The Napier-born founder of the New Zealand Federation of Women's Institutes has been remembered as a "remarkable woman" and "forward thinking proto-feminist".
After being covered by a box for a couple of weeks, a bronze cast statue of Anna Elizabeth Jerome Spencer (known to her friends as Bessie), born in Napier in 1872, has now been unveiled on the corner of Shakespeare Rd and Browning St.
Hundreds of women, men and secondary school students gathered in Napier's CBD on Sunday to witness the unveiling of the life-sized statue gifted by the NZ Federation of Women's Institutes.
Jerome Spencer founded the New Zealand Federation of Women's Institutes began in Hawke's Bay 100 years ago after she was inspired by the Women's Institute of England.
The statue was unveiled on Sunday, February 14 ahead of the centenary anniversary on February 21.
For the hundreds of members of the Women's Institutes that attended from around the country, it was an amazing day.
According to Te Ara encyclopaedia, In January 1921 Jerome Spencer and friend and Napier Girls' High School colleague Amy Hutchinson held a meeting in Omatua at which the Rissington Women's Institute was founded.
She was a pupil at NGHS before later becoming a head mistress after studying extramurally at Canterbury College for a bachelor of arts.
By 1925 it had grown to six institutes in Hawke's Bay and they formed the first provincial federation.
It "emphasised wholesome country pursuits and aimed to provide women with interests outside the home".
It has now grown to 245 local branches including seven in the Hawke's Bay region with about 3500 members nationwide.
While times have changed the vision and values Jerome Spencer had are still held by the Women's Institutes.
National president Fay Leonard said the vision is to encourage and support women within their communities and provide an organisation for fun, friendship and community work.
"Women need women, they really do."
The statue sits over the road from the church Jerome Spencer attended and looks as if she is crossing the road to go to a service.
"The idea behind the statue was how many organisations are around after 100 years and a women's organisation at that.
"Why don't we do something for the centenary... it had to be here in Napier because this is where it was founded."
There were blessings by local reverends Numia and Dorothy and rounds of applause as the statue was unveiled.
Napier mayor Kirsten Wise said "statues of remarkable women are not often a feature in our landscape" so Jerome Spencer was "well deserving".
Leonard echoed this sentiment and said the group is "really thrilled" to be able to see the statue unveiled.
Sculptor Gerard McCabe from Wellington said it is "a real privilege" to have created the statue.
He said getting a brief for a life-sized sculpture was "a bit daunting" as it is not an easy thing to pull off and will be seen by many people for years to come.
Working off the few photographs available of Jerome Spencer, things he had read about her and his imagination, McCabe spent at least 300 hours on the sculpture.
"From the knowledge of who she was you form an opinion of what must've been a very forceful, forward thinking woman of her time, probably a proto-feminist I suppose.
"I knew it had to be something that was in movement and walking at ground level... and the readings of her, she would've been a very dynamic, intelligent young woman so I wanted to convey that in the whole movement of the piece."