Sir George Grey, KCB (14 April 1812 – 19 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
He died in London in 1898, and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral.
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.
Your Life: Tailor Made; HIGH STREET SHOPPING Start the Year with Some Sharp, Chic Tailoring - It's a Look That Never Goes out of Fashion
Jan 12, 2009; Byline: By Dinah Turner ALL IN THE DETAILS The bow on this blouse adds interest and inject some colour with a bold bag. White...