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The letters of Meri Hōhepa Suzanne Aubert


They encapsulate the life of an intelligent, educated, observant and warm-hearted woman, her concern for better rights, education and health outcomes for Māori and the downtrodden, women and children in particular.

Suzanne Aubert, intelligent and observant, was a prolific letter writer. Through her letters, she reached out to others, offering encouragement, support and friendship, advocating on their behalf and expressing appreciation and friendship.

Her letters convey much of the social and political context in Aotearoa New Zealand from the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth century, covering war and settler influx with their traumatic consequences for Māori, and a developing country still lacking social welfare provisions.

About 825 letters written by Meri Hōhepa Suzanne Aubert have been gathered and preserved in the Sisters of Compassion archives. Suzanne Aubert copied most of her letters in case of loss, in a few instances a draft is all that remains. Much of her writing was in French, especially in the earlier period. Since her death, people to whom she wrote letters in her old age have generously donated original documents or copies.

Archive Location

Nga Whaea Tapu Pūaroha Sisters of Compassion

Letter to Donald McLean, 1872.

First page of letter to Sisters of Compassion at Jerusalem, late 1905, transcribed on pages 241-242 of ‘Letters on the Go’ by Jessie Munro. Ref. SOCA 23C

Second page of letter to Sisters of Compassion at Jerusalem, late 1905.