Elizabeth Colenso (1821-1904)
In 1961, the Dominion Museum (Te Papa’s predecessor) acquired a collection of Pacific objects from Mrs Barbara Vernon Swabey of Otaki, which had been collected by Elizabeth Colenso in the 19th century. Elizabeth was a missionary, teacher and translator who worked for the Church Missionary Society mission. From 1876 to 1898, Elizabeth taught at the Anglican Melanesian Mission based at Norfolk Island. Established by bishop George Augustus Selwyn in 1849, the Melanesian Mission sought to convert the Western South Pacific Islands which included the Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands, and Northern Vanuatu.
Elizabeth retired to Otaki where she lived with her daughter Frances Mary Simcox. The objects in Te Papa’s Pacific collection acquired by Elizabeth include fine loom woven cloths from the Santa Cruz Islands in the Solomon Islands.
Read more about Elizabeth Colenso at the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography here