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Baker family collection.

Identifier: MSS-Archives-2009/01

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of originals, photocopies, publications, and copies of photographs relating to Shirley Baker's activities in Tonga. Although the full record of Baker's activities lies in other archives, especially the Tongan government, Wesleyan mission, and Colonial Office records, the collection provides useful insights into the character and work of Baker and his descendants.

These documents were left to William Waldemar Powell Shirley- Rollison by his aunt Coo Baker, the last of the Shirley Baker children, who died in Tonga in the mid-1950s. They were then passed on to his sons Nigel and David upon his death in 1972. The photographs of Tongan royal memorabilia were added recently by the Shirley-Rollison family. Nigel Shirley-Rollison died in 2008.

The microfilm is a copy of the material originally deposited in the University of Uppsala Library before transfer to the University of Auckland Library, and its contents are also available in photocopied form in this collection.

The originals are in fragile condition and should not be consulted without the permission of the Special Collections Librarian.


  • 1852 - 1978


Conditions Governing Access

Not restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Use copies (boxes 1 and 2) as the originals are fragile. The originals may only be used with permission of the Special Collections Librarian.

Biographical / Historical

Shirley Waldemar Baker was a missionary and premier of Tonga, who developed the constitution of Tonga in 1875. He successfully advocated ecclesiastical independence for the Tongan mission, which was granted by the Australian conference in 1875. Baker was also largely responsible for negotiating the treaty of friendship signed between Tonga and Germany in 1876. The treaty, however, attracted the attention of the British authorities in Fiji and, after an inquiry by the British consul into his methods of fund raising, Baker was recalled from Tonga by the missionary committee in 1879. A bitter dispute developed with the Wesleyans and in 1885 Baker established the Free Church, Wesleyan in doctrine but free from Australian control. In 1887 an unsuccessful attempt was made on Baker's life; renewed persecutions by the Wesleyans followed and six Tongans were executed for complicity in the plot. The disturbances led to increasing British intervention in Tonga and in 1890 Baker was deported by the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, Sir John Thurston, for being 'prejudicial to the peace and good order of the Western Pacific'. He died in Tonga in 1903.


0.5 metres (4 boxes.)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Original donation was made by by Nigel Shirley-Rollison (great-grandson of Baker) in June 2000 with an additional donation of photocopies in July 2000. The original material donated in October 2003, was transferred from the University of Uppsala Library, except for some items retained by Nigel Shirley-Rollison.

Related Materials

Tonga. [Letterbooks, 1873-1874, 1880-1890 and Dec. 1933-Sept. 1936] [microform]. 3 microfilm reels. PMB 1089 (AU MICROFILM 97-205/207) Baker, Shirley W. (Shirley Waldemar), 1836-1903. Tongan papers, 1849-1950 [microform]. 5 microfilm reels. PMB 1203 (AU MICROFILM 05-034).

Inventory of the Baker family collection, 1852-1978.
Stephen Innes
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand