Women encouraged to have their say on issues
Matamata can claim to have the last remaining rural branch of the National Council of Women, but the important group is in need of your support.
The group, which discusses and submits on issues that are about to become bills or are bills before parliament and discussion documents from various government ministries, currently has 13 members and would hate to cease to exist.
Branch member Eunice Algar said the National Council of Women was very well respected by members of parliament.
She remembers meeting David Carter when he was a MP visiting the area. He ‘‘ reeled back’’ when she mentioned that she was part of the NCW.
‘‘He said that MPs sit up and watch when a submission by us is being made because we are so well organised,’’ she said.
The group, which is not a lobby group, is well respected because their submissions are well researched. When the NCW are planning to make a submission MPs diary it in to be there.
Member Katherine Ransom said the group was also well respected because the submissions were a consensus from a group of women from a wide range of the spectrum.
The members of the Matamata branch are everything from teachers, girl guides, nurses, a former mayoress (in Algar), church members and university graduates.
‘‘I found a group of brilliant women who had seen it all and done it all, didn’t necessarily agree with each other, and had the most stimulating discussions and every time I got to a meeting I learnt something,’’ Ransom said.
Both said the NCW submit on issues that affect families and children, ‘‘which is everything,’’ and the involvement was motivated by a passion and care for their families and their country.
Ransom said although their meetings had formal aspects, like taking minutes, they were not boring. They could get quite heated.
Both Algar and Ransom are political animals. Algar said she was ‘‘dragged along in hat and gloves’’ to the group because her husband was mayor of Matamata. Since being with the NCW from 1968 she has been president three times. Ransom, who stood as a member of the Democrats for Social Credit party in the last general election, said she was a newbie to the group.
The Matamata branch backed Algar to start up a Seniornet in Matamata. Other achievements include providing the suffrage cup for the Matamata College prizegiving and planting a grove of ‘ Kate Sheppard’ camellias. Sheppard started the NCW.
The Matamata group is currently concerned that they are the last remaining rural branch of the 25 branches nationally. ‘‘Our point of view is now unique. It actually makes a difference to the way things are presented when we say ‘ hey wait, here in the country this is how it affects us’. We don’t want to lose it,’’ Ransom said.
Algar said the group had recently submitted on the ‘‘hoo-ha around Auckland bus services’’. They pointed out that their area doesn’t have a bus service and volunteers had to step in to provide a health shuttle to get people to Waikato hospital.
The group also have concerns about internet accessibility and speeds in the area.
Ransom said paid parental leave became more complex in a rural environment.
‘‘As women, paid parental leave seems like a good idea but it’s a difficult one for farmers.
‘‘ If they hire a couple to work as farm workers how do you get someone else in to cover paid parental leave,’’ she said.
Algar said a rural couple that were working together would also have a hard time of working out how to pay for leave if the wife got pregnant.
The group has changed its meeting time to 5.30pm to try to encourage more people.