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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Mair, Major William Gilbert

Mair, Major William Gilbert, son of Gilbert Mair and Elizabeth (Pinkey) his wife, was born at the Bay of Islands, N.Z., on Nov. 20th, 1832. He served during the Maori war, and was in seventeen actions, being under fire on more than thirty occasions altogether. He was recommended by Colonel Haultain, Minister of Defence, for the decoration of the New Zealand Cross, for "personal valour before the enemy," and received the New Zealand war medal, and was twice mentioned in despatches. During the parley between General Cameron and the Maori insurgents at Orakau in 1864, Major Mair acted as interpreter and conveyed the General's message to Rewi Maniapoto calling upon the enemy to surrender at discretion, when he was fired upon, and the chiefs returned the now historical answer "Friend, we shall fight you for ever and ever!" Major Mair commanded the expedition against the East Coast rebels, resulting in the capture of Te Teko Pa and the surrender of the murderers of the Rev. C. S. Volkner and of Captain James Fulloon, Government agent, who were afterwards tried, convicted and executed. He also commanded the native contingent all through the Tauranga campaign in 1866-7, when he performed the act of personal valour for which he was recommended for the Cross. He was instrumental in obtaining the submission of the Maori king in 1882, when a hundred and twenty stand of arms were handed over to him in token of the King's sincerity. Major Mair was officially thanked by the Colonial Government on this and numerous other occasions. During the nine years of his occupancy of the Bench of the Native Lands Court (1882-91) Major Mair investigated some thousands of titles, and passed through his court over two million acres of native land, clothing it with an English title. He has contributed several papers on scientific subjects to the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute. Major Mair, who holds his rank in the New Zealand Militia, was Government agent and resident magistrate at Waikato from 1870 to 1882, and now resides at Auckland. He married at Alexandra, N.Z., on May 15th, 1872, Miss Jane Black.