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    Travel Clubs
    Dorothy - 28/5/99

    Travel Clubs - groups for those who travel and those who are interested in the world beyond our islands.

    An Air New Zealand advertisement used to call itself "the airline of the world's greatest travellers" - a claim that may be hard to substantiate statistically. However that may be, few countries would have a higher proportion of people interested in travel.

    Since 1933 Travel Clubs have flourished in New Zealand - groups, as the name suggests, founded primarily for members to share in the travel experiences of other members and guest speakers. Thousands of New Zealanders have belonged to these clubs and had their horizons widened by the experience.

    Interview with long term members
    I talked to Mrs Sedley Wells who has been a member for fifty seven years and to Mrs Shirley Evans who has belonged for thirty years. Both have held office in their local club and in The Society of New Zealand Travel Clubs. They explained to me the history of the Travel Club movement.

    History of the Clubs
    In 1933 the first club was founded in Auckland by Mrs Victor Macky, an American woman living in New Zealand. Word of its success soon spread and others followed - Wellington, Canterbury and Dunedin in 1937, and Southland in 1939.

    The first president of the Canterbury Travel Club was Sir Joseph Ward who continued in the position for thirty three years until his death in 1970.

    In 1951 The Society of New Zealand Travel Clubs was founded and Wellington, Canterbury and Dunedin became affiliated members. In the fifties new clubs were founded and in time there were nineteen more clubs, most of which became affiliated.

    The patron of the Society is the Governor General of New Zealand and the Vice Patron is Mrs Sedley Wells.

    Aims
    The aim of the Society was "the stimulation and encouragement of travel and the creation and fostering of an interest in and friendly relationship towards the peoples of other districts and lands wherever situated".

    Stimulating speakers
    Interesting speakers have extended the knowledge and horizons of members. Many members who have travelled extensively outside New Zealand say that even if the talk is about a place they have visited it revives memories and they enjoy hearing someone else's view of the area.

    Shirley Evans recalls talks years ago by Googie Withers and by Derek Nimmo and other well-known personalities.

    Members in animated conversation as they await the morning's address
    Members in animated conversation as they await the morning's address
    Photo source Edna Neville
    Recent speakers at the Canterbury Branch have included local people who have travelled overseas researching recent developments in their professional field - Elric Hooper, Director of the Court Theatre, Tony Preston, Director of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, and Anthony Wright, Director of the Canterbury Museum. Other topics have ranged from Dr Gerald Morris's "Living in a kibbutz", to Captain Joanne Stanley's "Life with the Sea".

    Changes over the years
    As patterns in New Zealand society have changed the Travel Clubs have responded with changes in their activities. Looking through photographs of Travel Club activities is like reading the social history of the last sixty six years.

    Clubs have always had one or two meetings a month in the daytime. In the early years clubs had huge memberships of both women and men. Many women put their names on the waiting list in the hope of becoming members as soon as their last child started school. This made morning meetings a popular choice. Now for many women this is the time when they rejoin the workforce, so the clubs have smaller memberships.

    Members of Travel Club in the fifties,
		all in their fashionable hats.
    Members of Travel Club in the fifties, all in their fashionable hats.
    In those early years no woman would dream of attending without wearing quite formal clothes and a hat and gloves.

    Other activities included evening functions, such as dinners and theatre parties, bus trips, and attendance at the annual conference of the Society. For evening functions long dresses and evening gloves were worn by the women and dinner suits by the men. Protocol demanded that the President and partner, the Vice President and partner, the Executive Committee and the Entertainment committee stood in line to greet guests as they arrived.

    Mrs Sedley Wells plants a tree to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the
Canterbury Travel Club.
    Mrs Sedley Wells plants a tree to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Canterbury Travel Club.
    Photo source Mrs Sedley Wells
    In May 1987 the Canterbury Travel Club celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and Mrs Sedley Wells, Patron of the Canterbury Branch, planted a tree on the Avon River bank to mark the occasion.

    Activities in 1999
    Now, of course, the meetings are much more informal, and few evening functions are held.

    The Canterbury Travel Club has a morning meeting at 10 a.m. on the second Thursday of each month. The programme for the meetings includes morning tea, musical items by gifted local musicians, the speaker and question time, with the meeting finishing at 11.30.

    Meetings are held at the Citadel and visitors to New Zealand are welcome to attend. Members visit other affiliated clubs when travelling around New Zealand.

    Canterbury Travel Club's Christmas dinner.
    Canterbury Travel Club's Christmas dinner
    Photo source Judy Ambrose
    Additional activities are bus trips, theatre parties, a midwinter Christmas lunch, and a December celebration of Christmas. Fashion parades are also held from time to time to give variety and also to raise money for the club's outreach.

    Outreach by the Clubs
    During the Second World War there were fund raising activities to buy food to send to Britain and long hours were spent packing the food into parcels.

    Money raising for child sponsorship or for local community needs has continued to be a feature of Club activities. Framed prints were recently presented to two local hospitals to brighten the environment for the patients.

    A supportive group
    Members speak with enthusiasm of the friendship and support they receive from other Travel Club members. An entertainment committee provides hostesses for the meetings, making sure that new members are welcomed and introduced to other members.


    Published with permission from NZine