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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 Girl Guides movement officially started in New Zealand in 1923, though in 1909 Colonel Cosgrove, a New Zealand Boer War veteran who had met Sir Robert Baden-Powell and had talked with him about scouting, formed the Girl Peace Scouts, on the model of the Boy Scouts Association. The Peace Scouts wore long khaki dresses, hats turned up at the sides, carried staves on all occasions, and always had a bugler. In 1923, the Dominion Council realised the advantages of being linked with an international movement and became registered with the original Girl Guides Association in London. “Cavell”, one of the first Peace Scout Companies to be formed in Auckland, wore their khaki uniforms for the last time at a hike on a certain Saturday in 1923, and on the following Sunday paraded at church as Girl Guides dressed in navy blue.

The aim of the movement is to train girls between the ages of eight and 21 years in citizenship through a series of healthy, happy, outdoor and indoor activities. Every member of the movement, when enrolled, must make the following promise, which is the basis of training:

The New Zealand organisation is divided into 15 provinces – Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, East Coast, Taranaki, Manawatu, Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough, Westland, North Canterbury, South Canterbury, Otago, and Southland. These are again divided into divisions and the divisions into districts. Each province, division, and district is administered by a commissioner, and within the districts are the companies and packs. A pack consists of 24 Brownies (8–11 years); a company consists of 36 Guides (11–16 years); and girls between the ages of 16 and 21 years have the choice of belonging to a Land Ranger Company, a Sea Ranger Company, or an Air Ranger Flight, or of being cadets (leaders in training). The leaders of the packs and companies are called guiders and all work voluntarily. Guides in the Cook Islands and Western Samoa come under the care of the New Zealand Headquarters at Christchurch. The New Zealand movement is a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, which has nearly 7 million members in 51 countries; 32 other countries are working towards membership. At present there are 33,198 members in New Zealand, comprising 6,143 adult leaders, 548 cadets and rangers, 13,122 guides, and 13,385 brownies.

by Marie Louise Dansey Iles, M.B.E., General Secretary, New Zealand Girl Guides Association, Christchurch.

  • Trefoil Around the World, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (1959)
  • Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell, R. S. S. (thirty-second edition, 1960).