Cham­pion to any in need

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.