Champion to any in need
for him was taking a busload of children and parents for a week in Auckland.
‘‘We stayed marae-style at the Maori Mission in Khyber Pass and explored Queen Street, shops, buses, city lights, harbour, the museum and the zoo. None of the children or parents had been to the big city before and the excitement was amazing!’’
Mrs Leggatt also organised practical help such as cooking lessons, Maori arts and craft, and te reo Maori. All these involved members of the Maori community and pakeha volunteers Mr Mills said.
‘‘ The really remarkable thing was that the two key women, Molly and Joan, had no special training, just commitment to do what was practical and possible, and above all to stick to that task, never losing heart in the face of plenty of discouragement,’’ he said.
‘‘They were determined not to let the young Maori people down, as they so often had been by past ‘ do-gooders’. Against their dominant conservative pakeha background the women stood out.
‘‘Joan was much the same in the parish. She unobtrusively attended worship and women’s groups, not pushing herself forward but being dependable.
‘‘ The down-to-earth Christian faith of both Molly and Joan was their driving force,’’ Mr Mills said.
Her community work was recognised with the Queen’s Service Medal in 1980.
Born in Hamilton on October 4, 1915, the eldest of Muriel and Monty Muir’s four daughters she attended Hamilton East Primary School and Hamilton High School.
Her sister Rae, now a Wellingtonian, was one of the family ‘‘little ones,’’ six years younger than Joan.
‘‘Joan took me under wing,’’ she said.
She especially remembers holidays at Waihi Beach where the family owned a bach.
The Leggatt family owned a nearby bach. They had a son, Terry, aged about 16.
‘‘ I remember Terry impressed my parents with
her his politeness when he called and asked permission to take Joan for a walk. They said yes, but told me and my sister to follow them.’’
Terry sorted that out: ‘‘He gave us money for ice cream and we disappeared.’’
Joan and Terry married in Hamilton in 1940.
Mr Leggatt, a motor mechanic, served in the Pacific as RNZAF ground crew in World War II. His post-war career took them to various Waikato towns including Putaruru, Tokoroa and Matamata (about 1960). He died in 1999. Rae said Joan could be something of a rebel. In the early 1930s ‘‘nice girls’’ modestly wore dresses and blouses with sleeves. Joan boldly scissored them off and got into terrible trouble.
Mrs Leggatt’s daughter Heather sifted through the records to uncover a remarkable community life.
Her mother had good skills, having done a commercial course at a Hamilton business college and these skills were in demand. She served church groups in Putaruru, Tokoroa and Matamata including Young Wives, Mothers Union, and was president of the Anglican Women Group. She was a past president of the Matamata RSA Women’s Section, a life member of the Hearing Association and an honorary community officer of the Maori Affairs Department. She was a National Council of Women delegate.
For 15 years she was a worker for the Waharoa Homework Centre, and for 18 years took Road Code classes. Putaruru Primary School, Tokoroa High School and Matamata College had her support through PTA. She served on Scout and Guide committees.
If work needed to be done her mother was a willing hand but family came first and she was a superb mother who did great things in the kitchen.
Mrs Cheyne said her recipes are still used by family today.
Mrs Leggatt is survived by two daughters and two sons, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
- ROY BURKE