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George Rusden

George W. Rusden (1819–1903) spent most of his life in Australia, where he served in local government.

On retirement in 1881 he wrote histories of Australia and New Zealand. Both books were highly critical of the Crown's policies toward indigenous peoples.

In his History of New Zealand (1883) Rusden accused John Bryce - at that time Native Minister - of killing women and children in an incident at Handley’s woolshed during the Taranaki war. Bryce sued Rusden for libel, and the case was heard in the High Court in London. The verdict went against Rusden. His book was suppressed and Bryce was awarded £5,000 in damages, a vast sum at that time. Bryce, who felt vindicated by the judgment, accepted a lesser sum to cover his costs.

Adapted from the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry by Mary Lazarus

How to cite this page

George Rusden, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated