PWMU Mission Ladies Tea Party

Christopher Templeton donated this wonderful picture postcard of a ‘tea party’ held by the Tokomairiro Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union (PWMU) to the Presbyterian Church Archives.  He discovered it recently in a second-hand bookshop.

The Minute Book for the group informs us that on 26 August 1908, ‘Mr. Moffat, Photographer, took a group of us on the lawn’.  There were thirteen present at the meeting that day and all are included in the photograph along with the Minister, the Rev. George Miller.

Unfortunately the minute recorder does not list those present but names noted of women who may appear in the photograph are: Miss Salmond, Mmes George Miller, Reid, Bruce, Aitcheson, Haigh, Moore, Gill, A.S. Stewart, Brick, and Gray.  It is possible that Mrs Margaret McNeur is also present.  She was staying at her family home during a furlough from her missionary work in Canton and attended meetings throughout the year.

The photographer, W. Moffat opened  Optimus Studio at Milton in 1903.  His photographs can be located in various New Zealand Archives and Historical Societies.   He had a large business in reproducing photographs as postcards.  A series of picture cards of the grounding of the French barque the “Marguerite Mirabaud” at Chrystals (Akatore) Beach in February 1907 are said to be found in collections ‘far and wide’.

Judging by reports in the Bruce Herald Moffat was a great fisherman and as a consequence sold fishing licenses through his shop.  He also expanded into selling pianos and music.

The picture postcard is post marked 31 August 1908, just a few days after the photograph was taken and sent to Nurse Martha Ledingham at InvercargillHospital.  The sender notes that the photograph was taken in the Manse grounds but on close scrutiny we are confident it was in fact taken on a grassed area at the side of the Church.

The Milton PWMU was not a particularly large group.  They met fortnightly from March to September each year.  Their task to collect and raise funds for Presbyterian missionary activity as well as undertaking any local projects took most of their attention.  The major focus in the fund raising programme was an annual produce fair which was held in September at the close of their year.

During 1908 they raised £66.0.0 for a number of  mission programmes; the largest amount of £20 was collected for the Canton Villages Mission.  They also undertook the task of sewing linen pew covers to cover the back of the pew for Communion  Sunday which represented the ‘table of our Lord’.

Thank you Christopher it is a great photo to add to our collections.

by Yvonne

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