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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




The largest organisation of women in New Zealand in 1965 was the Federation of Country Women's Institutes with a membership of some 35,000, in over 1,000 institutes in all parts of the country, and a further 200 members in a Cook Islands group, formed some 10 years ago. The movement of Country Women's Institutes in New Zealand is due to the organisation and enthusiasm of Miss A. E. Jerome Spencer (who was later also responsible for the formation of Townswomen's Guilds), and since its inception in the early twenties the movement has spread rapidly.

The main objects of the institutes have been to provide further education for women living in the country to enable them to take an active part in rural life and its development in the widest sense, and to provide a training ground for community work so that members may become qualified to give service on county and borough councils, on hospital boards, and committees. Thus members should be able and ready to give service wherever and whenever needed. A very high standard of cultural work has been maintained in these institutes, as is shown in the national competitions in drama, handicraft, art, literature, and music. The housekeeping scheme was one of the earliest activities of the movement and has been in operation ever since, providing a valuable service for sick members and for any country women in need. Visiting of patients in hospitals, especially mental hospitals, has long been another important part of their activities. A “lone member” scheme for those in isolated parts as well as links with overseas organisations are also features of the work of these institutes. A magazine, Home and Country, has been published monthly for over 30 years.

by Olive Rita Croker, M.A., Botanist, Wellington.