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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
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.



Official and New Zealand Company Surveys

Under this treaty the Maori tribes surrendered the sovereignty of New Zealand to the Crown, but retained the ownership of the land, excluding that which was subject to land claims. When a Government was established under Governor Hobson, one of the four officials who accompanied him was Felton Mathew, first Surveyor-General. It was his responsibility to recommend to the Governor sites suitable for towns and settlement, to lay out roads for access to settlement lands, to define the boundaries of such land, to provide a system of land records, and to establish a land-title registry. This was a heavy task for one man and a few assistants, especially as the sailing ship was the only mode of travel between the far-flung settlements. But Felton Mathew had foresight. He laid out the site of the Auckland City, providing for Albert Park, and showing on his first map of the city (1842) the identical location of the foreshore access road across the Orakei Basin, which was not developed until 100 years later.

Meanwhile the New Zealand Company had established its first settlement in Wellington. The most important administrative unit was the Survey Office, first under the direction of a Surveyor-General, later called the Chief Surveyor. The Company recruited some outstanding surveyors from the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain. Many of them had had experience in the survey of India, where a triangulation system had been laid down as a basis for land-title survey. In the Wellington district it was almost impossible for the surveyors to keep ahead of the settlers' demands for town and rural land. In the steep and broken forest-covered terrain, the job of finding suitable land meant exploring territory as distant as the Wairarapa and Manawatu districts. These were often epic journeys.