Author(s): Janet Holm
Walking the length and breadth of New Zealand with no maps (they were creating them), in dense bush and extreme weather, sheltered only by heavy canvas (no synthetics then!), the surveyors did more than any others to shape the future of New Zealand. Historian Janet Holm reveals how they ventured into unknown country to find routes for roads and railways, sites for towns, ports, farms and mines. They created new landscapes, civilised the land, naming towns and streets to make them seem familiar, to equate them with places that colonists had left behind. But first they had to survive fearsome rivers, impenetrable forests, and native resistance. More than this, we glimpse them as husbands and fathers, balancing the public demands of surveying within their private lives. Surveyors such as Jollie, Wylde, Sealy, Bain, Rochfort, Browning, Harper, Hewlings, and Brodrick may not have seen themselves as heroes (few reached the pages of BoysÃ�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â¢Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â� Own Adventures), yet their stories continue to inspire todayÃ�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â¢Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�Ã�Â�s outdoor adventurers and armchair explorers.
Janet Holm MBE has an MA (Hons) in History from Canterbury University. She has had her articles, verse and book reviews published in the NZ Listener, the Press, New Zealand Heritage magazine, History Now, climbing journals and the NZ Survey Institute's quarterly magazine. Her first book Nothing but Grass and Wind was placed second in the 1993 JM Sherrard Award for New Zealand regional history. A keen tramper, climber and committed environmentalist, Holm was awarded an MBE for her services to the environment in 1988.
Overture. What is a surveyor? 1. Jollie by name; The teenager who sailed to a faraway Pacific Isand to make good, and did so, but left a sorrowing mother. 2. The intriguing tale of James Wylde; The first man to write a school textbook on The Geography and History of New Zealand, Wylde had uncommon creative energy. Perhaps he came here before New Zealand was ready for him. Did he ever regret his decision? 3. Henry and Edward Sealy are disappointed; Able young men, the two brothers arrived too late to realise their dream of becoming landed gentry. However, a legal case in which they were implicated brought about significant improvements in survey methods and administration. 4. Robert Bain and the weather; Jackson Bay was then the end of the world and there Robert Bain and his party endured the worst conditions that weather, ocean and sandflies could provide. 5. John Rochfort - a gentlemanly fellow; A man of great physical strength and endurance, he spent more than 30 years opening up significant portions of the North and South Islands. 6. The North Island Main Trunk Railway; Rochfort's last major work was surveying from Te Awamutu to Marton for the railway. In 1883 this covered the King Country to which pakeha had no access, so it was not only a difficult, but highly dangerous, undertaking. By the early 1860s Otago and Nelson had found gold within their provinces, and as had West Canterbury, as the West Coast was then known. (It became Westland in 1868.) But East Canterbury, where most people lived, had found none. It was imperative that means of reaching this El Dorado must be found, and there were a variety of options. 7. A mans' work - Haast pass; Haast Pass was really too far south, but it was worth the attempt. 8. Over the Hurunui Pass; How about Rakamaunikura, the pass that became Harper's? This was an old Maori trail, often knee deep in mud. It was really too far north, while the track trespassed on Nelson territory. 9. John Browning and Henry Whitcombe; Browning was small but dynamic; Whitcombe, from India, lacked experience of New Zealand conditions, and therein lay his tragedy. 10. Arthur Dudley Dobson's Pass; Tarapuhi had told Leonard Harper of this pass in 1857 but, with clothing and footwear worn out, Harper didn't dare to try it. This pass was in the right place and the route was already partially formed. 11. Sam Hewlings - a very personal grief; Surveyors had private lives, like everyone else, but their jobs made sustaining family relationships doubly difficult, and they were sometimes separated for months at a time. Child mortality was also far more prevalent in the nineteenth century, but Sam's experience with his family seems particularly heartbreaking. 12. Noel Brodrick - a lifetime in the survey service; Brodrick's diaries provide an enlightening glimpse into the personal, social and political topics of his surveying life from 1880 until his death in 1931. He describes the loneliness and primitive conditions of surveying in the nineteenth century, the agony of leaving his adored wife, the lack of communications, the partition of land under successive governments, the anxieties of wartime, the social whirl, the paucity of mental health care. Epilogue; Index