A life spent helping groups and people

20:48, Jan 15 2013

Joyce Thwaites will long be remembered as a stalwart of what was Women's Division of Federated Farmers, WDFF, long before it became known as Rural Women NZ.

At her death just before Christmas, people talked about her many years at Morton Mains, where she and her late husband, Melvin, were involved with everything to do with the school, which their six children went to, and with the community hall, where the social life of the district was enjoyed.

They married in 1952 and farmed at Kamahi, where Mrs Thwaites kept great gardens, both flower and vegetable, and still found time to help others.

Her family recall her positivity and patience, qualities which enabled her to keep knitting while teaching each of her children in turn to drive.

Iris Marshall, who followed Mrs Thwaites into office as president of East Invercargill Rural Women, said she set an example to be followed.

Mrs Thwaites joined Glenham WD on her marriage and remained an active and involved member throughout her life, holding office as Southland provincial president, convening over the years all its committees, secretary of holiday homes, forestry, home care, and awarded provincial life membership and Dominion honours.


From 1993 until her death last month Mrs Thwaites was responsible for the meals on wheels roster.

She was an excellent treasurer and did that work for many groups besides managing her family trust until her last days.

Mrs Marshall said Mrs Thwaites was a dedicated member of an amazing organisation, one in which her undoubted talents and skills were honed and appreciated.

Many Southlanders will recall the 16 WD bus tours she organised for members and husbands, tours which included conferences and took them throughout New Zealand.

Others remember her work as secretary for Highland Piping and dancing competitions and championships, another association in which she was honoured with life membership.

Retiring to Invercargill, she kept her Rural Women focus and also became involved with the work of Age Concern, earning a certificate of merit for years of voluntary service.

Mrs Thwaites, pre-deceased by her husband, is survived by their six children - Judith Bevin, Dunedin; Graeme, Nelson; David, Edendale; Neville, Perth; Allan, Invercargill and Elaine, Brisbane - and their grandchildren and great grandchildren.

The Southland Times