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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.


TAYLOR, Elizabeth Best, O.B.E.


Social worker.

A new biography of Taylor, Elizabeth Best appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Elizabeth Best Taylor, née Ellison, was born on 21 September 1868 at Lyttelton, the daughter of Robert Best Ellison, a South Canterbury farmer, and of Rachel, née Robinson. Educated at the State schools, she attended Canterbury University College and the Teachers' Training College, where she qualified for her Teacher's D Certificate. On 18 April 1892, at the East Belt Wesleyan Church, Christchurch, Elizabeth Ellison married Thomas Edward Taylor. She became closely associated with her husband's political and civic career, being particularly interested in the welfare of women and children. An early member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, she became Dominion president, and, from 1929 until her death, was a member of the World Advisory Committee and peace superintendent of the union. As early as 1896 she read a paper on Marriage and Divorce before the National Council of Women and, in later years, campaigned to protect the nationality of married women. She was co-founder and first president of the Christchurch Free Kindergarten Society and a life member of the Society for the Protection of Women and Children. In 1927 she was vice-president of the New Zealand Alliance, After her husband's death in 1911 she entered public life on her own account and served on school committees, on the Christchurch City Council, and on the Unemployment Relief Committee. Partially responsible for the Family Allowances Act of 1926 and for the appointment of women to the Commission of the Peace, she herself was appointed Justice of the Peace and was one of the first women to sit in the Children's Court as Magistrate's Associate. She was a member of the Pan-Pacific Women's Association, being its New Zealand chairman at the time of her death. She was also an executive member of the Christchurch branch of the Institute of Pacific Relations and vice-president of the local League of Nations Union from its inception. In recognition of her many public services Elizabeth Best Taylor received the Jubilee Medal (1935) and was awarded the O.B.E. in 1937. During her last few years she lived with her daughter at St. Kilda, Dunedin. Elizabeth Best Taylor died there on 27 April 1941, being survived by her son and four of her five daughters.

by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

  • Press (Christchurch), 28 Apr 1941 (Obit)
  • Christchurch Star-Sun, 28 Apr 1941 (Obit).


Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.