Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962


A survey of a town's affairs would not be complete without mention of the activities of its women, and the women of Waihi are not behind those of other places in their services to others.

The two major organisations, The Country Women's Institute and The Women's Division of Federated Farmers, are both active in Waihi. The history of the C.W.I, from its inception in 1930 shows a wonderful record of service. To quote a few of the objects supported: Raised £108 for Earthquake Fund, £38 to replace school books lost in fire, £23 for Sports Committee, made donations to Children's Homes, Homes for the Aged, to Distress Funds in times of national calamity, sent Parcels for Soldiers during war years and Parcels for Britain for a number of years following, assisted deserving families during depression, gave hospitality to soldiers' children during school holidays, formed a Friendship League to assist the families of unemployed men and provided food and clothing for them. The Waihi C.W.I. has always given its assistance when required in town affairs and has frequently been the originator of remits which, unsuccessful at the time, have later been introduced into the legislation of the country.

An instance of the Waihi C.W.I, being ahead of its times, is that in 1944 a remit was sent forward to the Government "That special schools be built for backward and sub-normal children." This was declined but we now have provision for Intellectually Handicapped Children.

The Women's Division of Federated Farmers, although affiliated, work independently of Federated Farmers. A branch was formed in Waihi in 1928 and later a second branch was started. Their work is similar in many respects to that of the C.W.I, viz., local improvements, help to others, remits to Government, etc., but their main activity is the Housekeeping Service to care for children and keep the home on an even keel when the mother is sick or in hospital. As this is a confidential service, only those closely associated with it know how many homes in Waihi and district have been grateful for the Housekeeper sent out to them by the Waihi W.D. Housekeeping Secretary. Young women and girls on the farms are catered for by the Country Girls Club. By their affiliation with the National Council of Women, the Waihi Branch of the Women's Division, the Women's Section of the R.S.A. and the C.W.I. Federation, have a voice and a vote in the deliberations of this powerful body.


The late Mrs Lydia Drinkwater was born in Paeroa in 1886, and after her marriage led the life of a pioneer at Waitawheta, working on the farm, and at one time taking over a cream collecting contract.

Ever willing to help those in need, Mrs Drinkwater spent much of her life in service to others. She was a foundation member of the Waihi Branch of the Women's Division of Federated Farmers, and shortly after it was formed, became president, working hard to increase membership by canvassing the district on horseback. Mrs Drinkwater organised the Waihi Branch of the W.D. Housekeeping Service and frequently, when in an emergency, a housekeeper could not be obtained, filled the position herself. She was also a foundation member of the Nursing Division of the St. John Ambulance and did a lot of work both at the casualty station and in her own home.


On October 4th, 1924, the Mayoress, Mrs Wallnutt, convened a meeting for the establishment of a branch of the Plunket Society in Waihi. As a result, the Waihi branch was formed and for 38 years has worked "To help the mothers and save the babies." Mrs Wallnutt was the first President. Meetings were held in an old house which had been renovated but recently new and up-to-date rooms have been built on the same site. These rooms are a credit to the energetic committee which worked so hard to acquire funds, assisted by the Plunket Mothers, comprising mothers of Plunket babies, a society which was formed about ten years ago in Waihi and which has been of inestimable value to the local Plunket Society, financially and otherwise.

The religious orders all have their women's auxiliaries to assist and extend their work and by their intercourse, one with another, help to bridge barriers between the various religious beliefs.

The League of Mothers, founded by Lady Fergusson, mother of our Governor-Designate, which works to help parents to realise the greatness of their responsibility to their children and strive for higher ideals in the home, has been in operation in Waihi since 1937. (Note: There is no child delinquency problem in Waihi).

The Kindergarten Play Centre, a comparatively new, but flourishing organisation, caters for the education and development of pre-school age children. The mothers have reason to be proud of their new building for which they have worked so hard, assisted by others interested and which they hope to open at this time.


(Secretary, Mrs J. Giddens)

The Waihi Sub-centre, a sub-branch of Waikato has been functioning for 25 years, during the whole of which Mrs E. A. Wilson has been president. Classes in home-nursing and first aid were held during the war years, and sewing circles contributed hundreds of articles of clothing, quilts etc., to send to the joint council for distribution, gift parcels being despatched to P.O.W.'s and social afternoons given to their next-of-kin. In subsequent years help has been given to many causes, such as disaster relief in our own and other countries, Waihi Beach Sub-branch — Mrs I. Clark secretary — helping generously with clothing and street stalls.


Other women's groups include the Women's Miners' Pensioners which meets for social purposes and to maintain the camaraderie of other days, and the Women's Section of R.S.A. which, since its establishment in 1939, has raised hundreds of pounds to assist the Men's Section with their building projects, necessitous cases in relation to returned men and their families and Christmas Cheer to those most in need. Hospital and sick visiting is an important feature of their work.

The Society for the Aged, Widowed and Invalid of both sexes originated in Waihi and has spread throughout the country showing the need for such an organisation. The Highland Dancing Society, commenced by Mr T. A. C. McDonold, has been operating for about 13 years. It caters for National, cultural and physical interests and provides for the social adjustment of the youthof both sexes. All churches have their youth clubs working under various titles and all providing excellent service to the youth of the town.