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Margaret Muir was born in Deloraine, Tasmania on the 12 October 1885, the daughter of Thomas Edward and Mary Anne Muir nee O'Connor.  The family later moved to Oamaru and Dunedin, where her mother died. With her father, and three brothers, Margaret came to Hawera late in 1899.  In 1909, at St Mary's Anglican Church she married John William James Harding.  He was later to become county clerk for many years, until his sudden death in England in 1951.


Margaret had a keen sense of humour, enjoyed company and conversation and could always tell a good story.  She had a great love of drama and was an avid reader.  These qualities fostered an interest in education, which led to her becoming a member of the Hawera Technical High School board of governors from 1926 to 1940.


Margaret joined the Park Croquet Club soon after it was started in 1912, and was president in 1923, secretary from 1925 to 1933 and president again in 1935 to 1938 and 1946 to 1950.  During this time Margaret won A grade singles and doubles titles, and represented the South Taranaki association often.  She was at various times vice-president and president of the association, and was its patron from 1951 until her death in 1959.


When the Turitown (later Hawera) Women's Institute was formed in 1933, Margaret became a member and later president for a number of years.  She was also a committee member of the South Taranaki Federation of Women's Institutes from 1939 to 1944.


Margaret joined the Hawera Women's National Reserve in 1923, and later served for 23 years as secretary.  In 1940, she became a committee member of the South Taranaki branch of the Women's War Service Auxiliary Association, and on Anzac Day 1951, at an afternoon social, she was thanked for her work for servicemen and their dependants over a long period of years.


A staunch supporter of St Mary's Anglican Church, she was an enthusiastic member of the women's fellowship, and for many years ran the sweet stall at the parish fair.  Other interests included the Plunket Society, of which she was a committee member, and the Gleneagles (now Fairfield) Golf Club.


Margaret and her husband John were keen travellers, and in the 1920s and early 30s made many camping trips throughout the North Island, and later made several cruises round the Pacific Islands.   A tireless worker for the community, Margaret Harding died on the 4 April 1959 aged 73 years, at Hawera and is buried at the Hawera cemetery.



Audrey Ellingham (daughter)