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Rural Women New Zealand National Board

Rural Women New Zealand National Board 2016-2017


Rural Women New Zealand is an Incorporated Society and is registered with the Charities Commission. The elected National Board consists of the National President, National Finance Chair and four Board members. Its role as the governance body of the organisation is to establish and monitor the long-term direction of the organisation.

The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for managing the day to day affairs of the organisation, the achievement of board-approved strategic goals, annual plans and objectives.

Fiona Gower – National President

Fiona is a graduate of the Agri-Women's Development Trust Escalator programme and has served on our National Council since 2013.

Fiona was a Kellogg rural leadership scholar in 2009, and holds a diploma from Lincoln University in wool technology. She is presently on the Onewhero-Tuakau Community Board and the Waikato Conservation Board. Fiona is Secretary of the Onewhero Swimming Club and a member of the Port Waikato BeachCare committee.

Fiona and her family live on a farm at Port Waikato and when not fulfilling her community commitments and running after her school aged children, she is a casual worker on the farm.

Email: [email protected]


Penny Mudford – National Chair

Penny Mudford is an independent director and arbitrator. She is a Fellow of the Arbitrators' and Mediators' Institute of New Zealand, a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors, and a member of the New Zealand Global Women and Arbitral Women International. Penny has held leadership roles in various sectors and is a supporter of women's leadership.

Penny has held director positions on a number of boards in both the public and private sectors. She has written and presented papers in New Zealand and Australia on specialist topics and is author of the chapter Rural Arbitrations in Green and Hunt's Arbitration Law and Practice and the chapter Dispute Resolution in Retirement Villages for the book Elder Law in New Zealand, both published by Thompson Reuters. Penny is a former chief Executive of the Arbitrators' and Mediators' Institute and of the Institute of Financial Advisors.

From 1981 to 2001, Penny was a working dairy farmer, raised a family on a rural property in Manawatu and participated on dairy industry committees and rural organisations. During this time, she held positions with Manawatu-Rangitikei Federated Farmers and elected Provincial President in 1999. Penny was a supplier representative for Tui Milk Products and Kiwi Cooperative Dairies prior to the establishment of Fonterra in 2001. Penny completed the Kellogg Rural Leaders Programme in 1995.

Email: [email protected]

Rachael Dean – National Finance Chair  

Rachael Dean, BCom.; C.I.A.; C.A.; has held multiple roles including Provincial President, in Rural Women New Zealand since returning to New Zealand in 2004. In these roles, she has successfully combined her experience in rural communities - which began in the South Island High Country - with senior corporate financial and governance roles both in New Zealand and overseas.   

Rachael has served on numerous public bodies, including Southland Area Health Board, Waikato Chamber of Commerce, Sport Waikato, Invercargill City Council, Diving New Zealand, Northamptonshire County Health Partnership, and Wellingborough Borough Council, England; and has chaired several committees.

Rachael maintains her interest in international affairs and in the past two years took a study trip to the UAE to learn more about their culture, education, business, law, and finance; and in 2015 attended a symposium in Brussels on Lead in Ammunition.

Rachael is the author of a New Zealand history book, From the Other End of the World. She is also a keen shooter, shooting FTR, Service rifle and pistol, and is a member of several of her local clubs.

Email: [email protected]


Janet Williams – Board Member, North Island 

Janet Williams was one of the fifty Zonta “Woman of Achievement” recipients in 2016. Janet’s leadership involvement in Rural Women New Zealand started at branch level, Provincial, Regional Management Team and selected as one of the four Rural Women New Zealand members in the Task Force for the last constitutional review. Janet represents Rural Women New Zealand on the Waikato Federated Farmers Board and Hamilton National Council of Women.

Janet is a Justice of the Peace, Judicial Justice and Court Panel Manager of the four Courts in the Waikato. Janet has a regulatory role as a member of the Waikato District Licensing Committee. Janet’s involvement in local community leadership roles include the Pirongia Ward, Koromatua Memorial Hall, Hamilton Life Education Trust, Toastmasters and Lions.

Janet lives just out of Hamilton farming beef and sheep, after being the proud owner of the highest genetic Jersey Stud in New Zealand.

Email: [email protected]

Margaret Pittaway – Board member, South Island 

Margaret joined Rural Women New Zealand in 1996 and was elected to the National Council in 2011. She was the founding member of the Central Otago Women in Agribusiness Group, past President of the Cromwell Branch and Central Otago Provincial. As a retired nurse her key specialties are in rural health and social issues. 

Email: [email protected]

Sue Higgins - Board Member, South island 

Sue Higgins is actively involved in administering her family owned farming and contracting businesses in Nelson.

Sue represented Rural Women New Zealand as a director for Access Homehealth Ltd from 2011 – 2013 and before that was a student member of the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand Academic Board.

Having a keen interest in local community and agribusiness matters, Sue is an executive member of Nelson Federated Farmers, a former secretary of the Top of the South Rural Support Trust and past deputy chair of the local Chamber of Commerce business focus group. This followed on from local school and sports committees whilst raising three children.

Sue’s health care experience has included advocacy of a complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner and many years as a volunteer for Hospice where the positive experience of meeting clients’ needs and desires through home based health care and support was reinforced. Sue completed her Bachelor of Business as an adult student in 2009 and the Kellogg Rural Leaders Programme in 2012 which resulted in a presentation to the agriculture caucus in the Beehive.

Email: [email protected]


Penelope England - Chief Executive Officer

Penelope joined RWNZ from the Insurance & Savings Ombudsman Scheme Inc. where she set up the role as the Participant Liaison Manager after the Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008.

Prior to that role, Penelope worked as the Communications, Marketing and Membership Manager of the New Zealand Institute of Management, and the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Heating and Air Conditioning.

For the past few years, she has worked in the not for profit (NFP) sector and for membership-based organisations. Each NFP role held has required effective communication with stakeholders at all levels, from members and practitioners to professional industry bodies and government officials.

Penelope is a current appointed board member of the Wellington SPCA and is an advocate for animal welfare. She is passionate about the arts, including visual arts, classical music and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Email: [email protected]

National Office
Level 5, Technology One House, 86-96 Victoria Street, Wellington 6011
Ph: 04 473 5524  

Read All NewsRecent news

Congratulations to the National Competition Winners for 2017

Tarrant Bell & Tutaenui Bell Speech contest topic: “Why Not?”

Tutaenui Bell and Tarrant Bell

1st Place Alex Thompson, Amuri Dinner Branch, Region 2

2nd Place Leona Trimble, Hampden Branch, Region 1

Marlborough Short Story & Olive Burdekin short story “ What a Fuss”

1000-1500 words for Marlborough Short Story – Kerry France, Moa Flat Branch, Region 1 for “Guess what I am.” Dominion Essay Tray and voucher from Region 3


1500- 2000 words for Olive Burdekin – Chrissy Sumby, Kenepuru Branch, Region 3 for “Bay Swimming” Voucher from Region 3


Cora Wilding- insulated Pot Stand - any medium

Melva Robb – Marlborough Provincial, 1st Place, Region 3

Olive Craig Trophy Member of Excellence (Judged by the National Board) Sue Hall Region 6

Talbot Trophy- best Provincial, Branch or Group International Officer report

International Officer - Melva Robb – Marlborough Provincial, 1st Place, Region 3


The Honora O’Neill Gong is for the best Provincial, Sandra Curd, Mid Canterbury Region 2


Branch or Group President’s Report: Carolyn McLellan, Bainham Branch Region 3

The Lady Blundell Tray Competition

for the most innovative project completed by an individual, Group, Branch, Provincial or Region.

Winner: Amuri Dinner Group.


National Competition Winners 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Congratulations to the National Competition Winners for 2017 Read More

Rural untracked parcels change


From 1 February, New Zealand Post customers will see the cost of sending untracked parcels to rural addresses increase by $3.70.

This charge, which was initially only placed on Tracked, Courier and Courier Signature parcels will now also be applied to untracked parcels sent to a rural address as a means to offset fixed costs associated with deliver to rural locations.

New Zealand Post has stated that these costs are a result of the continuing decrease in letter volumes.


Despite ongoing cost reductions made, this change is said to be necessary to continue to operate a sustainable network.

For business account customers, the change will take effect on 1 July 2018 as set out in their contacts.



Rural Post Prices to Change

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rural untracked parcels change
 Read More

Rural Support Trust representatives are working closely with farmers to monitor well-being and directing them to relief assistance for flooding and other adverse events.

The Rural Support Trust advise farmers to ensure stock and domestic animals have food, water, and shelter where necessary, and are secure. Ensure that all stock injuries are promptly attended too, after human needs are met.

If your farm or rural property or stock has been affected by an adverse event and you need assistance, contact your local Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP) with information on the impacts on your farm, or requests for help.

The Rural Women New Zealand Adverse Events and Relief Fund is available to individuals, communities and groups, with a particular emphasis on rural women and children. The fund provides financial assistance to persons or groups, where there is an identified urgent need due to recent adverse events such as drought, fires, floods or earthquakes.

Click here to read more about applying for the fund.

Contact details for support agencies:

The Rural Support Trust (RST organise community events and one-on-one mentoring, as well as targeted support services in emergency situations)  
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. 

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

Ministry for Children Oranga Tamariki 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

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Rural Support Trust representatives are working closely with farmers to monitor well-being and directing them to relief assistance for flooding and other adverse events. 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 Sunday 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 registration form , fill it in and email [email protected] or post to national office before your walk, so we know what walks are taking place and can promote them.
4.Fund raise 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 [email protected]
7.Send your funds raised, and details of kilometres walked to national office.




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 2018

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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

Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) is RWNZ's topic of study for 2017. We have included an overview of the purpose of ACWW below, along with some links to further information.

RWNZ was one of the founding members of ACWW. It is one of the largest international development organisations for rural women.

The ACWW network allows it to engage at the local, national, and international level with the aim of achieving these goals:

- To raise the standard of living for rural women and their families through education, training and community development programmes.

- To provide practical support to our members and help them set up income-generating schemes.

- To support educational opportunities for women and girls, and help eliminate gender discrimination.

- To give rural women a voice at an international level through our links with UN agencies and bodies.

Caption: Delegates from the South Pacific Area Conference in New Plymouth complete the ACWW Walk the World event in April 2017. 

Click here to download an information booklet about ACWW (8MB PDF)

Click here to go to the ACWW website


ACWW Study Topic 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) is RWNZ's topic of study for 2017. We have included an overview of the purpose of ACWW below, along with some links to further information.  Read More

 Melva Robb and Glenda Robb are sisters who are very active members of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) Marlborough Provincial. Marlborough Mayor John Leggett has awarded Civic Honours to the sisters, along with three other Marlborough residents.

Mr Leggett says the honours are an opportunity to recognise members of the community who give outstanding service to others.

“The recipients use their skills and energy and give their time and talents to a myriad of organisations and causes. They are serving us all by contributing to the greater good and each deserves our grateful thanks,” he said.

Severe earthquakes hit on 14 November 2016 affecting rural people in North Canterbury, Kaikōura and South Marlborough. Melva and Glenda spearheaded delivery of relief supplies to remote rural families.They teamed up with the local Rural Support Trust and Federated Farmers, to contact as many residents as they could to assess what was needed other than food.

“Melva and Glenda’s personal compassion which comes with a loving dollop of practical help, alleviated the sense of isolation and trauma families were experiencing from the Clarence to South Marlborough and the Awatere Valley,” says RWNZ Marlborough member Barbara Stuart. “They took the crisis seriously and did everything in their power to help.”

Glenda and Melva appealed to RWNZ members and the wider community for donations of crockery and dinner sets. They prepared 100 gift baskets of baking, chocolates and soft toys for children and managed to get supplies onto transport that was headed to isolated areas. They even sent a gift basket via helicopter for a family with a new-born baby, who were isolated at the top of the Awatere Valley.


The other honours recipients this year are Ross Beech, a farmer-environmentalist and a member of the South Marlborough Landscape Restoration Trust; Jim Thomas, a Lions Club member with a record of service to sport and who has a key role in the local Victim Support service, and Henny Vervaart, a Rotary Club member, Red Cross meals-on-wheels volunteer and a valued part of the Alzheimers Marlborough organisation.




Civic Award for Melva Robb and Glenda Robb

Monday, October 09, 2017

 Melva Robb and Glenda Robb are sisters who are very active members of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) Marlborough Provincial. Marlborough Mayor John Leggett has awarded Civic Honours to the sisters, along with three other Marlborough residents. Read More