The question for Margaret Pittaway is what to do next?

Mrs Pittaway, of Lowburn, stepped down from her role as board member on the Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) board at its annual meeting in Wellington two weeks ago.

She initially spent five and a-half years on its national council, but following a constitutional change it became a board and she served for another two years.

Since stepping down, she has noticed how quiet the telephone has become and the lack of emails in the inbox.


''That takes a bit of getting used to,'' she said.

She chose to stand down to encourage younger RWNZ members to take on governance roles within the organisation.

''I don't want to take on any more leadership roles because it is time the younger women have that chance,'' Mrs Pittaway said.

She was a rural nurse for many years before retiring.

She was also a RWNZ branch member and then became the Otago/Southland councillor in 2012.

She was given the organisation's rural health portfolio because of her interest in that area and has been vocal about the reduction of healthcare facilities in the rural sector.

Earlier this year she was involved in a ''ruralfest'' that focused on rural issues including health and from that they developed a ''road map'' outlining what needed to happen in the sector.

''I just loved that.


''From 9am to 5pm we worked head down to come up with the document.''

She said one of her most satisfying roles was sitting on the RWNZ adverse events committee.

The committee was given funding and used it to make small grants to people who were affected by the Kaikoura earthquake and the North Island floods.

She said people applied for grants for things like a load of firewood, or to pay electricity bills.

She often worked with the Rural Support Trusts and also was involved in campaigning to improve cellphone and connectivity coverage in isolated areas.

RWNZ also campaigned to keep rural postal delivery services.

''We had some of [the] New Zealand Post people to the office in Wellington to talk about rural delivery services and we made a strong plea to retain it.''

She is also concerned about the extent services in rural communities are being centralised, including health services, schools, maternity birthing units, and banks.

''Take them away from the rural community and you are taking away jobs that might otherwise keep people in those small communities.

''Rural people should have the same expectations of good services that urban people have.''

Having left the board, she is looking for something else to do.

''It is important to keep active.

''You are never too old to start something new.''

She paid tribute to her husband, Mike.

''He supported and encouraged me to do this.

''He has been amazing.''