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Born in Scotland in 1818, John Webster came to New Zealand via Australia in 1841 (after a violent encounter in the outback which he just escaped unscathed) and spent most of the rest of his life in Hokianga. At the Margin of Empire charts his colourful experiences carving out a fortune as the region's leading timber trader and cultivating connections with the leading figures of the day, Maori and Pakeha. Webster fought alongside Tamati Waka Nene in the Northern War, married one of Nene's relatives and built up his kauri timber business through trade with local chiefs (though at one point awoke to find a plundering party had arrived on his front lawn). He was also friends with Frederick Maning, and visited by George Grey, Richard Seddon and other luminaries of the day.
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