Mollie Tripe

Group portrait of students at Wellington School of Design. Mary Elizabeth Tripe has the skeleton’s arm around her shoulder. James Nairn and Mabel Hill are at far left (the photo is unattributed). This photo has been copied from

A recent blog post about James McLauchlan NAIRN encouraged us to take a look at the life of another artist buried at Karori Cemetery – Mary Elizabeth (Mollie) TRIPE (nee RICHARDSON).

The Tripe family plot is one of the largest plots in the first Anglican section of Karori Cemetery. There are 23 occupants listed on the plot information, including 18 ashes interments. The plot, which is about 4x the standard size, was purchased in June 1899 by the estate of John Robert Bullen Tripe, who was also the first of Dr William Borrowdale and Susan Tripe’s 13 children to be interred in it, along with their parents and other descendants.

There is an excellent item about the Tripe family online at

Mollie was married to the sixth son, Joseph Albert Tripe, one of the founding partners of the law firm Tripe, Mathews & Feist. By the time Mollie married Joseph in 1900 she was well established in the art world and was working alongside Nairn as a drawing instructor at the Wellington Technical School. She and Joseph had three sons, one of whom died aged 15 months and was interred in the family plot at Karori. Mollie had a long and successful artistic career, becoming one of New Zealand’s leading portrait artists. She died in 1939, 13 years after Joseph. She too was interred in the Tripe family plot, her remaining two sons and their wives joining her later.    

There is a comprehensive biography about Mollie on the NZ Dictionary of Biography:

Google “Mollie Tripe artist” and many of her portraits can be viewed online.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *