Wendy McGowan has been elected as the new national president of Rural Women New Zealand.
Her success was announced at the organisation’s AGM held in Wellington today, attended by 80 members from around the country.
Wendy McGowan previously served a three-year term as national vice president, and has been the national councillor for Bay of Plenty/Coromandel for the last six years, taking a special interest in land use issues, bio-security and food safety.
Wendy told members, “As national president I will build on our organisation’s goals and aspirations to be dynamic, vibrant, leading, innovative and visible at all levels.
“Rural Women NZ’s interest in land, health, education and community issues need our attention and advocacy, just as they did in the 1920s.As then, encouraging women living in rural communities to voice their concerns and support one another is what we do well.”
Wendy immediately announced the appointment of Kerry Maw, the national councillor for Canterbury, as her vice president.
Looking ahead, Wendy says it is exciting to be taking a leading role in plans to celebrate the UN International Year of Family Farming in 2014. The organisation is planning a series of events in March and April around the country to highlight the important role of family farms in provincial economic prosperity.
“It’s also an opportunity to strengthen links and understanding between rural and urban.”
The AGM was officially opened by Rural Women NZ’s patron, Her Excellency, Lady Janine Mateparae, who said her decision to take on the patron role was made easier by the organisation’s commitment to provide a voice for rural women and rural families, and our work is extremely important to the continued good health of the rural sector and New Zealand.
Prime Minister John Key also spoke at the opening ceremony and answered questions from the floor.
He said there are significant differences between our urban and rural communities and the key question is how we make sure those differences and issues are understood by everybody. He cited broadband access, the volatility of weather that farmers must cope with and schooling in rural areas as key challenges.
Wendy McGowan and her husband Rusty farm a 260 hectare dairy support unit in Kaharoa in the Bay of Plenty. She is also an enrolled nurse and works as a casual play specialist at Rotorua Hospital’s Children’s Unit.
Rural Women also announced Mary McTavish - Bay of Plenty/Coromandel (Region 5), and Fiona Gower - Top of the North Island (Region7), as new national councillors.