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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


MASSEY, Dame Christina Allen, D.B.E.


Social worker.

A new biography of Massey, Christina Allan appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Christina Allen Massey was born near Sydney, New South Wales, on 11 January 1863 and was the eldest daughter of William Paul and Patience, née Allen. When she was only a few years old the Paul family moved to New Zealand, where they farmed in the Auckland district. At the age of 19 she married William Ferguson Massey, who was farming nearby at Mangere. The couple lived at Mangere until her husband's political career obliged them to move to Wellington where, for 13 years, Dame Christina was hostess at the ministerial residence in Tinakori Road. On the outbreak of war in 1914 she inaugurated a soldiers' club for servicemen on leave. She was vice-president of the Red Cross Society and of the Countess of Liverpool's Fund, and also worked for the Women's National Reserve. At the same time she supported the Victoria League and was president of the Plunket Society. Dame Christina was a fine organiser and an inspiring leader, qualities which were reinforced by her gift of sound common sense.

Dame Christina accompanied her husband on three visits overseas – to the Imperial Conference (1916–17), to the Peace Conference in Paris (1919), and to the Imperial Conference of 1921. In 1918 she received the C.B.E. in recognition of her war services. During the 1918 influenza epidemic, while organising emergency care for the sick, she became herself a victim, with the result that her health was permanently undermined. When she was created Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1926, she became the first New Zealand woman to receive this honour. Dame Christina died in Wellington on 19 April 1932 and was survived by three sons – two of them became members of Parliament – and by two daughters.

by Judith Sidney Hornabrook, M.A., National Archives, Wellington.

  • Evening Post, 20 Apr 1932 (Obit)
  • Dominion, 20 Apr 1932 (Obit).


Judith Sidney Hornabrook, M.A., National Archives, Wellington.