Elms Resources

Alfred Brown 1803 - 1884



Alfred Nesbit Brown was born and educated in Colchester, Essex, England. In 1824 he applied to the Anglican Church Missionary Society and the following year entered the training college in Islington.

Although he was ordained as a priest in June 1828, it was decided that he should be sent to New Zealand to teach the children of the missionaries. He married Charlotte Arnett in 1829, and soon after set sail for Australia in the Elizabeth. After some delay they arrived in the Bay of Islands on 29 November on the City of Edinburgh.

Browns Missionary Work

Marsh Brown was born in 1831, and his sister Celia in 1837. Brown soon began to learn te reo Maori, and accompanied other missionaries on journeys "to the southward" to meet with Maori, to try to make peace among the tribes, to source food supplies and to choose sites for mission stations.

In 1835 he opened a mission station at Matamata, which closed after a couple of years. His life's work at Te Papa, Tauranga, began in January 1838. From this base he travelled on foot around the central North island, taking the Christian message, medicines and education to his congregations.

Personal tragedy struck with the premature death of Marsh at the age of 14 in 1845. Charlotte died in 1855 while seeking medical help in Auckland. Following Celia's marriage to Rev. John Kinder in 1859, Brown married Christina Johnston in 1860.

The Land Wars and Brown's Missionary Work

The land wars of the 1860s marred the end of Brown's missionary work. When the colonial government confiscated land in the western Bay of Plenty and made it available to military settlers, his life changed dramatically. Maori were displaced from their land, and mission work came to an end. Although Brown continued to claim that he kept the mission station open, he actually purchased 17 acres from the CMS for himself and Christina in 1873, renaming the property "The Elms", a name it still bears today.

Brown, who never returned to England, died in Tauranga in 1884 in his 81st year. He is buried in the nearby Mission Cemetery.

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