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Death of a Little Girl – Elizabeth Diver

Elizabeth Diver was aged 4 years and 9 months when she died through eating poisonous tupaki berries. She was buried on her father’s section behind what is now the Central Court.

A resumé of the inquest at Camp Cambridge 16th October 1865 for Elizabeth, lying dead at the house of Frank Diver, military settler in Cambridge is as follows.

“Frank said “On returning home at 7 pm from my stockyard I found the child lying by the middle door of my house complaining of being sick which she said was caused by her having eaten a stick which she received from another girl. My wife was seated by the side of the child and requested me to go for the doctor immediately. I thought the child had always been lively and I thought she was shamming. My wife went for the doctor. The child became speechless with teeth clenched. Dr Seth Sam came. Child died at 4 am. Eldest daughter Katherine got the stick Elizabeth had eaten.

“Was everything done for the child? asked the jury. Yes by the doctor and by the native who was brought in to see to my child.

“Honora Brien’s daughter Jennie, aged 4 years 6 months, was also ill. She went to see Elizabeth who was having fits and in great agony.

“The native (Mere Takua) examined the child and said she had eaten a poisonous herb but was too far gone. She gave the child salt and water. She said that if she had been there before the 3rd fit and given her salt and water she would have cured the child. She said (through an interpreter) I nursed the child in my arms but knew she was too far gone. In summer the bulb or fruit will attract a child”.

The Jury wanted Auckland newspapers to report the death so the poisonous tutu could be warned against.

Researched and written by Eris Parker
Ref: Cambridge Museum Archives
National Archives Wellington