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Joan Isabel Faulkner was born in Cambridge, Waikato on the 30 January 1921, the daughter of Edward Ernest and Rhoda Vera Faulkner nee White.  She trained as a journalist on the Dominion newspaper in Wellington and worked for the Hawera Star during much of World War 2.  In 1941, she married Norman Blake at Napier,  and retained her maiden name, Faulkner, as part of her professional name.


After overseas journalistic experience, Joan wrote syndicated columns in four main-centre newspapers for ten years in the 1950s.  She became a professional broadcaster, originating regular "New Zealand Newsletters" for audiences in Britain, Canada and South Africa from 1961 to 1985. For 14 years her "Behind the Headlines" commentary on current affairs was well known on NZBC commercial network, as were her book reviews on the YA stations.  For 11 years she was a regular panelist on "Sunday Supplement".


Continuing education programmes on National Parks of New Zealand, and the legends of Lake Taupo and Mt Taranaki-Egmont, which she wrote and narrated herself, are still available. As a tutor of creative writing in Taranaki, she showed many aspiring writers the way to success, both in print and on radio, and her courses resulted in the formation of writers' groups at Stratford and New Plymouth. A talented public speaker who adjudicated many public speaking and debating contests, Joan was named "New Zealand Woman of the Year" in 1971.


Deeply involved with education, she served for many years on the New Zealand Parent Teacher Association's national executive and was a life member of that organisation.  She served on the Massey University Advisory Committee, the Taranaki Branch executive of the Workers' Educational Association, the Educational Priorities and Educational Development Conferences and was co-editor of the EDC report for the Massey region.


Her ardent interest in New Zealand native plants was enhanced during the  four years of 1944-1948 as co-lessee with her husband of the tourist lodge at Dawson Falls, Egmont National Park, and this led to her being a voluntary park naturalist and nature walks guide for the Egmont National Park Board for many years.


Widely travelled in Africa, Europe, the Pacific and Australia, Mrs Blake was involved with the international home hospitality organisation, SERVAS, as national secretary in the 1970s and host co-ordinator for Taranaki in the 1980s.  On the Hawera scene she was a Guide captain for 10 years and served on the executives of the Crippled Children Society, Volunteer Service Abroad, Hawera Women's Club and the Hawera Superannuitants' Association.




She received a "Citizen of Hawera" award at the inaugural presentation in 1987.  She had a rare ability to motivate others to use their talents, and the ability to make and keep friends.


Joan Faulkner Blake died on the 6 March 1990 at Hawera.



Obituary "Daily News" 9 March 1990 by Shirley Bourke

Linda Blake, Queenstown (daughter)