Topic: Allan Cunningham (1791-1839)

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Botanist and explorer Allan Cunningham may have been the first non-Maori to walk over much of what is now central Tauranga on 4 December 1826 during a visit to the area by the missionary schooner 'Herald'.

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Allan Cunningham was born in Wimbledon, Surrey, England, on 13 July 1791. He worked as a clerk at the Royal Gardens at Kew. He spent time collecting specimens in Brazil and then went to New South Wales in Australia in December of 1816. He made several journeys in Australia, sending specimens and seeds back to Kew.

Cunningham arrived in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand on board the whaling ship Indian in August 1826. He was aboard the Missionary Schooner Herald when she entered Tauranga Harbour on her second visit. The Herald had firstly visited White Island, before passing Motiti Island and arriving in Tauranga on 2 December 1826. The Herald anchored firstly off Otamataha Pa and then off Maungatapu Pa on 4 December.

Botanically, Tauranga was disappointing to Cunningham. He found the plants growing here the same as at the Bay of Islands, and no trees. He collected specimens from Tauranga that were later send to England from Sydney. 

With Henry Williams, Cunningham tried to tramp through the forest to Rotorua on 5 December, but turned back the following day due to the 'steep difficult densely timbered hills'. The Herald left Tauranga seven days after arrival, on 9 December 1826.

Cunningham returned to Sydney on board the Herald on 28 December 1826.

Returning to England in 1831 he classified his vast collection of speciments and prepared his papers for publication.

In 1837 he returned to Sydney, Australia. He visited New Zealand again in April 1838 on board the L'Heroine

Cunningham died in Sydney on 27 June 1839.

 

Sources:

Allan Cunningham (1791-1839) by T. M. Perry (Australian Dictionary of Biography).

The Tauranga Voyages of the Mission Schooner Herald in 1826 (April, 1974) by Alister Matheson (50:28-35).

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Allan Cunningham (1791-1839)


Year:1826
First Names:Allan
Last Name:Cunningham
Date of Birth:13 July 1791
Place of Birth:Wimbledon, Surrey
Country of birth:England
Date of death:27 June 1839
Place of death:Sydney, Australia
Occupation:botanist and explorer
Fathers name:Allan Cunningham
Fathers nationality:Scottish
Mothers name:Sarah Dickin
Mothers nationality:English