Thomas Bunbury


Thomas Bunbury
Thomas Bunbury

An experienced soldier, Bunbury (1791-1861) had fought in the Napoleonic Wars and, in the 1830s, was commandant of Norfolk Island. In March 1840, he was instructed by Governor Gipps to come to New Zealand with 100 men of his 80th Regiment to back up Hobson and, given Hobson's failing health, take over the Lieutenant-Governorship if necessary.

He sailed down the east coast to Port Nicholson and to the South Island to gather Treaty of Waitangi signatures. On 4 June 1840, at Sylvan Bay, he proclaimed British sovereignty over Stewart Island by discovery and then, on 17 June at Cloudy Bay, over the South Island by cession.

Disappointed at not attaining the governorship after Hobson's death, as was common for the senior military officer in a colony, he remained in New Zealand as a magistrate and officer-commanding. He was briefly Deputy-Governor for FitzRoy in 1844 before returning to his regiment and active service in India.

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