More than 250 New Zealand Federation of Women's Institutes members are meeting in Napier this weekend to celebrate the formation of one of the largest women's organisations in the country.
On Saturday, members past and present will visit the Omatua homestead at Rissington, the venue of the first WI meeting on February 21, 1921.
The highlight of the celebrations will be the unveiling of the specially commissioned statue of the organisation's founder, Anna Elizabeth Jerome Spencer, on Sunday. It is opposite Waiapu Cathedral in Napier and was made by Gerard McCabe.
Manawatū Federation of WI president Helen Dunlop says some federation members will attend the Napier celebrations and for those who cannot go, there will be a picnic lunch the following week.
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Eight institutes make up the Manawatū federation, with 120 members. Activities include teaching homemaking skills, drama, writing and photography.
Members knit for community groups - for example knee rugs for rest homes, beanies, booties and singlets for the neonatal unit, and slippers for kindergartens.
At meetings there are flower and craft competitions, and a speaker or entertainer.
Jerome Spencer encountered WI in London in 1918 when she was doing war work. She recognised the value of such an organisation and how it would benefit the
women of New Zealand, particularly those in rural areas.
The first institute was Rissington in Hawke's Bay. During the following years she made many journeys in her trusty little car on highways and rough side roads, from Southland to Northland, to facilitate the growth of WI throughout New Zealand.
Today there are 232 institutes in New Zealand grouped into 38 federations.