The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/White, John

1460301The Dictionary of Australasian Biography — White, JohnPhilip Mennell

White, John, went to New Zealand with his father and uncle (Rev. William White) when six years of age, and resided at Hokianga. At a very early period he interested himself deeply in acquiring a knowledge of the Maori language, traditions, and customs. The sack of Kororarika by the Maoris in 1844 compelled him and his family to remove to Auckland, and he was appointed gold commissioner at Coromandel under the late Major Heaphy, V.C. Soon afterwards Mr. White was appointed interpreterand land purchaser under Surveyor-General Ligar, and bought for the Government the district now known as Waitakera. He also obtained from the natives a deed of gift of a strip of land from the head of the Waitemata River to Helensville for the construction of the present Helensville Railway. He succeeded in extinguishing the native title to most of the lands in the vicinity of Auckland. He was appointed magistrate of Central Wanganui, and decided many native disputes. He was entrusted by the New Zealand Government with the onerous task of writing a complete history of the native race, embodying all the ancient mythology and religious superstitions of the Maoris. Six volumes of this work entitled "The Ancient History of the Maoris," were issued from the Government press. Mr. White, who was regarded as having the most profound knowledge of Maori matters of any man in New Zealand, was also the author of "Te Rou; or, The Maori at Home," portraying native life and customs in the pre-European days of New Zealand. He died at Auckland' on Jan. 13th, 1891.