Kōrero: Blomfield, Dorothy Constance

Whārangi 1: Biography

Blomfield, Dorothy Constance

1893–1987

Welfare worker, local politician

I tuhia tēnei haurongo e Julie P. L. Shaw,, ā, i tāngia tuatahitia ki Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau Ko te wāhanga , 2000.

Dorothy Constance Christie was born on 2 November 1893 in Wellington, the daughter of Daniel Laurie Christie, a grocer, and his wife, Eva Evelyn Helen Bell. She attended a private school in Wellington and later the convent school, where she particularly enjoyed singing. After leaving school she continued her musical interests and remembered this as being a very happy time in her life. She learned shorthand and typing, and then became involved in the voluntary-aid nursing programme during the First World War, when she was sent to Rotorua to work at the King George V Hospital. Here she developed a friendship with Norman Edward Blomfield, a lieutenant commander of a minesweeper in the Royal Navy, who was receiving treatment for arthritis.

They were married on 12 December 1922 in Auckland and went to Rawhiti to live on a farm owned by Norman’s grandfather. Situated at the entrance to the Bay of Islands, it was accessible only by boat. They built a house and planted a large garden. Their one child, a daughter, was born in Russell in 1926, and she later recalled that the isolated life was ‘hard for mum, being a Wellington City girl, but she made a real go of it’.

Due to Norman’s deteriorating health, they gave up farming and moved to Remuera, Auckland, in the late 1920s. Around 1930 Norman was transferred to Hamilton by his firm, the Provident Life Assurance Company of New Zealand. Later, he worked for the State Hydro-electric Department.

Dorothy had found the help given to her by the Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children (Plunket) invaluable when her daughter was a sickly child, and on her arrival in Hamilton she was to become an enthusiastic member of the local group. She was a committee member for many years and a general member of the Dominion Council representing the Hamilton branch. She remained a firm supporter all her life, working hard to set up sub-branches around Hamilton and fund-raising through activities such as ‘bring and buy’ stalls and the annual Plunket ball. An admirer of the society’s founder, Sir Truby King, she visited him at his home, Mount Melrose, in Wellington. Her work was recognised by her life membership of the Hamilton branch of the Plunket Society in 1962 and her appointment as MBE in 1966.

During the Second World War Dorothy Blomfield was one of four volunteers (another was Hamilton borough councillor Hilda Ross) who ran the Patriotic Hut at Garden Place, providing food, refreshments and an overnight stay for soldiers on leave. After Ross retired from the council on becoming an MP in 1945, Dorothy Blomfield was approached to serve on the Hamilton City Council. She became a councillor in December 1947 – the second woman to be elected in Hamilton. When she retired some 24 years later, in 1971, she had been the longest continuously serving councillor. She was also a justice of the peace. In 1959, after Ross died, she was asked to put her name forward for nomination to the New Zealand National Party, but it was decided that a man should represent the constituency.

Elegant and dignified, Dorothy Blomfield is remembered for her voluntary work. She was patroness of the Whitiora Women’s Bowling Club and a member of the Hamilton Lyceum Club, the New Zealand Founders’ Society, the New Zealand Free Kindergarten Teachers’ Association, the New Zealand Red Cross Society and the National Council of Women of New Zealand. An enthusiast for the performing arts, late in life she also took up watercolour painting. Dorothy Blomfield died on 1 September 1987 in Hamilton at the age of 93, survived by her daughter. Norman had died in 1965. A memorial plaque at Hamilton Gardens commemorates her service to the city.

Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Julie P. L. Shaw. 'Blomfield, Dorothy Constance', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 2000. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/mi/biographies/5b32/blomfield-dorothy-constance (accessed 18 September 2019)