Early life[change | change source]
Maria grew up in a Unitarian household. The early death of her father, Christopher Richmond, caused financial trouble for the family. At the age of 28, Maria and her family left for New Zealand along with the Hursthouses, Richmonds, and Ronalds. They came to Auckland May 25th, 1853. They moved to the early New Plymouth colony. She and Arthur Samuel Atkinson found love on the ship. They married 30 December 1854.
New Zealand[change | change source]
Maria first was a pioneering housewife and mother. She and Arthur moved to Nelson, New Zealand in 1867. In Nelson she became active in the community. She helped support women's right to vote, talked to many about forming a girl's college and guided a debate team. The Atkinsons let teachers for Nelson College for Girls use their home called Fairfield House.