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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.




Seaman and Pakeha-Maori.

Rutherford was born at Manchester, c. 1796. He went to sea at 10 years of age in 1806 and was present at the storming of San Sebastian in August 1813. Later he went to New South Wales and made two trading trips through the South Seas. On the second in the Magnet, commanded by Captain Vine, he was put ashore sick at Hawaii. In a short time he was taken on board the Agnes, commanded by Captain Coffin, who made for New Zealand where, endeavouring to put into the Bay of Islands, he was blown off course and made anchorage, on 6 March 1816, at a bay called by Rutherford “Takomardu”. This was probably Poverty Bay, but may have been situated in the Bay of Islands or at Kennedys Bay. The crew, with the exception of 12 men, were killed and the ship burnt. All those remaining were killed and eaten, except Rutherford, who was taken inland by the chief “Aimy”. Rutherford was tattooed on the face, participated in tribal activities, and, later, was made a chief. He was then obliged to marry into the tribe and chose Aimy's two daughters, Hau and Peka, as his wives. Rutherford journeyed to the west coast of the North Island and Cook Strait, and was probably at the battle Ika-a-rangi-nui of February 1825 at which Hongi was a prominent figure. Rutherford was rescued on 9 January 1826 by Captain Jackson in an American brig, and eventually arrived in England in 1828 after visits to Hawaii, Australia, and Rio de Janiero. He supported himself for a time by showing his tattooed body in a “travelling caravan of wonders”. The publisher Charles Knight had many conversations with Rutherford in 1829, and information from these and a document compiled on Rutherford's journey to England were included in Craik's The New Zealanders. It is not known what became of Rutherford after 1830.

by John Sidney Gully, M.A., DIP.N.Z.L.S., Assistant Chief Librarian, General Assembly Library, Wellington.

  • The New Zealanders, Craik, G. L. (1830)
  • John Rutherford, Drummond, James (1908)
  • When the Rainbow is Pale, Joseph, G. (1962).


John Sidney Gully, M.A., DIP.N.Z.L.S., Assistant Chief Librarian, General Assembly Library, Wellington.