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Shades of Grey

Sir George Grey is an important figure in New Zealand history. He was the most influential of New Zealand’s governors, serving two terms, from 1845-1853 and 1861-1868.

Grey began his career as an army officer in Ireland before leading an exploring expedition in Western Australia in the late 1830s. His reputation as a successful colonial politician, established during his governorship of South Australia from 1840-1845, ensured him a post as Governor of New Zealand. Between his two terms in New Zealand he also served as Governor of the Cape Colony in South Africa (1854-1861).

He is a controversial figure. Historian James Belich called him “a strange, complicated man, whose real charisma and genius almost matched his flaws”.

This exhibition aims to explore aspects of Grey’s life, career and interests through the books, letters, maps and documents he gave to this Library as part of the gift of his collection in 1882. The Grey Collection is the Auckland Library’s founding collection and represents his second public gift, as he had already donated his first collection to Cape Town in 1861.

The exhibition has been curated by the following staff of the Sir George Grey Special Collections- Iain Sharp, Kate de Courcy, Ian Snowdon, Robert Eruera and Georgia Prince.