The history of Karamana Homestead

Karamana Homestead was built in 1872 by Sir Alfred Jerome Cadman.  Sir Alfred was born in Sydney, Australia, on June 17, 1847, the son of Jerome Cadman, a cabinet-maker, and his wife, Ann Hildyard. The family came to Auckland, New Zealand, in 1848.

Lady Francis “Fannie” Cadman (Bell) was born in Aylesbury, England, on March 30, 1857. She came to New Zealand at approximately 9 years of age, with her parents, on the ship King of Italy. Sir Alfred married Fannie Bell at Whangarei in 1886; they had a daughter and two sons before Fannie’s early death in 1892. 

Sir Alfred entered politics in 1877 and was elected into Parliament to represent Coromandel in both the 1884 and 1887 elections. In 1893 he became the Minister of Mines, then appointed Minister of Railways in 1895.

Because gold miners and timber workers were the dominant working groups in the Coromandel, he had sympathy for labour reform. In 1886 he supported the movement for an eight-hour working day and the extension of the franchise to women. In 1897 Cadman toured the Kapanga Mine with his private secretary [and nephew] Alfred Hildyard Gatland, and he escorted 4-5 young women [four were his nieces] down some 300 metres into the bowels of the mine, lowered in a cage – unheard of for women in 1897.

In 1899 Cadman’s health, never robust, deteriorated. He was appointed a CMG in 1901 and KCMG [knight] in 1903.

In 1902, he travelled back to England with his 15-year-old daughter to attend the coronation of Edward V11 by invitation.In July 1904 he was elected Speaker of the Legislative Council. He died at Auckland on 23 March 1905.

His funeral was held at his beloved Coromandel. Ships brought many mourners across from Auckland. His coffin was carried up to Buffalo Cemetery. He was interred with full Masonic Ceremony; hats and white gloves were obligatory wear. It was probably the biggest turnout of mourners ever seen in Coromandel.