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Spragg family papers.

Identifier: MSS-Archives-A-264

Scope and Contents

Letters, photographs, ephemera and newspaper cuttings regarding the lives of three members of the Spragg family of Auckland: Wesley Spragg, Auckland merchant who founded the New Zealand Dairy Association (later the New Zealand Cooperative Dairy Company Limited) - letters to his family and others while on an overseas tour in 1908; Charles Robert Spragg (nephew of Wesley), Auckland meat export executive, Jersey breeder and Territorial Officer - letters to his family from South Africa during the Boer War, 1900- 1901, and from Egypt and Gallipoli during World War I, 1914-1918; Wesley Neal Spragg (son of Wesley) Lieutenant, Royal Flying Corps - letters and photographs relating to his wartime career and death in Egypt in 1918.


  • 1900 - 1977


Conditions Governing Access

Not restricted

Biographical / Historical

Wesley Spragg, 1848-1930, Auckland businessman, temperance advocate, and father of the dairy industry in Auckland. Spragg was a prime mover in the setting up of the New Zealand Dairy Association in 1886 for the marketing of farmers’ butter, the first factory being established at Pukekohe. In 1901 the Association became a co-operative concern with Spragg as manager until 1915, when he was succeeded by his assistant H.E. Pacey until it was amalgamated in 1919 with other dairy companies to become the New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Company Limited. Spragg was a deacon of the Beresford Street Congregational Church in Auckland, President of the New Zealand Alliance, the temperance organisation, and a supporter of the Single Tax. He had much in common with his friend Sir George Fowlds in whose papers (MSS & Archives A-17) there are a number of letters from Spragg regarding political affairs, the Single Tax, the dairy industry and other matters.

Wesley Spragg married Henrietta Neal in January 1878, they had five daughters, Mary, Muriel, Hetty, Mildred and Alice and a son, Silas who died in infancy. Henrietta died in 1889 and in July 1891 Wesley married her sister, Annie Dernley Neal. Wesley and Annie they had two sons, Charles who died in infancy and Wesley Neal Spragg who was killed during the First World War. Wesley Spragg died in Auckland in August 1930 he was survived by his daughters and his second wife Annie who died in 1934.

Charles Robert Spragg V.D. 1880-1939 (nephew and son-in-law of Wesley), Auckland businessman, dairy breeder and soldier, served in the South African (Boer) War in the New Zealand Rough Riders. After the war he was a breeder of Jersey cattle and manager of an abbatoir and meat inspector in Gisborne. In World War I he served as a captain, later major, in the 9th Wellington Mounted Rifles NZEF and as a staff officer in Egypt, Gallipoli, and Palestine. From 1919-36 he was engaged in business in Auckland in the dairy export trade and owned a pedigree Jersey farm at Opaheke 1919-25. He was 39 years on the active list of the Territorial Force and at the time of his retirement in 1939 he was one of the four colonels who publicly criticised the inadequacy of New Zealand’s defence preparedness.

In 1907 Charles married his cousin Hetty Spragg the daughter of Wesley Spragg. They had two children: Robert Fenwick Spragg in 1909 and Kathleen Hetty Spragg in 1911.

Wesley Neal Spragg 1894-1918 (son of Wesley), trained as an engineer and in 1915 went to England to join the Royal Flying Corps. After being wounded in operations over the Western Front he was posted to the Middle East as an aerial gunnery instructor. He was killed in a flying accident at Heliopolis in 1918.

Kaitarakihi Park, near Cornwallis, was given to the people of Auckland by his father Wesley Spragg memory of Wesley Neal. An obelisk was unveiled in the park in 1920 to his memory.


0.2 metres (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Miss Kathleen Hetty Spragg in 1981 with additions in May 1993.

The donation included material relating to her maternal grandfather: Wesley Spragg 1848-1930, her father: Charles Robert Spragg 1880-1939, and her uncle: Wesley Neal Spragg 1894-1918. The Wesley Spragg and Wesley Neal Spragg material came to Miss Spragg on the death of her aunt Mrs Muriel Astley (Spragg) of Auckland. Her father’s letters came to her on the death of her paternal grandmother Mrs Alice Robertine Spragg (Fenwick) of Dunedin.

A further donation of related material was received from Christine Roberts in January 1999 of: Roberts, Christine. A diary for my daughters : Wesley Spragg 1848-1930. This was added to the collection as item 13/5.



Inventory of the Spragg family papers, 1900-1977.
Frank Rogers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand