The Charter dinner of the Zonta Club of Hawke’s Bay Area was held on Tuesday 14th August 1972 at the Masonic Hotel, Napier. District Governor Cherry Raymond presented the Charter and Gavel to Paddy Smith, President of the newly formed club. Mrs Carol Whiting, the chair of the extension committee, and other members from Wellington club who sponsored the Hawkes Bay Club attended along with 68 guests. Main guests were Mrs Heidi Sipila, World President Zonta International, Mrs Ann Gambrill of Zonta Club of Auckland, Mrs Pat Evison President of the Wellington Club, Desolie Richardson of Sydney Club who was field secretary on the International staffing, and the Wellington club charter president, Mrs Beverley Bennett.

The club’s projects in the first year were raising funds for Abbotsford children’s Home, assisting CORSO with annual collection, wine & cheese evening at Art Gallery sponsoring opening of exhibition of Zonta prints, planting rose beds to beautify Maraenui, and sale of Christmas cards for Save the Children’s Fund. In 1975 a major project was the Zonta ‘Fashion Spectacular’ project to furnish a room at Atawhai centre for Aged

A prominent Zontian during this period was Mrs Valerie Webster who was elected as President in 1976. Valerie went on to become Area Director 1977-1979, Lt Governor District 16 (which then included Australia), District Governor 1984-1986 and was then appointed to the International Board in 1988.

Food presentations became a recurring theme with the club over the years and commenced with a Food Fair with Alison Holst in 1977.

The Inaugural “Women of Potential award” was held in 1978 and there were four finalists having ambitions from writing a book to teaching backward children. Judges Sonia Davies, DG Beverly Bennet, Massey Lecturer Keith Thomson. Winner of the $250 award was Mrs Patricia Single to complete her Batchelor of Education degree.

By the date of its 7th Birthday In July the Club of Hawkes Bay had raised and given away $13,000 since its inception.


The Club held a number of successful fund raising activities during the decade. In 1983 the Food theme was continued with a Trim Pork cooking demonstration, and ’Summer Salad Surprises’ a cooking demonstration by Hester Guy. One of our members, Shirley Jarrett, put on a Charity Dance Recital and raised $1,500 to go towards an emergency medical trailer for Hawkes Bay Red Cross. This was followed catering for a Charity Golf Tournament which raised a further $1,840 towards the trailer. In 1989 Shirley Jarrett put on another Dance Extravaganza and raised another $2,000.

1986 saw the planting of Zonta Roses were planted at Frimley Park in Hastings and Kennedy Park in Napier in 1986. The yellow ‘Zonta Rose’ originated in Hawkes Bay in 1983 and was bred in Fielding by Frank Mason & Son Ltd, one of the business owners being a Zontian from the Manawatu Club.

At the opening of the new Napier Library in 1986 Zonta presented a painting to the library by Paddy Smith (our Charter President) in honour of Val Webster, who had been Head Librarian there for 16 years.


In Suffrage year, the club held its 20th anniversary dinner in June.   The main event of that year was the premiere of the Movie “Alex” the proceeds of which was used to raise funds for the inaugural Young Women of Potential Award. From 48 entrants this was won by Rachel Plummer and was presented in conjunction with the NZ Women Printmakers Exhibition which had been set up for Suffrage year.

At the 21st Birthday of the club in 1994 a Winter Solstice Dinner was held on 16th June and the cake was cut by the President Corinne Walker and Past President Marion Fell.

During this period we also continued the “food” theme with a very popular Dream Dinner Raffle, and the presentation Food in a Dash. Other projects included a Health and Wellbeing Seminar in 1999 and an At Home with the Net Seminar in 2000.

The Young Women of Potential award continued during this period, and the inaugural Catherine Charman Award was held in 1998, named after a deceased former President of our club.


The Zonta Club of Hawke’s Bay continues its awards that further advance the status of women in the local community. The award currently alternates biennially between the Young Woman of Potential Award and the Catherine Charman Award. Since it began in 1978 the Young Woman of Potential Scholarship has been for a young woman aged 16-19 years, who requires assistance for further study or to train in her chosen field, which may include but is not limited to academic, sporting or cultural activities. The Catherine Charman Award is awarded to an applicant over the age of 30 years, who require assistance for further study or to retrain in her chosen career. The current value of each award is $2,000 towards their programme of study. Formal functions have been held for presentation of the awards which helps increase the awareness of Zonta within the community and also to fund the awards.

Local projects have included a focus on developing the relationships with the Teen Parent School at Colenso High School (Teen Parent schools being a former District Project). This relationship was strengthened and lead by member Ailsa Allen who worked at the Teen Parents School. The Wahine Toa project has been a new project since 2009. The club provides pamper packs which are provided to girls attending a residential camp as victims of sexual abuse. The camp includes self-defence training, medical health, counselling and personal make-over to develop self-esteem. In 2012 the club involvement extended to include serving the meal at the Formal Dinner on the last night of camp.

Although small, currently membership remains steady and it is exciting to see some younger members joining and while they may not remain for extended periods due to the mobile nature of their jobs and lives, their contributions have been invaluable.


Membership has grown in the last few years with drives and projects attracting them.  Two new fundraiser types have been developed with film evenings and local shows being hosted as alternatives to the full fundraiser dinners.

Compiled by Historian: Joan Sawkins