Women’s Institutes across New Zealand will celebrate the establishment’s 100-year anniversary this weekend, and the organisation’s North Otago Federation will be no different.
On Sunday, 40 Women’s Institute groups will honour Anna Elizabeth Jerome Spencer, who founded New Zealand’s first Women’s Institute in 1921.
As part of the celebrations, a sculpture of Miss Jerome Spencer will be unveiled in Napier, where the institute’s first meeting was held.
Formerly known as the Country Women’s Institute, the organisation was first established to encourage a productive role for women in agriculture and horticulture during World War 1. Since then, its focus had shifted to providing a community for women who lived rurally and identified as “homemakers”.
Oamaru woman Melba Jordan is the treasurer of the Awamoa Alma and South Hill groups and secretary of the North Otago Federation . The federation represents the South Hill, Awamoa Alma and Waiareka groups.
Ms Jordan joined first joined the institute in 1991 at the Awamoa Alma group before being “co-opted” to South Hill.
She was talked into joining by her friend, the late Maisie Mather.
Ms Jordan was glad she did.
“It has given me a purpose in life and I have enjoyed mixing with other people.”
The group spent much of its time entering and holding floral, craft, and baking competitions.
Ms Jordan was “quite good at baking” and landed herself a few placings.
Ms Jordan said anyone wanting to join should be enthusiastic about craft work.
The South Hill group elected its first president in 1936 its motto was “nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”.
During World War 2, members of the South Hill group knitted for the army, navy and air force, and made clothing for war refugees.
The Awamoa Alma group was established in 1931 and the Waiareka group in 1934. Both had provided aid to the community.
North Otago Federation members and ex-members alike will attend a service at the Eveline Presbyterian Church on Sunday, before celebrating over lunch at the Oamaru Club.