History of the Te Mahanga Country Women’s Institute


In November 1963 Mrs. I. Hallgarth invited residents of the Middle Road to meet at the home of Mrs. Ian Nilsson, to discuss the possibility of forming an Institute in the area. Visitors present included the Federation President, Mrs. J. McKay, and 2 Voluntary Organisors [Organisers], Mrs. G. Baker and Mrs. A. Lang. As those present were still unsure, a Christmas Party, with a demonstration, followed by entertainment was convened for December to be held at the Homestead on Mr. [Mount] Erin Station. After this meeting where Mrs. Symons demonstrated Christmas novelty gifts, and friends so enjoyed the entertainment, it was decided to meet and form an Institute on February 12th 1964 at “Kahika”, the home of Mrs. R. Nilsson. Those present at the inaugural meeting were the Federation President, Mrs. McKay, who acted as Secretary throughout the meeting for Mrs. Baker, Voluntary Organisor, who formed the new institute. Others present were Mrs. R. Allen, a Dominion Vice-President, Mrs. A. Lang, a Voluntary Organisor and twenty residents of the area. Seventeen of these residents joining to form the new group with Mrs. I. Hallgarth as President, Mrs. H. Kawenga as Secretary, Mrs. P. Lowes as Treasurer, Mrs. G. Hodge as Vice-President, Mesdames R. Milne, D. Nilsson, J. Nilsson comprising the first committee. The name chosen for the new group was “Te Mahanga” with meetings to be held on the 2nd Monday of each month at 7.45p.m. in the homes of members. Before this meeting closed Mrs. Baker presented the Institute with a suitably inscribed bell to commemorate the occasion.

The affilliation [affiliation] to the Dominion Federation came in time for the March meeting.

During our first year we gradually began to form the pattern for our meetings. These included the usual competitions, sewing, cooking, floral art, and blooms, always endeavouring to have a speaker or demonstrator. Invitations were accepted for members to co-operate wherever possible with the wider work and social side of the Country Womens Movement. In our first year a member offered to go to Dominion Conference as a delegate, this was a grand gesture as funds were almost non-existent at this stage only a few pounds being available to assist her. We entered our first floral court in the Hastings Horticultural Society’s Spring Show that year, since then we have entered successfully each year, and in 1968 were awarded Reserve champion and in 1969 the Championship. Another project entered each year has been the H.B. A. & P. Society’s section for C.W.I. namely the Show Bays. This first effort won us the first award of the Dorothy West Memorial Vase for the most points for Handcraft and this effort was repeated again in 1967 and 1970. In 1967 we won the Omatua Cup for most over-all points, and the Twyford Cup for most points under 30 members. This cup was also awarded in 1971 for most points over-all. In 1967 one of our members won the N. Breen Memorial Cup for most points in the knitting section of the show.

The Woolboard Competitions organised through the co-ordinating committee, have attracted entries from members each year. Two members have gained first place for day frocks, one member gaining three merit awards for our area, over the years.

At our first Annual meeting in March 1965 members were very pleased to accept a silver vase presented by Mrs. N. Boyle, this to be held for one year by the member gaining most points for the monthly competitions. Also formed was our Drama Circle, which has competed in Federation festivals, winning the B. Grade cup in 1967 at Taradale. This group has given entertainment at our own gatherings, old folks and other groups. Scrapbooks for Hillsbrook Children’s Home in May 1965 was the beginning of our community projects, which soon included Meals on Wheels, collecting for the blind and the I.H.C. These projects continue to hold a place in our present day activities.

Because of our expanding membership we accepted the offer of the old homestead on Mt. Erin Station to hold our meetings in. Our first flower show was held there, a very successful event of over 200 entries. Mrs. G. Baker presented a silver tray for the most over-all points to be competed for annually. On finding the Maori meaning of our Institute name was, ‘The place or where birds were trapped’, the Kingfisher Bird was chosen for our emblem. This was penpainted onto velvet in time for our delegate to take down to the 1966 Dominion Conference. This same emblem was also embroidered onto linen for the President’s Tablecloth, members donating and doing the work. In 1967 we obtained a link, in Canada, with a fellow Institute Group, with which we still continue to correspond. The winter of 1967 saw us once again meeting in members homes, but in February 1973 due to expanding membership we decided to hire a hall and our meetings are now held at the Havelock North Rugby Clubrooms. Each year we have held birthday celebrations and a Christmas Party. Members have taken in Federation work. Two of our members have been on the Federation Executive, and co-ordinating committee, and one a group convenor.  In 1968 our Founder Mrs. I. Hallgarth received a good service badge. Post Office money boxes were presented to mothers of new babies, but now a small gift of booties are given. Once a year, an outing is arranged, usually to see over various industries and places of interest, also a dinner at one of our local restaurants.

Although we have only been and [an] institute for 10 years, they have been interesting, entertaining and progressive years. From a membership of 17 we now have over 30 taking an active interest in institute work.

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Business / Organisation

Te Mahanga Country Women's Institute

Format of the original

Leaflet (1-8 pages)


  • Mrs R Allen
  • Mrs G Baker
  • Mrs N Boyle
  • Mrs I Hallgarth
  • Mrs G Hodge
  • Mrs H Kawenga
  • Mrs A Lang
  • Mrs P Lowes
  • Mrs J McKay
  • Mrs R Milne
  • Mrs D Nilsson
  • Mrs Ian Nilsson
  • Mrs J Nilsson
  • Mrs R Nilsson
  • Mrs Symons

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