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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]

Dr. John Logan Campbell

Dr. John Logan Campbell, who was Superintendent of the Province of Auckland during the years 1855 and 1856, is one of Auckland's best known and most respected citizens. He was born in 1817, and is the only son of Dr. John Campbell of Edinburgh and grandson of Sir James Campbell, Bart., of Abernchill and Kilbryde, Perthshire. He was educated at Edinburgh, took his degree of M.D. at Edinburgh University and gained his diploma of surgeon at the famous Royal College of Surgeons in that city. In 1839, when the first great move of emigration flowed to Australia, Dr. Campbell determined to try his fortunes in that direction. After a three months tour through the Bathurst and Lachlan districts with a view to becoming a squatter he found the convict element too uncongenial to his taste. New Zealand having just been declared a British Colony, he decided to risk his future in the land of the Maori, and early in 1840 landed at Coromandel. In his interesting book “Poenamo” Dr. Campbell cleverly depicts the foundation of Auckland and how he awaited the first sale of town lots in 1841, whilst living on his little island of Motukorea in Auckland Harbour. In conjunction with his late partner, Mr. W. Brown, Dr. Campbell purchased the allotment in Shortland Street on which Messrs. Brown, Campbell and Co., the first mercantile firm established in Auckland, have ever since conducted their business. Though the title of “Doctor” still clings to him, he has never practised his profession, having thus early adopted a commercial career. In 1848, Dr. Campbell left the Colony on a visit Home, en route through Torres Strait; he touched at Singapore, Calcutta, and Suez, and made the ascent of the Nile to the Second Cataract. Thereafter he made his tour of Greece. Turkey, and the European Continent generally, spending fifteen months in constant travelling. On his return to Auckland, then in full swing as the capital of the Colony, Dr. Campbell took a prominent part in all matters, commercial and political. Besides ably filling the post of Superintendent of the Province, he took a very active part in the General Assembly, as member for Auckland, and joined the Stafford ministry. During this period he paid a hurried visit to the Old Country; on his return he was pressed by his old colleagues to contest Parnell, and was returned unopposed. Five years later he again visited Europe, making a lengthened stay of ten years. Returning to Auckland in 1871, he did not re-enter politics, but continued prominently connected with all the leading local institutions. His name is found among the list of presidents of the Northern Club, Auckland Institute, Chamber of Commerce, and Bank of New Zealand. He has been chairman of the Education Board, New Zealand Insurance Company, and many other Important directorates. To Dr. Campbell's liberality. Auckland was indebted for the establishment of the Free School of Art, which he maintained at his own sole cost for the eleven years of its existence. This school was closed when the Elam bequest for the existing free school of art came into operation. Messrs Brown, Campbell and Co., of which firm Dr. Campbell is now the sole surviving partner, were in their day foremost in the development of the Colony's resources. They loaded the first ship which left Auckland for London with kauri timber, manganese, kauri gum, flax, etc., and in many other ways did much for Auckland. Looking back over nearly sixty years Dr Campbell recalls with mingled feelings the time when Queen Street was a flax swamp, and spring tides rippled on the beach where now stands the Auckland Post Office. Through all the intervening years his name has been a household word throughout the length and breadth of the Colony, but especially in the Auckland province, deservedly held by all in the highest esteem and respect. Dr. Campbell is enjoying a “green old age”; yet, every morning finds him early at his post after walking to town from his mansion on the point near Judge's Bay—a distance of nearly two miles. As an amateur photographer, he has even quite recently produced many artistic pictures of Auckland Harbour and other places of interest. In literature, he many years ago made a name.