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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.


PHARAZYN, Charles Johnson



Charles Johnson Pharazyn was born on 11 October 1802 in London, the son of Henry Charles Pharazyn, a merchant there. He was educated at a private academy in London and, for a short time, held a desk at Lloyd's before joining his uncle as partner in an insurance brokerage business. About 1838, after meeting with Hindmarsh of the South Australian Association, he became interested in the colonisation schemes of E. G. Wakefield. He decided to emigrate to New Zealand and, on 24 May 1841, arrived at Wellington in the Jane after an adventurous voyage. The Jane had been disabled off Rio de Janiero and Pharazyn advanced sufficient money to pay for repairs. In New Zealand he experienced some difficulty in recovering this and, as a result, visited Sydney where he brought a successful action against the owners. He invested this money in merchandise which he shipped to Wellington, and set up as a merchant. Tiring of this a few years later, Pharazyn decided to take up land. The quest for grazing land took him at first to the South Island and, in October 1851, in conjunction with C. J. Nairn, he announced having discovered gold on the property of Charles Suisted, at Goodwood, Otago. During the remainder of the year Pharazyn and Nairn worked their way overland as far south as Foveaux Strait and, on New Year's Day 1852, proceeding from the Oreti River, they met Mantell and his party at Riverton. Later on Pharazyn prospected the lower Wairarapa district and, in partnership with Fitzherbert, leased a 5,000-acre sheep run on the shores of Palliser Bay. The venture proved so successful that several years later he closed the partnership and visited England. On his return he joined the Hon. John Johnston, M.L.C., in a mercantile business in Wellington. A few years later he entered into a successful partnership with Nathaniel Levin. In 1871 he retired from business in order to give full attention to his political career.

Pharazyn served on the Wellington Town Board in the late 1860s and, on 17 June 1869, Stafford arranged for him to be called to the Legislative Council. He remained a member until 11 March 1885, when he resigned in order to allow his son, Robert, to take his place. For several years he was chairman of the Wellington Education Board. Possessed of a shrewd business instinct and a capacity for hard work, Pharazyn was immensely successful in his various farming and commercial concerns. During his long years in retirement, he maintained his interest in commercial matters and also invested in numerous Wellington business ventures.

Pharazyn was three times married: first, in 1825, in London, to Harriet Maria; secondly, in 1832, in London, to Mary Catherine Buckland (died 1864); and, thirdly, on 24 December 1867, at St. Paul's Church, Wellington, to Jessica Rankin (1818-91), an English poetess who had come to New Zealand earlier in that year. He died at Seacroft, Hobson Street, Wellington, on 16 August 1903, having been predeceased by his four sons. One of these, Charles Pharazyn (1831–1903) farmed in the Wairarapa for many years and served a term on the Wellington Provincial Council.

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

  • Evening Post, 17 Aug 1903 (Obit)
  • New Zealand Times, 18 Aug 1903 (Obit).


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