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Magdalene Voss was born on the 9 February 1881 at Karere, Palmerston North, the second child of Danish immigrants Max and Maren Voss. In 1902, Magdalene married James Gould, an engine driver with the NZ Railways, and the couple moved to Hawera.


They first lived in town, and after the death of James in 1934, Magdalene moved out to their farm at Paora Road, Tokaora and lived there until her death. Both James and Magdalene became involved with St John's Presbyterian Church, Magdalene becoming a Sunday School teacher and a member of the Presbyterian Women's Missionary Union (PWMU). But it is for her work with "Busy Bees" that she is best remembered.


The "Busy Bees" were the junior missionary society of the Presbyterian Church. Each group was controlled by a committee of the members with a leader who was usually a member of the PWMU. Every "Hive" had a queen bee, a secretary, a treasurer together with a Maori Mission Birthday League (MMBL) secretary. The Hawera group was started by a Mrs Spence in 1914.


In 1921 Magdalene took over the leadership and continued this work for the next 35 years until about 1956 when she was aged 75 years. Once a year the "Busy Bees" held a sale of work to raise funds for missions and Mrs Gould was the largest contributor of goods for sale.


In 1924, the group sent away parcels to the missionaries valued at 12/5/-, and the proceeds of the annual sale amounted to 35/5/-. This money was donated as follows: - Home Missions 5, India 5, Wellington Orphanage 2, Maori Missions 2, Maori College 3, PWMU 3; 2/10/- was spent on toys etc for Christmas parcels, and the remainder kept to buy material for the work. During the year, many hours were spent making aprons, oven cloths, and crocheting covers for coat-hangers. All were beautifully made and finished.


Magdalene always took a great interest in her "bees" and remembered them on important occasions in their later lives.


Magdalene Gould died on the 30 October 1961 at Hawera and is buried at the Hawera cemetery.



Joy Watson (granddaughter)