Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 39, September 1995

In November 1994 the Thames-Hauraki Plains District Federation of Country Women's Institutes celebrated its 50th Jubilee.

On November 9, 1944, the District divided from the Auckland Federation. On the same day the Thames -Hauraki Plains members held their first meeting and the name, Thames-Hauraki Plains District Federation, was chosen at their second meeting.

Executive meetings were initially held in the Imperial lounge bar, the Borough Council chambers, Fire Brigade Hall and St James Hall. Council meetings were held at the King's Theatre.

At the time of the Jubilee there were 19 Institutes in the District Federation but atone time there were 27.

Drama Festivals and Competition Festivals, still run today, have been very successful over the years and there have been many concerts given in different areas to fund raise, plus garden parties, debutante balls and raffles, as well as other highlights. Christmas cheer started in 1947, giving gifts to patients at Thames Hospital over the festive season. This still continues. An appeal raised funds for cancer in February 1949 and other generous donations have since been made. The Federation now assists with collecting on Daffodil Day.

In the late 1940s following the judging of a competition of a complete winter wardrobe for a child from four to six years, to which there were twenty eight entries, the entries were sent to English CWI links for distribution to needy families. A gift to Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery of a card box, inlaid with New Zealand woods and suitably inscribed, plus food parcels, was sent with a letter thanking him "for guiding our NZ soldiers to victory".

In 1948 the Federation chartered a plane to Norfolk Island and Aunt Daisy (Mrs Basham) did a six-month tour of the District.

Remits over the years were submitted on such subjects as increasing the butter ration to eight ounces per week per person and the wrapping of all bread and bread rolls.

To raise money for the Jubilee, an anonymous donor gave $100, which was divided between the Institutes in the Federation to use as a fund-starter. From this, $3000 was raised. The Jubilee was celebrated with a luncheon at the Thames War Memorial Hall on 9 November 1994.

Taking part in the celebrations were two Thames women who have been long-time members of the Thames-Hauraki Plains Federation. Mrs Nell Scott was the only founding member of the Executive present. She became a Women's Institute member in 1930 at Ngatea, but had to resign two years later when transport to the meetings was no longer available. Later because of her CWI experience she was elected founding President of the Pipiroa branch, a position she filled several times over the next sixteen years. Mrs Scott's first commitment to the Federation was as press reporter. From then, she served a total of twenty two years on the Federation Executive including seventeen years as voluntary organiser, twenty five years on the competitions festival committee, twelve years as editor of the Institute magazine, countless years as press correspondent and three years as treasurer. In 1958, Mrs Scott was awarded the highest honour in the Institute - the Gold Honours Badge. She was also awarded the first good service badge of the Federation for her diligence and work for the Federation in its formative years.

Also attending the Jubilee celebrations was Mrs Dulcie Ingley who has also been in the Thames-Hauraki Plains Federation since its beginning. She firstly joined the Wharepoa Institute after her marriage, later becoming President. Being a farmer's wife meant she moved around the Hauraki Plains a lot, so soon after Wharepoa, Mrs Ingley joined Kerepehi - of which she was a founding member - then Pipiroa, Ngatea and Thames Institutes. In fact she has been President of almost every Country Women's Institute that she has belonged to. Like Mrs Scott, she is now a member of Goldfields CWI. Both women speak of the many good friends they have made in their years as members.

In addition to the celebration luncheon, the Federation also produced a souvenir booklet, with contributions from individual Institutes.