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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


BARNICOAT, John Wallis


Early surveyor and politician.

John Wallis Barnicoat was born in June 1814 at Falmouth, Cornwall, the son of John Barnicoat and of Elizabeth, née Bullock. He was educated at Falmouth Proprietary School, articled to a civil engineer, and practised his profession in England until 1841 On 23 February 1842 he arrived at Nelson in the Lord Auckland and was employed by the New Zealand Company surveying the Moutere and Waimea districts. He was engaged to survey the Wairau and was present at the Affray, but managed to escape with Tuckett's party to Cloudy Bay. He surveyed the Motueka and Takaka districts and in 1844 accompanied Tuckett and Monro when they explored the south-eastern coasts of the South Island to find a suitable site for the New Edinburgh settlement. In the same year Barnicoat took up land at Richmond. He explored Pelorus Sound in 1846 and, two years later, was nominated as one of the two arbitrators to settle the New Zealand Land Company's claims. In 1850 the Government sent Barnicoat and John Tinline to find a suitable land route between Nelson and the Wairau.

On 2 August 1853 Barnicoat was returned to Nelson Provincial Council for Waimea East, which constituency he continued to represent until the abolition of the provinces. He was Speaker of the Council from 1858 to 1876, Deputy Superintendent on three occasions, and Acting Superintendent for three months following Robinson's death. He unsuccessfully contested the superintendency on two occasions: against Robinson in 1862 and Saunders in 1865. On 14 May 1883 he was called to the Legislative Council where he remained until 21 June 1902. Besides these political offices, Barnicoat was intensely active in local affairs, being chairman of the Waimea Road Board (1857–77) and Waimea County Council (1877–83). He was interested in education and served on the Board from 1856 until 1889, being chairman from 1878 and a trustee under the Nelson Trust Funds Act. He was one of the founders of Nelson College and remained a member of its Board of Governors from 1856 until 1896. In addition to these interests he was, at different times, chairman of the Hospital Board, a visiting justice to the asylum, and a director of the Waimea Flax Dressing Co. For nearly 50 years Barnicoat was closely associated with the Church of England in Nelson, serving on the Archdeaconry Board from 1856 and on the Synod from 1859 until 1899, as well as holding other diocesan offices.

In 1849, at Nelson, Barnicoat married Rebecca, daughter of William Hodgson. He died at Hardy Street, Nelson, on 2 February 1905 leaving two sons and three daughters.

by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

  • John Wallis Barnicoata Biographical Sketch, Gunn, V. R. (n.d.)
  • The Colonist (Nelson), 3 Feb 1905 (Obit)
  • Evening Post, 3 Feb 1905 (Obit).


Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.