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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 Girls' Life Brigade was formed in England in 1902. It is international and interdenominational. The movement was introduced by the National Sunday School Union, which is the union of Sunday schools of all denominations. The need was felt to follow up the work done in the Sunday schools by providing a week-night activity for the girls – an organisation where, in a wholesome and happy atmosphere and under good leadership, the girls might find an outlet for their energies, satisfy their need for companionship, and have an opportunity to use and develop their gifts and qualities.

The movement has become increasingly popular as a Church youth organisation, because it holds girls in the Sunday school and Bible classes, and at the same time trains them to become useful Christian citizens. The movement spread rapidly throughout the world and, in 1928, the first New Zealand company was started in Dunedin at the Caversham Baptist Church, following the formation there two years previously of a Boys' Brigade unit.

The brigade aims at helping and encouraging girls to become responsible, self-reliant and useful Christian women. Discipline is designed to develop a strong and healthy physique by physical exercises of various kinds and by instruction in personal hygiene; and to encourage habits of punctuality, promptitude, reliability, self-respect, self-control, courtesy, alertness, intelligence, and presence of mind in emergencies, by training in drill, first aid, home nursing, lifesaving, and the like. The girls are encouraged to dedicate themselves to the service of God by means of total abstinence from intoxicants, association with a Christian organisation, and the fellowship and influence of their officers.

Laws and Promises

G.L.B. 1. Be loyal to your Sunday school and Church. 2. Abstain from intoxicating drink. 3. Be pure and true in thought, word and deed. 4. Be kind, cheerful and courteous. 5. Promptly obey the orders of officers. 6. Remember the G.L.B. motto: “To Save Life”. “I promise to do my utmost to keep the G.L.B. law in letter and spirit.”

Cadets: 1. A cadet loves and helps those at home. 2. A cadet tries to help other people every day. 3. A cadet remembers her motto: “Trying Hard”. She promises: “I promise to try hard to do and be the very best I can for Jesus' sake”. Pioneers: “I promise to be loyal to God and His Church, to honour the G.L.B. law, and in all things to show a spirit of service”.

The Girls' Life Brigade is a uniformed organisation, the age groups having different insignia. The company is attached to a church, Sunday school, or other religious organisation, which is responsible for its proper conduct, and especially for ensuring that the religious part of the work is consistently maintained. Commissioned officers are, in the first place, selected by the officials of the church or other religious organisation to which the company is attached, and appointments are approved by headquarters. The company may consist of one or more of the following sections: cadets, six to nine years; juniors, 10 to 12 years; seniors, 12 to 15 years; pioneers, 15 years of age and over. There are 384 companies of over 19,000 members, comprising 1,411 officers, 1,347 pioneers, 2,542 seniors, 6,131 juniors, 7,707 cadets, and helpers.

The aim of the Girls' Life Brigade is carried out by a four-square programme of social, physical, educational, and spiritual work. The social includes games, socials, picnics, and competitions with other companies; the physical includes country dancing, physical education, swimming, rambling; the educational, citizenship, hobbies, first aid, infant care, music, etc.; and the spiritual includes a devotional period each company night, and the study of such subjects as Bible knowledge and missionary enterprise. Badges are awarded for proficiency in the work in the junior and senior groups, braids for success in the pioneer venture, and stars are worked for in the cadet programme.

The Girls' Life Brigade New Zealand National Headquarters are in the Auckland Sunday School Union Buildings, 323 Queen Street, Auckland, and consist of secretarial and equipment sections. The organisation is served by the organising secretary and two field officers, assistant secretary, equipment secretary, and other office workers. The organisation is controlled by a national council, which is formed by voluntary workers in charge of the companies and national officials – president, vice-president, national chaplain, officers commanding cadets and pioneers. An executive committee, comprising representatives from 17 regional areas, meets three times a year. National training is carried out at the G.L.B. training centre at Waikanae, Wellington.

The present members of the Girls' Life Brigade have given, through donations, enough funds to provide shelters in Jordan and Hong Kong. They have also adopted a school in Hong Kong through “Save the Children Fund”. Members of the Girls' Life Brigade help with CORSO appeals. The G.L.B. in New Zealand is also responsible for the work in the south-west Pacific and the organising secretary frequently visits Niue, Samoa, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and New Hebrides. Over the past year much emphasis has been placed on the pioneer group (15 years and over), and training camps have been held in different parts of the Dominion. Social service is given through Sunday school and Bible class teaching, voluntary work in hospitals, old people's homes, and children's orphanages.

by Gladys Mary Gebbie, Organising Secretary, Girls' Life Brigade, Auckland.