Explorers: Charles Heaphy | | TV ONE | tvnz.co.nz [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Explorers: Charles Heaphy
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The Draughtsman - Charles Heaphy

Heaphy was an employee of the New Zealand Company, which aimed to colonise New Zealand. He set off from Nelson in search of a rumoured great inland plain that would expand the size of the newly founded Nelson settlement.

This programme follows Charles Heaphy's five month trek overland from Nelson around the top of the South Island and down the impassable West Coast as far as Arahura, a journey no white man had made. 

Charles Heaphy was brought to New Zealand in the employ of the New Zealand company.  An artist, his early watercolours had been used as real estate brochures by the Wakefields to tempt immigrants to buy passage out to the new colony. Now his job would be to survey the new settlement of Nelson.

Nelson was in trouble. There wasnt enough farmland to support the new settlement and Heaphy was given the task of finding more arable land. There were rumours flying round about vast tracts of land down the West Coast at the mouth of the Buller river and so Charles Heaphy set off with a couple of local Maori and another young surveyor to find out if these rumours were true.

Peter Elliott follows Heaphy's trail through Whanganui Inlet and the vast Kahurangi National Park, picking up the scenic coastal section of the famous Heaphy track. He heads on down to Karamea and on to Cape Foulwind with its seal colony before the journey ends, at the southern most point of Heaphy's trek at the Arahura valley, just north of Hokitika.

By whatever means available, including a hand made raft, Elliott fords the same rivers, skirts the same bluffs and braves the same wild coastline that Heaphy tackled 160 years ago. Remarkably little has changed geographically since Charles Heaphy wrote his diary describing the journey he made. But  the diary also contains observations of the West Coast Maori Heaphy meets and provides historians with virtually all they know of Maori in this area in the early 1800s.

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