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The Exploration of New Zealand


page v


In New Zealand, as elsewhere, the desire to save souls and the desire to gain wealth have drawn men into unexplored regions; some minor Marco Polo would tell his tale and inspire the soul-savers and the gold-getters to follow in his footsteps. In the published accounts of their expeditions mention was not always made of the men who 'went there first', and I have therefore been inclined to emphasise the work of some comparatively unknown men. I do this, knowing that the problems of explorers and mountaineers seem less formidable when someone else is known to have gone that way. So, without neglecting the official explorer, I have, where reliable information is available, mentioned traders, whalers, and gold-miners.

The number of chapters may seem to be in inverse ratio to the limited number of words. page viThis is due to the spasmodic and sectional character of New Zealand exploration. The mountains and the rivers of this small country confined settlement to isolated colonies. Thus there were several independent bases from which explorers entered the interior. And as these settlements developed and required more stock, the risks of transport by sea encouraged the discovery of overland routes from one to another. These factors also explain why the number of expeditions is out of proportion to the area of the country. I could have selected the romantic but not always important efforts and described them in great detail, but this is a Centennial publication and I have endeavoured to cover, so far as space will permit, every important region in both islands. For the use of readers who wish for detailed accounts I have added notes on the more accessible sources. Those interested in New Zealand Company history may wish to know more about the Acheron survey, but I regret to say that I found the most useful facts in the Public Record Office, London.

If it may appear that I have neglected the North Island, I hope that readers will remember that the South Island is much larger, that its explorers had page viiless assistance from the Maoris, and that its mountain ranges are more massive and its rivers more swift. The main features were mapped by 1895 but since then there have been many expeditions by surveyors, bushmen, and mountaineers. For accounts of their activities readers are advised to search the Survey reports and the Journals of the New Zealand Alpine Club and of the Canterbury Mountaineering Club.

The last pleasure in the production of this survey is that of having the opportunity to thank those who have assisted me: the staffs of the Hocken, Alexander Turnbull, and Parliamentary libraries; Messrs R. I. M. Burnett, O. S. Meads, J. D. Pascoe, and E. H. McCormick of the National Historical Committee staff; Dr B. Howard, Dr J. R. Elder, and Messrs J. A. Sim and G. C. N. Johnston.

W. G. McClymont

August 1939