Dannevirke Rotary Club's 90th anniversary celebration promises to be a glittering affair, president Diana Mancer says.

Invitations have been sent to past and present members for the celebrations in the Dannevirke Town Hall on November 4.

"We are one of the oldest Rotary clubs in New Zealand," Diana said.

Rotary came to New Zealand in 1921 when the Wellington club was formed on June 7, while an Auckland club began a week later.

The Dannevirke Rotary Club was formed in 1927.


One of the smallest areas at the time and with just 12 members today, the club has saved its historic minutes book from that first meeting which was attended by Rotary Club members from Napier, Palmerston North and Masterton.

"It was quite an undertaking to travel that distance in those days," club member Liz Edwards said.

"We were just the 10th or 11th club in New Zealand to be formed."

As Rotary Club members began their detailed planning for November's celebrations last week, they were visited by Mitchell Brown, the new District 9940 Governor, who has 54 clubs in his area.

Mitchell's Rotary days began when he joined the Panmure club in Auckland in 1991.

A firefighter, he was the first Kiwi to be asked to attend a national fire academy in the United States, but he needed some financial backing.

"I'd just been a Rotary Club member for a year and what the Panmure club did was invest in me and this investment is something I've paid forward," he said.

"That was a turning point in my life.

"Today I'm one of 24 area commanders for Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) and that investment by the Panmure Rotary Club has been paid back to the fire service and I'm continuing to pay it forward in Rotary."

Representing 20 volunteer fire brigades in his region, Mitchell said volunteering was relevant, vibrant and strong, whether it was emergency services or Rotary.

Before becoming district governor, Mitchell completed two terms as president of Panmure Rotary and Takaro in Palmerston North.

"People enjoy giving back to the organisation," he said.

Since its formation Rotary has evolved, but it remains a service organisation supporting the community.

"Dannevirke Rotary is quite unique as it has a range of ages across its members, and Rotary clubs everywhere have to focus on being relevant to younger people in their community," Mitchell said.

"I think youth really do want to be part of their community and Rotary can do that through focus clubs looking at engaging members who bring new skills to the clubs and their communities."

• Dannevirke Rotary's 90th celebrations:
Past members who haven't received an invitation, email dannevirkerotary@gmail.com