News from Around the Clubs

May 2011

BPW Kerikeri

Monster Garage Sale

Photo:  Claire Lee, Committee Member, Heather Brew President, Raewyn Williams, Treasurer, Claire Deeley, Member, Carolyne Brooks-Quan, Secretary

On March 19th – we ran a Monster Garage Sale held over two days and raised  funds towards an indoor arena for Riding For the Disabled, a very much needed facility in our Community.

Everyone involved worked very hard and with great enthusiasm and all were absolutely delighted at achieving such a marvellous result. A cheque for $4000.00 was presented to Ian Knox, President of Kerikeri RDA at our April Dinner Meeting.

Additionally a large amount of unsold items of household goods, linen etc. were donated to Women’s Refuge.

BPW Kerikeri


International Women’s Day


We celebrated IWD with a Dinner held at Ake Ake Vineyard, Kerikeri , where in beautiful surroundings and on a stunning evening we enjoyed a specially prepared  deliciousTapas meal .

Our speaker was Trixie Newton who founded BPW Kerikeri in 1984.

The proceeds of the Raffle are being sent to UNWomen.

November 2010

Clubs Around the Country – Te Puke, Doubtless Bay, Upper Hutt


Saturday 4th September 2010 saw the culmination of many weeks of planning the 20th birthday dinner of BPW TePuke. The committee, Diane Whittle, Gerbrig Muntendam, Adele Fowlie and Jan Craig spent several hours searching for the addresses of former members and the eighty found were sent an invitation.

Kiwi 360 was chosen as the venue and what a fabulous evening it was. The tables looked spectacular with white table cloths, black BPW placemats, yellow and black napkins and a yellow welcome and menu scroll tied with black ribbon.  Gold glitter was sprinkled and each table had a stunning centre decoration of yellow and black balloons with gold cascades. A Happy Birthday banner was displayed at the end of every table.

As guests arrived at 6:00pm they were greeted with champagne or punch and there was reminiscing and catching up before being seated for the formal welcome speech by Te Puke President Erin Burt, followed by a speech and poem by Sylvia Paton an inaugural/founding/life member. Awards were presented by National 1st Vice President, Carolyn Savage. The Helen Harper Award for service and contribution to the club was awarded to Jan Craig and Bronze Keys to Achievement were presented to Erin Burt, Jane Sylvia and Faye O’Dwyer.

A delicious buffet dinner, enjoyed by everybody, was followed by an hour of superlative entertainment. Paula Harrison an extremely talented singer and dancer had us toe tapping and singing along with favourite show-stoppers. She even had a few of us up trying to dance the Charleston but we would never be professionals. To end her performance and a fitting conclusion to a wonderful evening Paula sang Happy Birthday while Erin and Sylvia cut the birthday cake which was donated by Diane Whittle. Tea and coffee was served and further opportunity to chat with past members before going home after a most successful and enjoyable 20th Birthday Celebration.

Jan Craig

BPW Doubtless Bay


Well, what a wonderful night. In spite of a slow beginning selling tickets, we had a  very good turnout with guests enjoying a complimentary wine or punch on arrival and all clearly impressed with the transformation of the hall which was magnificently decorated courtesy of Helen and her helpers and lovely floral arrangements  by Ina Shalders and Jenni Knight. Helen Muir from the “Doris Shoppe” entertained guests with a lovely range of clothing shown off beautifully by the talented models ranging from teenagers through to the more mature  figure encompassing all categories. These garments were complimented with lovely accessories including shoes, scarves and jewellery all stocked in her “Aladdins Cave”. Featured in the show was an exclusive new range of Bridal and Evening gowns which can be ordered from Helen.

Fiona Foote from the River Hair and Beauty Salon was responsible for the lovely hair do’s as well as being a model  and also together with Helen provided everyone with wonderful goodie bags to take home. Thanks must go to the small dedicated number of BPW members who worked tirelessly doing so much to help with its success. We were disappointed that Cody had to travel to East Timor that weekend but her mother accepted our cheque for $1000 00 on her behalf and  a video presentation was shown of Cody thanking us and apologizing for her absence. We were very grateful to Doubtless Beaury for their generous voucher for a Facial and Neck Massage which was won by Marjorie Milich. The other prizes sponsored by BPW were won by Glenis Muir and Eleanor Goble and the lucky ticket number by Raewyn Pennell. A lovely supper provided the finishing touches to a most successful and professional function.

Upper Hutt

Young women of the future rise up

Lisl Prendergast is the Principal of Sacred Heart College in Lower Hutt.  She was the BPW Upper Hutt dinner speaker recently.

.Nga mihi nui ki a koutou I tenei po.

Sincere greetings to you all.  Thank you for inviting me to speak this evening.  My brief was to talk about the challenges young women face today but I thought I would just take a little time to up-date you with what I have done since the very generous scholarship Award I received from NZBPW in 1979.  It is an unbelievable thirty-one years ago!  I have now been in education for thirty-eight years.

At the time of receiving the award from NZBPW I was Acting Head of English at Central Hawke’s Bay College.  I was 28 nearly 29 and 4 stone lighter than I am now!

Giving the speeches in the competition was a pleasure and I enjoyed the final at the Solway Hotel in Masterton.  It was all very exciting and I met some terrific people.  I think I owe NZBPW a brief synopsis of what happened from then on.

I went on from Central Hawke’s Bay College to be Head of English at Wellington East Girls’ College and then after that I was appointed Assistant Principal at Hastings Girls’ High School in 1987.  The money I received from BPW was used to complete two new university qualifications – one in 1982 (a Diploma of Teaching English as a Second Language) and one in 1991-92 which was a M.A. from the Institute of Education at London University.  I sat four papers in Education and wrote an M.A. thesis in the Maintenance of Minority Languages.  I have also been published in The Yearbook of Education which was edited by my tutor, Crispin Jones, and a highlight of 1992 was delivering a paper at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in May of that year.

I was appointed Principal of Sacred Heart College in November 1999 and I took up the position in April succeeding Sister Valerie Lawson of The Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions.  I have now been there just over 10 years.  I am the first lay principal of the College.

My reason for telling you all this is to thank you for the opportunity NZBPW gave me all those years ago.  The title was “Career Girl of the Year” and it is a title that makes me smile now, especially as the girl bit is now really passé!  However, I am proud of sticking with the career and pursuing it to the Principal’s position.  I have completed another Master’s degree in 2003 in Religious Education and Theology.  This was immensely enjoyable and was undertaken to show a willingness to be very committed to the special character of a church college.

So, that is my little overview of the last thirty years for me!  I thank NZBPW and all the members nationwide who showed support in a very concrete way back in 1979.

One of the greatest gifts we can give people is our tautoko or support.  I see my job as a Principal is to be as affirming as I can be to our young people and back in 1979 that is what NZBPW did for me.  I felt encouraged and affirmed and was clearly intrigued enough with my chosen career to continue it for the next thirty years.

Now  –  to the topic I was asked to speak on – the challenges young women face in this century of ours.

The biggest challenge is popular culture.  I am proud to be Principal of a Church school as in a way we run an establishment which is in so many ways counter-cultural.  We try to get the salmon to swim against the tide.

Doing this though is very hard.  Young people are very attracted to the sexualized culture shown by all our media.  It is easier to go with the flow no matter what the costs.  We all know that proceeding hand in hand with popular culture has enormous risks:  binge drinking, teenage pregnancy, STDs, drug/alcohol/tobacco, addiction, cyber bullying, sexual predators in chat rooms in cyberspace, and violence from partners who are too old or too controlling  –  we see the latter in the campaign which Sophie’s mother has started to warn young women about violent relationships.  Sadly there are more young men out there like Mr Weatherstone who have pathological and dangerous thoughts.

Recently our binge drinking culture has also come in for criticism – are the new laws going to prove strong enough for example?  Did you know that 600 babies are born every year in New Zealand with foetal alcohol syndrome?  These babies will grow into students with low attention spans who are virtually unteachable.

We have seen the highly publicized death of Kings College student James Webster but I could tell you that young women are no less at risk from this “rocket-fuel guzzling” culture in New Zealand.  There has been a recent survey of 2548 undergraduates at New Zealand universities and this survey has shown that without a shadow of doubt our young people are ten times more likely to have unsafe and unprotected sex if they abuse alcohol.  8.3% of men and 5.3% of women reported at least one episode of unsafe sex.

My job as an Assistant Principal in a Decile 2 school and as a Principal confirms for me the challenges of this rather bleak social milieu.  I have had some extraordinary conversations in my job which are a privilege – often these conversations show young people rising above it all.  Mum is alcoholic and has run off with a boyfriend ten years her junior and Dad is being treated for depression but the student has found a place in the deepest recesses of her spiritual and creative imagination to create an area which is inimicably her own.  She is determined to succeed and determined not to be side-tracked by manipulative parents.  –  Mums who say “Ah, but I need your help with the baby….. “

Here I would like to address a modern day phenomena which has not helped out students.  This is the “no-hierarchy family”  –  the post-modern family where we all have equal rights and we all live like flat-mates.  Mum and daughter share more than their new clothes.  They share sex lives, secrets, alcohol and “days of our lives.”  Then –  one day daughter spends $800 without any discussion and crashes the car.  Mum stops being flat-mate and wants to give a good old fashioned telling off and guess what  …. ?! it’s impossible.  She has no mana, no respect and no power.  This syndrome of liberal middle-class families is all too common now.  There is no back-bone to the skeleton and few bones.  We are all flexible tendons and ligaments and it is often hard for young people to sort things out as it is all such a blur.

Another challenge for young women is body image.  Watch programmes like “Top model” and you will see what I mean.  The conditioning is to be a size 8 and to stay a size 8 and this comes with huge risks.  In 30 years I have seen many anorexic young women and I have also witnessed the death of a young woman from an eating disorder.  This was many years ago and pre – Princess Diana but it certainly made me think about the messages we give young women about their bodies.

We have also speeded up childhood – actually its really disappeared.  Girls start to menstruate at 9 and 10 and if you have ever watched one of those ghastly American shows which are kids beauty pageants featuring 5 and 6 year olds in adult gear with mascara, lip-stick etc.  You will know what I mean.  It is a sexualized culture which screams at people that it is imperative to grow up fast.  We have 3,924 teenage pregnancies in this country.  We are 15th on the list of countries topped by the USA and Poland  It is not a good place to be.

One of the things a Catholic school does is it presents a counter-cultural message which clearly says (without being judgmental or pious)  –  that there IS A DIFFERENT WAY.  That Max Factor might be Max Schmactor and that you don’t have to do sex, dope and other extremities to be cool.

It is increasingly though a hard message and this difficulty has increased with the advent of bebo, face-book and the society of the electric thumb (mobile phones!).   Our kids live in a world now where there is no privacy.  Their lives are lived on line or on their phone 24/7  they tell it all too  –  no-one’s feelings are spared.  They embellish it all with video clips  –  witness how quick it was that we got photos of James Webster inebriated, James Webster drunk – thank God we  were spared James Webster dead.

The Mayor of our biggest city cried in court because his son had told the boy to keep drinking vodka.  Honestly, where are we heading with all this?

Now let’s be a bit more optimistic………… as I was writing this I thought about the word challenge.  We do have at my school a programme that uses the word “Challenge” – that is the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award or a challenge to young New Zealanders.  Thirteen of our girls have just received the Gold Award from the Governor General.  They are really fine young women and they have worked really hard to earn these awards.  They have had long expeditions, done hours of community service, and learnt a new skill.  These omni-competent young women represent some of the finest Year 13 students at our college and it seems only fair to acknowledge that there are positive challenges in life too along with the ones that are the hard bits – the hurdles in life.

Girls have also taken to NCEA like ducks to water.  They outshine boys in this because they are more mature earlier, well organized, punctual, good writers, more literate earlier and multi-taskers.  So the challenge of academic work is there with the glittering prizes – there is also debating  –  Sacred Heart College has had a student in the Russell McVeagh team this year and we also won the Henning Cup for the top debating team.  Other students rise to the challenge of team sports and individual sports.

There are plenty of terrific opportunities which we thrust in their way as challenges.  It is sad though that we cannot seem to clean up our act in  the wider society for there is also a lot of wastage.  One issue that has been tackled by NO GOVERNMENTS in 30 years is the issue of truancy.  We have toothless useless laws that are not used or followed up on because effectively there is no truancy service now.

Recently a family rang me to enrol a student.  The student had been at boarding school.  She is only 14 and I was told had “been at home” for a whole term as it was “nice to have her back.”  Needless to say I did not enrol the student but I was left wondering about a flash new system called “ENROL” which is supposed to let the authorities know where all of our students are all of the time.  Not addressing “stay at home” students has been the biggest waste of human talent I have seen in the last 30 years.  It is also a major reason for the now much publicized lack of success for Maori students.

ERO have just released a report in which it could be summarised by saying its “all down to what schools do.”   Nice for the government statisticians maybe but cold comfort for schools.  I am not saying that schools can’t make a difference  –  they can and they do, but here is a case study (not from my current school):

A 14 year old Maori student in Year 10.  Her mother has an alcohol issue.  She seldom gets to school as she feels obliged to look after her younger siblings.  She walks a seven year old boy to school and returns home to mind a four year old, a toddler and a six month old baby who she says “cries a lot” and who probably has foetal alcohol syndrome.”  She’d like to come to school but on many mornings it’s “just too difficult Miss.”  She is responsible, kind, semi-literate and often tired.  She is no problem when she is in class but she is seldom there.  Is this the school’s fault?  It hasn’t been cool to look at a deficit model since the 1970s.  We are not allowed to be woeful Cassandras.  We now all have to be cheerful, chirpy little teachers who believe in the power of the Word (and I mean education not God).  The power of the Word now comes in commodities like “having more positive relationships with Maori children.”  –  Well, I can agree with that and always have but it is still not going to get our student to even get past Level 1 NCEA as she lacks the underpinning social fabric to do this.

There isn’t a Doris Prendergast saying “Hurry up Lisl, you will be late for school” – so often that our budgie learnt to say this too.  No Mum who buys the dearest coloured pencils and felt pens for a social studies assignment.  No parent who asks about school.  No books in the house.  No Dad on the scene at all and no truancy officer either.  No visiting teacher (as in the past), an over-worked Children and Young Person’s officer, a stretched family budget  and an escape route which might involve your own pregnancy, your own benefit and a chance for a life of your own.

Actually, this girl did not get pregnant but there is no triumphant end to this story either.  She married young and has two children of her own  She is a compliant citizen and a good mother but schooling for her (using the Education Review Officer’s yardstick) ended at fourteen.  Schools cannot deliver social mobility on their own.  We need people as mentors, more human resources like home liaison officers and specialist units.  In the last major study done (2006) school absence rates rose from 9% in 2004 to 11.5% in 2006.  This is the overall absence rate with the truancy rate rising from 3.4% in 2004 to 4.1% in 2006.  Females have higher rates of absence from schools than males.  Females often have Mums who cover for them and write notes to justify the absence.  The provinces have the worst truancy rates.  Nelson has a staggering absence rate (14.5%) and no prizes for guessing that the higher the decile the lower the truancy rate for the school.  13.1% for decile1 schools and 8.9% for decile 10 schools.

It is an important way we could tidy up our education system in this country.  Retailers would be pleased as the Victorians certainly did get it right that “idle hands make mischief” !  =  less vandalism, less shop-lifting and productive happy students.

I attended the first Women’s Convention in Wellington in 1975.  There was a feeling of real hope and animation.  Things were on the move.  The feminist movement had provided “food for thought.”  We’d all read Germaine Greer, Kate Millett, Betty Friedman and others.  It was a fine ideal and a movement which has underpinned some great art (Judy Chicago) and some wonderful poetry (Adrienne Rich) but it is a movement that seemed to develop                                                                                                                        rigor-mortis.  By the 1990s the “ha” or life breath of the movement seemed to have puffed its last and it wasn’t because women were in our top Boardrooms already.  Like the suffragettes before us we all got a bit tired, developed mortgages, responsibilities, families and new focii and we stopped articulating how important it is for young women not to get sucked in by body image, sex early and as often as possible, booze, party-party culture, drugs and “a-man-at-any-cost.”

Appalling news enters our living rooms every night – as if the psychopath Weatherstone’s murder of Sophie was not bad enough, we now have a young woman called Carmen cut up and buried in bits in the Waitakeres.  Women are still second class citizens in many western democracies.  We are frail, vulnerable and in need of ‘kaha’.  We need to instil this ‘kaha’ in our students.  We need to tell them every day how worthwhile they are.  We need to warn them about the predators and about all the things which could do them harm and we need to love them.  No reira, E nga wahine toa mananga mai.  Young women of the future rise up.

Tena koutou katoa.

October 2010

These BPW members are standing in their local body elections this month.  For your courage and conviction, we congratulate you!

Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Te Aroha Hohaia Hawera Standing for Council in the Patea Ward, South Taranaki District
Paula Barton Hawera standing for Council in the Hawera Ward of the South Taranaki District Council
Dianne Glenn Franklin Independent Candidate for the one seat representing the Franklin Ward on the new Auckland Council’s Governing Body.
Gwendolyn Needham Whangarei Whangarei district council in the denby ward.
Louella Jensen Kapiti standing for the Paraparaumu Ward seat on the Kapiti Coast District Council plus a seat on the Paraparaumu-Raumati Community Board.
Barbara Clarke Gisborne is standing for the Tairawhiti District Health Board
Claire Gregson Huntly is standing for the Huntly  Community Board
Shelley Lynch Huntly is standing for the Huntly Ward, Waikato District Council.
Angela McLeod Upper Hutt Is standing for the Upper Hutt City Council

Please support your local BPW members!

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