By the time he was photographed with a survey party near Tarawera in 1886, Stephenson Percy Smith (seated, centre) had risen to the position of Assistant Surveyor General. Information gathered from Māori he encountered during numerous survey expeditions sparked his interest in the history and origins of the Māori. A founder of the Polynesian Society in 1892, he published papers on a wide range of ethnological topics, and then well-received books, including Hawaiki: the whence of the Maori (1898) and Hawaiki: the original home of the Maori (1904).
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