The Whanganui Regional Heritage Trust is alive and kicking - despite the loss of stalwarts Wendy Pettigrew and Dorothy Battersby last year.

It has its annual general meeting on February 21 at 3pm in the Wanganui Club room of Heritage House in Whanganui's St Hill St. Secretary Helen Craig said the meeting would be short and guest speaker Diana Beaglehole would be a drawcard.

Mrs Beaglehole now lives in Wellington but still takes a keen interest in Whanganui.

A former teacher, she has written an online history of the Whanganui region in Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand and seven biographies of local people for the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. She was instrumental in making Waverley Town Hall a listed heritage building and has had letters and articles published in the Chronicle.


Her opinion was one of those called on when the "h" spelling of Whanganui became controversial.

The trust has rallied since the death of its hard-working chairwoman, Wendy Pettigrew, Mrs Craig said. The death happened in August, before Miss Pettigrew had quite finished handing over trust business to others.

"I don't think any of us realised how much she did. She would have been working fulltime on trust business, especially the World War I project," Mrs Craig said.

Trust members have been meeting regularly since. John Vickers became the acting chairman, with founding trustees Bruce Dickson, Denis McGowan and Mrs Craig carrying on.

"We have all been determined the organisation will have a long life."

The AGM is to appoint Ann McNamara, Don and Jo Robinson, Bruce Falk and Rosemary Tennant as new trustees, while Huia Kirk is stepping down. Miss Pettigrew's World War I project, including her Great War Times publication, has been taken over by Libby Sharpe and Gillian Tasker. The trust has also been helped by a $10,000 bequest from Whanganui heritage advocate Judith Crawley, who died last year.