James Harper Mouat arrived in Mt Victoria about 1900 from the West Coast, after making some money gold mining near Charleston.
James Harper Mouat and seven brothers made up their minds to leave Unst in the Shetland Islands in 1868, as fishing was diminishing. They made their way to Australia, working in Queensland and Victoria, mostly gold sluicing. In 1879 they sailed from Melbourne to Westport where they purchased claims on The Nine Mile beach, near Charleston.
James married Charlotte Harper in Charleston and they decided to bring their children to Wellington for a better education, with their earnings from gold mining. He purchased 11 properties altogether, including four on Kent Terrace, and chose to make 28 Majoribanks St the family home. He lived there, repairing the other properties for rental, till he died in 1928, aged 78. James Mouat had three sons (one of whom died in the flu epidemic of 1917) and four daughters. The two surviving sons, James and Bob, eventually moved to the Hutt Valley where we, their daughters, still live. James’ four daughters married and moved elsewhere.
Other Shetland relatives to come to Mt Victoria were the Grays (who finally settled in Grafton Rd in Roseneath) and the Harpers, cousins of James Harper Mouat. William Harper, brother of James Harper Mouats’ wife Charlotte, arrived with his family from Nine Mile beach in 1916 and bought 103 Majoribanks St, which stands to this day. William’s brother Anthony had a boot shop in Courtenay Place and the Harper Building still stands on the corner of Courtenay Place and Cambridge Terrace, today housing the Craftsman Restaurant. William Harper died in 1939 aged 80.
Source: Muriel and Marjorie Mouat (1st cousins and daughters of James and Bob respectively)