Frederick Maning was a colourful personality of the far North and early Auckland.
Maning arrived in New Zealand in 1833, after spending his robust, outdoorsy teenage years in the back blocks of Tasmania.
A colourful character, he published Old New Zealand in 1863. In the book, his descriptions (though embellished) of his first arrival, being greeted by Moetara of Ngati Korokoro, and his wrestling match with a Māori man who had tipped him into a river, seem authentic. He bought land at Kohukohu on the Hokianga in a deal that stymied another Tasmanian Henry Oakes and an English visitor Edward Markham.
Markham later described Maning as 'a low-minded savage' and 'a double faced sneaking Thief', who 'would have done Honor to the back Woods of America'.
In two sojourns on the Hokianga, Maning lived the life of a Pākeha-Māori, avoiding the missionaries. On his second stay, he lived with a Te Hikutu woman, Moengaroa, and they had four children. For much of the 1850s, he was a significant kauri timber and gum trader.
He spoke out against the Treaty of Waitangi, believing it would be difficult to enforce British law among Maori. He was active in the campaigns against Hone Heke, helping supply Maori allies of the colonists; and he witnessed several battles. In 1862, he published A history of the war in the north of New Zealand against the chief Heke, a “ well-crafted account” according to Te Ara, the online encyclopedia of New Zealand.
In later life, he became a judge in the Native Land Court, but was noted for “strong class as well as race prejudices.”
He died in England on 25 July 1883, and unusually, was brought back here to New Zealand for burial at Symonds Street Cemetery in December.