WOMEN'S DIVISION FEDERATED FARMERS OF NEW ZEALAND (Inc.)
The Women's Division Federated Farmers of New Zealand is a non-party political and non-sectarian society with aims to better the conditions of women and children living in the country, and to stimulate and encourage interest among the farming community in every way by the cooperation of women with farmers' organisations. The movement began in 1925 when a group of 16 farmers' wives, on holiday in Wellington while their husbands were attending a conference of the Farmers' Union (now the Federated Farmers), became concerned with the hardships of farmers' wives and families living in isolated and backblocks areas, and so formed a group which has now grown into the second largest organisation of women in New Zealand. Membership is open to all women interested in these aims, and in 1965 the membership total was over 27,000. There are 800 branches, which form 60 provincial units, and an annual Dominion Conference elects the Dominion Council for the control of their affairs, with a permanent secretary in Wellington. This organisation has its own emergency housekeeper service for country women in time of sickness, and, should payment for these services be a hardship, financial assistance may also be given. The division has been responsible for various publications, including cookery books, and has its own magazine, N.Z. Countrywoman, published every two months.
Rest and holiday homes have been established throughout the country to enable country women to take a rest at moderate cost and in congenial surroundings. Amongst these are “Scotlands” at Auckland; “Te Kiteroa” at Waimate; “Melrose” at Nelson, which was bequeathed to the Women's Division by the late Colonel and Mrs Noel Adams; and “Harris Cottage” at Stanmore Bay, a bequest by Miss M. Harris. In 1948 Dr Agnes Bennett bequeathed her home, “Honda”, at Lowry Bay, Wellington, as a rest and holiday centre, but this property has now been disposed of and the funds are to be used to extend the headquarters building in Hawkestone Street, Wellington, so that this may become a residential club for the use of members. This property will be known as “Honda – the Agnes Bennett Memorial Clubrooms”.
Members are linked with kindred organisations overseas through the Associated Country Women of the World.
by Olive Rita Croker, M.A., Botanist, Wellington.