On 16 May 1862, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the owner of the New Zealand Company (the organisation who purchased land from the Maori for the settlements of Canterbury, Wellington, New Plymouth and Nelson) and the co-founder of the Canterbury Association died of Rheumatic Fever and Neuralgia.
By the 1830′s, Wakefield was a politician with a keen interest in forming new colonies in South Australia. He was a powerful speaker and was the main driving force behind the project. As the project began to take shape and started to succeed, more power was taken from him to the point he was completely frozen out. In 1837 he walked away and set his eyes on New Zealand!
The following year he was the director of his own business – The New Zealand Company. With the purchase of their first ship, the “Tory”, the first expedition to New Zealand was made. After the stresses of setting up Nelson and the murder of his brother Arthur in 1840, Wakefield suffered a stroke. It was during his recovery that he befriended John Robert Godley – another fella keen on colonisation – and together they formed the Canterbury Association.
Wakefield sailed out to Christchurch in 1853 expecting a hero’s welcome. He didn’t get any of that; he was the symbol of the lies of the Canterbury Association to the early settlers. Crestfallen, Wakefield left after just one month, heading for Wellington. He didn’t get much of a welcome there either. New Zealand Governor, George Grey actually left town so he didn’t have to meet him. He soon got involved in the Government but the game didn’t last long. In 1855, he withdrew from public life and died in 1862.
For a more in depth look at Edward Gibbon Wakefield, please check out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/edward-gibbon-wakefield-1796-1862/
* Image courtesy of Victoria – The University of Wellington – http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/