The first is an account is in defending his sister’s honour he ends up killing a gentleman in a duel and so he flees the country to New Zealand. Another version similar to this has him joining the English Navy as a means of escape.
From the book “A White Tohunga” by P&G Kullberg – Page 40
John James Stanaway was born in Camberwell, Surrey, England, on the 16 July, 1813. He is said to have left England after a duel on behalf of his sister. His first wife died during childbirth and was buried at sea on the way to Australia. He arrived in New Zealand in 1838, landing at Hokianga. Here he cut kauri spars for sale to whalers and other ships, moving to Kaipara Harbour two years later.
The issue with this version is we would have to assume that John is of sufficient social ranking that another gentleman would take his dishonour as a threat and agree to a duel. During those times classes would not mix and the lower classes would have been ignored out of hand.
John’s parents are of no social rank as their occupations suggest.
It does suggest he arrive in New Zealand in and around 1838 (After the Busby 1838 Census – as he does not appear in this), which would tie in with records we have and will look at later in this book. The moving to Kaipara two years later is earlier than we believe, according to the 1846 Clendon Census he was still in the Hokianga.
Perhaps a change of name would have helped him cover any tracks, this would leave no records of him before he arrived in New Zealand – which could fit.