Brief History of the Zonta Club of: Marlborough Area


An inaugural meeting was held at the Picton Motor Lodge, Saturday, 23 June 1973 Present: Ruth Brown, President of Christchurch Area Zonta Club, Felicity Logan, Past President of Christchurch Club, Carol Whiting, Wellington Area Club.

Present: Mesdames D Ashwell, B Brayshaw, B Campbell, J Clarke, P Cranswick, R Crawley, A Drew, L Gibb, P_ Moorhouse, H Scobie, J Vervaat, R Workman, M Ham, Dr B Guerin, Misses J Findlay, M Mooney, P Robins.

First Board:

  • President: Beverley Brayshaw
  • Vice President: Leona Gibb
  • Secretary: Agnes Scobie
  • Treasurer: Penelope Cranswick
  • Directors: Pat Robins, Rita Workman, Delia Ashwell, with power to co-opt.

Charter Dinner: Saturday 11 August 1973 at St Andrews Lodge, Riverlands. Local dignitaries to be invited plus District Governor Cherry Raymond, International President Harriette Yeckel, International officers and Australia & New Zealand Presidents, Club members and partners.

Club Presidents:

1973 – 1975 Bev Brayshaw 1975-1977 Leona Gibb
1977-1978 Pat Robins 1978 – 1979 Jill Findlay
1979 – 1980 Myra Ham 1980 – 1981 Rita Workman
1981- 1982 Thelma Halliday 1982 – 1983 Ann Topp
1983 – 1984 Alison Tingay 1985 – 1986 June Bell
1986 – 1987 Paula Bayley 1987 – 1988 Pat Meyers
1988 – 1989 Elizabeth Craven 1989 – 1990 Margaret Mitchell
1990 – 1991 Allison Ferris 1992 – 1993 Joan Gardiner
1993-1994 June Bell

Meetings alternated between Picton and Blenheim.

Furthering the Objectives of Zonta

The Marlborough Area Zonta Club furthered the objectives of Zonta by raising money for women in need (e.g. food parcels and presents at Christmas for the Women’s Refuge) by outings for the elderly and blind. These were originally outings by car and stopping for afternoon tea. These changed to meeting at a central location, providing entertainment, sing-a-longs and afternoon tea.
Zontarama was a chance to involve the school children of Marlborough in a Street Parade with decorated bicycles and a film fair in Centennial Hall. Donated bike helmets were given to winners.
Membership was actively pursued by having prospective members invited to afternoon tea or an evening with members explaining all about Zonta. Eventually we had members who were able to attend International Conventions and bring back to the Club their exciting experiences.
Weekend gatherings were held with the Wellington and Nelson Clubs initially, and then Christchurch Clubs. One example was when Yvonne Loader flew her plane into Rotoiti for a weekend gathering.

Notable members

Pat Robins: 1925 – 2002. Pat was the first woman to be ordained as a Minister of the Nelson Anglican Diocese. She was the first woman in Marlborough appointed Deputy Principal of a primary or intermediate school. Pat was the first woman from Marlborough to be lay secretary of the Nelson Diocesan Synod. In 1984 she was made a Lay Canon and a member of the Cathedral Chapter.

Members who have held District Office

Leona Gibb: Area Director 1980 – 1982, Chair of United Nations Committee 1988 – 1990.
Paula Bayley: Area Director 1988 – 1990. Member of Zonta “100 Club Centurions”
Members who have historical knowledge of the Club or about Zonta International – June Bell, Bev Brayshaw, Paula Bayley, Leona Gibb (1923 – 2008)

Notable Projects

  • Pat Meyers attended the formation meeting of St Marks Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Society. She later became Deputy Chairperson. The Zonta Club raised money for a new stove.
  • Cervical Cancer Awareness Week. Distributed flyers around town and helped set up Register.
  • 1987 Formed the Z Club which was first in New Zealand. A Charter luncheon was held 23 October 1987 and Graeme Bignall was first President of Marlborough Z Club. They raised money for many causes.
  • Other projects were: Fashion parades, Recipe Book, Celebrity Luncheons, Flea Market Stalls, Progressive Dinners, Pot Luck Dinners, Women of Achievement Awards, Health Evening, Theatre Evenings, Children’s Paddling Pool in Pollard Park to Mark 1979 Year of the Child. Wendy House for Children’s Ward at Wairau Hospital, Stall at A & P Show, Book Project, Golf Tournaments.

Historical Accounts
1984         Seven members of the Club attended the Sydney Convention: Paula Bayley, June Barlow, June Bell, Joan Brady, Leona Gibb, Pat Robins, Rita Workman. Our club was in charge of Traffic – getting Zontians onto buses to go to evening functions. Despite not having a bus service in Blenheim, we did not lose anyone and got them safely back to their hotels!
1988         Joan Brady, June Bell and Pat Robins attended the Helsinki Convention.
1990         Paula Bayley, June Bell were at the Dallas Convention. We were home hosted in Fort Worth and San Antonio. Paula was official timekeeper at this Convention.
1992         Paula Bayley, June Bell, Leona Gibb went to Hong Kong Convention. Home hosted by the Taiwanese Zontians and after Zonta trip to Bangkok.
Bev Brayshaw, Jill Findlay and Pat Robins attended Conferences in Australia when both countries were District 16.

Study Tour: September 16-17, 1993.
Twenty-five members of the Zonta International Study Tour arrived in Blenheim. The group was on a 14 day tour of New Zealand, from the Bay of Islands to Dunedin. The members were from Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, USA, Indonesia and Japan. Whilst in Marlborough they visited the International Weaving School in Picton, had lunch at the Portage Hotel and dinner with Marlborough and Nelson Zontians. The Mayor hosted a reception for them.

Interesting Anecdotes
Whilst at the Sydney Convention and staying at the Carrington Apartments, Leona decided to have a bath. Imagine her horror when she pulled the plug and the water went all over the floor of the bathroom. I’m afraid Rita and June just laughed their heads off before going to her aid. A blocked pipe was fixed the next day.

Pat and June arrived at Helsinki Airport and caught the bus into the city. It was a mad rush to the railway station to catch a train to Zurku where we were to be home hosted. Got the tickets, rushed out to the platform and fell into the carriage which was full of young students and their backpacks. When the conductor came through he laughed his head off. Those of the students who spoke English explained; we had First Class tickets and were on a Third Class carriage. Too tired to move, we stayed where we were. More disaster when we arrived in Zurku. NO ONE to meet us. Luckily the lady at the train station spoke English and recommended we stay at a hotel up the hill. We were well looked after and at midnight we went outside. We were indeed in “the land of the midnight sun”. We connected with our hosts the next day who thought we were to arrive by plane not train! We had a most enjoyable time including a boat trip with local Zontians. We travelled by bus back to Helsinki.

Special Anniversaries

Our Club birthday was always celebrated with a special dim1er and a beautiful cake. The Marborough Area Zonta Club 21st Birthday was celebrated with a special dinner at Rocco’s Restaurant.

Memories of workshops, Conferences and International Conventions

Workshops were always well attended by Club members. At the Christchurch workshop we had nine members attend. We always tried to get new members to go as it really opens your eyes to the world of Zonta, plus you make new friends.

Conferences have also been well attended with members enjoying the companionship of those they have met before at other functions.

We have also been well represented at International Conventions. The colours, the costumes and the speakers are awesome. A memory that one always has.


  • Lorraine Walton visited headquarters in Chicago in January 1988 and brought back news of the building we had sold bricks for. She also brought back a pennant for us.
  • Dr Hazel King advised that up to the end of 1988, Marlborough Area Zonta Club had raised $4,892 for International projects and $23,033 for local projects.
  • Speakers at various functions include: Phillida Bunk.le, Lois Muir, Pat Evison, Prof essor Duncan, Dame Sylvia Cartwright.
  • One large project was the Book Project. Members were given a list of Zonta Clubs overseas to write to asking for suitable books about their area for our schools here. This was a mammoth project but the results were very satisfying.
  • Marlborough Girls College was given money for their sailing team to buy a third Sunburst yacht.

Compiled by Historian: June Bell and Bridget Orman