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Story: Paul, Annette

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Paul, Annette


Salvation Army officer

This biography, written by Laurence Hay, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1993.

Annette Paul was one of a small number of educated women who were influential in the fledgeling Salvation Army in New Zealand. Born in Auckland on 4 November 1863, she was the daughter of Annette McKellar and her husband, James Paul, a major in the 65th (2nd Yorkshire, North Riding) Regiment of Foot. Her mother died six days after Annette was born, and the household moved to Wellington. Here her father became involved with a woman named Bridget Quinlan; in 1872 a son, James Paul, was born of this ex-nuptial liaison. It seems likely that Annette knew of the existence of her half-brother. She attended secondary school and then enjoyed the social life of a young woman of independent means; she appears to have had an interest in art. Her father died in 1881, and thereafter she lived with relatives.

When the Salvation Army 'opened fire' in Wellington in June 1883 Annette Paul attended some of the first meetings. Although she had received a conventional Anglican upbringing she was deeply impressed. However, not until August 1888 was she sworn in as a soldier of the Wellington corps. Three months later, the day after her 25th birthday, she applied for full-time officership in the movement.

Annette Paul was accepted for training and spent six weeks in Linwood, Christchurch. Described as 'a delicate and refined girl', she rose to the challenge and 'was properly broken in as a "Cry" seller and visitor, having doors shut in her face, dogs set on to her, etc.' Other field appointments followed at Port Chalmers, Balclutha and Tapanui.

On 25 October 1890 Annette Paul was appointed secretary for Rescue Affairs for the Salvation Army in New Zealand. She was stationed at the Christchurch rescue home, which provided rehabilitation and assistance for ex-prostitutes, unwed mothers and destitute elderly women. Thus began her long involvement in women's social work, and her gradual rise through the ranks of the Salvation Army. A captain in 1890, she was to be promoted to brigadier by 1902.

In August 1894 Annette Paul attended a Salvation Army international congress in London, at which she was promoted to staff captain, the first New Zealand woman to hold staff rank. She was returning to New Zealand with another Salvation Army officer, Laura Flavell, on the Wairarapa when, on 29 October 1894, it was wrecked on Great Barrier Island with much loss of life. The two women showed courage and presence of mind during the long ordeal, and led prayers and singing while the survivors waited to be rescued. Annette Paul managed to reach the shore, but Laura Flavell lost her grip on the lifeline and drowned.

One week before this event Louisa Jane Seddon, the premier's wife, had opened Pauline House, the Salvation Army's new Wellington rescue home in upper Cuba Street. The home was built on land donated by Annette Paul, and was named in honour of her. By 1895 the Salvation Army in New Zealand was operating four rescue homes and a maternity home for unmarried women, samaritan brigades for helping families in need, a free labour registry to place young women in secure employment, police court brigades to accept custody of women as an alternative to gaol, and an enquiry service for tracing lost family members. Annette Paul helped to establish many of these services.

In February 1896 she was transferred to Australia where she held rescue appointments in Adelaide and Melbourne. In April 1902 she returned to New Zealand, where she was appointed secretary for women's social work. During her seven years in this position residential care for children was established, which included the opening of two homes for girls, and work with women 'inebriates' was instituted.

Annette Paul was appointed in charge of women's social work in South Australia in June 1909. Probably early in 1911 she unexpectedly resigned from Salvation Army service. Two reasons for her resignation have been suggested. One is that she was suffering ill health; the other is that she became dissatisfied when she was refused permission to take leave and visit relatives in England. Her activities thereafter are not documented. Her father had been well-off, so it is probable that she received a private income. She never married, and lived for some years in retirement in Auckland.

Annette Paul died at Auckland on 19 April 1952, and was buried in the Hillsborough cemetery. During her 22 years as a Salvation Army officer she amply demonstrated her capacities for leadership and administrative work. The Salvation Army provided an opportunity for Annette Paul and others like her to develop their skills, at a time when women were excluded from the top echelons of most religious and secular organisations.

How to cite this page:

Laurence Hay. 'Paul, Annette', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1993. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/2p9/paul-annette (accessed 20 June 2024)