Noela Page 25 Dec 1925 – 13 Apr 2012
Noela, a life member of the Tauranga BPW, was born on Christmas Day, hence her name. Her mother was the foundation President of Tauranga BPW in 1956. Noela joined a few years later and BPW became an important part of her life. She said that through BPW she learned to fully appreciate and understand her worth as a woman and as an individual. Noela trained as a teacher and taught at the Mount Maunganui Primary School. She was a visiting teacher, a social worker and a marriage guidance counsellor. She took a full part in Community life serving on a wide variety of committees, often as chairperson. Of all the organisations and groups she was associated with, BPW was her greatest love. She also served a term on the Mount Maun-ganui Borough Council.
Former Tauranga members re-member her as a gracious, lovely lady who was always smiling. She was a powerful member who was always completely in con-trol of any situation. She had a wonderful knack of getting every-one involved and helping with a project before they even real-ized it. If something wasn’t quite right she had ways of dealing with it, without confrontation or putting people down. She was always there to help and encourage members of the Club. She was a very good speaker and had a great way with words. She had the ability to write a funny poem before you could turn around, typi-cal of the moment. She was also an entertain-er and in later years when she no longer attended meetings regularly she would be called upon to entertain members at our Christmas party with one of her very funny monologues. She also reg-ularly acted as Adjudicator at the annual debates between Tauranga Boys’ and Girls’ Colleges.
A fter serving in her own club in many capacities including president Noela became a Vice President of the Federation in 1973 or 1975 and National President from October 1977 until June 1981. In 1980 she led a large delegation to the Golden Jubilee Congress in Manteaux, Switzerland. The National Executive was based in Tauranga with the National Secretary being Flo Ward who later spear headed the successful campaign to have Noela awarded the MBE for her services to the community. During her term as President, the New Zealand Federation’s Project of a “Career Girl” Award commemorated the Golden Jubilee of IFBPW. Also during this period the Massey Study Award was inaugurated.
Writing in the BPW History Book Noela recalls that “one of the happiest of my memories is of the reception given by the Tauranga Club for the International President, Mildred Head, during her visit to New Zealand during my National Presidency in 1978. The country home of Yvonne Lawn became a marae for the day and Mildred Head was accorded a true Maori welcome and reception. It was the genuine people of the land welcoming an honoured guest to the land free of any of the trappings of tourism. It was a most moving and prideful “occasion”
Noela had a great impact on BPW both at the local and National level. We were saddened when ill health meant our valued Life-member had to move to Auckland to be near family.
To conclude I would like to quote from the conclusion to her entry in the History Book. “Frequently throughout my two terms of office I was asked whether BPW still has relevance in New Zealand, or whether we have not already achieved so much for women in our country that the battle is over. I believe most sincerely that we must continue to fight: firstly to bring about in actual fact the gains which we may have made in law; secondly we must continue to fight, to bring changes in attitude which are crucial to the realisation of our ideals; and finally we must con-tinue to fight lest by our own apathy and inaction we lose much of what we have fought to achieve.”