A Colonial Devotion tells the story of a newly-wed and pregnant Jane Deans who arrives at Riccarton from Scotland in 1853, little knowing that her promised life to a successful Canterbury farmer and pillar of the Church of Scotland is soon to demand every ounce of fortitude she can muster to survive. Based on ‘Letters to My Grandchildren’ by Jane Deans, this play brings to life the story of one of New Zealand’s most significant pioneering women.
Jane Deans writes to her grandchildren telling them of all tragedies and triumphs of her life in Scotland and New Zealand between 1839 and 1885. Jane’s determination to uphold standards and Presbyterian values is continuously tested. Her prospective husband, John Deans, delayed his return visit from New Zealand to Scotland for many years. Jane’s sea journey to New Zealand is marred by continuous sea and pregnancy sickness. Then the joy of the arrival of her first born, John Junior, is overtaken by the tragedy of John Senior’s death by consumption. Jane struggles to manage and develop the family's extensive farms. She endures the realities and challenges of a colonial existence including earthquakes, overseeing the building of a church, visits from royalty and governors, family disputes and the loneliness of widowhood.