Colleen Margaret Sheffield née Jackson

Ngāti Whātua

1920 - 1963

She was born in Dr Meinhold’s hospital in Helensville, the daughter of Annie née Quinn and Cecil Jackson and was raised on a farm at Rewiti. She was educated at Woodhill Primary School, Helensville Primary School and Helensville District High School. She studied Karitane nursing at a maternity home in Otahuhu, Auckland. She married Edward D. B. Sheffield who farmed at South Head, Helensville, and had four children. She wrote non-fiction work and poetry; a number of her articles and poems were published in Te Ao Hou and for the local paper, the Helensville Echo. She wrote an extensive history of the Helensville and Kaipara district which is now in its fourth edition. She was a member on the Rewiti Marae Trust Committee and was a member of the Women’s Division. She died tragically in a bus accident when returning from the Waitangi celebrations in 1963. Through her grandmother she was a descendant of Te Huira-Te Kawau of the Arawa Canoe.

Biographical sources

  • Phone conversation with Edward Sheffield 30 Aug. 1998.
  • Phone conversation with Alan Jackson, 30 Aug. 1998.
  • "Tragic Bus Accident." Te Ao Hou 42 (1963): 22.


  • "Te Taou and the Sandhills." Te Ao Hou 40 (1962): 42-46.
  • Sheffield writes a history of the north Auckland beach settlement called Te Taou and discusses its tribal settlement, the origins of its name and the impact of European settlement.
  • Kawau Island: Beautiful, Historic, Poetic. [Auckland, N.Z.]: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1962.
  • A detailed history of Kawau describing the early occupation by Ngātitai and Ngātiwai tribes, copper mining from the 1840s-60s, and the purchase of the island by Sir George Grey.
  • Men Came Voyaging. Auckland, N.Z.: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1963. Three editions.
  • In this book of twenty chapters, written at the request of the Helensville Borough Council on the occasion of the Helensville Centennial Celebrations in 1963, Sheffield provides a detailed account of the geology, geography and history of the Helensville area from its early tribal history and European settlement up to present-day Helensville. The book concludes with a bibliography, maps of the Helensville District and Borough and an index.
  • Poetry

  • "Waiata." Te Ao Hou 16 (1956): 20-21.
  • In this poem a dying man speaks of his ‘roving’ wairua revisiting places special to his past and the call of his long dead relatives.
  • "Victory." Te Ao Hou 44 (1963): 9.
  • The speaker in this poem contemplates the kind of death she would prefer and asks of her ‘Friend and Lord’ that in the event of a breakdown in their relationship she not be given a ‘slow extinguishing of life’ which was traditionally meted out to defeated enemies and slaves, but instead she might receive ‘The death given/By chief to chief...A death swift, clean, and due to me by/ right!’ Shortly after writing this poem, Colleen Sheffield was tragically killed in a bus accident.


  • "Tragic Bus Accident." Te Ao Hou 42 (1963): 22.
  • Reviews

    Men Came Voyaging
  • M.O. [Margaret Orbell]. Te Ao Hou 44 (1963): 55.