Sir Donald McLean Timeline


25 October, born on Isle of Tiree, Scotland.


Arrives in New South Wales, Australia.


February, arrives at the Bay of Islands. Begins trading activities in timber and other commodities.


April, appointed to the Department of the Protector of Aborigines.

May-June, working to resolve disputes at Waiheke Island and elsewhere in the Hauraki Gulf.

June, appointed as Sub-Protector of Aborigines, Taranaki.

July, arrives in New Plymouth.

August, begins investigating New Zealand Company land claims around New Plymouth.


January, travels with a large Māori party to Wanganui to help settle disputes between Tuwharetoa and South Taranaki iwi.

May, travels to Taupo as part of dispute settlement work.

October, accompanied by Richard Taylor, travels to Taupo and Rotorua via Wanganui.


March, Protectorate of Aborigines abolished. Visits Wanganui.

April, appointed Inspector of Police, Taranaki, and magistrate, with land purchase duties.

May-June, begins negotiating settlement of New Zealand Company land claim at Wanganui.

June, makes many journeys through Taranaki as part of his new duties.


February, Governor Grey begins negotiating in New Plymouth with Taranaki iwi for the sale of disputed land at Waitara and elsewhere.

March, McLean begins long series of meetings with Taranaki claimants for Waitara and other land.

June, travels up Whanganui River to large Māori meeting (near Jerusalem).


March, travels from Wellington via Waikanae, where Wiremu Kingi asserts his opposition to any Waitara sale.

May, meeting with major Wanganui claimants to finalise the Wanganui block purchase.

December, completes Taranaki Bell Block purchase. In Wellington, woos future wife Susan Strang.


January, expedition to Manawatu and Rangitikei to seek land from Ngati Raukawa and Ngati Apa iwi.

May, Rangitikei block purchased.

June, expedition to upriver Whanganui iwi.


March, journey to Mokau in northern Taranaki.

April, travelled to Wanganui and Wellington. Appointed as full-time Land Purchase Commissioner.

November, visits Wellington for meetings with Governor Grey.

December, travels up Rangitikei river on the way to Waipukurau, Te Aute and Ahuriri to negotiate land purchase with Ngati Kahungunu. Establishes friendly relations with the Ngati Kahungunu chief Te Hapuku.


January-May, in Hawke's Bay for land purchase negotiations, moving on to Wairoa and Poverty Bay and Mahia Peninsula before returning to Ahuriri and Waipukurau

May, reports to Governor Grey in Wellington.

August, marries Susan Strang at Wellington and honeymoons at Taita.

October, returns to Waipukurau via Wairarapa to complete negotiations.

November, at Ahuriri to complete Ahuriri purchase.

December, completed sale of Mohaka block in Hawke's Bay, visits Mahia, returns to Wellington via Wairarapa coast.


May, in Rangitikei.

June-August, in Taranaki seeking more land sales.

November, Susan dies while giving birth to their son, Douglas.


March, visits Manawatu to settle inter-iwi disputes.

June- January 1854), 41 purchases completed in Wairarapa.

Late 1853, Land Purchase Department formally established with McLean as Chief Native Land Purchase Commissioner. McLean moves to Auckland.


Ongoing Hawke's Bay negotiations and purchase.

Mediates Puketapu conflict in Taranaki.


Extensive travelling, to Wellington, Hawke's Bay, Wanganui and Taranaki.

April, visits Hawke's Bay and Poverty Bay, completing Mohaka purchase. Many other negotiations for Hawke's Bay land over next three years.

September, new Governor, Thomas Gore Browne, arrives.

November, meets with Golden Bay and Tasman Māori over outstanding land claims


January, in Wellington. Visits Marlborough to complete land negotiations.

April, first meeting of new House of Representatives.

August, offices of the Native Secretary and the Land Purchase Department are created under the oversight of a Minister of Native Affairs. McLean appointed as Native Secretary as well as Chief Native Land Purchase Commissioner.

Late 1856, Governor Browne organises Board of Inquiry into Native Affairs.


Purchases first block of land at Maraekakaho, near Hastings, and continues to expand it in following years. Puts his older brother, Alexander McLean, in charge of setting up the Maraekakaho run.

October-December, Negotiating dispute between Te Hapuku and other Ngati Kahungunu over land rights

November, Te Teira Manuka makes first offer to sell land at Waitara.


Brother Archibald McLean arrives to help at Maraekakaho.

March, Porangahau block purchase completed.

Resumes purchases in Wairarapa.


February, Wiremu Kingi declares a ban on Waitara land sales.

March, Governor Browne addresses Waitara claimants at New Plymouth, and accepts Te Teira's offer over Wiremu Kingi's opposition.

April, visits Marlborough to seek agreement of absentee claimants to give up their Waitara claims.

May, accompanies Governor Browne on a visit to Wanganui, to negotiate land at Waitotara [?], and on to Hawke's Bay. Stays in Hawke's Bay until September, completing land purchases and settling disputes.

September, travels through Wairarapa.

Suffers ill health and asks for leave to visit Britain.

Makes detailed statement to Governor Browne of his attitudes towards land purchase.

December, convalescing in Christchurch.


Acquires sheep run in Otago, near Lake Wakatipu.

Bishop William Williams criticises the practices of McLean and his district Land Commissioners.

March, Taranaki war begins over the disputed Waitara block.

April-May, McLean assists with mediation attempts in Taranaki and Waikato, and reports back on Waikato attitudes.

July, Governor Browne calls meeting of North Island chiefs at Kohimarama, chaired by McLean.

August, McLean and Octavius Hadfield called before Parliament to give evidence about the causes of the Taranaki war and the Waitara dispute.


March, McLean meets with Wiremu Tamihana of the King Movement to negotiate truce terms.

May, censured by Governor Browne and ministers for his opposition to the Governor's stance towards the King Movement.

May-June, forced to resign as Native Secretary, although continues as Chief Land Purchase Commissioner.

July, fails in attempts to meet again with Tamihana.

December, George Grey begins second term as Governor.


Native Land Act passed, allowing direct sale of Māori land to individuals.

Negotiating to purchase Coromandel goldfields land.

Goes to live on his Maraekakaho estate, and continues to expand it and other properties.


Sisters Catherine and Annabella arrive from Scotland, and begin to care for son Douglas.

Early 1863, elected Hawke's Bay Province Superintendent.

Mid 1863, Waikato war begins. McLean made a general government agent.

Governor Grey abandons Waitara purchase.


Son Douglas departs for school in England.

Waikato war ends.


Land Purchase Department abolished, and with it McLean's position as Chief Land Purchase Commissioner.

Native Land Act sets up the Native Land Court.

March, appointed as Government Agent, East Coast, to counter Māori resistance, and the Pai Marire movement .

June-, sporadic fighting on the East Coast.


Wins Napier seat for the General Assembly, defeating sitting member, William Colenso.


Older sister Catherine marries Robert Hart in Wellington.

Donald McLean Superannuating Act grants him a pension for his years as a civil servant.

Main supporter of the Native Representation Bill, giving Māori four General Assembly seats.


July, Te Kooti returns from the Chatham Islands and McLean leads the East Coast campaign against him.

September, leads motion in Parliament attacking E.W. Stafford's handling of Native Affairs and the East Coast campaign.


March, McLean dismissed as East Coast Government agent.

June, E.W. Stafford's government defeated. William Fox becomes Premier, with McLean as Native Minister and Defence Minister.

September, resigns as Hawke's Bay Provincial Superintendent. Buys a house in Wellington and Annabella, his youngest sister, moves to Wellington to act as his hostess.

November, visits Waikato to attempt negotiation with the King Movement.


McLean's Militia Act passed disbanding settler militia.

Son Douglas returns from schooling in England.


McLean fails in attempts to introduce a Rununga bill allowing some Māori control of law in Māori areas.

September, E.W. Stafford defeats William Fox; McLean loses his portfolios, but regains them the following year under Julius Vogel's government.


Oversight of Land Purchase officers brought back from the Public Works Department to the Native Department.

April, Julius Vogel becomes Premier, McLean reassumes position as Native Minister and Defence Minister.

Hawke's Bay Land Commission investigates Māori grievances over land purchase practices. The commission clears McLean and his agents.

Visits Taranaki.


Receives a knighthood.


Increasing ill health.

December, resigns as Minister, returns to Hawke's Bay.


Dies in Napier on 5 January, aged 56.