Women en­cour­aged to have their say on is­sues

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By ABBY BROWN

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.

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