Four of the main issues concerning rural women - health, education, safety, and the environment - are on the agenda at an Oamaru conference.

The Rural Women New Zealand gathering called ''Strengthening Rural Communities'' is being held at the Oamaru Opera House on May 7 and 8, followed by a workshop called ''A Leading Voice''.

After a welcome by Waitaki deputy mayor Melanie Tavendale, Waitaki District Health Services Ltd clinical director Dr Pragati Gautama will discuss health matters.

Education will be presented by St Kevin's College principal Paul Olsen later in the afternoon.


At the conference dinner at the Loan & Merc that evening, Julie Dee is the guest speaker.

Julie Dee. Photo / File
Julie Dee. Photo / File

Dee, a Dairy Women's Network leader from near Waimate, has become an impassioned advocate for farm safety after her husband Paul was killed when his ATV side-by-side buggy rolled near their home two years ago.

The environment will be brought into the spotlight the next morning by North Otago farming leader Jane Smith, who advocates nationally and internationally for sustainable farming in the sheep and beef sector.

Delegates have the option of leaving after lunch or staying on for the leadership workshop at the Star and Garter. It is open to all women with a rural connection.

The first session on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 8 is devoted to speechcraft.

Then Oamaru Mail editor Rebecca Ryan will outline her leadership journey and how other leaders should approach the media.

Leadership activities and networking will lead to dinner and speeches.

Fiona Gower. Photo / File
Fiona Gower. Photo / File

The workshop continues on Thursday, May 9 until 12.30pm.


Rural Women New Zealand president Fiona Gower will start the day by divulging how she rose to lead the large organisation.

Dunedin career coach Jo Budai will round out proceedings with a two-hour session on personality profiling.

To register for the conference email, or phone 027 321-7836.

To attend the leadership workshop, email or phone 027 201-6921.