Page 1: Biography
Homemaker, gold courier, shopkeeper
This biography, written by Katherine W. Orr, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1990.
Ann Lovell was born Ann Brown probably some time between 1803 and 1811. Her birthplace and parents' identities are unknown. She married James Lovell on 3 January 1837 at St Peter's Church, Bristol, England. The couple had at least three children.
Ann Lovell, her husband and two daughters, one of whom died on board, emigrated to Nelson, New Zealand, on the Lord Auckland, arriving on 23 February 1842. Another daughter, Mercy Ann, was born in 1843. In late 1842 James Lovell joined the Massacre Bay Coal Association, which was set up to extract coal, timber and lime from Motupipi. James Lovell went there in October 1842 and the family were among the earliest European inhabitants of Golden Bay.
Subsequent events in Ann Lovell's life are hazy because the details are taken either from the reminiscences of Mercy Ann Harwood (formerly Lovell), set down about 90 years after the events described, or from mostly unclear sources.
In Motupipi Ann Lovell came in close contact with the local Maori, who in 1842 had had little to do with Pakeha. She was a small woman, but never one to allow her fears to become apparent. In consequence, she won the respect of her Maori neighbours. She is reputed both to have successfully stopped a violent dispute between two local Maori by physically restraining the pair, and to have intervened to succour a Maori woman who had been injured during intertribal violence sparked off by two chiefs fighting to marry her. It was said that once, when a high-ranking Maori poked about in her cooking pots, she seized a flaming stick from the fire and drove him outside. To her amazement the next day he arrived with a large basket of potatoes for her.
Ann Lovell made several often perilous trips from Golden Bay to Nelson, either with Maori companions or alone, to buy stock, to convey timber from Golden Bay and to carry gold deposited with her husband at Collingwood by local goldminers. Sometimes she travelled with gold sewn in her skirts.
The Lovells left Motupipi briefly to live in Motueka in 1849. As a result of the Collingwood goldrush which began in 1857, they shifted from Motupipi to Collingwood. During the day Ann Lovell and her two daughters worked in James Lovell's butchery and bakery shop; in the evening they made candles for gold diggers. After two or three years the family apparently moved to land at Clifton, and then back to Motupipi. Ann Lovell died in Motupipi on 15 December 1869.
Ann Lovell appears to have been a very determined woman. She displayed great resourcefulness and courage in building up relationships with Maori people in Golden Bay and in overcoming the hazards of travel under very difficult conditions.