This month Pōkuru Branch of Rural Women New Zealand celebrate their 70th anniversary.

Formerly Women's Division Federated Farmers, the first gathering of the Pōkuru Branch took place on March 22, 1949.

The anniversary is to be held, almost to the day, on Saturday, March 23 at the Te Awamutu Club.

Over the 70 years there have been 18 life memberships awarded and Mona Wikaira was awarded CBE and QSM for service to the community.

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The group immersed itself in its community, from raising funds for local organisations, assisting as Tokanui Hospital with projects such as the Chapel and swimming pool, plus undertaking patient visits, sending food parcels to Britain every month in the 1950s, sending kerosene tins of fat and clothes to Corso, donating to the Leper Fund (money or wool), helping to buy a Spitfire plane, helping with funding for research into leptospirosis and cot death — to name just a few of the larger appeals.

At home they helped in times of adversity, such as floods, earthquakes and droughts.

For over 30 years the branch went door to door collecting for the Blind Foundation.

Members manned the stalls at field days and collected for IHC, as well as supporting the building of Pirongia Forest Park Lodge and collecting bras for the GirlGuiding New Zealand project to send them to the islands.

On the local front knitting for hospitals, helping school children to go to camps or activities, regular giving each year to the Cancer Foundation, rescue helicopter, Riding for Disabled, Wheelchair Wagon were just a few of the activities.

Supporting families in the community by providing meals in times of stress, to helping care for children and housekeeping is mentioned in the 70 years of the minute books.

Women supported each other through the ups and downs of farming and raising families as communications with neighbours, friends and families is so important in the rural areas.

* Pōkuru Branch invites interested parties to the celebration luncheon . Phone 871 5362 to register.

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