Oliver was given command of HMS Fly in 1847 and carried out surveys of New Zealand and the Pacific between 1847 and 1851. He escorted Undine, the schooner of the Bishop of New Zealand, the Rt. Revd. George Augustus Selwyn, on his tour of New Caledonia and the New Hebrides in 1849 (for which see the following lot). He also transported Governor Grey around New Zealand and the present subject may date to the Governor's visit to the Maori Feast at the Bay of Islands in August-September 1849, one of two visits made by Oliver to the Bay of Islands in 1849. Oliver also took Cuthbert Clarke up to the feast and the latter's drawing of the feast (dated Sept. 1849) is in the National Library of Australia, Canberra (Rex Nan Kivell Collection NK148).
Oliver returned to England in 1851 and a selection of his sketches were lithographed and published as A Series of Lithographic Drawings from Sketches in New Zealand .