Born to New Zealand

Born to New Zealand

A Biography of Jane Maria Atkinson

Born to New Zealand is currently out of print.

‘I love Taranaki more every day … I was born to live here.’ So wrote Jane Maria Atkinson from 1850s New Plymouth.

Jane Maria lived through some of the colony’s most tumultuous times, including the Taranaki Land Wars, and remained a lively, acute and entertaining observer throughout. In this award-winning biography, Frances Porter paints a picture of an educated Englishwoman forging a new life as part of the Richmond, Hursthouse and Atkinson ‘Mob’ that was so influential in early New Zealand society.

Born to New Zealand has become established as a rich and distinctive contribution to New Zealand biography.

Table of contents

The Mob

1. A Modest Competence
2. 'Uncertainties & scheming'
3. 'Meetings and partings'
4. Settling In
5. 'Bird's Nest' at Merton
6. The Hurwoth Community
7. Dispersal
8. Auckland Interlude
9. 'Otago and the law or Taranaki and joy'
10. 'We must go on bravely'
11. 'Ties by the leg'
12. Bleak House to Fairfield
13. European Cultivation
14. 'Young folks and sunshine'

Print publication:
Ebook publication: Dec 2018
Pages: 416
ISBN: 9780908912858
ISTC: A0220120000210D9
DOI: 10.7810/9780908912858


'There are three stories in this extraordinary book: One is the story of Jane Maria Richmond Atkinson, a colonial woman of 'strong personality' and 'informed mind'... Who was at the centre of the first generation of Richmonds and Atkinsons who emigrated to New Zealand in the 1850s. The second is the story of that family, which Maria called 'the mob' and which the Nelson Colonist sneeringly called 'the government family' of New Zealand politics, law and journalism. The third and least apparent of the stories told here is Frances Porter's own story of writing this book. The extent of her research takes the reader's breath away. Not only is she dealing with a member of two large and intricately related families. She is also writing about the political and social life of the colony and the place of women within that environment.' Heather Roberts, The Dominion, 1989


NZ Book Award for Non Fiction