Vintage dress-up to mark 100 years

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Mid Canterbury Federation of WI president Mavis Wilkins tries on her finest pre-1940s attire in preparation for celebrations of the organisation's 100th anniversary. Photo Toni Williams

Members of Mid Canterbury Federation of Women’s Institute are planning to bust out their vintage clothing to celebrate Founders Day and the 100th anniversary of the organisation.

They are hoping to have a display in the Ashburton Museum and are planning a church service on February 22 in the historic church at the Plains Museum in Tinwald.

It will be taken by Reverend Annette Eggleston.

It is the day after the officially recognised date of Founders Day.

It will be followed by the planting of a Kowhai tree in the grounds and then a picnic in the Tinwald Domain.

The Women’s Institute (WI) was started by Anna Spencer (known as Bessie) who brought the concept to New Zealand.

Ms Spencer launched the first WI at Rissington, Hawke’s Bay in 1921 after being introduced to the Women’s Institute of England on a visit to London.

She was so captivated by the concept of the WI she was sure the organisation would be beneficial to country-women in New Zealand.

By 1925 there were six WIs in the Hawke’s Bay area and from there it has grown, with more than 4000 members nationwide.

Mid Canterbury Federation of WI president Mavis Wilkins said as part of the 100-year celebrations members were being encouraged to dress in their finest pre-1940s clothing for the annual general meeting on February 26.

A hundred years ago women attending national conference in Wellington always wore their furs complete with gloves, hats and pearl necklaces, she said.

The dress up was a fun tribute to those times.

Mrs Wilkins said members would be digging into hidden recesses at home to find suitable garments for wear as a tribute to the anniversary or maybe looking at costume hire.

Nationally members of the New Zealand Federations will unveil a statue of founder Anna Elizabeth Jerome Spencer in Napier this weekend.