Mrs Charles (Georgina) Hetley’s book, Native Flowers of New Zealand, with its coloured lithographs of flora, is one of the most sought-after of New Zealand’s botanical works.

Georgina McKellar arrived in New Plymouth on the St. Michael in 1852 with her mother, sister and four brothers. Some members of the McKellar family, along with the Mace family and Antonio Rodriguez and his wife, had boarded the ship in Madeira, where they had been living.

In 1856 Georgina married Charles Hetley, who had come to New Plymouth in 1853 on the Joseph Fletcher and the couple bought a farm at Ōmata. Charles died suddenly in 1857 and Georgina and her brothers struggled on until they sold the farm in 1859. She moved to Auckland with her son in 1862. There, she was inspired to try flower painting following a lecture by the botanist, Thomas Cheeseman. With some government assistance she travelled widely during the 1880s to paint flowers for her book, Native Flowers of New Zealand. The work appeared in 1887 in three parts, then, in 1888, was published as a single volume.

Further reading:

Sampson, E Bruce: Early New Zealand Botanical Art - 1985

Sampson, F Bruce: Early N Z Botanical Art, 1985 (pages 102-108)

Lady Painters

Dawson, Bee: Lady Painters, The flower painters of early N Z, 1999 (pages 76-91)


Related Information


Georgina Hetley (Dictionary of New Zealand Biography)


The Native Flowers of New Zealand (Taranaki Herald 7 May 1889)


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