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About RWNZ

Rural Women New Zealand is a charitable, membership-based organisation which supports people in rural communities through opportunities, advocacy and connections.

Our members are diverse, but all of us share rural interests that connect and energise us.We are the leading representative body promoting and advocating on rural health, education, land and social issues. We provide information, support, practical learning and leadership opportunities.

Our members

We have groups throughout New Zealand. Some groups meet for networking and friendship, often supporting their local communities through events or fundraising. Others are focused on education and learning, and facilitate training days and workshops.

If you can’t make regular meetings, but still want to have your say and stay connected, then individual membership might be an option for you.


  • Charitable: We continue our traditional role of supporting rural communities.
  • Forward Thinking: We lead the development of strong rural environments for today and the future.
  • Flexible: We are creative, proactive and innovative.
  • Professional: We are reputable and use best practice.
  • Inclusive: We welcome diversity in all its forms.

RWNZ History

RWNZ was established in 1925 by women who wanted better social and economic conditions for rural people. For over 80 years we have been at the forefront of rural issues, working to grow dynamic communities in New Zealand.


Strong, Enduring Rural Environments


Download our Strategic Intent 2014-2017


Read All NewsRecent news

Dot Kettle and Georgia Richards of Dove River Peonies gained a Merit Award at last year’s Enterprising Rural Women Awards. Here they explain what’s happened to their business since and why they are encouraging others to enter the awards.

Winning the award was a watershed moment for our company Dove River Peonies. Despite having only launched our 100% natural skin care repair products in October last year, we decided to enter. Thanks to the publicity and credibility we got from the award, our business growth has been 6 fold.

The awards entry process helped us succinctly identify where we wanted to take our business, the challenges we would need to address, and the opportunities we could embrace to get there. It was inspiring and energising to put that on paper and then having the chance to talk that through with the judging panel really challenged us to step up and commit.

Receiving a merit award at the Awards dinner was a humbling experience. We got to hear from the category winners about their inspiring business journeys and share our own. Meeting delegates from all around the country and sharing our story of turning our peony flower farm into a natural skin care cream to treat our son’s eczema was both a fantastic opportunity and an amazing experience.

The awards generated huge interest in our products – and as a direct consequence we were approached by Lifestyle Magazine where editor Nadene Hall showcased our business – with a 12 page colour spread. This led to a big spike in our sales – and was subsequently placed on the Stuff website. The impact was immediate. We went from a best ever website daily hits of 600 to 6000 hits. And the orders started from 6am and continued at an order a minute. We sold out of our stock twice over in that single day. Fortunately we were able to produce more crème quickly with our Nelson based natural products manufacturer and meet the orders within an acceptable time frame.

We wouldn’t have got that publicity without entering the awards. And still to this day we use our entry form as a benchmark for our business progress and a reminder of our values, aspirations and plan for the future.

So thank you Rural Women – and to all the rural women in business wondering if they should enter the Enterprising Rural Women Awards - just do it! We can’t guarantee your experience will be the same as ours but we are 100% confident that it will be good for your business and one of the most worthwhile investments in your business you will make. - Dot Kettle and Georgia Richards    

For entry details click here.

Do you know of any young children who have been very ill with E.coli O157:H7?

How did they catch it? How soon after it was caught was it diagnosed? How bad was it for the child and their family? 

As a rural mother, National Councillor Fiona Gower recognises the need to keep children safe. She knows the dangers of quad bikes, tractors, water and animals as well as other hazards seen daily. But what of those that can’t be seen? Such as minute organisms hiding in mud and water and in animal urine and faeces. These are the bugs that if not dealt with can cause major illness and in some cases irreparable damage and even death. How do we protect our families from them?

Rural Women NZ members are aware of Leptospirosis thanks to fundraising and awareness campaigns. But what about Salmonella and Rotovirus? The latest of the organisms to be targeted by awareness campaigns and research is E. coli O157:H7.

What is E.coli O157?

E.coli O157:H7 (STEC or VTEC) is an intestinal pathogen that causes severe outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness with symptoms ranging from diarrhea to severe bleeding from the bowel, to renal failure leading to transplants or dialysis. It has the most severe effect on children aged under 5 with 10% of cases hospitalised. There was one death in 2014.

The most common risk factors reported for VTEC/STEC infection cases in 2014 were contact with pets, farm animals and animal manure.

  • Kids on farms can be infected with E. coli O157:H7
  • Children under 5 years old most susceptible to serious illness.

This infection has been increasing since 1997 with 187 cases notified last year.

STEC infects cattle and sheep, however animals will appear healthy.

How to keep your children safe:

  • As a veterinarian, RWNZ National Councillor Liz Hancock stresses that hygiene awareness is really important with any of these bugs. Thorough hand washing when coming inside from farm and basic hygiene (leave dirty gumboots and overalls outside) will reduce the opportunity for infection.
  • Parents need to be aware of how to try to prevent their children picking up these bugs. At this time of the year it is important to encourage hand washing, with children spending time in calf sheds and pet day animals and plenty of mud and water around. There are lots of opportunity to pick up bugs by ingestion or through the eyes and nose or cuts and grazes.
  • If a child has diarrhoea and has been in contact with animals, ask a doctor to test for E. coli O157:H7. If your child is very unwell, ask them to check for all the diseases. It is better to push for the test and be negative, than miss it and your child end up in hospital with complications from the disease.
  • Doctors who look after rural patients need to be aware of these organisms and be prepared to test.

Rural Women NZ are interested in your E.coli O157:H7 stories (names and places will be changed to ensure confidentiality) please email Cecilia.desouza@ruralwomen.org.nz. 

Contact for enquiries:

Fiona Gower
National Councillor and Environment Spokesperson

Rural Women NZ
Ph: 027 428 3884
Email: fiona.gower@ruralwomen.org.nz  

Children and E.coli

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

 Read More

To celebrate the 90th anniversary in 2015 of the founding of Rural Women New Zealand we are launching the 90 for 90 Challenge to our members.

The aim of the 90 for 90 Challenge is for ninety Rural Women New Zealand groups or members to make 90 donations during 2015, in recognition of the 90 years we have been working for rural communities.

This may be $90 charitable donations to a cause or a person, preferably with a rural aspect, or 90 handcrafted items donated to a relevant organisation.


90 for 90 Flyer - further information about this project

90 for 90 Information Sheet - to accompany all donations

90 for 90 Donation Form - single (for monetary donations)

90 for 90 Donation Form - double (for monetary donations)

Detailed history of our organisation (printable format)

Detailed history of our organisation (low resolution - suitable for dial up connections)

Highlights of our activities over the last 90 years:

1927 - WD Emergency Housekeeper and bush nurse schemes set up
1927-present - advocating for fair travel reimbursement for homecare workers
Early campaigns for better transport, boarding allowances, water reticulation and phone services
1939-45 - Support for soldiers at war - from spinning and knitting to fundraising for a Spitfire!
1930s - Establishment of the Dipton forest with logging proceeds distributed for charitable purposes in Southland.
Rest Homes set up to give women a break away from the toil of farm work
1970s and 1980s - Fundraising for Leptospirosis research by Massey University
Rest Homes sold and proceeds used to fund educational and other bursaries
Leadership training through Wellington Experience and Growing Dynamic Leaders
2006 - Leptospirosis fundraising re-established 
2007 onwards - Speed Past School Buses advocacy
2009  - Let’s Get Plastered for Breast Cancer - fundraising and awareness campaign
2009 onwards - Enterprising Rural Women Awards 
Annual Garden Grants for rural schools - run in partnership with Farmlands
Publication of three cookbooks with Random House containing members’ recipes
Advocacy for better broadband and mobile coverage for rural
2011 - Aftersocks fundraiser following Canterbury earthquakes
2011 - Postman Pat on the Back Awards
2012 - Y Front Up to Prostate Cancer - fundraising and awareness campaign
2014 - Leading celebrations for the International Year of Family Farming

90 for 90 Challenge

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

To celebrate the 90th anniversary in 2015 of the founding of Rural Women New Zealand we are launching the 90 for 90 Challenge to our members. Read More

The Ministry of Justice is consulting on the way our legal system deals with family violence and seeks your views on a range of ideas.

These ideas include:

  • Better guidance in law about family violence and the expectations about how the government will respond.
  • More visibility in law to the population groups affected by family violence.
  • Creating additional pathways for victims, perpetrators, and the wider family who seek help without having to go to court.
  • Improving protection orders including how applications are funded
  • Creation of a new framework of family violence offences.
  • Supporting improvements to the whole of government response to family violence.

We would like your feedback and have set up a survey. The consultation document needs to be read first and can be viewed here. Refer to page 53 and 54 appendix two of the consultation document for the legal definition of domestic violence and its meaning, and meaning of a domestic relationship.

Research indicates rural New Zealand has on average a higher level of reported family violence than urban New Zealand. However, because of the lack of services and support and the isolating nature of rural, more domestic violence goes unreported, therefore your feedback is important. 

Please access the RWNZ survey here .

Your feedback is sought by the 10th September 2015.

Review of Family Violence Legislation - have your say

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Ministry of Justice is consulting on the way our legal system deals with family violence and seeks your views on a range of ideas.
 Read More

Rural Women New Zealand chooses a country of study each year, and in 2015 it is Afghanistan.

A young Afghani women Lima Maywand, flew from the Auckland to speak to Awana Rural Women members at their June meeting on Great Barrier Island.

It was Lima’s first trip out of Auckland since she arrived in NZ 12 years ago at the age of eight. She told the 18 Rural Women members and nine guests about how her family came to NZ and the challenges of both getting out of Afghanistan and migrating to a new country and culture.

Lima was lucky, her NZ based uncle found her family in a refugee camp in Pakistan where Lima and her family had lived for 4 years. Lima, her brother, mother and father all came to NZ but her father, a surgeon, could not cope with being unable to practice as a doctor and went back to Afghanistan and to his former career.

Lima’s mother found leaving her homeland difficult but Lima has thrived and after being very successful at Rutherford High School (she was a prefect) is now doing a degree in psychology at Weltec. She hopes to work in prisons in the future and in particular with Middle Eastern men in prison.

Lima spoke about the customs, culture and food in Afghanistan. She was particularly enthusiastic about the beautiful clothes worn on special occasions and the diet which is rich in meat and rice. She also spoke very movingly about the contrast between the Afghanistan her mother knew and the Afghanistan of today. Women no longer have the freedom to dress as they choose and must be fully covered in public, the beauty of cities has been destroyed, and education is now minimal and for women, rare. Lima said many refugees are waiting for the country to change so they can return but she feels like – and is - a Kiwi and is fully appreciative of what our country can offer.

Lima was a very impressive young woman and open to the many questions the audience asked. The discussion continued with Marion Snow talking about her niece who was a volunteer worker in Afghanistan, and Ngaire Avery talking about her time in Afghanistan. Ngaire also brought along the clothing worn by women in the home and Awana Rural Women members made posters of various aspects of Afghanistan.

Thanks to the Office of Ethnic Affairs which found Lima to come and talk to us and the Northern Region of Rural Women paid for her airfare. Awana Rural Women on the Island hosted Lima overnight and took her touring around the Island.

Pictured are LIma Maywand and Gendie Somerville-Ryan

Taranaki RWNZ committee group volunteers have been assembling packages of supplies required by families Isolated by the recent flooding.

Following the flooding on Sunday 21 June, Civil Defence phoned the local Rural Women's group. They said that helicopters were out checking the flood damage and people who were cut off. Emergency parcels were going to be needed, so the Rural Women's group obtained emergency funds and signaled their willingness to be involved.

On Tuesday morning RWNZ member Margaret Vickers was at Stratford New World Supermarket with a Rural Support Trust member purchasing goods funded by the RWNZ emergency grant and also picking up supplies donated by New World.  These items had to be boxed up and at Stratford Airport by 10am for the four helicopters going out to Eastern Hill Country (back of Stratford) and as far south as Waitotara.

If you require assistance please contact the Rural Support Trust 0800 787 254 www.rural-support.org.nz

Work and Income NZ financial assistance for this event: http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/about-work-and-income/news/2015/flood-factsheet.html

Depression Helpline 0800 111 757 www.depression.org.nz
It is Ok to Ask for Help 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz

RWNZ supporting the storm recovery effort

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Taranaki RWNZ committee group volunteers have been assembling packages of supplies required by families Isolated by the recent flooding. Read More