Maureen Oliver was born near Sevenoaks in Kent in 1928.
She was named after the nurse attending her mother at her birth.

The family moved several times, including to Sevenoaks and Reading, before, at the outbreak of World War II, moving to Weston-super-Mare.

At 16, Maureen left school. Now in Birmingham, she started working as a laboratory technician. A short stint in a paint laboratory was followed by a move to Wales to work in a food laboratory.

By this time she had met Keith Bishop. They were married and Maureen got a job at the National Insurance Office.


Maureen and Keith's children Paul and Gillian were born in 1953 and 1956 respectively.

In 1962 Keith and the two children emigrated to New Zealand, following Keith's parents, with Maureen following two months later.

They lived in Te Puke with Keith's sister Pat.

Maureen's life of serving the Te Puke community began almost straight away. Paul and Gillian joined the swimming club and Maureen also became involved, holding, at various times, the posts of president, treasurer and secretary, posts she also held with the pony club due to Gillian's love of horses.

Maureen also became involved in the Chamber of Commerce, which became Te Puke Business House, serving for many years as treasurer, as well as the Promotions Association where she met many of her long-term friends and organised various events.

From 1963-67 she worked for Farmers Trading Co then became the secretary/treasurer at Te Puke High School's Board of Governors, a post she held for 15 years.

Keith and Maureen divorced and in 1978 she married Te Puke town clerk Laurie Oliver, who died in 1988.

For most of her married life to Laurie she worked for Wrightson Real Estate.

Maureen became a JP in 1992 and was a very popular marriage and funeral celebrant, officiating at more than 1000 weddings, many taking place at her Paengaroa property.

She was a Te Puke Community Board member from 1992-1995 and was deputy chairwoman from 1995-1998.

She was chairwoman of the Te Puke Memorial Hall committee for 20 years.

Maureen started Te Puke Clean and Beautiful with Lorna Treloar and they planted what they called "bubbles" - beds of flowers in Jellicoe St - with shopkeepers looking after the "bubbles" outside their shops. They both had trees named after them in Palmer Place carpark.

She was patron of Te Puke Repertory, Michael Jones remembering her as a vital member of the society.

"Through the years she supported many productions backstage with wardrobe, publicity or hosting duties," he says.

"Her most remembered stage performance was as the belly dancer, Delight, in the pantomime Ali Baba, directed by Colin Cooper. Unfortunately, she missed a few performances with a serious heart complaint but, like a true trouper, she returned for the final night."

Maureen was a society member for 50 years. She was a committee member, treasurer and president.

"In recent years she was our active, and supportive patron. Many of our members recall the amusing poems she presented to the cast on opening night. A poem was her way of wishing them luck."

She was also involved in Save the Children and the Paengaroa Junction Group and was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow certificate by Te Puke Rotary Club for her work in the community, particularly the development of the Remembrance Courtyard by the memorial hall.

In 2008 she met Eugene (Frosty) Symonds, who she described as the love of her life.

Granddaughter Kaylene says Maureen was a wonderful grandmother.

"We loved coming over from Aussie to stay with her during the school holidays. But she always made us do jobs around the place ... so we knew what to expect ... hard work mixed with fun."

Maureen died on October 5 and a service celebrating her life was held at her home, Croeso i Hafod in Paengaroa.