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S. Percy Smith

(1840—1922) worsted machinery manufacturer


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(1840–1922), was a significant if now dated early historian of the Māori. Born in Beccles, Suffolk, he emigrated to New Plymouth with his family when 9, left school at 14, worked on the family farm for a year and then joined the Survey Department. This proved the most important step in his life as the job led to many exploratory trips into the North Island and years of association with Māori people. In 1857 he climbed Mount Taranaki– Egmont and, late that year, made a thousand kilometre journey into the central North Island. Records were kept of this trip, setting a pattern that was followed for the rest of his life and provided the basis for his later ethnological studies. The years 1859–65 were spent surveying for the Native Land Purchase Office in the Auckland District. Other transfers and promotions followed, including surveying confiscated land in Taranaki and working in the Chathams when Te Kooti escaped from there. He was appointed Surveyor-General early in 1899, and retired late in 1900.

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From The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.


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