Walter Henry Hooper was born on the 4th of December 1885 in a small New Zealand farming community called Carterton, in the Wairarapa district on the North Island. Walter was born to parents William John Hooper and Charlotte Compton. William Hooper run a farm in Dalefield Road, Carterton. He was one of 14 children, 12 of who lived, married and had large families of their own, born to William and Charlotte. Walter was a keen wood worker and making musical instruments was one of his passions and also a hobby he was very good at. Mandolins making was one of his favourite instruments to make and a photograph of his wife and daughter holding two of his mandolins (above) has luckily survived to show his talent. Walter suffered from Diabeties and his children can remember working with him in his large vegetable plot and having to make an emergency dash back to the house to fetch his insolin for him to inject. He served in the New Zealand Army and was sent to England where it is said he got the measles and was sent back to New Zealand. Wally also made crochet hooks and knitting needles that the children would sell door to door but that were also sold in Mr Fairbrother's store in Carterton that was located opposite the Royal Oak Hotel. He also made his children a billard's table that fitted over the kitchen table. Billard cue's that he hand made, were adapted with knitting needles that he had made, to become flounder spears when he went fishing. Walter was a big powerful man who could lift children with his little finger which many of his nephew and grandchildren will tell. He could also lift a kerosine tin full of nuts and bolts (refererence from Ruth Hooper's interview with family members for a book she hopes to one day write - we hope she does).

Walter Henry Hooper in his New Zealand Army uniform

Evelyn Ellery-Tacon & Walter Henry Hooper's Wedding Day 1917

Walter & Evelyn Hooper's sixteen children reunited at Evelyn's funeral in 1969

  The mother of Walter's sixteen children was his wife Evelyn Ellery-Tacon whom he married in 1917. Evelyn was the base child of Eliza Ellery. Evelyn was born in 1897 in Parewanui, Bulls, New Zealand. Her mother, Eliza Ellery married Charles William Tacon in 1899 and Evelyn assumed the Tacon surname with her birth name of Ellery becoming her middle name. She was known as Evelyn Ellery Tacon. Charles & Eliza Ellery had a large family and one of Evelyn's siblings, Thelma Lila Tacon who was born in 1908 (Dannevirke, NZ) married Walter Henry Hooper's nephew, Arthur William Hooper in 1928. Between Arthur & Thelma and Walter & Evelyn Hooper they had 26 children in total. A family story, that has past down through the generations, is that Evelyn did not want a child born at number 13 - so she had twins to avoid the problem!

Walter Henry Hooper tending his Norbiton Road - Foxton - garden

Walter and Evelyn lived in various small North Island communities as they followed the work trail. Walter found work at the Foxton Flax Mills in 1936 and moved his family there. Wally, it is said, hired a whole train to make the move although it was probably a whole carriage that was needed for the family. One can only imagine what moving a family of 18 person's and all their worldly goods would have been like. Walter and Evelyn settled in Norbiton Road, in a house called 'Green Gables', at Foxton Beach where Walter was able to grow a huge vegetable (as seen above) garden which must have been a very welcome supliment to the family dinner table. His son, Norm, told of his father's honesty and how, during the depression years, meat would mysteriously appear in the Hooper household. Walter would not eat this meat, but did not deny his family the chance of a good feed. Apparently one of the 'boys' would bag a sheep from some neighbor and bring it home. This was not a crime during the depression years, it is said, so long as the fleece was left hanging on a fence. It was an unwritten law of humanity during this difficult time. It was not done regularly either as we can imagine that with a family the size of Walter's the neighbors would soon run out of sheep if this was the case. Walter's sister Lil and brother inlaw Tom Osborne moved to Foxton about the same time as Wally and his youngest sister Kathy was also to move to Foxton in later years.

The building of the Mangahao Electric Hydro Scheme dam during the 1920's

  Wally  found work at Shannon and he was also known to have traveled from Shannon up into the nearby hills where he was employed as a labourer at the Mangahoa Hydro Electric Project. Wally's brother's Joe & Herbert Hooper also joined Wally dam building at Mangahao. Herbert was employed to finish of the concrete shutes. It is not known what Wally & Joe did for employment at this time but Wally was able to turn his hand to anything and was also a very good wood worker so may have found himself building trestle bridges or the like. Wally also worked building bridges, at some time, and one of the bridges he helped to build was the Manawatu River Bridge.

Evelyn Ellery Hooper (nee Tacon) with her eldest child Edna 'June' - the fist of 16 babies

 Walter and Evelyn's children were born in Dannevirke (early 1920's), Shannon (mid 1920's), (late 1920's) and Foxton (about 1936) . Evelyn's parents were living in Dannevirke and it appears that Evelyn and Wally also lived there for a time, with some of their children born there, before they moved back to Carterton. Wally's father died in 1927 closely followed by his mother, Charlotte's death in 1929 (Charlotte can be seen in her garden at this home in the photograph below). His parents South Carterton family home was vacant which meant Wally was able to move his family into the double story family home. Wally's family was greatly helped by his brother John Thomas who had a dairy farm and provided the family with milk and other dairy produce. John had inherited their grandfather John Thomas Hooper's farm in Carterton. John and Wally were said to be very close and John continued to help Wally's family until John tragically drowned in car accident, near his home, in 1930.

Wally Hooper moved his family into his parents South Carterton home (above) after their death

 The children attended the Dalefield School when they were of school age. The old horse, that was kept on the farm, was a daily means of transport for the lucky children early enough up to be the first to leave for school. Needless to say the day began with a race, not just for the hors, but for the boots the children would wear. First up, best dressed and those who missed out on the limited pairs of boots went to school barefoot. This in itself was not unusual as many children actually prefered going barefoot to wearing shoes anyway. Shoe's were usually saved for those very rare 'special' occasions and those shoes were nearly always hand me downs from one child to the next and then to the next etc until the shoes had completely worn out. This also went for the children's clothes. Evelyn was a master at patching and darning socks and jackets and repairing torn clothing. It is hard to imagine with today's standards of living, that Evelyn did not even have a washing machine until later in life when her daughter June used her first wage packet to buy her one. With 16 children this must have been a huge time consuming task. Eldest daughter, June, can be remembered by family visitors, as sitting at the kitchen table peeling a mountain of pototoes for the evening meal. Evelyn, it is said, could make a meal fit for a king from very little - so I think her family had much to be thankful for having a mother like her.

 On the 5th October 1959 whilst living in Foxton, New Zealand, Walter died at the Palmerston North Hospital after having a stroke. Following Walter's death Evelyn moved to 84 Herbert Street, Masterton to be near her daughters. Evelyn died, nearly ten years later, in Masterton, on the 28th May 1969 due to an embolism. Both Walter and Evelyn are buried together in the Foxton Cemetery at Foxton. Evelyn one day prepared an evening meal, laid down on the couch for a rest and never woke up. Her son, Norm, discribed his mother as being a true lady and she was adored by her children and grandchildren alike. It is probably a fitting end to her hectic life of raising, 16 children and being a loving grandmother to their children, that she went whilst having a much earned rest.



June Edna Hooper (1918-    )
Raymond Roy Hooper (1920-1996)
Hazel Ruby Hooper (1921-    )
Ernest Walter hooper (1922-    )
Henry Alec Hooper (1923-    )
Norman George Hooper(1925-1995)
Evelyn Thelma May Hooper (1927-    )
Dorothy 'Joy' Hooper (1928-    )
Stanley Murray Hooper (1930-    )
Robert Colin Hooper (1931-    )
Valerie Hooper (1932-    )
Maurice Hooper (1933-    )
Jack Hooper (1934-    )
Jill Hooper (1934-    )
Francis Rose Hooper (1935-    )
Peter Barry Hooper (1938-    )


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