Elizabeth Fairburn Colenso
(29 August 1821 –
2 September 1904)
was a missionary and Bible translator in New Zealand.
born at the Church Missionary
Society station at Kerikeri, New
Having grown up speaking the Māori language
from infancy, she helped
see the Maori Old Testament
the press in England. It was a lengthy undertaking; she was
correcting proofs throughout the mid-1860s. Returning to New
Zealand early in 1867 she helped prepare the revised New Testament
for the press, correcting the printed copy, and sometimes
suggesting alternative translations. She also translated Christian
materials into the Mota language.
After several unhappy years of marriage, her husband, missionary
printer William Colenso
(not to be
confused with his missionary cousin in South Africa, John William Colenso
), was dismissed
from the mission for adultery and Elizabeth separated from him. She
is noteworthy for several reasons, including the fact that the
Church Mission Society
retained her and appointed her to work despite the fact that she
was separated from her husband (they never divorced).
for many years, before and after her work in Bible translation, as
a school teacher for Maori children and also on Norfolk Island.
Ross, Catherine. 2006. The Legacy of Elizabeth Fairburn Colenso.
International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol 30, No 3,