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Elizabeth (Bessie) Mary Morphett Henderson was born at Auckland in 1868, being the only daughter of George and Adelaide Henderson nee Morphett Her father was a partner of the firm of Henderson and McFarlane who were island traders.


In 1895, Bessie came to Manaia and shortly after married Colonel Thomas Crosbie Sutherland who was a son of one of the early settlers on the Waimate Plains. After their marriage they took up farming, and eventually acquired a property on Manaia Road now farmed by her great-grandson Paul MacLeod.


Mrs Sutherland was one of the very few honorary members of the Legion of Frontiersmen. This distinction was conferred upon her as a mark of appreciation of the work done in the legion by her husband who held the rank of honorary colonel in the force.


She always took a keen interest in Farmers Union affairs, and when a branch was formed at Manaia she was elected its first president. A woman of outstanding integrity and tireless energy, Bessie was always prominent in organising and working for any object that was for the good of the district. Besides assisting her husband in working their farm she held a mail contract between Kapuni and Manaia.


Bessie was a staunch member of St Cuthbert's Anglican Church and set out to raise 1000 for the purpose of building a new church. She devised a scheme whereby each parishioner was to contribute 1/- on their birthdays each year, and she personally made this collection each year. The fund grew, and the knowledge of its growth drew other contributions and just a few months before her death she had the satisfaction of knowing that her ambition had been realised and the 1000 had been obtained.


Besides her church work Mrs Sutherland was active in the WDFF and Plunket Society affairs and was hostess at many military functions in Manaia when her husband was in command of the Wellington-West Coast Mounted Rifles.


Elizabeth Mary Morphett Sutherland died on the 18 October 1946 at Manaia and is buried at the Manaia cemetery. The Legion of Frontiersmen formed a guard of honour at the church and cemetery and also acted as pall-bearers.



Obituary "Hawera Star" 23 Oct 1946

Mrs Betty Thwaites (Grand-daughter)