Henry Burling

Henry Burling, pioneer extraordinary

The Otaki grave of pioneer founder of Featherstone … who lived to 110

Judith Bryers Holloway
Who, these days, knows much about Henry Burling? I do, because I (along with about 600 others) am one of
his descendants.

He was born in Stratford, England, in 1807, lived to the age of 110 in NZ after many extraordinary adventures, and was buried in the Otaki Cemetery.


 Wikipedia describes him this way: ‘Henry Burling (1 May 1801–17 September 1911) was a New Zealand mail carrier and farmer. He was born in Stratford, Essex, England on 1 May 1801 to Thomas Burling, a soap maker, and Joanna Pike.

Henry Burling carried mail by foot between Wellington and Wanganui. In doing so he had many dealings with the Maori in the area. In particular Te Rangihaeata.

The long-lived pioneer

What an amazing bloke! He surely must rank as one of the most interesting and long-lived of New Zealand’s early pioneers.
The Rimutaka Range

Plenty of accounts of his work and energy, and amazing health and fitness can be found online, and in a biography of him.

He helped cut a track over the Rimutaka hill with his bullock team, and regularly delivered mail on foot and on horseback from Wellington to New Plymouth.
It was a two-week round trip – protected by the mutual respect between himself and the great chief Rangihaeata.
The little town of Featherston (named after its first doctor) was originally known as Burling’s Crossing — because this is where Henry Burling set up a rough accommodation house and and horse stables for travellers.
It would seem a very fitting thing to rename the place ‘Burling’s Crossing’  in memory of its early history and to erect a statue of this amazing bloke in the main street. .