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Story: Haszard, Henry Douglas Morpeth

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Haszard, Henry Douglas Morpeth


Surveyor, land commissioner

This biography, written by Joan C. Stanley and R. D. Stanley, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1993.

Henry Douglas Morpeth Haszard was born on 16 January 1862 at Mangonui, Northland, New Zealand, the eldest surviving son of Moore Hunter Morpeth and her husband, Robert Haszard, a farmer and former goldminer. His parents had both arrived in Auckland from Prince Edward Island in 1858. Harry, as he was commonly known, was educated at the Otamatea school at Tanoa on the Kaipara Harbour (where his father had become the headmaster), at Paparoa School, and at Auckland College and Grammar School. After passing the civil service entrance examination he joined the Survey Department as a cadet in 1880. He was trained by C. F. R. von Neumann in the Hokianga district and qualified as an authorised surveyor in 1883.

In August 1887 Haszard was invited by the assistant surveyor general, S. P. Smith, to join the New Zealand party which was going to the Kermadec Islands to confirm New Zealand possession and to undertake a survey. A few months earlier, on 12 April 1887, he had married Alice Elizabeth Vaughan Wily, at Mauku. The first of their five children was born at Auckland in January 1888.

Haszard was a member of the Auckland Institute, and between 1889 and 1902 contributed papers on a variety of topics, including evidence of a cannibal feast which he had discovered in sand dunes near Raglan, thermal hot springs in Lake Waikare, and James Cook's visit to Mercury Bay. He was also a foundation member of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors.

By 1896 Haszard was acting as an inspecting surveyor at Thames, where he worked with Laurence Cussen, the pioneer surveyor of the King Country. He was responsible for the survey of the Waihi and Waitekauri mining townships, a difficult task because of the many business and residential sites that had been granted over a considerable period. He remained at Thames until 1909, being promoted to district surveyor in 1898. It was there that the Haszards' daughter Rhona, later to become well known as an artist, was born in 1901.

In 1903 Haszard became seriously ill with blood poisoning contracted in the course of his work. To assist his recovery the minister of lands, T. Y. Duncan, arranged for him to spend his sick leave on a voyage to the Cook Islands and Niue. In return Haszard agreed to carry out a survey of Niue, and in recognition of this work he was elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, London.

Haszard gave up field surveying in June 1909 when he was appointed chief draughtsman in the Lands and Survey Office in Christchurch and acting chief surveyor for Canterbury. In 1912 he became commissioner of Crown lands, chief surveyor and conservator of state forests for the Westland district. In addition to his ordinary departmental duties Haszard was appointed chairman of the 1913 Royal Commission on Forestry, which also included the eminent botanist Leonard Cockayne. The commission's comprehensive report became the major influence on forestry policy. Among its recommendations were the classification of all forests with a protective role as climatic reserves, the designation of scenic reserves, and the removal of forest from all land suitable for farming. The pumice lands of the North Island volcanic plateau were recommended as the site for large plantations of exotic trees, especially Pinus radiata.

In 1914 Haszard was one of two commissioners appointed to inquire into reserves for landless Maori in the South Island and the Waikato–Maniapoto Native Land Court District. A promotion to commissioner of Crown lands, chief surveyor and conservator of state forests for Southland, based in Invercargill, followed in 1915; it was there that his wife died of influenza in 1918. In 1919 Haszard was appointed to identical posts for Canterbury.

After his retirement on 31 March 1921 he lived at Waihi, in a large house on the banks of the Ohinemuri River. He was made a justice of the peace, added to his large collection of Maori artefacts, took an interest in a farm block which he owned with his brothers, and travelled extensively overseas. On 24 February 1923, at Auckland, he married Mary Elizabeth Davison.

Harry Haszard died at Auckland on 19 September 1938, survived by his second wife, three sons and a daughter. His contribution to surveying and lands administration is commemorated in Mt Haszard and Haszard Ridge in the Hall Range, South Canterbury, and in Mt Haszard on Macauley Island and nearby Haszard Islet, both in the Kermadec Islands.

How to cite this page:

Joan C. Stanley and R. D. Stanley. 'Haszard, Henry Douglas Morpeth', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1993. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/2h18/haszard-henry-douglas-morpeth (accessed 19 July 2024)