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Thomas (Tom) ELLISON
Father: Daniel ELLISON
Mother: Hana Nani WELLER
Born: 1866
Died: 1904-10-02 (aged 38 years)
Buried: Porirua. (Buried Otago)
= Married  =
on: 1899-03-22
at: St. Peter's Church, Wellington, New Zealand
Ethel May HOWELL

Further information for Thomas ELLISON.

Birth place: Otago
Profession: Barrister & Interpreter (& Rugby Player)
Domiciles: Otago,


Maori name: Tamati Reihana.
English name: Tom Ellison.

There was much inter-marrying between the Ellison`s, the Taiaroa`s and the Parata`s - all of whom were prestigious as early MP`s sitting in Maori seats in the House of Representatives. Maori whakapapa (family tree) is traditionally an oral tradition, passed from each generation to the next. Tom Ellison was the first Maori to play rugby for New Zealand and went on tour with the team to Australia and England in 1888-89. It was he who suggested the `All Black` strip.

[From Amokura Panoho]
Thomas Ellison, one of Nani's sons was one of the first Maori lawyers, and made a huge contribution to rugby in this country. He was the one who suggested the use of the silver fern and he also wrote a book on rugby. You can find more information about him on and There is a story about how he ended up in an asylum that has yet to be written, but my grandmother was born when his body was brought back on the ferry steamer, the Monowai. Another two descandants of Nani are two NZ rugby league greats Howie and Kevin Tamati (1980's) Their grandmother's (Aunty Rua) sister was named Mokoia after the ferry steamer that took Thomas' family to Wellington to recover his body.

[From Richard Weller]
Edward, one of the 'Whaling Wellers' of Otago, had a daughter Nani (Maori for Anne,) who married Daniel ELLISON (or Raniera Erihana.) Daniel and Nani had twelve children, of whom the third was Tame (Anglicised as Tom.) He won a scholarship to Te Aute College, Hawke's Bay, and having inherited his father's concern for Maori grievances, became a solicitor.
However, he is better known for his sporting prowess, especially rugger. He was the first Maori to play rugby for New Zealand and went on tour with the national team to Australia and England in 1888-89.
He was the team's champion half-back, and the darling of the crowds.
It was claimed that 'his weight, speed and wriggling runs invariably enabled him to score.' 'Invariably' is a slight but excusable exaggeration, for he did score 43 tries on the 54 match tour.
It was Tom who suggested the 'All Black' strip. His proposal as team captain to the first annual general meeting of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union in 1893 that the team's uniform should be a black jersey with silver fern emblem, black cap and stockings and white knickerbockders was adopted. A few years later it was decided to wear black shorts instead of knickerbockers.
In 1902 Tom was the first Maori to be called to the Bar. Sadly, a promising career was cut short by mental illness and he died in 1904 aged about 38.

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