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Our History - from small beginnings

The beginning of the Women’s Division of the Farmer’s Union came in 1925 when a number of farmers’ wives were on holiday in Wellington while their husbands attended the Farmers’ Union Conference.

They heard of the hard, lonely lives of many farm women: the unceasing toil, the mud track roads, rivers unbridged.

But what really touched their hearts were the stories of backblock women, of their loneliness and illness and the lack of help. Some of the women had experienced these conditions themselves, and so sixteen of the women agreed to set up a Women’s Division of the Farmer’s Union to see what could be done to help.

Our first president was Mrs Polson, while others took on other roles. Then home everyone went, some clear on the issue, some not realising in the least the huge scope of the undertaking.

Back on the farms the question for most was what to do.  It was one thing to offer help and another to know just how to give it.

Mrs Jackson, the treasurer, wrote 2,000 letters in the first year alone. The first branch opened in Oakura in June 1926 and by the first conference in 1926 there were a hundred paid up members.

It was decided to form as many branches of possible. (Nowadays we have some 300 branches and 3,500 members.)

One of the prime needs for rural women was to organise reliable help to step in when women were ill or had to leave home. So began the Women’s Division Emergency Housekeeping Scheme. In April 1927 advertisements appeared in the New Zealand press for ‘housekeeper, willing to do anything’ and ‘bush nurse, with surgical and midwifery certificates’.

It was realised the wages to pay such women, who could walk into a household and take over its running - including milking the cow and looking after all the children - would be beyond the means of the farmer, so our new organisation set up a Community Chest fund to subsidise their wages, with donations from members all over the country.

At first the number of women employed as housekeepers and nurses was small. The Government then began to set up better facilities in the form of cottage hospitals and district nurses and the need for bush nurses disappeared.  However the need for help in the home continued to grow.

It was the most important and main work of the WDFU “owing to the reliable and capable women sent out to the homes – women who can take charge of a home of six or eight children, or even twelve children, cook, wash and even milk a few cows at a pinch.”

By the 1990s this work became highly regulated.  Today Rural Women New Zealand is still involved in the sector, through its company Access Homehealth, which employs some 3,500 staff and has contracts with the Ministry of Health, District Health Boards and ACC. The company provides carers and support workers who assist people suffering from illness or disability, or those recovering from an accident or operation, or who need assistance for independent living, so that they can remain in their homes.

Women’s Division of the Farmer’s Union was later renamed Women’s Division Federated Farmers, and at its peak in the 1970s had over 21,000 members.

During the Second World War a call to help saw our members raise $5,000 in a month to fund a Spitfire. The fighter plane with the name WDNZFU inscribed on it had a long and interesting career and was piloted in the first instance by the son of one of our members from Levin Branch, Flt. Lieut. L P Griffith DFC.

Women’s Division, now Rural Women New Zealand, has always been actively involved in rural communities, helping to make them a better place. Our vision is “Growing Dynamic Communities”, and we have achieved this in so many ways, big and small.

 

In the 1970s and 1980s our members raised some $200,000 for leptospirosis research, which played a key role in the development of vaccines for dairy cattle and pigs, thus improving the health of the animals and reducing the risk of contracting this serious disease by farm workers.  In 2009 we re-launched this fundraising campaign and raised a further $107,000 to fund PhD students at Massey University looking into transmission pathways for leptospirosis, following the death of a meat worker at a sheep-only plant.

 

In 2010 we ran the highly successful "Let's Get Plastered for Breast Cancer Campaign", raising awareness of this disease and its prevention, as well as funds for the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation.

 

You’ll find lots more about our present activities on this website.  Our four main areas of interest are centred around rural health, education, land use and social issues.

Read All NewsRecent news

The newly formed Firearms Safety Council of Aotearoa New Zealand includes shooting clubs, associations and affiliated organisations like Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) concerned about community safety with firearms.

“Rural Women New Zealand have an authoritative rural voice and are pleased to be included on this Council” says Fiona Gower, National President of Rural Women New Zealand.

RWNZ are represented on the Firearms Community Advisory Forum and are also members of the Police and Rural Stakeholder’s Partnership.

Rachael Dean, RWNZ’s Finance Chair and representative on the Firearms Safety Council, is looking forward to collaborating with other groups to reduce accidents involving firearms. “RWNZ want to work with associations to improve safety, and encourage firearms' owners to learn more about the safe use of firearms.”

RWNZ has made several submissions to government regarding rural policing, safety and emergency services. In August last year, RWNZ presented a submission at the Law and Order Select Committee on illegal possession of firearms. The submission stated concerns about the shortage of police in rural areas, and the impact of organised and firearm-related crime on community safety.

RWNZ has also expressed concerns about changes to firearms’ licensing, training and testing. RWNZ believed there needed to be further consultation with stakeholders and rural firearms’ owners.

Interim Chair of the Firearms Safety Council, retired Police Inspector Mr Joe Green, says “one of the key objectives of the Council is to provide advice to government agencies and other organisations, such as the media, on firearms safety related matters.”

The membership of the Firearms Safety Council includes the NZ Deerstalkers Association, Pistol NZ, NZ Shooting Federation, NZ Pig Hunters Association, Sporting Shooters Association of NZ, NZ Sporting Industry Association, Antique and Historical Arms Association, Federated Mountain Clubs, Target Shooting NZ, Firearms Safety Specialists NZ Ltd, NZ Black Powder Shooting Federation, NZ Service Rifle Association, Rural Women NZ and Safari Club International (NZ).

 

RWNZ joins Firearms Safety Council of Aotearoa New Zealand

Friday, February 17, 2017

The newly formed Firearms Safety Council of Aotearoa New Zealand includes shooting clubs, associations and affiliated organisations like Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) concerned about community safety with firearms.  Read More

Central Southland Provincial's competition is open to Brides and Bridesmaids with wedding dates between February 2016 and March 2017.

Entries close on Monday 13th March. There is no entry fee.

Click here to download the Bride of the Year Entry Form.
Click here to download the Bridesmaid of the Year Entry Form.

Venue: Winton Memorial Hall
Monday 20th March 2017, 7:30pm.

Door sales only, Adults $15 and under 15 year olds $5.

Contacts; Karen White Email; whites4@farmside.co.nz or phone 03 2258509 Lyn Lindsay Email: moth.lyn@xtra.co.nz

Central Southland Provincial Bride of the Year 2017 Competition

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Central Southland Provincial's competition is open to Brides and Bridesmaids with wedding dates between February 2016 and March 2017. Read More

Rural Women New Zealand would like to remind members and the rural community that there are agencies such as the Rural Support Trust, whose representatives are working closely with farmers to monitor well-being and directing them to relief assistance.

The Rural Support Trust organise community events and one-on-one mentoring, as well as targeted support services. Farmers also have access to IRD flexibility for tax payments during the drought.

“We encourage our members to be there for each other, please keep a close eye on your neighbours, as together we can cope with adverse weather conditions and unpredictable markets,” says Wendy McGowan, National President of Rural Women New Zealand.

Support can be accessed through agencies such as

 The Rural Support Trust http://www.rural-support.org.nz Ph: 0800 787 254.

DairyNZ: Sharemilkers support http://www.dairynz.co.nz/farm/tactics/support-for-sharemilkers/

Federated Farmers http://www.fedfarm.org.nz/ Ph: 0800 327 646 or drought feedline 0800 376 844.

Doug Avery’s Resilient Farmer http://www.resilientfarmer.co.nz/

Farmstrong http://www.farmstrong.co.nz

If you just want to talk, or know someone who is at risk, there are a range of support options available, including counselling services:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling

Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234 - Provides 24 hour telephone and text counselling services for young people

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling.

Women's Refuge: 0800 REFUGE (733 843) a 24/7 crisis and support line provide advice and information.

Shakti New Zealand 0800SHAKTI (0800 742 584) If you are in a situation of domestic violence call our 24-hour crisis line, and multi-lingual staff will provide information.

Tautoko: 0508 828 865 - provides support, information and resources to people at risk of suicide, and their family, whānau and friends.

What'sup: 0800 942 8787 (0800 What’s Up) is a counselling helpline for children and young people, aged 5-18. Phone Mon-Fri 1-10pm, Sat-Sun 3-10pm.

Kidsline: 0800 543 754, it is a 24/7 helpline for children and teens, run by specially trained youth volunteers.

Thelowdown.co.nz - Free Text 5626, watch videos or contact for support. 

National Depression Initiative - depression.org.nz (for adults), 0800 111 757 - 24 hour service

Child, Youth and Family If you're worried about a child or family that you know, there are ways you can help, contact Child, Youth and Family.

For information about suicide prevention, see http://www.spinz.org.nz .

If it is an emergency, or you feel yourself, or someone you know is at risk, please call 111.

Rural community support services

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rural Women New Zealand would like to remind members and the rural community that there are agencies such as the Rural Support Trust, whose representatives are working closely with farmers to monitor well-being and directing them to relief assistance. Read More

This is an annual event, where women’s groups in many countries organise walks in their communities along local tracks and trails, to raise funds for the Associated Country Women of the World.

It’s a great way to come together, catch up with friends and have some fun and healthy exercise along the way.

The date for the event is Saturday 29 April– ACWW Day - though walks can take place at other dates around that time if more convenient.

Here’s What You Do:

1.Decide on a walk for your group. It can range from a stroll around the park, a hike through the bush, an amble around a neighbourhood or along a walkway.
2.Invite others. This is a great way to reach out to new potential members, and include families and friends.
3.Go to the online registration form, fill it in and email enquiries@ruralwomen.org.nz or post to national office before your walk, so we know what walks are taking place and can promote them.
4.Fundraise through sponsorship, a gold coin donation, or perhaps an afternoon tea or sausage sizzle afterwards.
5.Tally up the number of people who attend and the distance walked.
6.Take photos and send to national office so we can publicise your walks and use on our website and Facebook pages. Email enquiries@ruralwomen.org.nz.
7.Send your funds raised, and details of kilometres walked to national office.

 

Join a Walk 

Region 6: Waikato Area Committee Event 
Saturday 29th April
Meet 10am Lake Ngaroto, Te Awamutu
Bring your own morning tea and drink and lunch. Tea and Coffee will be provided at St John's Church Lounge, Te Awamutu.
Gold coin donation.
Contact: Judy Board judy.board@xtra.co.nz


 

More About The Work Of ACWW

ACWW connects and supports women and communities worldwide by:

• Working in partnership with member societies to offer mutual support
• Connecting at international level through UN representation
• Funding community development projects
• Supporting agricultural initiatives
Find out more about ACWW here.

Women Walk the World 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

This is an annual event, where women’s groups in many countries organise walks in their communities along local tracks and trails, to raise funds for the Associated Country Women of the World. Read More

The sole Remit at the RWNZ AGM in 2016 was about dog safety, and proposed that dog safety education be a requirement for kindergarten and primary school children.

The issue was discussed at conference and South Canterbury Provincial RWNZ have already ordered 30 books about dog safety to go to all South Canterbury kindergartens and pre-schools.
The book illustrates nine important lessons to help keep children safe around dogs. The story outlines what happens when characters Sam and Susan get a dog, and the basic rules of canine behaviour. After reading the book children will quickly understand why dogs react the way they do and what to do to stay safe.
The book is interactive and fun for young children and can be ordered direct from author Pauline Blomfield
E-mail: enquiries@bluejandal.com Cost $15 plus postage.
Please mention you are with RWNZ and Pauline will keep track of which regions have books.
A pamphlet also available for 50 cents and has a good summary of what is in book and can be ordered direct from
author Pauline Blomfield. E-mail: enquiries@bluejandal.com For more information go to: www.dogsafety.govt.nz

 

Dog Safety

Friday, January 13, 2017

The sole Remit at the RWNZ AGM in 2016 was about dog safety, and proposed that dog safety education be a requirement for kindergarten and primary school children.  Read More

The ACWW South Pacific Area Conference will be in New Plymouth from Sunday 30th April to Wednesday 3rd May, 2017.

Get a group together and share transport and have a day out at the conference.

 Sign up for a daily registration here: http://www.spaconference2017.org.

The conference is the perfect opportunity for RWNZ members to learn more about ACWW and meet delegates from around the world. The programme features business sessions, speakers, sightseeing and socialising time.

The Sunday programme begins with a church service and is followed by a walk in Pukekura Park for the annual Women Walk the World event. The conference opening ceremony is on Monday followed by business sessions and the day concludes with a Welcome Dinner. Tuesday’s sessions are focused on ACWW business and reports. On Wednesday field trips by bus have been organised for sightseeing around the Taranaki region and the conference finishes with a final dinner.

Register at http://www.spaconference2017.org/

RWNZ is a member of ACWW so you do not need to be an individual member of ACWW to attend.


ACWW South Pacific Area Conference

Monday, December 05, 2016

The ACWW South Pacific Area Conference will be in New Plymouth from Sunday 30th April to Wednesday 3rd May, 2017.

Get a group together and share transport and have a day out at the conference.

 Sign up for a daily registration here: http://www.spaconference2017.org.

The conference is the perfect opportunity for RWNZ members to learn more about ACWW and meet delegates from around the world. The programme features business sessions, speakers, sightseeing and socialising time.

The Sunday programme begins with a church service and is followed by a walk in Pukekura Park for the annual Women Walk the World event. The conference opening ceremony is on Monday followed by business sessions and the day concludes with a Welcome Dinner. Tuesday’s sessions are focused on ACWW business and reports. On Wednesday field trips by bus have been organised for sightseeing around the Taranaki region and the conference finishes with a final dinner.

Register at http://www.spaconference2017.org/

RWNZ is a member of ACWW so you do not need to be an individual member of ACWW to attend.


 Read More