Frontiers: A Colonial Dynasty

Simon Best


The story of William Barnard Rhodes, Mary Ann Rhodes, William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse VC and William Henry Rhodes-Moorhouse RFC.

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SKU: 9781927242216 Categories: , , Tags: ,


Two airmen of Maori descent lie buried together on a hilltop in Dorset, England. They are the grandson and great-grandson of a whaling captain who entered New Zealand waters in 1835, and who became one of the leading pioneers of European settlement in Wellington. The story’s main thread covers the four generations involved, and touches on early whaling off New Zealand and in the Pacific, European trading along the East Coast, the settlement and expansion of Wellington, the Thames gold rush and the first sheep stations in the Inland Patea. In 1883 the whaler’s natural daughter, her mother a local Maori, inherited her father’s wealth and moved with her husband to England, living in some of the country’s grand houses. Her eldest son became one of the world’s first aviators, winning a posthumous Victoria Cross over France in 1915. His son, also a decorated pilot, was killed at the height of the Battle of Britain.

Here is a family that lived on frontiers — of colonial exploration and commerce; of cross-cultural encounter; of speed and danger on land and in the air — both in peace and war. Theirs is an extraordinary story.

About the author

Simon Best lists his main life occupations, in chronological order, as follows: Two years National Service in the RAF (as an erk), a year contract fencing in the Wairarapa and another in Northland, two years as a New Zealand Forest Service hunter, one year as a New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation copywriter, four years as a crocodile shooter in North Australia, and 35-odd (very odd) years as an archaeologist in New Zealand and the Pacific.

Additional information

Dimensions 185 × 245 mm