For the majority of girls, marriage terminates or interrupts working life in their early twenties. About two-thirds of the female population are housewives. In New Zealand today there is little domestic help offering, and in any case most families could not afford to pay the wage demanded. Thus the average woman not only does her own cleaning, cooking, and shopping, but also makes clothes for herself and her children, spends time in the maintenance of a garden, and often attempts with marked success such tasks as painting, papering, and simple upholstery. Although labour-saving household appliances have reduced the amount of manual work in the household, most women seem to have relatively little leisure for sport and hobbies. This is probably the basic reason for their lack of active participation in civic and national affairs, and also for the preponderance of older women in such organisations as the Housewives' Association, Women's Institutes, Federation of University Women, and the Women's Division of Federated Farmers
Sharing in their children's activities involves the more conscientious mothers in play-centre supervision, baking or sewing for money-raising projects, and attendance at parent-teacher association meetings. While their children are young, they are often precluded from sharing in evening outings with their husbands because of the expense or difficulty of arranging for baby minders. What social intercourse they have is often at morning coffee or afternoon tea in haphazard conversation with neighbours and friends, or, when all is at peace, over the telephone at night. As the family grows older, there is more opportunity to get relaxation from hobbies – reading, concerts, floral art, continental and oriental cookery, adult education courses in subjects of interest – as well as from sports such as golf, tennis, croquet, and the increasingly popular bowls, both indoor and outdoor. This increasing fondness for sport is reflected in the large number of local and national tournaments arranged for women each year and in the enthusiasm which is shown by the competitors.