his death, George Crosse was a keen cricketer and enjoyed tennis and racing. He died aged 90 in Dannevirke on 2 November 1948, three days after his wife.
The descendants of both Thomas Ezekiel and Latima George Crosse farm the properties at Pātoka and Weber to this day. The brothers are remembered as men of tremendous energy and capacity for work, who turned bush-clad land into productive farms. They were innovators in methods of processing the products of their farms, and pioneers in the establishment and organisation of local boards.