Thomas Laslett's journals

Thomas Lasletts Journals

Thomas Laslett’s journals, Manuscripts and Archives Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, Reference: MS-Group-1408

Thomas Laslett's journals

Thomas Laslett (1811-87), son of a Chatham dockyards shipwright, rose from being an assistant timber surveyor to the important position of Timber Inspector. His long career as a timber surveyor included expeditions to New Zealand, Burma, Prussia, Asia Minor and Bosnia, searching for timber to feed the needs of the Royal Navy in a growing British empire, particularly the demand for timber for masts. He visited New Zealand four times between 1833 and 1843.

These journals are edited versions Laslett produced later in life. The originals, he said, were 'almost obliterated by age – or as is most probably from the use of bad ink.'

Fortunately, Laslett pasted many of the sketches and maps he drew on his travels into the edited journals, thus preserving a fascinating pictorial record. Laslett’s accounts of his dealings with local Māori employed to work on the timber operations also give a unique insight into interactions between Māori and Europeans in the 1830s and 1840s.

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Collection Manuscripts Collection