welcome back, !



New Year Honours

Rural Women New Zealand congratulates of our members who have received remarkable recognition for their extensive and positive contributions to the rural sector and their communities.

RWNZ Board Chair Penny Mudford has been named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for her services to arbitration and the primary industries sector. 

Early in her career, Ms Mudford was a dairy farmer and partner in DK and PJ Mudford Dairy Farming Partnership for 20 years, whilst being active on Boards such as the Rural Women’s Discussion Group, and Westpac Trust Kiwi Dairy Farmer of the Year. In 2000, she became Chief Executive of the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand, a role she held for seven years. She has since gone into private practice as a dispute resolution practitioner specialised in the resolution of rural disputes, farming contracts, livestock agreements, and farm equity partnerships. After holding a variety of committee roles within the Manawatu/Rangitikei branch of Federated Farmers, she was elected provincial President in 1999. Penny is a member of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission and is Chair of the Racing Safety Development Industry Working Group.


Isobel Greenwood has been awarded the Queen's Service Medal (QSM) for community service. Isobel has supported the people of Tomarata and surrounding districts in a multitude of volunteer roles for the past 50 years.

Her extensive roles and support have included environmental initiatives such as working with the Tomarata Lake Restoration Committee, leading action to have the World War Two names added to the local war memorial, volunteering her time to restore and upgrade the local community hall. She was one of the founding committee members for the establishment of the local playgroup and chapter of the Brownies movement. She has contributed many years of fund raising for the local Plunket Society, has been a Citizens Advice Bureau volunteer, a committee member for the Tomarata Tennis Club and an active member of RWNZ for over 40 years. Being involved with the Tomarata Primary School, Isobel has held many roles there including inaugural librarian, teaching crafts to students, Calf Club Committee Member and returning officer for the first nine Board of Trustees election cycles.


Joan Howse has received the QSM for services to women and the community.

She was a conveyor of the National Standing Committee for Justice and Law Reform. She was a member of the Whangarei Health Camp Board from 1969 and served as Chairperson during this time. Joan was a long-serving Chairman for the Northland Homecare Scheme. As a member of ACWW, she attended the World Conference for many years, and in 1977 created a wall panel which was presented at the conference in Beijing. She has also held many positions with the Northland Justices of the Peace Association, including Treasurer, President and Patron, and has a compiled history of the Association from 1951 to 2000. Joan is also a member of the Women's Fellowship of St John Church in Whangarei, a YMCA Board member, patron and Life Member. She received a New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medial in 1993.



Joy Cowley also known as (Mrs) Joy Coles, DCNZM, OBE, is a recent member of RWNZ and has been named as Member of the Order of New Zealand. She has been a successful, prolific writer of adult and children's fiction books which have gained recognition both nationally and internationally.

Joy has supported children's education through teaching early reading skills and helping those with reading difficulties, as well as writing over 1000 books to assist in teaching reading and other associated skills. She is a patron and former Trustee of the Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust, which supports and promotes the development of children's and young adults' literature in New Zealand.

Her wide recognition includes numerous national and international literary awards, including the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in fiction in 2010, and the University of Alabama's Maryann Manning Award for Outstanding Literacy Scholar in 2011. Since being appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005, she has continued to write for publication, the most recent book being 'Helper and Helper' in 2017. She is also the Honourary President of the New Zealand Society of Authors.

Joy was a former judge of the RWNZ Olive Burdekin Advance Writers Competition and a member of the Kenepuru branch. She was very generous to RWNZ and the community while living in the Marlborough Sounds.


Thelma Margaret Luxton Queen's Service Medal (QSM) for her services to the community and cricket. She is a member of the RWNZ Motunui branch.

Thelma has been a member of the Soroptimists International Waitara since 1984, contributing to membership development, as Treasurer, and as President for three separate terms. She held the title of Regional Programme Director and Archivist of Soroptimists International New Zealand Central, and held previous roles including President. She has been a Trustee of North Taranaki Healthcare Trust since 2005 and led fundraising of $1.5 million to establish and outfit a Health Centre, and supported the establishment of a range of health services at the Health Centre.

Thelma undertook research during her academic studies and wrote a publication for Rural Women New Zealand.

She has been involved with cricket in Waitara since the 1950s, having been scorer for Brixton and then Waitara Cricket Clubs from 1955 to 1991. Thelma has been the Secretary/Treasurer for Waitara Cricket Club and Manukorihi Sports Complex, and the official scorer for Taranaki Cricket Association since 1972. She holds title as Chairperson of Massey Trust since 1981, which supports Waitara High School with sports equipment and uniforms along with other school needs.





Read All NewsRecent news

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

It is exciting to have a busy year of activities for the 125th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage, and celebrating the diverse women who have been championing social change in New Zealand?


125 years ago New Zealand women were vigorously campaigning to achieve the right to vote and would finally win that right in September of 1893. Now, as we remember, celebrate and look to the future, the Ministry for Women, Te Minitatanga mō ngā Wāhine is proud to be coordinating activities and events which will mark this significant milestone. These celebrations will recognise New Zealanders from diverse cultural backgrounds that have contributed to progressing women’s rights.


Organisations throughout New Zealand – and the world – are preparing to lead events. There will be range of events for people to take part in and contribute in their way to the celebrations.


The Suffrage 125 Events Page and supporting pages can be found on the Ministry for Women's website and acts as a hub for all Suffrage 125 celebrations. These are across the country and provide a launchpad for pointing traffic to the home locations for each of the submitted activities. 


To show your interest, please submit your events to be included on the page. They will be sharing events on their social media pages (Facebook, Twitter) so be sure to keep up to date with what's going on. 



Hold a Suffrage 125 event

As part of our work, we are connecting national and regional activities celebrating the anniversary under the umbrella key phrase of “Suffrage 125”. We invite all New Zealanders to get involved by hosting Suffrage-related events, sharing those with us and being part of a nationwide celebration of our history and our future.

If you are planning an event or activity related to Suffrage 125 you can:

  • submit a Suffrage 125-related activity on our event page
  • share your Suffrage 125 event details and other information on our Facebook page (/Suffrage125) or use the hashtag #Suffrage125
  • use the Suffrage 125 symbol to help promote your event
  • connect with other organisations in your region or city celebrating Suffrage 125.



If you have not already, like the Suffrage 125 Facebook page where you can follow for updates and post your events. 


Bring on the 2018 Suffrage celebrations!


(Image source: www.nzhistory.govt.nz)

Women's Suffrage 125 Years

Friday, February 02, 2018

It is exciting to have a busy year of activities for the 125th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage, and celebrating the diverse women who have been championing social change in New Zealand?
 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



RWNZ have released a press release calling for changes to be made to improve the safety of children, especially those living in rural areas. 


As schools return this week, Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is reminding drivers about their legal responsibilities and renewing their call for mandatory signage and flashing lights on school buses.


“RWNZ urges the new Government to implement mandatory 20km/h signs and flashing lights on school buses, especially given recent trials have proven both are vital to reducing the speed of traffic passing school buses,” says National President, Fiona Gower.


“Rural children are especially vulnerable when drivers speed past school buses, and children have been involved in a number of serious and fatal incidents.


“We are back into the swing of the school year, and drivers must remember to follow the Road Code and slow down to 20km/h when passing a school bus that has stopped to pick-up or drop-off children.


“As advocates of safer rural roads, RWNZ also asks drivers to watch out for children cycling or walking to school, particularly along highways and main roads, and always remember to slow down to the speed limits indicated in school zones.


“It is time to up the game with keeping our rural children safe – let's just do it,” says Ms Gower.'


For further information, please contact:


[email protected]



Rural Women Renew Call For Bus Signs

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

 Read More

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) are saddened to hear of the death of a nine-year-old boy whilst riding a quad bike in rural Waikato last night and our thoughts are extended to friends and family.


“It is very sad, but it need not have occurred. We need to prevent families and friends from the heartbreak of losing a loved one in such tragic circumstances,” says National President, Fiona Gower.


“RWNZ are concerned on two levels, one is children riding age appropriate quad bikes unsupervised and the other is children under the age of 16 riding adult-sized quad bikes.


“Last nights’ incident is an unfortunate but timely reminder of manufacturers recommendations that children under the age of 16 should not be riding adult-sized quad bikes.


“Children do not have the weight, strength or judgement to be operating these vehicles.


“Or if young children are riding age appropriate quad bikes, they need to be wearing a helmet and be supervised at all times.


“RWNZ encourage that anyone planning to use any form of machinery on farms receive training, and learn safe practices.


“It is heart breaking to receive news like this,” says Ms. Gower.


To find the media to which we have responded, follow the link here




Please contact us for further information

[email protected]


(photo source: www.nzherald.co.nz)


Another Preventable Rural Tragedy

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) are saddened to hear of the death of a nine-year-old boy whilst riding a quad bike in rural Waikato last night and our thoughts are extended to friends and family. Read More