Sir George Grey
Twenty five years as a Governor
Sir George Grey was a British colonial governor and premier of New Zealand. He was born in Lisbon and educated at Sandhurst before serving as an infantry officer (1829-38). In 1837 he sailed for Western Australia and for two years explored the north west area of the region, compiling a vocabulary of aboriginal dialects before writing his Journals of Two Expeditions in Australia (1840). He spent two years as Resident Magistrate in Albany, then Australia’s main port before embarking on a twenty five year career as governor of various territories.
In 1841 Grey was appointed Governor of South Australia (1841-1845), New Zealand (1845-1853 and 1861-1868 ) and Cape Colony (1854-1861). To each of these colonies Grey brought economic prosperity although his autocratic ways often resulted in conflict with the Colonial Office and he was recalled from the Cape prematurely for advocating a South Africa federation – (something which a later Colonial Secretary Lord Carnarvon tried to promote). In the Cape he helped to deal with the aftereffects of the Kaffir War and in New Zealand he brought the Maori War to an end.
Emigration to New Zealand
Grey returned to England and then in 1870 he returned to New Zealand as a private citizen. He became superintendent of Auckland in 1875, sat in the House of Representatives (1874-1894) during which time he was premier of New Zealand (1877-1879). In 1891 he was a delegate to the National Australasian Convention but he doubted the wisdom of federal links with the Australian colonies.
He was sympathetic to Maori interests and culture and wrote an important work on Polynesian Mythology (1855) and a collection of Polynesian proverbs (1858). He gave valuable libraries to Cape Town and Auckland.
Grey spent the last four years of his life in England dying in 1898.