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Jessie Buchanan was born in April 1868 in Camperdowns, Victoria, Australia, the daughter of Donald and Mary Buchanan nee Whyte. Jessie was taken back to Scotland by her mother where they lived for three years, before coming to New Zealand in 1875 to re-join their father.


In 1878, the Buchanans came to Hawera and resided in Hawera until the children were educated, afterwards moving to a farm property at Ohangai. Upon the death of Donald Buchanan, Jessie, her sister Catherine Marion Buchanan (Kate) and their mother moved to Hawera in 1912. They built the house at 301 South Road, which they called "Boort", and they all lived there until their respective deaths.


Jessie played the violin in Mr Higham's Ladies String Orchestra, but she was perhaps best known for her many gifts to charities and to civic projects, and for her work in conjunction with her sister Kate, in establishing the Buchanan Trust to help with the rehabilitation of servicemen and women from World War Two. The two sisters inherited their money from their uncle, Sir Walter Buchanan who had been Minister of Agriculture in Massey's government.


Donald Buchanan was keenly interested in dog trial work, and this was an interest he imparted to his daughter, and one she maintained to the end of her life. She was a regular attender at the Egmont Sheepdog Club's trials at Taiporohenui, and had been known to refuse many other social engagements rather than miss this day out.


Jessie had an outstanding record of support for the Egmont A. & P. Association's annual shows, and in the 82 shows held in Hawera, she missed only five, each time only because of ill health. She regarded as one of her proudest moments the occasion of the 1964 show, when the association's patron Mr C G Trotter, presented her with a life member's badge in a simple little ceremony which went almost unnoticed by the crowds of spectators.


Her life membership of the R.S.A. was awarded principally in recognition of the assistance given to ex-servicemen through the Buchanan Trust, and also in recognition of her many other unpublished acts of assistance.


Despite her busy life and many interests, one of her most loved hobbies was gardening, and the extensive gardens at her home were evidence of her knowledge of horticulture. While her health permitted she enjoyed nothing more than doing her own work among the flowers and shrubs. Jessie did the flowers for many years at St John's Presbyterian Church and was a member of the Turuturu Mokai Improvement Society. She and Kate donated land at the reserve to the borough council.



Jessie Buchanan was awarded membership of the Order of the British Empire in 1956 for her philanthropic work, and had wide interests which she maintained throughout her life until ill-health restricted her activities. She was also one of the select band of 12 Fellows of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture.


In December 1950 she gave a bequest of 2600 towards the Community Centre, and her estate gave a donation of $400 for reference books for the Hawera High School library, amongst others. On the 22 June 1955, Jessie opened the women's accommodation wing at Ngahuru Home, and on the 29 October 1968 the Jessie Buchanan Memorial Rose Garden was opened at King Edward Park, Hawera.



Jessie Buchanan died on the 6 July 1966 aged 98 years, and is buried at the Hawera Cemetery with her sister Kate.



Obituary "Hawera" Star 6 July 1966

Hawera District Centenary by A P Bromley

Livingston Baker, Patea (friend)