Saturday, 8 March 2008

Commemorative Trees and WDFF

You probably pass by this tree nearly every single day. It's a Golden Elm situated opposite Ian Watson's building, just along from the 4-Square Dairy on Main Street. It was planted 28 years ago by the Otautau Women's Division of Federated Farmers (WDFF) to commemorate their Golden Jubilee.

The WDFF (now the Rural Women of NZ) was a women's organisation created to ease the isolation of rural women around the country. They were proactive during times of illness or childbirth, as well as fundraising for community projects. In addition to these calls for duty, the Otautau WDFF also managed to plant several commemorative trees around the town during the 70 years they were in existence.

Starting in 1940, they planted a Weeping Ash at Holt Park to commemorate the centenary of NZ. Then in 1957, they planted several trees at Centennial Park to commemorate Southland's centennial.

In 1980, they celebrated their Golden Jubilee with the golden elm. And in 1990, they planted a Chilean fire bush near the entrance of the Otautau School to celebrate their Diamond Jubilee.

I'm not sure how many of these trees have made it into the 21st century but the golden elm has definitely survived.

For more information on the history of the Otautau WDFF and these commemorative trees, visit the Otautau Museum (open Sundays, 2pm-4pm). They have a display of two large volume scrapbooks created by the members of the club chronicling the club's history from 1930-1999. The books contain writings, photos, and newsclippings, and give insight into what women's lives were like.

And the next time you're driving by Ian Watson's and the 4-Square dairy, have a glance at this beautiful tree and remember the women who planted it.


Webcam said...
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