Auf Wiedersehen, ‘Pet’, hello ‘Post’

Pat Macaulay holds a copy of The Taieri Pet, a newsletter produced by the Middlemarch branch of...
Pat Macaulay holds a copy of The Taieri Pet, a newsletter produced by the Middlemarch branch of Rural Women New Zealand that is closing down. Photo: Gregor Richardson
The demands of modern life are behind the demise of a Middlemarch institution which has kept the community informed for almost 40 years.

The Middlemarch branch of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ), which has run for 91 years, will have its last meeting at the end of the month.

The group was responsible for publishing The Taieri Pet, a local newsletter founded in 1982.

The final issue of the newsletter came out on June 1.

RWNZ Middlemarch branch treasurer Pat Macaulay said because of the low membership it was not possible to keep the group going.

When she first joined the group in the 1970s there were more than 50 members, but now there were only five.

She believed the declining membership was a symptom of the increased use of social media and the many different responsibilities women faced today, such as travelling for children’s sports games.

"There’s not enough disposable time in one woman’s day for many extras on the side."

The group helped the community with health, education, farming and social issues.

It was originally called the Women’s Division Federated Farmers, but the name changed to Rural Women New Zealand many years ago, she said.

RWNZ had a respected voice on a national level which she believed would be missed in the community.

Their final meeting would be on the last day of the month, which would be an ‘‘extremely sad day’’.

The members had no plans for a farewell celebration, but would probably share a drink at the local cafe.

The closure of The Pet would leave a void in the community, Mrs Macaulay said.

The group had published 455 newsletters over the years and had never missed an issue.

They even published during the Covid-19 lockdown last year, she said.

Readers had sent the production team messages of support and thanks.

However, the void would not remain unfilled for long.

A new local newsletter, produced with the assistance of the Strath Taieri Lions Club, was being launched in August.

Club president Norma Emerson said The Rock and Pillar Post would follow in the footsteps of The Pet, but would be a distinct and new publication.

The content and layout of the newsletter would develop over time, but the most distinct difference was the introduction of colour pages.

The Post would be distributed to 360 letterboxes in Lee Stream, Hindon, Waipori, Clarks Junction, Middlemarch, Hyde and Macraes.

It was important to continue delivering news in print as some people in the area did not have access to the internet, Mrs Emerson said.

The final issue of The Pet was the end of an era, but she hoped The Post would be the start of a new one.


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