Mary Ann Wynyard (née Benson)

Date of birth / Date established
Circa 1830
Date of death / Date closed
04 Jun 1906
Place of birth / Place established
Place of death / Place closed
Person/Corporate type
Mary Ann Nuki Benson (Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Kahungunu) was born in Motatau, Bay of Islands, between 1827 and 1832, to parents Te Noke and Captain Benson. Also known as Maryanne Kino, Nuki first married William Henry Sampson (1816-1864) from Yorkshire who had arrived in New Zeland in 1839.Sampson was also known as Captain due to his involvement with shipping commodities around New Zealand,Fiji and the Tahiti islands. They had two sons, William Henry Sampson (born 1848) and George William Sampson (born 1849). WH Sampson went to California in 1849 to explore business opportunities, returning in 1850 to take Mary Ann Nuki and his two sons back to California. She refused to go, so he left the same year to California where he died in 1864.

In 1858, Nuki married a second time to Captain Gladwyn J. R. Wynyard (born in Dublin, January 12 1831) of the 58th Regiment, who was the youngest son of Colonel Robert Wynyard, commander of the New Zealand forces and first Superintendent in Auckland. Together their children were Mary Ann Wynyard, Amelia McDonald Kerr (nee Wynyard), George Henry Wynyard, Henry John Wynyard, William Thomas Wynyard, Robert Henry Wynyard, and William Thomas Wynyard.

In November 1858, Nuki followed the 58th regiment to England and South Africa, on the Lord Ashley via Sydney. She returned to Aotearoa New Zealand with the newly retired Gladwyn in February 1860, where they settled in Devonport. The couple used their positions in both the colonial and Māori worlds to ensure stability and prosperity for their families. Gladwyn was highly respected in his community, and upon his untimely death, Governor Gore Browne is supposed to have described him as ‘a ray of sunshine such as has never been surpassed.’ He died on February 11th 1871 at age 40 of jaundice and ‘affection of the liver.’

Nuki Wynyard died on June 4th 1906, and was buried at Mt Victoria Cemetery, in Devonport, Auckland. She outlived her husband Gladwyn by over thirty years. Records conflict regarding Nuki’s age at her passing, some say she was 74, others 79. She was a member of the ‘Old Colonists’, who commemorated her passing in their reunion notice in September 1906. Despite her birth in Aotearoa and as a Māori woman, the status of her husband and father in the colonial world are likely to have influenced her place in the colonialist community.

External Sources:

"AUCKLAND." Otago Witness, Issue 365, 27 November 1858.

"Burial record for Mary Ann Wynyard", Auckland Council Te Kaunihera O Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland Council, 2018, URL:

"Death of Captain Gladwyn Wynyard", Daily Southern Cross, Volume 27, Issue 4212, 13 February 1871.

"Death of Captain Gladwyn Wynyard", New Zealand Herald, Volume VIII, Issue 2218, 6 March 1871.

"Deaths", New Zealand Herald, Volume 43, Issue 13196, 6 June 1906.

"OBITUARY." Press, Volume 62, Issue 12514, 8 June 1906.

"Old Colonists' Reunion", Auckland Star, Volume 37, Issue 227, 22 September 1906.

Angela Wanhalla, Matters of the Heart: A History of Interracial Marriage in New Zealand, Auckland: N.Z., Auckland University Press, 2013.

John M. McLellan, Soldiers & Colonists Imperial Soldiers as Settlers in Nineteenth-Century New Zealand (thesis), Victoria University of Wellington 2017, pp 74-75.


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