Parnell Scouts to be rekindled

Last updated 09:23 09/10/2008

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A Scout group that closed its doors in 2000 because of a lack of leaders is being revived.

When the Moreporks formed in Parnell in 1908 it was believed to be the first Scout group in New Zealand.

It later became the Pioneers before changing its name to the Parnell Pioneers.

About 50 years ago the group became known as St Mary’s 1908.

Akarana Scout Zone leader Sheryl Baron says in 1908, 16-year-old William Hicks, inspired by a story in the Boy’s Herald about Scouting, gathered together a group of friends and organised them into a patrol called the Moreporks.

They began to hold regular meetings in the loft at the back of the grocer’s shop at the corner of Parnell Rd and Earle St.

Mrs Baron says a Mr S A Bennett was the first Scoutmaster for the new troop.

She says William Hicks wrote to temporary Scout headquarters in England and apparently received recognition of the Parnell Pioneers as an official Scout troop.

Although this letter of recognition was kept for many years, the last person known to have this letter died in 1932 and with him the knowledge of the whereabouts of this written proof of the Parnell Pioneers status as the first official Scout troop in New Zealand.

The lack of this letter of recognition means that officially a Scout group in Canterbury holds the honoured status of being the first Scout group established in New Zealand.

Mrs Baron says the Akarana Zone is planning to revive the Parnell Pioneers.

"We are keen to make contact with adults in the community who would like to help us rebuild this historic group and with youth of Cub age, seven to 11, who would like to join the great adventure that Scouting provides.

"It is very apt that the Parnell link to the history of Scouting in New Zealand be revived in 2008," Mrs Baron says.

The first meeting of the new St Mary’s 1908 Scout troop is being held on Wednesday at the Parnell District School hall from 6.30pm to 8pm.

For information email zoneleader@gmail.com or call Sheryl Baron 625-6629.

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- East And Bays Courier

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