Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 45, September 2001

A longtime member of the Paeroa & District Historical Society, Elsie Mann, died at Hamilton on 10 December 2000. Miss Mann's name is listed amongst members' names published in the September 1965 Journal.

At her Funeral Service held at Paeroa on 13 December 2000, her niece, Christine Morunga, shared some thoughts on the life of her aunt. These are published below:-

"The family were asked to bring some symbols of Elsie's life to the Service. We chose the following:-

  • Her Bible: Representing her lifelong walk in the Christian faith
  • A Post Office Money Box: Representing her work in the Post Office
  • A weaving frame: Representing her work with care and craft and all the hard work she did
  • A photograph of the Waitekauri Mine: Representing both her life in the District and her interest in the Historical Societies
  • A cup, saucer and plate: Representing her love of hospitality
  • The Silver Tui and Scout Prayer: Representing her life in Scouting
  • The Order of St Luke Manual: For her membership of the Order and her Pastoral work in visiting the sick
  • A Maori Culture Group photo: Representing her work with the Marae
  • A boot: to represent the numerous tramps she led and shared with so many; also the energy she expended in giving of herself.

"Elsie began life in Reefton, on the West Coast of the South Island, on St Patrick's Day, 17 March 1921, the second daughter of Margaret and Charles Mann. She had two sisters and three younger brothers. They started Sunday School at a young age and spent time each Sunday around the piano with their mother, singing hymns.

"Molly and Elsie started school at Stillwater and when it became too dangerous for them to cross the river on a dilapidated railway bridge, they transferred to Correspondence School. Elsie was nine when the family moved to their mother's family home, the old Boarding House at Waitekauri. Three years later the family was shocked to lose their mother. Molly, then Elsie, took over the running of the home, caring for their Dad and younger brothers.

"Elsie, from an early age, taught Sunday School, when there were children around, and led Cubs when there were boys - she coached her brothers through Lone Cubs before starting the Waikino Cub Pack, the beginning of fifty plus years in the Scouting Movement. She saw at least one great nephew join Cubs. She always had a deep love for children, starting with her young brothers, then encompassing her nieces and nephews, the children of her many cousins and friends as well as the children she came into contact with through her work, the Church, the Kerepehi Marae, plus through Cubs. Whenever a baby was born into the family, Elsie would be there to visit - often the first visitor. She always spent time with the children on subsequent visits, remembering all their Birthdays with gifts. She also sent First Day Covers of new issues of stamps to each, and had Christmas presents, carefully selected, or made, and beautifully wrapped for everyone each Christmas.

"Elsie loved the traditions of Christmas, for a time celebrating a full English Christmas at mid-winter with Sybil Wolstenholme and their invited guests. I was privileged to be invited on several occasions and enjoyed sharing the fun. We wore paper hats and pulled crackers, along with eating a delicious roast turkey dinner, followed by Christmas pudding, both with all the trimmings - the inevitable wait was always worth it. Christmas was a time of sharing and Elsie always decorated and had Christmas trees with lots of gifts under them, both at work and at home. I was told that Elsie could be short with some children who came to the Post Office at Kerepehi during the year, but there was always a gift for every child, come Christmas.

"Elsie left school after completing primary school. She later got her Proficiency by correspondence, while dressmaking from home and caring for the family. This was after a stint at Waihi Hospital as a Ward's Maid. In 1939 she became Post Mistress for Waitekauri, having to catch her horse and ride three and a half miles to Waikino to pick up the mail and papers, some of which she delivered on the return trip, the rest people collected from Waitekauri Post Office. During the War, the horse was replaced by a bicycle, making the trip down quicker, but the return was an uphill grind.

"In 1947 Elsie went to Auckland where she was Assistant Matron of the Maori Girls' Hostel for a year. She then moved to the Government Home Aid Hostel, from which she went daily to homes to look after families whose mothers were in hospital, leaving the fathers free to continue working during the day, then care for their children at night. She returned to Waikino in 1948 and continued dressmaking and caring for families in need.

Jane was Post Mistress in Waikino and when she left to be married, Elsie took over and was there until the Post Office was down-sized six years before it was washed away in the 1981 flood. That meant, in 1975, a move to Kerepehi Post Office where she worked until it closed a few years after she was due to retire (1984) (at the age of sixty, in those days).

"If we thought that Elsie was going to take things easy, we were very wrong. She was in to community work, boots and all. Through the years she had led Bible Class and Cub hikes up Mount Karangahake, Te Aroha and over the Wires Track, and many other tracks along the Coromandel Range. Now she went with the Historical Society and other groups. She and friends also walked the Milford Track. The last hike that I did with her was when her hip required replacement and we had many stops to enjoy the views.

"Elsie had her life so organised, to fit in Meals on Wheels, hosting at Oasis - a drop-in centre in Paeroa, looking after the Museum, attending countless meetings for Church, Historical Society, Scouts, Marae, Lionesses and Lodge. She was a member of WDFF and Red Cross, helped run the Care and Craft centre and was involved in fund raising events. She was also an official Ward Visitor at Thames Hospital and Paeroa and visited many shut-in people, and gave transport to a number of people. Her cars frequented the garages and gave her friends much concern for Elsie's safety, as did her driving. It never ceased to amaze us the trips she undertook, making it home safely. She was a member of the Order of St Luke - a healing Ministry of prayer, which she faithfully pursued.

"A very full life, a very active life, for many years hardly ever at home, then in the last ten years her health deteriorated so that she became almost a recluse, unable to accept the help from others that she had given so many."

At the Funeral Service, a eulogy was also given by Mr J Eddie Quinn of Waihi Beach.

"Elsie Mann was a Cub Leader Extraordinary. Her Cub name was KOTARE ("Kingfisher").

"In 1937 Elsie attended a correspondence school camp at New Plymouth Boys High School and there she met a lady who introduced her to a Ranger activity. She subsequently joined the Star Rangers. On 10 December 1941, 59 years to the day when she died, she started as a Warranted Cub Leader at Waikino, where her family were now living. Some of her original Cubs from that first meeting are still living in the area, including brother, Wally, Morrinsville, Homer Stubbs, Waikino and Ian Robinson, Waihi. In 1946 Elsie moved to employment in Auckland but returned to Waikino each weekend to take Cubs.

"In 1947 she held a Warrant as an assistant Cub Master in the Lones Division and a year later the Waikino Cub Pack joined with Waihi and met in the Orange Lodge Hall, Waihi.

"In 1952 Elsie attended a Cub Training Course and gained her Wood Beads. About this time Elsie is remembered for missing the train at Waikino which was to take her to a Cub Day at Tauranga. With Cub, Brian Dunham on the carrier, Elsie pedalled furiously in the direction of Waihi and there caught the train.

"In 1958 she was awarded the Medal of Merit for good service to Cubbing and in 1960 became a Cub Leader in Paeroa, where she soon had two Cub Packs going.

"In 1963 Elsie was awarded a Bar to the Medal of Merit and also was appointed District Cub Leader to the Hauraki Plains District which included Whangamata, Waihi, Waihi Beach, Paeroa, Netherton, Kerepehi, Hikutaia, Ngatea and Te Aroha. A large area and busy schedule, small wonder then that in 1970 Elsie was the recipient of the Silver Tiki for outstanding service to Cubbing and was followed, in 1980, by being presented with New Zealand's highest Scouting Award, the Silver Tui, at a large function in Paeroa. In 1983 Elsie gave up the District Cub Leader's position and became a Group Leader at Kerepehi where she was now living. On Saturday 23 November 1991, a function attended by about 140 guests celebrated Elsie's 50 years in Cubbing. At this function she received the following presentations:

  • The Keys to the Hauraki Plains District of Scouting
  • The Hauraki Plains District Life Membership Scroll
  • The Hauraki District Council Civic Honour Citizenship Award (presented by ex-Cub, District Mayor Basil Morrison), the Council's first such award
  • Life Membership to the Waikato Area Scout Association (presented by Area Commissioner, Stan Rowe)
  • Life Membership to the New Zealand Scout Association (presented by Dominion President, Bruce Scott)
  • and a framed commemorative Scout Prayer.

"Elsie's ability to load up her car with camping gear became legendary, room only to get in behind the wheel. However she was usually the first to get her tent up, complete with table and chair under the awning. She attended six Scout Jamborees.

"What a wonderful life given to others. God Bless Elsie and, in Scouting terms, you have "Gone Home"."

EDITOR'S NOTE : A report on the function held on 23 November 1991 is at page 32, Journal Number 36, September 1992. [see Journal 36: Elsie Mann Honoured - E]