At its Forty-First Annual General Meeting held at Hastings in March 2021, the Hawke's Bay branch of New Zealand Founders was pleased to learn its current situation is sound.
Seventy-five branch members enjoyed conviviality, hearing an update of the branch's business and activities over the 2020 year, an interesting speaker on the topic of New Zealand's founding by the New Zealand Company, and all capped off by an excellent afternoon tea ̶ featuring those delicious scones!
Members were delighted to learn from branch president, Paddy Bayley, that the branch is in 'good heart,' with a membership of 170 and from Richard Bayley, branch secretary and treasurer, the branch's finances are positive with a modest excess of income over expenditure, backed up by healthy reserve funds.
In noting the significant details for the 2020 year, branch president Paddy Bayley drew from her 2020 annual report which had been circulated by email previously. Although some of the planned activities had to be deferred owing to Covid, once 'Level 4' was over, a good range of meetings, luncheons with guest speakers and field tours were able to proceed.
Highlights of the past year included some enjoyable coach tours. One was to Wairoa including the Wairoa Museum; this provided much of historical interest. The Christmas coach tour took the group to the beautifully restored 'Oruawharo' homestead near Takapau in central Hawke's Bay. It sits picturesquely with its re-located chapel (where lunch was served) in gardens and woodlands.
Developments successfully adopted by the branch, described by Paddy, included start-up of an online monthly branch newsletter, initiation of online banking for the branch (use of cheques will cease from 1 May 2021), and ongoing social gatherings of small groups of members. Also ongoing is the digitisation of branch (and national) documents and photographic records. The national executive and branch representatives meet by teleconference which saves enormously in time and travel costs.
Also of note has been the building of links with other historical and heritage groups in Hawke's Bay including the Hawke's Bay Knowledge Bank and the Onga Onga Historical Society.
Arising from the election of office-holders, all branch executive and committee members were returned and Paddy Bayley and Richard Bayley especially were warmly thanked from the floor for their dedicated and outstanding leadership of the branch.
Guest speaker and author, Cristina Sanders, described some of the 'pull' factors advertised by the New Zealand Company to entice prospective British settlers to New Zealand shores and establish the first of their settlements at Petone in 1840. This preceded the development of Wellington. Cristina also had copies to hand and discussed with members, her recently published book Jerningham, a fiction based on the life of Edward Jerningham Wakefield in this period. (Published by Cuba Press and available from bookshops or kindle.)
Paddy Bayley, Hawke's Bay Founders president, (left), with guest speaker and author, Cristina Sanders.
Newly certificated members of Hawke's Bay Founders, from left, Bettina Myatt, Niki Keehan, Pam Slade and Christine King with branch president, Paddy Bayley.