The Zonta Club of Mana was chartered on 3 July 1979. Its charter was presented to the Club’s first president, Shirley Gay, by Cornelia Hodges, the first Vice President of Zonta International, at a grand dinner, held in a hotel in Porirua. Zontians from the Wellington, Manawatu and Hutt Clubs attended to support the new Club and its 38 members.


Over the years, most presidents, Club secretaries and treasurers have served for two years; likewise, the committee convenors who have usually been Board members. The names of committees have varied according to the Club’s needs, but their focus has remained broadly the same: membership, fundraising, status of women, scholarships, service and programme.


Club numbers have fluctuated over the years, declining at one stage to just 12. In 2018, we have 39 members. Friendships and fellowship have always played an important role in retaining membership. All the pot-luck lunches, progressive dinners, Friday drinks and Saturday morning coffee meetings we have held fit with Mana’s unofficial slogan, “Socialising with a purpose.” Finding a good meeting place has been challenging at times, but since 2010, we have found a permanent home at Plimmerton Boating Club.


Since the Club started, Mana Zontians have supported women’s education and welfare. One of the ways this has been achieved has been through our several different scholarships and awards. These have been for teenage mothers, second-chance-education mature students, Design School graduates from Whitireia Polytech, and of course, the District 16 Young Woman in Public Affairs. We have also donated money and goods to organisations like Women’s Refuge and the House of Grace. More recently, we have worked with Arohata Women’s Prison to provide magazines and underwear.
Raising members’ awareness about women’s issues has been integral to the Club. This has been achieved through having topical speakers and members taking part in various public events such as White Ribbon Day and ‘Zonta Says No.’ We also have a proud record of writing submissions about local and political issues.


During the 1980s, dinner and theatre evenings, cake stalls and fashion parades were popular. Several garden tours were held during the 1990s, but after being rained out two years running, the Club reverted to fashion parades and raffles as our main fundraisers. In 2002, we held the first of three art exhibitions, at Pātaka Museum and Gallery; it raised nearly $3000. In 2004, the Club published its own cookbook, featuring the favourite recipes of members and several Porirua personalities. One of our major fundraisers each year started in 2005, when we joined with Rotary to wrap Christmas presents in the local shopping mall. We are still doing this. Other highlights over the years have been “Glitz and Glam” pre-loved clothing evenings, pop-up shops and the “Behind the Wire” concerts.


Mana Zontians are enthusiastic participants in Area 2 meetings and District 16 conferences. On several occasions, members have been actively involved in organising conferences. The Club has also been formally recognised at District level. Our proposal that the New Zealand Gynaecological Cancer Foundation should become the District Project for the 2012-14 biennium was accepted. At the 2017 conference, Mana Zonta was awarded the Zonta International District 16 Cherry Raymond Award Recipient 2016- 2017 for its Arohata Prison projects, “Behind the Wire.”