Brief History of the Zonta Club of: Bay of Islands


This was the first new club established in the new District 16. Organised on February 4th 1991 by the Zonta Club of Whangarei, 31 women signed the application for its Charter, with Jackie Morgan as President, Noeline Lemon, vice President, Erin Jacobs, Secretary and Pam Guy as Treasurer. The new Bay of Islands Area Club held its Charter Dinner on March 23rd 1991 at the Waitangi Resort Hotel, Paihia. District 16 Governor Cherry Raymond presented the Charter while Auckland Zontian, Anne Gambrill, was the guest speaker. Erica Whyte, Whangarei, Chairman of the SOM Committee, introduced the new club to the Far North District. At the following District Conference in Wellington, Cherry Raymond noted that despite the long distances travelled to club meetings, new Bay of Islands Zontians still managed to average a 90% rate of attendance.

The new Club enthusiastically began working towards its goals and established high profile service activities such as Daffodil Day which it organised for the Cancer Society, at one point managing to gain mention of it on every page of the local newspaper. This became a major Zontian-run annual event although its organisation was later taken over by the ANZ Bank.

By 1994, Area 1 Director, Lorna McIntosh, noted that the Bay of Islands Club had a small membership but all of its Board had offered themselves for re-election, and were keen to resolve problems and to expand membership.

Bay of Islands Zontians were often prominent in District affairs. At the 1997 District Conference in Whangarei, Doris Robinson discussed aspects of Zonta membership and the need to build strong clubs through growth and retention of members. Leah Watson and Doris Robinson gave many hours placing the District 16 Strategic Plan into a workable format. District finances were in the ‘good hands’ of Leah Watson as District Treasurer for two biennia. Leah worked with Sue Woolridge, a legal practitioner and member of the Bay of Islands Club, to achieve District 16 incorporation and to establish non-profit status. Leah later initiated the idea of a District 16 Charitable Trust, again working closely with Sue Woolridge to prepare the necessary documentation.

In early 2000, the Bay of Islands Area Club raised over $2,700 with its Great Debate, also joining with Whangarei, Hatea-Whangarei and Auckland North Shore Clubs to produce and promote the hugely successful ‘Choices for Women’ booklet.

Maintaining its membership was always a challenge. In later 2000, the Bay of Islands Club, with only 23 members, raised $19,000 for the Cancer Society on Daffodil Day, the highest per capita fund raising total for an event raised in District 16, as well as celebrating its 10th birthday in February 2001. The Club stated its intention to try to attract new younger members to ensure that the average age of the club did not increase, a common result in many North American and other older established clubs.

However, in the end, low membership and other issues resulted in the disestablishment of the Zonta Club of Bay of Islands Area in 2008.


Compiled by Jennifer Loughton, District 16 Historian.