Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 52, September 2008


Frances Bicknell of Waihi has been serving her community more than 40 years and she thoroughly deserved recognition when she received the Queen Service Medal for Community Service (QSM) in the New Year's Honours, 2008.

Frances, now 81 years, the mother of seven children with 16 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren, commenced her service to her community back in the Second World War years in Wellington when she joined the Order of St. John cadets. She then pursued a nursing career.

On her arrival in Waihi some 40 years ago it did not take her long before she was part of the Waihi Order of St. John and her 37 years service to 2006, was recognised when she received her appropriate service bar.

Frances used her nursing experience to good advantage in other fields, including being chair of the Hauraki-Coromandel Health Forum, a Waihi-Waihi Beach Rural Health Support member (bringing general practitioners to the Waihi area) and a member of the Waikato Hospital Lounge Transit Committee (staying abreast of Coromandel and Hauraki patients in Waikato Hospital), a member of the local Victim Support and the St Vincent de Paul organisation.

Other community organisations to receive her devoted attention include the St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Waihi, Catholic Women's League, chair of the Thames Valley National Council of Women, Provincial President of the Rural Women, New Zealand; and she did a stint as a member of the Waihi Night Patrol Group, keeping an eye on nocturnal activities in Waihi. She is a Life Member of the Catholic Women's League, Hamilton Dioceses.

She received her QSM from the Governor-General at a special ceremony in Government House, Auckland.


Fifty years of voluntary service to the Waihi community was recognised in the Queen's Birthday honours last June when well-known Shirley Spurr was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for Community Service (QSM).

Born in Waihi Shirley's expertise as a educator, facilitator, cultural ambassador, support person, elder, historian and genealogist for both Maori and Pakeha is highly respected by all sectors of the Waihi community.

The highlight of her years of unselfish service has been with the Waihi Community Marae project. In 1980 she was requested by the then committee to help, as she was most conversant with both Maori and Pakeha cultures. She accepted the position of secretary, a post she holds today.

She was one those instrumental in arranging the $750,000 funding needed for the construction of the marae on the site of the old Waihi South School. The wharekai was opened in 1990, the wharenui in 1999 and manuhuri shelter in 2006.

She is currently overseeing the installation of stained glass windows in the wharenui depicting the headwaters of the Ohinemuri River in the hills behind Waihi, the birdlife and the eel and trout of the river and streams.

She is striving to obtain more artworks and is also seeking funding to have a master carver working on the wharenui.

Mrs Spurr has owned her women's fashion-wear business in Waihi's main street for over 30 years and it has been from here that she freely gives of her time to those who seek her counsel.

In 1987 she was appointed a Justice of the Peace, and with this became a marriage celebrant and since 2005 a civil union celebrant.

She has given almost 30 years service to the Waihi branch of the National Party as secretary, a position in which she still serves.

There are countless groups, clubs, organisations which have received assistance from Shirley Spurr and all those involve heartily agree the QSM is just reward for a lengthy and valuable community service to Waihi and District.