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The Women of New Zealand

Some Sources

page 195

Some Sources

The General conditions in which the wives of the early missionaries had to live may be learnt from J. R. Elder's Marsden's Lieutenants (Dunedin, 1934); while interesting details are to be found in George Clarke's Notes on Early Life in New Zealand (Hobart, 1903), in Robert Maunsell, LL.D.,A New Zealand Pioneer (Dunedin, 1938), by Henry E. R. L. Wiley and Herbert Maunsell, and in Earliest New Zealand (Masterton, 1927), compiled from the journals and correspondence of the Rev. John Butler by R. J. Barton. The three volumes of Canon J. W. Stack's reminiscences, Early Maoriland Adventures (Dunedin, 1935), More Maoriland Adventures (Dunedin, 1936) and Further Maoriland Adventures (Dunedin, 1938), edited by A. H. Reed, carry the story on from 1833 to 1860, and are also very valuable; and the last, which is largely devoted to Mrs Stack's journals, is of particular interest for women and is concerned with a wider field than that of the missions. Most important of all from the woman's point of view and for the earlier years is Hugh Carleton's Life of Henry Williams page 196(Auckland, 1874), which contains many extracts from Mrs Williams's diary. The diary itself is still in the possession of the Williams family, and I understand, that it is now being prepared for publication.

For details of the voyage to New Zealand I have had to rely mainly on private diaries and letters; but many useful and often diverting hints are to be found in the early numbers of the New Zealand Journal and in the Hand-Book for intending Emigrants to the Southern Settlements of New Zealand written by G. B. Earp (2nd edition, London, 1849). Neither of these, unfortunately, is very readily available.

Both the New Zealand Journal and Earp's Hand-Book are invaluable also for the letters they contain from earliest settlers. Although many most useful suggestions for a reconstruction of the early housewife's life are contained in several books dealing with pioneering days, I have again found some of the most valuable material in letters and records (as yet unpublished) in the possession of descendants of early settlers. Mrs Woodhouse's George Rhodes of the Levels (Christchurch, 1937) and the two volumes by Lady Barker, Station Life in New Zealand (London, 1870) and Station Amusements in New Zealand (London, 1873), may, however, be recommended among published works; while James Hay's Earliest Canterbury (Christchurch, 1915) and Mrs Innes's Canterbury Sketches (Christchurch, 1879) also contain much that is interesting. Tales of a Pioneer (Christchurch, 1927), selected and arranged from the page 197papers of Alfred Saunders by two of his daughters, is valuable for its account of the founding of Nelson; and Mrs James Duff Hewett's Looking Back (2nd edition, St. Albans, 1914) gives some vivid details of life on a farm near Wanganui just before, and during the early days of, the Maori wars. Two privately printed works, Mrs Tripp's My Early Days, and Mrs Godley's Letters from Early New Zealand, are also extremely useful, but are not easily available. The volume of Mrs Godley's Letters is, indeed, among the best of all the sources. She was in an unique position, an active participant in the work of settlement, and yet not quite of it, since her stay was, she knew, to be a comparatively short one. She was, moreover, an intelligent observer and a lively writer. Another woman in a similar position, but at a later date, provides a commentary on New Zealand life in the early nineties. Mrs Robert Wilson, whose husband was in charge of the building of the south island Midland Railway, travelled over a great part of the country, and was here long enough to form reliable judgments. Her New Zealand journal, In the Land of the Tui (London, 1894), was published on her return to England. Less reliable, because obviously strongly biassed, opinions are to be found in an amusing little volume, Taken In (London, 1887), by 'Hopeful,' but the book is valuable, nevertheless, read in conjunction with others in which the views are less jaundiced. And as a woman the author supplies details of domestic life that are not found elsewhere. Unfortunately her book also appears to be rare.

page 198

The struggle for the franchise may be studied in W. S. Lovell-Smith's Outlines of the Women's Franchise Movement in New Zealand (Christchurch, 1905), and there are some interesting references in James Drummond's Life and Work of Richard John Seddon (Christchurch, 1906). Survivors among those who took part in the struggle have supplied lively and helpful information; but the main facts are contained in these two published works.