welcome back, !



Rural Women New Zealand National Office will be closed from 5:30 PM Friday, 15 December until 8:30 AM Monday, 15 January 2018.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2018. Have a relaxing holiday with friends, family and your local community.

Thank you for your support of our organisation and your commitment to growing dynamic communities. 

Christmas and New Year can be particularly stressful times on farm. If you feel like you, or someone you know needs some extra help, support

or assistance over the holidays, or anytime, there are a number of support agencies and helplines you can refer to:

The Rural Support Trust -
0800 787 254 or www.rural-support.org.nz 

Dairy NZ - Sharemilkers support - www.dairynz.co.nz/farm/tactics/support-for-sharemilkers

Federated Farmers - 0800 327 646 OR www.fedfarm.org.nz - drought feedline 0800 376 844

www.depression.org.nz OR 0800 111 757

Lifeline 0800 543 354

Youthline 0800 376 633 or free text 234

Samaritans 0800 726 666

Women's Refuge 0800 REFUGE (733 843)

Shakti New Zealand 0800 SHAKTI (0800 742 584) (24 hour crisis line with multi-lingual counsellors)

Farmstrong www.farmstrong.co.nz 

Doug Avery's Resilient Farmer - www.resilientfarmer.co.nz

SPCA - www.rspca.org.nz














Holiday Office Hours Support Agency Contacts

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Rural Women New Zealand National Office will be closed from 5:30 PM Friday, 15 December until 8:30 AM Monday, 15 January 2018. Read More

Rural Women New Zealand National President, Fiona Gower presented at the annual meeting of the International Leptospirosis Society meeting in Palmerston North in late November.

Her speech is below: “I would not wish this on my worst enemy. I was so ill that I thought I would die.”

“We had to leave the farm, our friends, the kid’s schools and their friends. We bought a house in town facing some fields but it was never the same. We never recovered financially.”

These are just two quotes from Rural Women New Zealand members when asked to tell their stories about their experience of leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis is a disease with widespread consequences. What is astounding is the emotional pain that remains long after the physical illness has passed.

Rural Women New Zealand too has been involved in the leptospirosis fight, having run two very successful campaigns, the first in the 80’s which raised over $150,000 for research in to leptospirosis in the dairy and pig industry by Massey University. This led to a huge drop in cases as the value of vaccinating stock became well known and implemented.

In 2007-2008 the second fundraising and awareness campaign was undertaken, raising over $107,000 to be used in the research by Massey into leptospirosis, in particular freezing workers. The awareness raised in groups such as farmers, rural workers and medical professionals was priceless.

This long term partnership between Massey University and RWNZ representing science and community is incredibly valuable, as it allows the strengths of each to support the work of the other.

It hasn’t just been the funding and the research, it is the long term partnership that has been the strength, that we can turn to each other for support or backing or information sharing. RWNZ is a member of FLAG – Farmers Leptospirosis Action Group and has attended other Leptospirosis forums. I had the privilege of addressing the NZ Veterinary Association in 2012 on the effects of Leptospirosis on rural families and communities and the importanceof disease prevention to them.

By working together, we can prevent more cases occurring and having families saying to us: “Our family had to be split up as we were unable to care for the kids. They were strangers by the time we could get them back again. It is really affecting our relationship. Whatever the cost to inoculate, it costs nothing compared to your life.”

Awareness of the disease which has been raised, and where further work can be done, how to prevent stock getting infected, and importantly what practices rural workers can put into place to lower the risk of them contracting leptospirosis. This is something that community organisations such as Rural Women New Zealand can collaborate on, to raise further awareness to all groups such as rural workers, employers and health professionals. As one rural doctor said after our awareness campaign: “I have never tested much for leptospirosis, but now I will take it more seriously”. We also know that those who have become aware of the disease are more likely to pressure for the test if they are ill.

The recent very wet weather and floods have shown up cases in those involved in the clean-up, contracting the disease from the infected water and mud. We have been working with Rural Support Trusts to ensure the message is disseminated about staying safe at these times is disseminated is vital.

Like that famous phrase says, “it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen,” we have seen the results from the combined research and awareness campaigns. Let’s keep it up so less of our stock is infected, meaning better returns for our farmers and less of our rural workers and families contracting leptospirosis, leading to healthier, happy families staying on the land and keeping having strong rural communities.

Pictured is Jackie Benschop of Massey University, RWNZ Board Member Janet Williams and National President Fiona Gower.

Leptospirosis Society Presentation

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Rural Women New Zealand National President, Fiona Gower presented at the annual meeting of the International Leptospirosis Society meeting in Palmerston North in late November. Read More

A special thank you to all delegates for making an effort to attend the 2017 Rural Women New Zealand National Conference and AGM in Invercargill.

It was a great success, the friendship, fellowship, and participation, which were much appreciated. The speakers were selected for your interest and enjoyment. The Board representatives organised the heath, social and rural environment workshops, which were well supported by delegates.

A special thank you must go to the committee for their astute quality and dedication to provide all delegates with something to remember about the 2017 conference in Invercargill, which made it so enjoyable.

Mary, Val, Virginia, Heather, Dorothy, Sally, Ann, Jeanette, Pat, Iris, Rhonda, Moira, Eunice, Yvonne and Pasty, you made the conference what it was. It was amazing and an enjoyable time, including great weather even though we were inside. The food was to die for and the friendly atmosphere that we all look forward to at these functions.

A very special thank you to Ian Smith for the wonderful partner’s/spouses tours, with amazing Southland scenery and farmland, that many tourists have never seen before. I am sure the lunches and snacks that were provided were very much appreciated.

Elaine Sloan
Convenor National Conference Committee, Invercargill


National Conference 2017 Wrap-up

Friday, December 08, 2017

A special thank you to all delegates for making an effort to attend the 2017 Rural Women New Zealand National Conference and AGM in Invercargill. Read More

Read All NewsRecent news

(Pictured above: Minister Damien O'Çonnor meeting with RWNZ Chief Executive Officer Penelope England, National President Fiona Gower, National Chair Penny Mudford and Manager of Government, Public Sector and Academic Relationships Angela McLeod.)


Rural Women New Zealand has released a media release supporting the recent announcement to reintegrate rural proofing into policy development. Please read the media release below. 



Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is pleased to see rural proofing is back on the table and being included in the Government’s policy work.

“Understanding the impact that Government policies, service delivery and business behaviour have on our rural communities is not only vital to the success of the rural economy, it builds and maintains our rural social fabric,” says RWNZ National President, Fiona Gower.

“RWNZ has been calling for rural impact analyses to be carried out in both the public and private sector because decisions have, and are being made that have a detrimental effect on rural communities.

“As a member of the advisory group that supported the development of the Government’s new Rural Proofing Guide for Policy Development and Service Delivery Planning, RWNZ is encouraged by the final document.

“RWNZ will continue to work alongside the Government, its agencies and entities to ensure successful implementation of the Rural Proofing Guide.

“The Government’s new rural proofing policy guidelines will go a long way to alleviating poor policy development and service delivery, and RWNZ is looking forward to seeing better outcomes for rural communities,” says Ms Gower.



For further information, please contact National Office:

[email protected]





Rural Proofing Back On the Table

Thursday, June 14, 2018

 Read More


Rural Women New Zealand would like to congratulate Alison Van Wyk for her appointment as CEO of Access Community Health. 



Alison has a background in nursing and possesses sales, marketing and management experience within the pharmaceutical, medical device and healthcare supply chain markets both within New Zealand and internationally. Instrumental in establishing professional programmes of clinical care and advice in pharmacy and the reclassification of medicines for Green Cross Health, Alison has taken a leadership role in advocacy for pharmacy and government relations within the health industry.

Alison commenced her new role effective 18 June 2018.


Rural Women New Zealand has released a media release following the announcement this morning that the Government are giving a funding boost to help improve child and family wellbeing. 


Read the relevant media here.



The announcement this morning that the Government will be giving family violence services a boost of $76.2 million is a step in the right direction for our women and families, says Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).

“New Zealand’s rate of violence against women and children is unacceptable – it is great to see the Government increasing support services for women, families, and communities in need," says RWNZ National Chair, Penny Mudford.

The Government also announced that additional funding in 2019/2020 would enable services to expand into areas where there is currently no support.

“Women and children living in rural New Zealand have particular challenges and can be vulnerable to physical and psychological abuse due to their geographic and social isolation.

“For some, living rurally means they are some distance from their families and whānau and do not have the support that the wider family can provide.

“Family violence victims in rural New Zealand do not have the same level of access to psychological and legal support as urban women and children do, due to living rurally.

“RWNZ hope that this boost announced by the Government will be used to empower our rural communities by giving women and children who are victims of violence the help and support they so badly need,” says Ms Mudford.


Rural Women New Zealand have released a media release raising our concerns for how data is being collected in this year's census.

Please read the media release below.


This year’s census is in danger of not providing the data needed to make good decisions, says Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).

“Whilst we understand and support the excitement of capturing our census data online, our concern is that many people still do not have access to internet while others might not have the capability or capacity to do so,” says National President, Fiona Gower.

“The timing of the delivery of access code letters, which indicate that New Zealanders can opt for paper forms presents challenges for our rural communities, given that delivery of mail is taking longer and might only be delivered three days a week.

“The chances of a rural household without internet or with unreliable internet, receiving census paper forms in time for Tuesday, 6 March is slim, and that is concerning.

“RWNZ is doing everything possible to ensure our networks are aware of the new way of doing the Census although surely more thought should have gone in to how the valuable information about the lives and status of New Zealanders would be collected.

“Maybe this year, there could have been a concerted effort to use both electronic collection and paper collection to ensure integrity of the data,” says Ms Gower.



Please contact the National Office for more information.



National Office

Rural Women New Zealand


[email protected]

04 473 5524



(image source: www.census.govt.nz)

Census Data Collection Integrity Questioned

Monday, February 26, 2018

Rural Women New Zealand have released a media release raising our concerns for how data is being collected in this year's census.  Read More

Rural Women New Zealand has today released a media release following the announcement that the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will move to shut down if it does not receive funding.

Read the announcement here.  




Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) are saddened to see that the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will cease operating if it does not receive government funding next week.


“RWNZ supports the work already done by RHAANZ in bringing together various rural groups and rural health providers to develop initiatives for rural communities,” says RWNZ Board Member and Health Portfolio Convenor, Margaret Pittaway.

“Remarkable work has been done to deliver the Rural Health Road Map which sets out a plan and priorities for achieving healthily rural communities.

“Being geographically isolated, often with significant distance to the nearest town or health centre means that rural communities have an immediate need of affordable and reliable access to all health services.

“The Government has committed to rural proofing government policy, and RHAANZ has a vital part to play in this development – without the continuation of RHAANZ, and the work it does, rural communities will go backwards.

“There is no other place where issues impacting the health and wellbeing of rural communities are considered concurrently, and the loss of achievements met and efforts made by RHAANZ will be detrimental for our rural people.

RWNZ urges the Government to recognise the good work that has been done by RHAANZ and to support its continuation," says Mrs Pittaway.




Another setback for health and wellbeing of rural communities.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Rural Women New Zealand has today released a media release following the announcement that the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will move to shut down if it does not receive funding. Read More

Rural Women New Zealand has released a media release regarding our involvement to help support communities affected by the M.bovis outbreak. With 38 farms currently infected, and others under movement control, we encourage farmers to contact their local Rural Support Trust and visit MPI’s website for advice and support.


Read more about this here.

Read the media release below.




  Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) has offered their full support to the Government for communities that are affected by the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) outbreak. This announcement was made in a meeting earlier this week with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor, and Waikato dairy farmers, then reiterated with industry leaders.


“Our rural communities are really hurting in this unprecedented biosecurity outbreak – it is vital they are supported throughout this response, no matter what future plan is decided next week,” says RWNZ National President Fiona Gower.

“From what I saw on Monday and what we are hearing from our members and others in the industry, it is clear that the response to M. bovis is upsetting and we are pleased to have been able to offer our support.

“Since 1925, RWNZ members have been the glue that holds rural communities together and nearly 100 years later we continue by working with Rural Support Trusts, visiting farming families, and offering funding for adverse events.

“The decision to offer our full support comes from recent meetings with industry leaders and the Minister, and from our many years’ experience supporting rural communities.

“We are pleased that RWNZ can continue our tradition of charitable giving and we look forward to working with the Government and industry to ensure rural communities are fully supported through the M. bovis outbreak,” says Ms Gower.