How do we pass on the story of the remarkable work carried out by Elizabeth Colenso? What can the photos tell us?
Elizabeth Colenso, best remembered for her work in New Zealand with the Church Missionary Society and Maori, including English to Maori translation work, especially the 1868 Maori Bible. She worked for the Melanesian Mission on Norfolk Island from early 1876 to 1898. Again, while working for the Melanesian Mission, she worked with translation of texts into Mota, the agreed language of the Melanesian Mission. As unmarried European women started to be sent to work at the Mission, Elizabeth took leadership of them, also in training the young Melanesian women in household skills prior to marriage to one of the male scholars. Working for the Melanesian Mission for 20 years, the assumption has been made that the annotations in her hand are accurate.
The album passed from Elizabeth Colenso’s daughter Frances, to the Rev’d Frederick Herbert Petrie (1875-1948) in 1922. Petrie was with the Melanesian Mission at Gela (Nggela) also known as Florida in the Bungana Diocese, June 1907-1909, and subsequently lived in New Zealand.
His daughter-in-law, Iris Petrie gave the album to the New Zealand Anglican Board of Missions in 1937. The NZAMB archives are held on behalf of the Board by the John Kinder Theological Library, Auckland. See more on https://kinderlibrary.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/9344