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Charles Heaphy

ca. 1822 — 3 August 1881

Major Charles Heaphy, VC (1‑5‑34)

Heaphy, born ca. 1822 in London, was an artist and surveyor who explored New Zealand in the 1840s. He landed in New Zealand in 1839 as a draughtsman for the New Zealand Company. He settled in Auckland in 1848 and later joined the local militia, the Auckland Rifle Volunteers. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for rescuing a wounded soldier under fire in the Māori Wars on 11 February 1864 at the Mangapiko River. Heaphy himself was hit in three places by musket balls while assisting the wounded man, with whom he had stayed all day. He was the first soldier of an irregular unit to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

After his army career, he had a lengthy career as a civil servant, chiefly concerned with surveying and became a Member of Parliament. He retired from public life in 1881 and sailed with his wife to Brisbane. He died in Ann Street, Brisbane on 3 August 1881 of tuberculosis.

Charles Heaphy

Charles Heaphy. Ref: 1/2-003062-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22544487


Charles Heaphy headstone

Charles Heaphy's headstone


N.Z. Maori War Veteran
Major Charles Heaphy, V.C.
1821 - 1881
He served New Zealand in peace
and war as artist, explorer and,
member of parliment. He was
the first non-regular soldier
to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

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