Kōrero: Early mapping

Whārangi 3. Traders, whalers, missionaries: 1800–1840

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Traders and missionaries

Once New Zealand became known to the European world, visitors began to exploit its abundance of seals, flax and timber. Settlements at Sydney and Hobart provided a base for such expeditions, and their charts showed parts of the coastline in greater detail, marking where these resources could be found.

Sealers and whalers

Sealers produced various charts of the coastline, from sketch maps to details of anchorages. An American sealer, Owen Folger Smith, was the first to chart Foveaux Strait, around 1805. Sealing captains also discovered and charted the subantarctic islands.

Whalers made few charts, but their activities did encourage others to draw them. When the whaler Jacky Guard piloted HMS Pelorus up the ‘Oyerri River’ (Pelorus Sound/Te Hoiere) in 1838, the ship’s master, Mr Craigie, made a chart of the inlet.

Timber and flax traders

During the 1820s and 1830s British officers from naval ships calling into the Bay of Islands and the Firth of Thames would sound and chart their anchorages while waiting for kauri for ships’ spars to be cut and loaded. Other ships ventured to New Zealand to collect flax and timber. The charts of Captain Thomas Wing, employed by Clendon and Stephenson, traders in flax and timber, were widely respected by fellow seamen. Wing sailed extensively around the North Island and made the first charts of many harbours, such as Ahuriri (at Napier).


Christian missionaries arrived in New Zealand from 1814. They travelled widely, and were the first Europeans to explore the interior of the country. Anglican Church Missionary Society missionaries, led by Samuel Marsden, established themselves in the Bay of Islands from 1814. They travelled around the northern part of the North Island, partly looking for suitable sites for further mission stations.

Three missionary maps were published in the Church Missionary Register before 1840. In 1822 a map of the Bay of Islands and its missionary settlements, and ‘A chart of the northern part of New Zealand’ (probably compiled in late 1819 or early 1820) appeared. In 1836 a map showing the North Island from Rotorua northwards, was published, with mission stations marked.

Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Melanie Lovell-Smith, 'Early mapping - Traders, whalers, missionaries: 1800–1840', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/early-mapping/page-3 (accessed 21 June 2024)

He kōrero nā Melanie Lovell-Smith, i tāngia i te 24 Sep 2007