Kiwi as

It is Fathers’ Day today so allow me to wander a little off script as our individual was not a Kiwi and would never have thought of considering himself as such.

But could he qualify for ‘Father of the Nation’ as we know it today?

James Busby was born in Scotland on 7 February 1802 and his family emigrated from Britain to New South Wales in 1824.

On his arrival in Sydney, Busby was appointed a teacher of viticulture at the Male Orphans School at Bald Hills near Liverpool. The school closed in 1850. In 1828 Busby returned to England, before visiting Spain and France to further his study in viticulture. Busby returned to Australia in 1828.

In March 1833 he was appointed to the position of British Resident of New Zealand and went to the Bay of Islands in May that year, taking with him some of the vine stock he had collected in Europe.?A house was completed for him at Waitangi where he planted a vineyard from which wine was being made before his vines were productive in Australia.

His duties were to protect British commerce, control, and to mediate between the unruly P?keh? settlers and M?ori in New Zealand. However, he was not provided with any resources to impose this authority.

After an unregistered New Zealand ship was seized in Australia, Busby proposed that New Zealand should have a national flag. A selection of three or four designs was sent from Australia, and M?ori chiefs chose one at a meeting at his residence on 20 March 1834.

In 1835 Busby learned that Baron Charles Philippe Hippolyte de Thierry, a Frenchman, was proposing to declare French sovereignty over New Zealand. He drafted the Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand and at a meeting in October signed it together with 35 chiefs from the northern part of New Zealand.

After the arrival of William Hobson in 1840, Busby co-authored with him the Treaty of Waitangi. It was first signed on 5 and 6 February 1840 on the lawn outside his residence. Busby and his family left Waitangi that year. He declined an offer for a position in the new colonial government, and instead focused on farming interests, but became entangled in litigation over his own land titles: the New Zealand Banking Company seized his Waitangi property without giving Busby’s debtors an opportunity to pay what they owed, and Governor Grey expropriated Busby’s land at Whangarei.

James Busby’s house restored on the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi

It is interesting to note that the Waitangi property on which the Treaty was signed, and which these days is treated as hallowed ground, was derelict until the 1930s, when it was purchased by the Governor-General of the day, Viscount Bledisloe and donated to the nation.

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