Series 5 - Donald McLean's diaries and notebooks

Throughout his career McLean made extensive use of little notebooks for diary entries and notes of his activities.

McLean was not a regular diarist, and he became more haphazard as he got older. Some daily entries are brief, and others very detailed. His main purpose was to record all the complex details of his meetings with Māori about land purchase and other matters, for later follow-up. The diaries were also used to record items of interest, such as notes on the Māori language, census information, or to draft letters. The diaries deal more with his work as a Government employee than his later activities as an elected politician.

The earlier entries do include some information about McLean's domestic life and inner thoughts. His courtship of his wife produced some tender passages, and he liked to write self-congratulatory end-of-year reflections on his achievements.

Turnbull Library staff transcribed most of the diary entries in the early 1950s. Where available, these transcriptions are reproduced alongside the digital image of the diary page, and can be keyword searched. Please note that these transcriptions are of draft quality and words are sometimes inaccurately transcribed.

There are 100 items in this series, of which 43 have been transcribed.

Richard Taylor. A monument to the memory of Kawiti at Tarawera, 22 Nov 1845.

McLean's diaries and notebooks are generally not illustrated. However, one of his early diaries, describing an 1845 journey into Tuwharetoa, Waikato and Arawa territory in the central North Island, includes some rough sketches by his travelling companion, the missionary Richard Taylor. This drawing of a memorial to an Arawa chief Kawiti is from Taylor's own sketchbook, and is a more finished version of a pencil sketch he made in McLean's diary.

Richard Taylor. A monument to the memory of Kawiti at Tarawera, 22 Nov 1845. E-296-q-013-2
Drawings, Paintings and Prints Collection
Alexander Turnbull Library