Daphne Chapman was National President or as it was then Dominion President from 1946 to 1950. Daphne was an incredible woman, a two term President of immense mana, complete professionalism and many BPW’ers found her intellect frightening but she was always interested in most things going on throughout the world. During her term the Constitution was changed to draw away form the direct influence of the YWCA and of course the influence of Government was less obvious in Christchurch where the Federation moved to on her election. She set about assuring herself that the development of the Federation was businesslike and administratively top notch. Conferences took on a different hue as papers from members were presented on Building a Stronger Federation.
The results were that some of the ideas and themes were put to further use in the Federation. Daphne began the visits by Dominion Presidents to Clubs, in her case on the South Island. Daphne notes that she had the pleasure of constant sound advice from the Founder of BPW, Dr Lena Madesin-Phillips and the founder President of the British Federation, Miss Gordon Holmes.
I met Daphne at a BPW Conference, and because my work entailed a great deal of travel I used to meet her for dinner in Christchurch and a wonderful night of conversation and history ensued. By this time Daphne was quite elderly but extremely sprightly and still with the acerbic wit that made her famous. She lived with her sister in central Christchurch and led a busy and interesting life. One of her nephews worked in the same business as me but other than recognising that we knew each other we did not discuss his aunt that was family business. I remember she had the most delightful taste in fashion and wore the most delectable clothes for someone of her generation. She was proud of her figure and took care to look after her health. We rarely went any where for a meal without meeting former colleagues and friends who were always delighted to see her. A long time member of BPW Christchurch she relished her membership of BPW. She lived to attend the 50th Anniversary of NZFBPW in Wellington and a number of years beyond. A good businesswoman and brilliant analyst she carefully led BPW into the second half of the century.
Daphne Chapman was an active member of BPW Christchurch and was the president of the club for some time. She was President of the New Zealand Federation of BPW from 1946 to 1950. At this time the administration centre for BPW nationally was held in Christchurch.
During her tenure as BPW national president, she steered the organisation in a transition from war-time to peace-time considerations. It was a time for the widening of international and national links and a time for developing business methods and administration.
Issues tackled by her during her presidency included promoting greater participation by women in public life, wage rates for women as compared with men, housing for women and special institutions for the treatment of sex offenders. BPW adopted policy that women be called to serve on juries under the same conditions as men.
Daphne was employed as a legal secretary and office manager in a leading firm of Christchurch solicitors.
As a Pitmans shorthand speed gold medal individualist specialising in the reporting of cases and other work handled by the office. She enjoyed the reputation of being the fasted shorthand typist in legal offices in Christchurch. She was also a YWCA Girls’ Leader and did voluntary canteen duty during the World War II years at Burnham Military Camp.
In addition to her BPW contribution, Daphne was a foundation member of the Christchurch Area Federation of the Pan Pacific and South-East Asia Women’s Association and an early member of the Christchurch branch of the United Nations, She was also secretary of the Canterbury Workers Educational Association for eight years.