Tempsky was born into a Prussian military family in Königsberg (Kaliningrad) in 1828, and trained at a cadet school in Berlin. He abandoned his military career shortly after graduating to seek his fortune on frontier goldfields in California, Victoria, and from 1862 on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula.
The outbreak of hostilities in Waikato in 1863 led to the formation of volunteer units to supplement British regiments. Once Tempsky had taken out British citizenship, he was granted a commission in the Forest Rangers, an irregular colonial force which the authorities believed could match the bush fighting skills of the Māori.
First NameGustavusMiddle NameFerdinand Last Namevon TempskyDate of Birth15 February 1828Date of Death07 September 1868