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Last updated: 2 August 2017

Barron, Mary Christie (May), 1877-1969

Collection | Ref # ZARCH 248 | Held by Heritage Collections, Dunedin Public Library

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Barron, Mary Christie (May), 1877-1969


Barron, Mary Christie (May)

Level of description:



6 boxes & 1 oversize box

Reference number:



Mary Christie Barron was the eldest of 11 children of William Barron (1837-1916) and Mary, nee Banks. William Baron had come to Otago during the gold rush in 1861, became a partner in a runholding and mercantile firm, and represented Caversham as an Independent Liberal 1879-90. Mary grew up in "The Willows" the family mansion in Kew. Mary was a gifted musician and from about 1900 taught piano and violin in Dunedin, despite developing severe rheumatoid problems in her hands. After treatment in Sydney she learnt to do woodcarving and handicrafts to help the pain, and after WWI she used these skills to help returned servicemen at Montecillo in Dunedin.

Mary had several trips overseas, partly for further musical study. She was studying in Leipzig, Germany, when WWI broke out and was detained there for nearly two years until managing to get out via Holland and England, and return to New Zealand early 1916. At the outbreak of WWII she was in Denmark visiting Miss Gether, an elderly Dunedin friend, and found herself stranded in Hillerod near Copenhagen. Mary looked after Miss Gether until she died in 1943, and suffered the hardships of occupation. During this time she used her knowledge of German, Danish and other languages to translate foreign radio programmes and pass on information to the Danish resistance movement. Although she was the only British person in Hillerod and working over the road from the German barracks, she was not discovered.

After WWII she spent a year in Britain and became interested in drama at the age of 70. On her return to Dunedin she promoted British Drama League activities and supported the Dunedin Repertory Society. She died in 1969, aged 92

Scope & Content:
Correspondence with family and friends in Europe and New Zealand, including Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Theomin, Telemarque and Elaine Lambrino, Eileen Soper, ca1912-69; Speeches and writing about music, composers, musicians, her time in Germany during WWI and Denmark during WWII, ca1916-1940s; Personal and official documents 1930s-60s; publications and printed material in English and German, including magazines such as "Realites" (1960s), "Art and Architecture" (1908), and "The New Zealand Womans Weekly" (1908); a few newspaper clippings, 1940s; artwork and photographs including a pencil portrait of Mary Barron caa1940s-50s, and photos of musicians (some photocards) including Telemarque Lambrino ca1930s

Dates covered:

Circa 1890 - 1969



Access conditions:

No restrictions.

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Associated with:


Caversham · Dunedin · London, England · Leipzig, Germany · Hillerod, Denmark

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