Scots-born Robert Graham went into partnership with his brother, David, as a general merchant in Kororareka and Auckland in 1842. As a result of developing good relations with local Maori, the Grahams were able to evacuate their stock from Kororareka without loss at the start of the Northern War.
In 1845 Robert Graham bought land, including hot springs, on the foreshore of Waiwera, north of Auckland, in the start of a long career of tourism investment and promotion.
His negotiation skills and ability to speak fluent Maori helped him years later gain tourist interests in Rotorua and Wairakei.
Graham's Terrace Hotel at Te Wairoa was destroyed in the Tarawera eruption in 1886.