The New Zealand Women’s Association was founded in London in 1930, at the suggestion of Sir Thomas Wilford, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to the UK. Sir Thomas, seeing the value to New Zealanders far from home of the New Zealand Society, was sure that a similar organisation, for women only, would be successful.
The founding meeting of the NZWA took place in June 1930 in New Zealand House, at that time in the Strand, under the chairmanship of Sir Thomas’s wife, Lady Wilford, who became the first President of the NZWA. At the AGM in 1958 it was decided that in future the wife of the New Zealand High Commissioner should be the NZWA Patron, with its President elected from the committee.
The New Zealand High Commission moved to its new home in the Haymarket in 1963. In June of that year the NZWA held its committee meeting in the Conference Room, a tea party for the members in July in the Penthouse, followed in September by a coffee morning also held in the Penthouse.
We retain our links with New Zealand, partly through our connection with the New Zealand High Commission in London, partly through our links with the Kiwi Community in London,
and partly our choice of speakers at our lunches. These include NZ authors, entrepreneurs, film makers, successful business women, and actors. One of our earliest guest speakers was the famous aviatrix, Jean Batten. We have entertained Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother at New Zealand House in 1966 and in 2014 HRH, the Duchess of Cornwall, was our guest of Honour at NZWA’s lunch to celebrate NZ women living and working in the UK.
Since 2013 we have been working closely with the High Commission on the WW100 committee. Together with the NZ Society have raised substantial amounts to fund the commemorative stained glass window and railings at St Nicholas, Brockenhurst.
Since its inception the NZWA has lived up to Sir Thomas’s hopes for it, continuing to be a friendly and welcoming organisation in the UK for New Zealand women and women with strong NZ connections, evolving to meet the needs of its current membership.