Ray Fargher

Best Man Who Ever Served the Crown?, The: A Life of Donald McLean

ISBN: 9780864735607

Shortlisted for the 2008 Montana New Zealand Book Awards

Shortlisted for the University of Melbourne-based Ernest Scott Prize for 2008

This monumental work of scholarship is the first full biography of one of the key actors in the drama of 19 th-century New Zealand land dealing. It fills a gaping hole in NZ historiography, and will be an enormously valuable resource for future writers and researchers.

Donald McLean was born in Tiree in the Scottish Hebrides in 1820 and came to New Zealand in 1840. His first government appointment was to the ‘Protectorate of Aborigines’ in 1843, and he was to have a major public role until his death in 1877, as Land Purchase Commissioner, Native Minister, and major landowner in his own right.

McLean was highly respected by Maori for his knowledge of Te Reo and respect for rank and protocol, and was closely involved in land dealings in the Taranaki and elsewhere that still have repercussions today. Highly regarded by politicians and settlers for his ability to get things done, he was also denounced after his death for having failed to open up the King Country to settlement.

Praise for The Best Man Who Ever Served the Crown?

Named one of the Listener's Best Books of 2007

This is the life story of an extraordinarily tough, shrewd man, admirable, perhaps, but hardly likeable...This excellent book provides a detailed exposition of the issues, almost all around land, that rent New Zealand's 19th-century pioneer society.
Gordon McLauchlan NZ HERALD

The author: “His thesis on the land purchase policy of Sir Donald McLean in the eighteen fifties was a pioneering piece of work, original and cogent. It made an important contribution to our knowledge of New Zealand history and has been much quoted. Indeed it has influenced the histories of New Zealand written since. It was one of the best historical theses that had been written in New Zealand.” Keith Sinclair 1961.

After a period of secondary teaching, more of Ray Fargher’s working life was spent as General Secretary of the Association of Teachers in Technical Institutes until retiring in 1986. He then spent the next four years chairing ministerial working parties advising on the reform of post-school vocational education and training, including the Probine-Fargher Report on The Organisation, Management and Funding of Continuing Education.

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