Lady Mary Barker’s three years in New Zealand resulted in two much-loved volumes chronicling the life and challenges of a well-to-do Englishwoman on a Canterbury Plains sheep farm in the mid-1800s.
‘I was a proud and happy woman the first day my cream remained cream, and did not turn into butter,’ she writes with her usual wit and wisdom, in Station Life in New Zealand, ‘for generally my zeal outran my discretion.’
Her courage, good humour and ingenuity made her the ideal candidate to face the challenges of her role as a sheep station mistress. It, too, was a rich life: she was adopted by a wild piglet, taught herself how to make a cake, and started a book club for the station’s lonely shepherds.
Republished here for a new audience, Station Life in New Zealand is a seminal text by an important figure in New Zealand literary history.