Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shortland, Edward
SHORTLAND, EDWARD (1812–1893), writer on New Zealand, born at Courtlands, Devonshire, in 1812, was third son of Thomas George Shortland [q. v.] of Courtlands, near Lympston, Devonshire, and brother of Willoughby Shortland [q. v.], and of Peter Frederick Shortland [q. v.] He was educated at Exeter grammar school and at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1835 and M.A. in 1839. He then studied medicine, and was admitted an extra-licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians in 1839. In 1841 he went out, apparently at his brother's suggestion, to New Zealand, where on 28 June 1841 he was appointed private secretary to Governor Hobson. On 3 Aug. 1842 he was appointed protector of aborigines. On 10 Aug. 1843 he landed at Hakaroa on Banks' Peninsula, to act as interpreter to Colonel Godfrey's court of inquiry into the land claims of the French company which was then endeavouring to establish itself at that point. After the court was closed he took a census of the natives of the peninsula. He reported on various land claims on 18 March 1844. This is merely a sample of the quiet work which he did among the natives for many years. About 1851 he returned for a time to England, and resided chiefly at Plymouth, where in 1853 he dated the preface to his first book. He was again in England in 1860, when he became M.R.C.P. He practised medicine for many years in New Zealand, and subsequently resided for some time at Parnell. In October 1889 he finally returned to England, and died at Plymouth on 5 July 1893.
His name is chiefly identified with the relations between the English and the Maoris in the earlier days of settlement. He was a profound Maori scholar. His chief works are:
- ‘The Southern Districts of New Zealand,’ London, 1851.
- ‘Traditions and Superstitions of the New Zealanders,’ London 1854.
- ‘Maori Religion and Mythology,’ London, 1882.
Apparently he also published in New Zealand, ‘How to learn Maori.’
[Auckland Weekly News, 19 Aug. 1893; his own works; official records.]