Rotorua's Wendy McGowan is excited and thankful about being made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rural women.

Mrs McGowan has been a member of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) since 1975 and has held offices with the Kaharoa Branch, Provincial and Inter-Provincial Committees.

She said she felt excited about the honour and very thankful to the people who had nominated her.

Mrs McGowan said when she first found out she was both a little bit apprehensive and animated at the same time.


"I don't think you see yourself and the work you do. Other people see it, but you don't see it."

In 2005 Mrs McGowan became National Councillor for the Region Five area covering Coromandel to Gisborne.

She was vice president for two years, convened the Social Issues Committee and the Land Use Committee.

Mrs McGowan represented RWNZ on the New Zealand Food Safety Consumer Forum for four years.

She was appointed national president of RWNZ from 2013 to 2016, during which time she led the delegation to the 2014 South Pacific Area Conference and the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) Triennial World Conference.

Mrs McGowan oversaw the implementation of changes to the structure of the governing body and rules of RWNZ and negotiated the sale of Access Homehealth Ltd during her term as President.

She has been an individual member of the ACWW and was part of the RWNZ delegation to the South Pacific Area Conference in Tonga in 2011. She has served on the Rural Community Trust as the RWNZ representative.

Mrs McGowan is a member of the Kaimai-Mamaku Catchment Forum and Federated Farmers Rotorua/Taupo Province, and has been president and chairperson of Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre section for the province.


She said something which had inspired her work was the members of Rural Women New Zealand who had walked in her shoes and had possibly been there before her.

"Some of them have been formidable, determined, inspirational women that you can aspire to be like.

"I admired them and still do."

Mrs McGowan said a highlight for her had been how nationally Rural Women New Zealand members got behind a project and fundraised.

One of her three most memorable was 'Get Plastered' for Breast Cancer, where they made plaster casts for breasts and raised money for the cause.

The other two were Y Front Up for prostate cancer and Aftersocks, where socks were made in Canterbury colours after the earthquakes.

She said $106,000 was raised by selling these socks.

People could still buy these socks today and use them for adverse events, so if anything happened throughout New Zealand money went into the Adverse Events Relief Fund and it was sent on, she said.

Rural Women New Zealand also raised money for the Life Education Trust buses - "we are very involved in education and health".

Instead of working at national level, Mrs McGowan is now working at a regional level.

She gives a "tremendous" thank you to those who nominated her for the award.