Title: Henry Lawson Among Maoris

Author: William H. Pearson

Publication details: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 1968, Wellington

Digital publication kindly authorised by: Paul Millar

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Henry Lawson Among Maoris


page 180 page 180

Appendix II
Lawson's Visits to New Zealand

Lawson made two earlier visits to New Zealand. Not much is known about the second; but a summary of the first, based mainly on published sources, is appropriate. The main sources are Tom L. Mills's two articles, Anthony Cashion's article in Henry Lawson by his Mates, and Lawson's 'Pursuing Literature in Australia', his four letters to Jack Louisson and one to Emma Brooks.* Little is added by an article by Charles Wilson in the Lyttelton Times, 9September 1922. Colin Roderick has added further details in his two essays, in Overland,Spring 1957, and the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society,June 1967; and an account of the visit is given by Denton Prout in his biography.

Driven by economic depression in Australia in 1893, Lawson sought the price of a passage to New Zealand and was donated a first-class passage by the Union Steam Ship Company, but he chose to travel steerage. The voyage took eleven or twelve days, and he wrote of it in 'Coming Across', first published in the N.Z. Mail(Wellington), 15 December 1893. H. Roth's statement that he landed in Wellington on the Waihoraon 27 November is backed by a report in Fair Play(Wellington), 2 December, that Lawson had arrived on the previous Monday. This conflicts with Lawson's dating a letter from Wellington to Emma Brooks, '6/11/93', but perhaps the '11' is a mistake for '12'.

Lawson landed at Auckland first, and he visited the Auckland Museum to see Maori carving. He 'could not get a show' of work in Auckland and spent his last pound travelling to Wellington where he was better known, 'old chums at every corner'. He reached Wellington in time to see women vote 'for the first time' on 28 November. When he arrived, according to Colin Roderick, he telegraphed J. F. Archibald, editor of the Bulletin, for money. He slept at least his first two nights in Wellington in sewage pipes which were lying in the recreation ground harbour reclamation area waiting to be installed as part of a municipal drainage system.

A compositor on the N.Z. Times called Talbot told the chief compositor, Tom L. Mills, who asked Talbot to bring Lawson to the news-room. Mills, whose family was away at the time, offered to put Lawson up, and

* I have not seen a letter written from New Zealand to John Le Gay Brereton, in the possession of Mr Harry Chaplin.

H. Roth, Overland, 12, Winter 1958, p. 11; Henry Lawson to Emma Brooks, Mitchell Library A1 29/-2.