Country of origin: England
Area in New Zealand: Bay of Islands, Auckland, Wellington, Wairarapa
Source: NZETC, Paperspast
Details: Colonist,22 June 1891. At Captain Barry's lecture at Wanganui was Mr Brightwell who came to New Zealand in 1837.
Thomas was born 1814 at Eydon Northamptonshire, he went to the US in 1834 and embarked at New Bedford on a whaler to come to the Bay of Islands, arriving December 1837. He whaled for a few years before buying land in Auckland.
There is some confusion with this man or maybe its just that I haven't found enough information about him yet. The following passages might be of different people.
New Zealand Herald 23 April 1894.
Thomas Brightwell Rollins of Wanganui, claims to be the oldest surviving setter in the colony. He was wrecked at Tapuna, Bay of Islands in 1837 and has remained on that island ever since. Rollins served in Heke's war and made a claim for compensation under the Military and Volunteer Services Act, which was thrown out by the commissioner because he could not produce documentary proof of having served. Rollins is 80yrs of age, and is now in indigent circumstances.
A Thomas Brightwell died aged 90yrs in 1904.