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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.




Townswomen's Guilds exist to encourage the further education of women to enable them, as citizens, to make their best contribution towards the common good. They are essentially democratic and aim at stimulating the latent talent of all their members by a balanced programme of lectures and demonstrations, and at providing facilities for self-development and training in principles of citizenship. Thus there are discussions on all matters relating to the home, and the community; to domestic and local affairs including health, housing, and education; and to cultural interests such as music, art, horticulture, and handicrafts. The guilds also encourage members' interest in special charitable and other societies.

Townswomen's Guilds had been in existence in Britain for some years prior to 1931 when the severe earthquake in Hawke's Bay dislocated all local activities. Miss A. E. Jerome Spencer, who was conversant with Towns-women's Guilds overseas, considered that such an organisation in New Zealand would do much to bring women together for mutual help and combined efforts. Such was her enthusiasm that there is now a very widespread and active organisation. In May 1932 the first meeting was held in Napier and in the following year another Hawke's Bay branch was formed in Hastings. By 1965 there were 89 guilds in the Dominion Federation, with their own quarterly publication, The Townswoman.

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