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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.




Engineer, and Canterbury colonist.

Felix Wakefield was born in 1807 in Norfolk, the fifth and youngest son of Edward Wakefield (1774–1854) and of Susanna, née Crash (d. 1817). He was educated as an engineer but joined his father who was engaged in the silk trade at Blois, France. There, in 1831, he married Marie Felice Elizabeth Baillie, by whom he had six sons and three daughters. In the early 1830s he became Superintendent of Public Works in Tasmania and later farmed, with indifferent success, near Launceston. He returned to England in 1847 where he assisted his brother, Edward Gibbon, in his colonising schemes. His notes on the disposal of wastelands in colonies were edited by his brother Daniel in 1849 and issued as instructions to the New Zealand Company surveyors. He joined the Canterbury Settlement in 1851 and for the next three years he farmed near Christchurch. In 1854 Felix returned to England, where he was made Principal Superintendent of the Army Works Corps in the Crimea with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. There he built the military railway from Balaclava to Sebastopol.

He returned to New Zealand in 1863, and from 1867 to 1870 acted as secretary to James Bradshaw, the Government agent on the Otago goldfields. In the latter year he published a treatise on horticulture, The Gardener's Chronicle for New Zealand. He died at Sumner, Christchurch, on 23 December 1875. Two of his sons, Edward (1845–74) and Oliver (1844–84), attained distinction in New Zealand.

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

  • Lyttelton Times, 27 Dec 1875.


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