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George Grey

Prime Minister of New Zealand

Died when: 86 years 158 days (1037 months)
Star Sign: Aries


George Grey

Sir George Grey, KCB (14 April 1812 – 19 September 1898) was a British soldier, explorer, colonial administrator and writer.He served in a succession of governing positions: Governor of South Australia, twice Governor of New Zealand, Governor of Cape Colony, and the 11th premier of New Zealand.

He played a key role in the colonisation of New Zealand, and both the purchase and annexation of Māori land.

Grey was born in Lisbon, Portugal, just a few days after his father, Lieutenant-Colonel George Grey was killed at the Battle of Badajoz in Spain.

He was educated in England.After military service (1829–37) and two explorations in Western Australia (1837–39), Grey became Governor of South Australia in 1841.

He oversaw the colony during a difficult formative period.Despite being less hands-on than his predecessor George Gawler, his fiscally responsible measures ensured the colony was in good shape by the time he departed for New Zealand in 1845.

Grey was the most influential figure during the European settlement of New Zealand.Governor of New Zealand initially from 1845 to 1853, he was Governor during the initial stages of the New Zealand Wars.

Learning Māori to fluency, he became a scholar of Māori culture, and wrote a study of Māori mythology and oral history.

He developed a cordial relationship with the powerful rangatira Potatau Te Wherowhero of Tainui, in order to deter Ngāpuhi from invading Auckland.

He was knighted in 1848.In 1854, Grey was appointed Governor of Cape Colony in South Africa, where his resolution of hostilities between indigenous South Africans and European settlers was praised by both sides.

After separating from his wife and developing a severe opium addiction, Grey was again appointed Governor of New Zealand in 1861, three years after Te Wherowhero, who had established himself the first Māori King in Grey’ absence, had died.

The Kiingitanga posed a significant challenge to the British push for sovereignty, and with his Ngāpuhi absent from the movement, Grey found himself challenged on two sides.

He struggled to reuse his skills in negotiation to maintain peace with Māori, and his relationship with Te Wherowhero’s successor Tāwhiao deeply soured.

Turning on his former allies, Grey began an aggressive crackdown on Tainui and launched the Invasion of the Waikato in 1863, with 14,000 Imperial and colonial troops attacking 4,000 Māori and their families.

Appointed in 1877, he served as Premier of New Zealand until 1879, where he remained a symbol of colonialism.By political philosophy a Gladstonian liberal and Georgist, Grey eschewed the class system to be part of Auckland's new governance he helped to establish.

Cyril Hamshere argues that Grey was a "great British proconsul", although he was also temperamental, demanding of associates, and lacking in some managerial abilities.

For the wars of territorial expansion against Māori which he started, he remains a controversial and divisive figure in New Zealand.

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