Given names: 
Given address: 
Woolston Tryphena
Sheet No: 380
Great Barrier Island
Auckland region

Biography contributed by Mavis Millar

Elizabeth Medland nee Stringer was born on 23 March 1853 at Manchester, England to Thomas Stringer and Mary Ann nee Bickley. She was christened at St John-The Baptist-Church, Atherton, Manchester on 23 October, 1853.

Elizabeth Stringer immigrated to New Zealand at age 10, on the Annie Wilson with her parents and siblings, Henry and Grace, arriving at Auckland on 21 September 1863. The family settled in Otahuhu, Auckland.

Thomas James Medland was born on 21 May 1841 at Poundstock, Cornwall, England. His parents were William Medland and Mary Fuge, who were married in 1835.

Thomas James Medland came to New Zealand in 1865 on the John Temperly with his younger brother, James. Thomas later became a farmer on 40 acres of land, in Oruawharo Bay near Tryphena, on the east coast of Great Barrier Island. He built a small two-roomed whare out of material from the land he had cleared.

Thomas met Elizabeth in 1877 at the Otahuhu Wesleyan Church, where she sang in the choir. The wheels turned slowly until Elizabeth Stringer married Thomas James Medland on 27 March 1878 at Otahuhu, Auckland, New Zealand. Part of her father’s condition of consent was that he could not take her to live on the isolated Island.

Their first born son, John, was born in 1879 at Otahuhu. Shortly afterwards, she said to her husband, who was often looking North East with a far away look in his eyes, 'I’ll go with you (to the Island).' What a brave woman? With a three-month old baby, this pioneer learnt to live in a small hut near a river. But what a world of exquisite nature! A place was near a sandy beach (much later called Medlands Beach), with beautiful flora bush and many native birds!

Thomas and Elizabeth Medland had nine children, four of them being born on Great Barrier Island without the attendance of a nurse or doctor.

John Thomas born 1879; Ann Elizabeth born 1880; James Henry born 1881; Elizabeth (Bessie) born 1883; Samuel born 1885; Grace Miriam born 1887; Joseph born 1890; Bramwell born 1892 and Ralph Stringer born 1897. But two children, Bessie at 11 years and Ralph at eight months, died young.

Schooling for children and grand-children, as well as for the neighbour’s children, was held in a wool shed and later in their own school-house on the Woolstone farm. A teacher was supplied from the Education Department for this ‘All-age’ class.

Secondary schooling, for some, was later done from The Correspondence School.

Elizabeth had been brought up as a Methodist and later joined the Salvation Army.

Both Elizabeth and her husband, Thomas, were enrolled as Senior Soldiers at the Otahuhu Corps along with their sons, James, Sam, Bram, Joseph and with their daughters, Annie and Grace. They were on the roll even though they couldn’t attend. John remained a Methodist. But the Medland families gathered once a month to hold Salvation Army services in their little school-house. Later on, many of Elizabeth’s descendants became Salvationists — some serving as Officers.

Elizabeth and Thomas Medland’s sons John and Bram were soldiers in WW1. They served overseas and came back. Their son, James, enlisted as a medical orderly but he was on final leave when the War ended. But his training was very useful on the Island.

Thomas James Medland died on 27 November 1920 at Great Barrier Island, Auckland.

The Woolstone farm was later split up into five farms — John had 'Glenhaven'; James had 'Seaview'; Samuel had 'Woolstone' (the original homestead); Joseph had 'Lowlands'; and Bramwell had 'Mossvale'.

After this, Elizabeth took turns at staying with her sons and wives and grandchildren on their farms. She taught her children and grand-children to read, love, study and memorise the Bible.

In 1943, she went to live with her daughter, Annie, in Auckland, where the family gathered to celebrate her 90th birthday and then in 1953 to celebrate her 100th birthday.

Elizabeth died on 27 June 1953 aged 100 years at Auckland, New Zealand.

The Obituary in the paper of 1953 stated that Elizabeth had been a member of the Salvation Army for nearly 70 years!

Thomas and Elizabeth Medland were buried at Waikaraka Cemetery, Auckland.

The inscription read. 'In loving memory of Thomas James Medland died 27 November 1920 aged 78 yrs And his loved wife Elizabeth died 27 June 1953 aged 100 yrs. Also their dear children, Bessie & Ralph'.


Medland Memories by Samuel Alfred Medland

Obituary of Elizabeth Medland

B M D records and Family Search

Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.

Community contributions

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