Charles Heaphy


Charles Heaphy, VC (1820-1881) was only 19 when he sailed from England as the official artist and draughtsman of the New Zealand Company, arriving in Wellington with the men charged with purchasing and surveying land for the settlers who were to follow only months later.

His watercolours of Wellington and Nelson were intended to encourage immigrants; reproduced as lithographs they are among the most well-known early New Zealand views. Heaphy travelled to the Bay of Islands, and endured arduous South Island exploring expeditions with Brunner and Fox; he fought in the land wars of the 1860s and earned the Victoria Cross, the first volunteer soldier ever to be so recognised. He held a number of important civil service posts before ill-health caused his retirement in 1881 to Brisbane, where he died.

His versatility means sketches, portraits, and watercolours of significant historical value are held as a major collection in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.