Jane Holloway King and Elizabeth Marsden King

Jane Holloway King and Elizabeth Marsden King were the eldest and youngest daughters of John and Hannah King, Church Missionary Society (CMS) artisan missionaries who arrived in New Zealand in 1814 with Rev. Samuel Marsden. They were both sampler makers.

Jane was born in 1818, the third European girl born in New Zealand. She was the first European-Pakeha girl to live her entire life in New Zealand. She was born at Rangihoua, in the Bay of Islands, the first CMS Mission Station in New Zealand.

Elizabeth was born in 1837 at the Te Puna Mission Station, where the original Mission had been resited in 1832. Jane tells us her birth date, “Feb the 10 1818”, on her sampler, but otherwise doesn’t tell us when or where she stitched it. However, Elizabeth tells us that she stitched her almost identical sampler at Te Puna in 1853.

Both sisters were living at Te Puna in 1853. Jane was 35, Elizabeth was 16. Both sisters subsequently left Te Puna, Jane eventually moving to Auckland and Elizabeth to Kerikeri. Both married within the CMS missionary community. Both on separate occasions met the Governor of the day.

Jane’s sampler was donated to the Auckland War Memorial Museum by her daughter-in-law, and Elizabeth’s sampler was donated to Te Waimate Mission House, administered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, in Northland by descendents of the King family. These samplers are remarkable pieces of New Zealand history.

The King family legacy for New Zealand embroiderers is tangible and important. Jane Holloway King’s sampler will be on display in the Auckland War Memorial Museum from November 2006. Elizabeth Marsden King’s sampler is on permanent display at the Te Waimate Mission House, Northland.

©Vivien Caughley, New Zealand Sampler. All rights reserved.