The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Mantell, Hon. Walter Baldock Durant

Mantell, Hon. Walter Baldock Durant, M.L.C., son of Gideon Algernon Mantell, LL.D., F.R.S., the eminent geologist, author of "Medals of Creation," "Atlas of Fossil Remains," and Mary Ann (Woodhouse) his wife, was born on March 11th, 1820. Having emigrated to Wellington, N.Z., in 1840, he was appointed in 1848 a Commissioner for Extinguishing Native Titles in the Middle Island of New Zealand; and, by promises of various small concessions, succeeded in buying out the claims of the Maoris to 30,000,000 acres of land for about £5000 in cash. Greatly to his disgust, however, the promises he had made on behalf of the Government were not subsequently fulfilled; and being in London in 1856, when some of the principal of them were being broken, he appealed to Mr. Labouchere, then Secretary for the Colonies, to interfere in the matter. Mr. Labouchere declined to give him an interview; and finding his written remonstrances unavailing, Mr. Mantell resigned his official posts, being out of harmony with the native policy of both the Imperial and Colonial Governments. Mr. Mantell was Minister for Native Affairs in the Fox Ministry from July to Dec. 1861; and Postmaster-General and Secretary for Crown Lands under Mr. Domett, in August 1862. He was again Minister for Native Affairs in the Weld Administration from Dec. 1864 to July 1865; and also, concurrently, Native Secretary from April to July 1865. Mr. Mantell was for some time a member of the House of Representatives, and in 1866 was nominated to the Legislative Council. Some of the most important ameliorative measures passed in the interest of the Maoris were due to his initiative, and in his place in Parliament he never failed to protest against measures regarding them which savoured of injustice. He married first, on July 29th, 1863, Mary Sarah, daughter of Edward Prince; and secondly, on Jan. 10th, 1876, Jane, daughter of Benjamin Hardwick, of Beckenham, England. Mr. Mantell was the first scientific explorer of the moa beds of Waikouaiti and Waingongoro, and he succeeded in forming some magnificent collections of fossil remains, which were forwarded to England and ultimately deposited in the British Museum.