George Grey

George Grey

Infobox Officeholder
honorific-prefix = The Right Honourable
name =Sir George Grey
honorific-suffix =

caption =Painting of Sir George Grey by Daniel Louis Mundy, 1860s.
birth_date =birth date|1812|4|14|df=y
birth_place =Lisbon, Portugal
death_date =death date and age|1898|9|19|1812|4|14|df=y
death_place =London
spouse =
monarch =Victoria
order =3rd Governor of South Australia
term_start =15 May 1841
term_end =25 October 1845
successor =Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Robe
predecessor =Colonel George Gawler
order2 =3rd Governor of New Zealand
term_start2 =18 November 1845
term_end2 =3 January 1854
December 1861 – 5 February 1868
successor2 =Colonel Thomas Gore Browne (1854)
Sir George Ferguson Bowen (1868)
predecessor2 =Captain Robert FitzRoy (1845)
Colonel Thomas Gore Browne (1861)
order3 =Governor of Cape Colony
term_start3 =1854
term_end3 =1861
successor3 =Philip Edmond Wodehouse (Robert Wynyard acting)
predecessor3 =George Cathcart (Charles Henry Darling acting)
order4=11th Premier of New Zealand
term_start4 =13 October 1877
term_end4 =8 October 1879
successor4 =John Hall
predecessor4 =Harry Atkinson|
:"For other men with a similar name, see George Grey (disambiguation) or George Gray"

Sir George Grey, KCB (14 April 181219 September 1898) was a soldier, explorer, Governor of South Australia, twice Governor of New Zealand, Governor of Cape Colony (South Africa), Premier of New Zealand and a writer.

Early life and exploration

Grey was born in Lisbon, Portugal just a few days after his father, Lieutenant-Colonel Grey of the 30th Foot, was killed at the Battle of Badajoz in Spain. His mother, on the balcony of her hotel in Lisbon, overheard two officers speak of his death and this brought on his premature birth. His mother was the daughter of an Irish clergyman, the Rev. John Vignoles. Grey was sent to the Royal Grammar School, Guildford in Surrey, and was admitted to the royal military college in 1826. Early in 1830 he was gazetted ensign in the 83rd Regiment of Foot. In 1830, his regiment having been sent to Ireland, he developed much sympathy with the Irish peasantry whose misery made a great impression on him. He was promoted lieutenant in 1833 and obtained a first-class certificate at the examinations of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1836.

In 1837, as a young man, he led a catastrophically ill-prepared expedition of exploration of north-west Australia from Cape Town — only one man of his party had seen northern Australia before. It was at that time believed that a great river entered the Indian ocean on the north-west of Australia, and that the country it drained might be suitable for colonization. Grey, in conjunction with Lieutenant Lushington, offered to explore this country and on 5 July 1837 Grey sailed from Plymouth in command of a party of five, the others being Lieutenant Lushington, Mr Walker, a surgeon and naturalist, and two corporals of the royal sappers and miners. Others were added to the party at Cape Town and early in December they landed at Hanover Bay. Wrecked, almost drowned and completely lost, with Grey wounded in a skirmish with Aborigines, they traced the course of the Glenelg River before giving up and retiring to Mauritius to recover.

Two years later Grey returned to Western Australia and was again wrecked with his party at Kalbarri; they were the first Europeans to see the Gascoyne River but then had to walk to Perth, surviving the journey through the efforts of Kaiber, a Whadjuk Noongar, who organised food and what water could be found (they survived by drinking liquid mud). At about this time Grey became one of the few Europeans to learn the Noongar language of south-west Western Australia.

Governor of South Australia

Grey was the third Governor of South Australia, from 1841 to 1845. He oversaw the colony during a difficult formative period. Despite being seen as less hands-on than his predecessor, George Gawler, his fiscally responsible measures ensured the colony was in good shape by the time he left to govern New Zealand.

Governor of New Zealand

Grey served as Governor of New Zealand twice: first from 1845 to 1853, and then again from 1861 to 1868. He was arguably the most influential figure during the European settlement of New Zealand during much of the 19th century.

First term

Grey was appointed as the third Governor of New Zealand in 1845. During the tenure of his predecessor, Robert FitzRoy, violent clashes between settlers and Māori in several parts of the North Island, mainly over land claims. In the Nelson area, ignoring opposition from Ngāti Toa, settlers tried to occupy land in the Wairau district, and twenty-two settlers and at least four Māori were killed in a bungled attempt by an armed party to arrest the powerful chiefs Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata. In the far north of the country, Ngā Puhi chiefs Hone Heke and his ally, Kawiti, acting out of fear that the Europeans would take all their land, had risen in revolt against the authority of the British. Despite the fact that most of Ngā Puhi sided with the government, the British had been disastrously beaten at Ohaeawai. Grey, armed with the financial support and the troops that had been denied to FitzRoy, occupied Kawiti's fortress at Ruapekapeka, which Kawiti had already evacuated. Afterwards, Grey avoided directly confronting Heke and Kawiti, thus effectively acknowledging a partial Māori victory, and offered reassurances to the Māori that he would not confiscate their land. In the south he arrested Te Rauparaha and imprisoned him. Grey's actions brought the fighting to an end for the next ten years. Grey blamed the disputes in the north on Henry Williams and other missionaries, regarding them as 'no better than land-jobbers' whose desire for land would require 'a large expenditure of British blood and money'.cite web|author=Sinclair, Keith - "Dictionary of New Zealand Biography"|title="Grey, George 1812 - 1898', updated 7 April 2006|url=|accessdate=2007-07-03]

During Grey's first tenure as Governor of New Zealand, he was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (1848). Grey was to greatly influence the final form of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, after the 1846 Act was largely suspended at his request (Grey was briefly "Governor-in-Chief"). Grey oversaw the establishment of the first provinces of New Zealand.

However he earned particular respect for his handling of Māori affairs from 1845 to 1853. He took pains to show Māori that he observed the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi, assuring them that their land rights would be fully recognised. In the Taranaki district, Māori were very reluctant to sell their land, but elsewhere Grey was much more successful, and nearly 33 million acres (130,000 km²) were purchased from Māori, with the result that British settlements expanded quickly. Grey was less successful in his efforts to assimilate the Māori; he simply lacked the financial means to realise his plans. Although he subsidised mission schools, requiring them to teach in English, only a few hundred Māori children attended them at any one time.

econd term

Grey was again appointed Governor in 1861 following the granting of a degree of self-governance to New Zealand, serving until 1868. His second term as Governor was greatly different from the first, as he had to deal with the demands of an elected parliament.

Grey was greatly respected by Māori, and often travelled with a company of chiefs. He induced leading chiefs to write down their accounts of Maori traditions, legends and customs. His principal informant, Wiremu Maihi Te Rangikāheke, taught Grey to speak Māori.rquote|center|He learned Māori and persuaded Māori authorities to commit their legends and traditions to writing, some of which were subsequently published... His collected papers would turn out to be the largest single repository of Māori-language manuscripts| Michael King"The Penguin History of New Zealand", page 203]

Grey bought Kawau Island in 1862, on his return to New Zealand for his second term as governor. For 25 years he lavished large amounts of his personal wealth on the island's development, including enlarging and remodelling Mansion House, the former residence of the copper mine superintendent. Here he planted a huge array of exotic trees and shrubs, acclimatised many bird and animal species, and amassed a celebrated collection of rare books and manuscripts, artworks and curiosities, and artefacts from the Māori people over whom he had ruled.

Grey launched the Invasion of the Waikato in 1863 to take control of the rich Māori agricultural region. The war brought many British troops to New Zealand: at one time more were situated there than anywhere else in the world. In the later 1860s the British government determined to withdraw Imperial troops from New Zealand. At the time the Maori chiefs Te Kooti and Titokowaru had the colonial government and settlers extremely alarmed with a series of military successes. With the support of the Premier, Edward Stafford, Grey evaded instructions from the Colonial Office to finalise the return of the regiments, which had commenced in 1865 and 1866. In the end the British government recalled Grey in February 1868. He was replaced by Sir George Bowen.

Governor of Cape Colony

Grey was Governor of Cape Colony from 5 December 1854 to 15 August 1861. He founded Grey College, Bloemfontein in 1855 and Grey High School in Port Elizabeth in 1856. In South Africa Grey dealt firmly with the natives, but endeavoured by setting apart tracts of land for their exclusive use to protect them from the white colonists. He more than once acted as arbitrator between the government of the Orange Free State and the natives, and eventually came to the conclusion that a federated South Africa would be a good thing for everyone. The Orange Free State would have been willing to join the federation, and it is probable that the Transvaal would also have agreed. Grey, however, was 50 years before his time and the colonial office would not agree to his proposals. In spite of their instructions, Grey continued to advocate union, and, in connexion with other matters, such as the attempt to settle soldiers in South Africa after the Crimean War, he several times disregarded his instructions.

When all the circumstances are considered it is not surprising that he was recalled in 1859. He had, however, scarcely reached England before a change of government led to his being given another term, on the understanding that his schemes for the federation of South Africa should be abandoned and that he would in future obey his instructions. Grey was convinced that the boundaries of the South African colonies should be widened, but could not obtain the support of the British government. He was still working for this support when, war with the Māori having broken out, it was decided that Grey should again be appointed governor of New Zealand. When he left his popularity among the people of Cape Colony was unbounded, and the statue erected at Cape Town during his lifetime describes him as "a governor who by his high character as a Christian, a statesman, and a gentleman, had endeared himself to all classes of the community, and who by his zealous devotion to the best interests of South Africa and his able and just administration, has secured the approbation and gratitude of all Her Majesty's subjects in this part of her dominions".

Premier of New Zealand

In 1875 he was elected Superintendent of Auckland Province, and was elected a Member of Parliament in the 1875 general election. Grey opposed the abolition of the provinces, but his opposition proved ineffective, and the provincial system was abolished in 1876. Grey then became MP for Thames in 1876, and on the defeat of Harry Atkinson as Premier on 13 October 1877, he was elected Premier by Parliament. His government did not operate particularly well, with Grey seeking to dominate the government and coming into conflict with the Governor. His term as Premier is regarded by historians as a failure. Towards the end of 1879, Grey's government got into difficulties over land tax. Eventually, Grey asked for an early election in 1879. Grey was now suffering from ill health and he retired from politics in 1890, leaving for Australia. On returning to New Zealand, a deputation requested him to contest the Newton seat in Auckland, to which he was elected unopposed. In December 1893 Grey was again elected for Auckland City.

He died in London in 1898, and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral.

Places and institutions named after Grey

Places named after Grey include Greytown in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand's North Island, the Grey River in the South Island's West Coast region (and thus indirectly the town of Greymouth at the river's mouth), and the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn; Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; the Division of Grey, an Australian Electoral Division in South Australia. Grey Street, Melbourne is also believed to have been named after George Edward Grey.
Falcon College in Zimbabwe named one of their six hostels after Grey. In South Africa, Grey was instrumental in the founding of Grey High School, Port Elizabeth, Grey College, Bloemfontein and [ Grey's Hospital] in Pietermaritzburg.

Popular culture

"The Governor", an historical drama miniseries based on Grey's life, was made by TVNZ in 1977, featuring Corin Redgrave in the title role. Despite critical acclaim, the miniseries attracted controversy at the time because of its then-large budget. []

ee also

*History of Adelaide
*History of Cape Colony from 1806 to 1870


External links

* [ George Grey] page from the website of the Prime Minister of New Zealand
* [ Grey's development of Kawau Island]
* [ Works edited by Grey in the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre Collection]
*gutenberg author|id=George_Grey|name=George Grey
*gutenberg|no=16928|name=The Romance of a Pro-Consul: Being the Personal Life and Memoirs of The Right Hon. Sir George Grey by James Milne
* [ Sir George Grey in the 1966" Encyclopaedia of New Zealand]

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