|Member of the New Zealand Parliament
|Died||3 August 1881 (aged c60)
|Service/branch||New Zealand Military Forces|
|Years of service||1859–1867|
|Unit||Auckland Militia, New Zealand Military Forces|
|Battles/wars||New Zealand Wars
Major Charles Heaphy VC (1821 – 3 August 1881) was a New Zealand explorer and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious military award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Charles Heaphy was born in London, England the son of the artist Thomas Heaphy. He was just seventeen years old when he was appointed as resident Artist and Surveyor to the first New Zealand Company expedition to New Zealand, sailing with William Wakefield on the Tory and arriving in what later became known as Wellington late in 1839.
In New Zealand
In 1841 he joined Arthur Wakefield on the expedition that led to the founding of Nelson. From here he took part in several expeditions to explore the north west corner of the South Island. In 1848 he was appointed gold fields commissioner at Coromandel.
In 1859 he joined the Armed Constabulary as a volunteer. He was approximately 43-years-old, and a major in the Auckland Militia, New Zealand Military Forces, during the Invasion of the Waikato of 1863–64 (one of the campaigns of the New Zealand Wars).
For his gallant conduct at the skirmish on the banks of the Mangapiko River, in New Zealand, on the 11th of February, 1864, in assisting a wounded soldier of the 40th Regiment, who had fallen into a hollow among the thickest of the concealed Maories. Whilst doing so, he became the target for a volley at a few feet distant. Five balls pierced his clothes and cap, and he was wounded in three places. Although hurt, he continued to aid the wounded until the end of the day.
Major Heaphy was at the time in charge of a party of soldiers of the 40th and 50th Regiments, under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Henry Marshman Havelock, Bart., V.C., G.C.B, D.L. the Senior Officer on the spot, who had moved rapidly down to the place where the troops were-hotly engaged and pressed.
For this action he was awarded the Victoria Cross; the first colonial soldier to receive it. Von Tempsky wrote that “Heaphy has the (Victoria) Cross and I want it”, which may have caused the reckless action leading to his own death.
|Parliament of New Zealand|
In 1865 he was appointed Chief Surveyor for Auckland and in 1867 elected to the House of Representatives for Parnell, a suburb of Auckland. In 1878 he was appointed as a judge of the Native Land Court but retired two years later due to ill health.
Charles Heaphy was an accomplished artist and his watercolours are an important record of many scenes in the early days of European settlement in New Zealand. However, his name is most known now through the Heaphy Track in the north west corner of the South Island. He and Thomas Brunner were probably the first Europeans to walk through this area of the South Island and although he never followed the route of the Heaphy Track, it is named in his honour.
He died in Brisbane, Australia, in 1881 and is buried at Toowong Cemetery. His grave, built and maintained by the Office of Australian War Graves, is located in Portion 1 Church of England of the Toowong (old Brisbane General) Cemetery). His grave is approximately 20 metres north east up the hill from the "8th Avenue" roadway, (an internal cemetery roadway), which forms the western boundary of Portion 1. 
Narrative of a residence in various parts of New Zealand; together with a description of the present state of the Company's settlements, 1842. Full text
- Fitzgerald, Michael. "Heaphy, Charles 1820 – 1881". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 8 February 1867. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
- "Brisbane City Council – Online – Grave Location Search". Brisbane City Council. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charles Heaphy.|
- New Zealand Troops who have won the Victoria Cross (brief biography details)
- Artworks from the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
- A documentary retracing one of his expeditions through the Nelson-Westland area
- Charles Heaphy at Find a Grave
- Mennell, Philip (1892). " Heaphy, Major Charles". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource