A Treatise on Practical Surveying, as Particularly Applicable to New Zealand and other colonies ...

WHITEHEAD Arthur (1848.)

£3250.00  [First Edition]

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First edition. Three folding maps coloured in outline, one folding diagram, & 17 lithographic plates. 8vo. Original green cloth, paper label to spine, ownership inscription to title-page. xii, [ii], viii, 9-174, [10 tables]pp. London, Longman & Co.,

A very good copy of this landmark treatise on surveying in New Zealand. Published just seven years after the official establishment of New Zealand as a colony, it is the most important early work on the terrestrial mapping of New Zealand by one of the most important early surveyors.


Whitehead travelled to New Zealand under the auspices of the New Zealand Company (est. 1841), which under the leadership of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, "was determined to establish a colony with or without the government's blessing" (ODNB). When Whitehead arrived in February 1842, New Zealand's coasts were already well-charted by the Royal Navy, by way of trigonometric surveys. However, the islands' interior was scarcely mapped at all, and Europeans had hardly visited many areas.


This even-handed, pragmatic work would have been indispensable for any settler, let alone surveyor, in a new colony. Whitehead makes clear the peculiarities of surveying basically in his introduction: "The survey of a Country so rugged and uncleared as New Zealand, must be attended with much expense and unexpected difficulty, and on that account it is not surprising to find that the system proposed by Captain Dawson, though excellent is not universally applicable to all the circumstances of such a Country."


He advises that surveyors travel light, and discusses both the theodolite and the sextant: these two tools being essential to the work of a surveyor. Whitehead provides detailed instructions, and goes so far as to recommend specific brands of theodolites which he considers a "very convenient Instrument, and particularly suitable for bush surveying."


Whitehead's remarks ... "To no class of persons in any colony is a knowledge of the native language more necessary than to Surveyors. It matters not what philanthropic system is carried out for the purchase of native lands for the settler, as little does it matter with what good faith such purchase has been effected by the natives, for disputes will arise, and in most cases will commence as soon as the Surveyor appears to lay out the district ..."


Of real interest, he gives instructions for the laying out towns and suburban lands; dedicates a chapter on marine surveys; and another to the construction of colonial roads. The seventeen plates illustrate a new road in the Hutt Valley, while the large folding maps depict the district of Upper Hutt, the Hudson Valley (between Manawatu and Port Nicholson), and Port Nicholson Harbour.


While the work is of obvious relevance to New Zealand (as all the examples are drawn from his time there), Whitehead's advice was applicable elsewhere, such as Canada, South Africa, Australia, Guyana and rural India.


Provenance: Inscribed "Robert Baker 16th July 1858" on the title page. This is probably Robert Baker (1797-1867), a native of Devon who was a pioneer settler in New Zealand under the auspices of the New Zealand Company.


Scarce. OCLC locates 9 copies. Auction records list just a single copy (this one). Bagnall, 6039; Ferguson, 4957.



Stock Code: 233272

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