After 77 years of community service in Whangarei the local branch of the National Council of Women has closed due to declining membership.

As Women's Suffrage Day was celebrated this week past president and life member Joyce Armstrong highlighted the importance of the organisation and the good work it had done in Whangarei, including a major project which saw the planting of nearly 800 native seedlings on the Tarewa riverbanks.

The Whangarei branch was established after a meeting in 1938 and represented groups including Christian women, registered nurses, farming women and university women.

The members last year voted to close but it was earlier this year when all the finances were officially sorted out.


Mrs Armstrong, now 92 years of age, said the Council of Women gave women a voice and allowed them to communicate directly with government, whish was not as easy to do as it is now.

"I think the organisation has served its time. Now days communication is so much easier. Women now have access to their MPs and free access to organisations that help women with health and housing," Mrs Armstrong said.

During her 31 years of membership she was most proud of the mass planting of seedlings, during her time as president, on the banks of Tarewa River in 1993, to celebrate the centenary of Women's Suffrage Day.

The Whangarei NCW, in collaboration with Department of Conservation and Whangarei District Council, initiated a project of tree planting to enhance the banks of the stream at Tarewa Park, opposite the Information Centre.

"A public appeal to buy seedling trees was enthusiastically supported. Planting day was open to the public and within one morning over 800 trees were planted," Mrs Armstrong said.

"After 23 years the area is well established and a permanent asset to the park."

Maxine Neighbour, the final president, said due to a steadily declining membership the branch had made a decision to close.

The branch records, scrap books and banner were now at the museum in Maunu.

Left over finances went to buying local women's refuge Tryphina House an outdoor furniture set and more linen that was needed.