Story: Childhood

Growing up in New Zealand

New Zealand has long been seen as a good place to bring up children. In a letter written in 1850, New Plymouth settler Hannah Stephenson Smith described her children's idyllic life, emphasising the role played by the natural environment. Her own life, on the other hand, is described in less glowing terms:

'what a glorious place this is for children they wander about in the woods & fields & sun. I who am rather of an anxious nature know they can get into no danger ... My little girl, born 4 January name Nina, adds considerably to my labours we have no servant here but a child eleven years old so you may fancy I have not much time to spare ...

'My health is not so good as in England as I am completely overworked. Our children say the want of roll puddings is the only thing they can say against NZ.'

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: A-090-032-letter

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Kerryn Pollock, 'Childhood - Defining childhood', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 5 December 2023)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 12 Dec 2018