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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 06, Issue 01, 1996

Lucy Malanta Hunter-Brown

Lucy Malanta Hunter-Brown

page 37

The family of Lucy Malanta Hunter-Brown settled in Nelson in 1866. 1 Charles Hunter-Brown (1825–1898), her father, had arrived in New Zealand from England in 1849 on the Mariner. 2 For some years he moved around New Zealand, taking a variety of positions which included being a land owner in Canterbury and a member of the first New Zealand parliament of 1854. Charles married Ellinor Jane Abraham (1840–1929) in Auckland in 1861. 3

They came to Nelson in 1866 and lived at Long Look Out, in Cleveland Road, which had been the home of J. C. Richmond, the artist and politician. 4 The family entered into many of the church and social activities of the city and province. 5

Lucy was born in Nelson 1 August 1882, the youngest of a family of four boys and five girls. 6 She was a student at Nelson College for Girls from 1897 to 1900 and retained her interest in her school, becoming a member of the Golden Jubilee committee of the college in 1930–33 and donating a prize for reading. 7

Church activities were important for the family, which worshipped at the Anglican All Saints' Church, Nelson. Charles Hunter-Brown worked for missions and the church has a memorial window to Charles and Ellinor. 8 Lucy's eldest sister, Delia, was accepted for missionary work in Japan in 1892/3 and Lucy became an active member of the Church Missionary Society and was superintendent of the Cathedral Sunday School. 9 When Lucy was resident in Tasman she attended the local Presbyterian church and presented the church with its first organ. 10

Lucy participated in many organisations, being chairwoman of the Women's War Service Association following World War I, a member of the Nelson College for Girls Old Girls' Association and a committee member for a number of organisations such as SPCA. Plunket Society, Girl Guides and Red Cross. She was secretary of the Ladies' Swimming Club, a founder member of the Nelson Women's Club and was involved in the rebuilding of Christ Church Cathedral.

Another interest was her collection of photographs of old Nelson buildings, including a number of cob or clay houses. Her photograph album contains notes about the builders and owners, and her notebooks reveal how she went about obtaining the photographs and the relevant information. The album is held at Nelson Provincial Museum.

A more unusual occupation for a woman at that time was her involvement with the developing apple orchards of the Tasman-Kina area. When the development of these apple lands commenced about 1911. Lucy became an ardent supporter of the scheme. She planted a large commercial apple orchard there about 1911/12 and helped to promote the building of community packing sheds. This in turn assisted the development of the settlement of Tasman. 11 Reports of apple industry meetings in contemporary newspapers only mention page 38men and it would appear that Lucy was not on any committees or organisations concerned with the industry. 12

Today's older residents remember Lucy as an impressive figure in the district. She was a tall woman and well-dressed, in a tweedy style, and she drove one of the first cars in the district – a Willys-Knight. Her brother also had an orchard in the district and Lucy took a keen interest in both properties, using modern cultural methods and planting shelter trees. She built one of the first modern houses in the district, on the foreshore at Kina, between 1914 and 1918 and spent a considerable time there, particularly in the fruit season.

Hugh Johnstone was the manager of the orchard from 1918–1928. Lucy was keen and knowledgeable about the orchards but because it was not usual for orchardists' wives to work in the orchards, she probably also did not do so. 13

Lucy Hunter-Brown died on 14 August 1956 and is buried in the Wakapuaka Cemetery of Nelson. 14


1 Ault, HF Nelson Narrative, 1958.
2 Ault, H.F. Centennial History of All Saints Parish Nelson, 1962.
3 Ault, 1958.
4 Nelson Evening Mail , 4 March 1929.
5 Ault, 1962. Nelson Evening Mail, 16 August 1956.
6 Hunter-Brown, E.J. Papers, 1839–1847. Alexander Turnbull Library.
7 Nelson College for Girls Roll Books 1896 1899. Nelson Provincial Museum Library.
8 Ault, 1962.
9 Nelson Evening Mail , 16 August 1956.
10Nottage, Basil. Letter 1 November 1993.
11 Nelson Evening Mail , 16 August 1956.
12 Colonist 29 October 1919.
13Nottage, op cit.
14 Wakapuaka Cemetery Records. Nelson Provincial Museum Library.