A Brief History of the Zonta Club of: Bay of Plenty

The Zonta Club of Bay of Plenty Area, chartered on April 14th 1977, was organised by the Zonta Club of Rotorua’s organising committee of Rangi Briggs (chair,) Doris Finn and Mavis Jensen. The District Governor attended an impressive evening of music and dance at the Bay of Plenty charter dinner on Oct 12th 1977, where Area Three Director Valerie Webster presented the gavel to the new Club President. Auckland, Hamilton, Hawke’s Bay, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch Zontians were well represented. Area Director Val Webster later reported that the Bay of Plenty Club, based largely in Te Puke in the midst of a fruit- growing area, with little scope for expansion, would need to sell itself in Tauranga as well to attract new members.

Significant service projects included an international luncheon for 300 guests with dishes from 19 countries, as well as organising an open lecture to inform the community about the work of the Kahunui Drug Rehabilitation Centre, (1983) and an annual Woman of the Year Award. The Bay of Plenty Club worked with the Zonta Club of Dunedin-Otago on the Decorations’ Committee during the Sydney International Convention in 1984.

In April 1985, social and financial pressures resulted in the decommissioning of the Zonta Club of the Bay of Plenty, the first club in District XVI to be disbanded since the early Sydney Club in the 1930’s. One reason may have been that, with many members based in a kiwi- fruit growing area, it was difficult to achieve the wider variety of classifications required for a Zonta club. At the time, District Governor Valerie Webster hoped that a new Zonta club would be formed in the same region in the ‘not too distant future’. In 1988, the new Zonta Club of Tauranga was chartered from the surrounding area.

Compiled by Historian: Jennifer Loughton, District Historian