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Winifred Knight was  born on 7 February1896 in Mussoorie, Uttarpradesh, India, the daughter of Sgt-Major James Frank Knight who was serving in the British Army, and Edith Rachel nee Weeks. Upon the retirement of her father in 1901, the family came to New Zealand, where they settled at Maungaturoto, North Auckland for some years before coming to Taranaki about 1911.


The Knights lived near Eltham, and Winifred attended Eltham District High School before attending Victoria University College, where she gained an MA degree in 1919 with first class honours in history, her thesis being on "The History of South Taranaki". After completing her training as a teacher, she did her country service at Whenuakura, catching the train from Hawera to Patea and walking out to the school. Later she took a position as a history, English and Latin teacher at Iona Girls College in Havelock North until 1922, when she joined the staff of Stratford Technical High School.


Here, she became head mistress in 1929, and after 25 years on the staff of the school, she finally retired from teaching in 1951.  Some of her pupils at Stratford included (Sir) Toswill Wollaston, Archbishop Brian Davis of Wellington, and Leo Carrington, ex-mayor of Stratford.  Her pupils remembered her with great affection.


Winifred travelled overseas three times, spending a year in a flat in London in the 1930s.  Her most recent trip was in 1978, and in 1979 she was awarded a Queen's Service Medal in the New Year's honours list.  When told of this award she emphasised "that she was just one of many people interested in helping the community."


On her retirement, Winifred began her long association with the Girl Guide movement.  She was provincial secretary and treasurer for 27 years, and was awarded a national Medal of Merit by the New Zealand Girl Guides Association in recognition of her service to guiding.


Winifred was a founder member of the Hawera Women's Club in 1930, and later she became secretary from 1945 to 1973, and president from 1973 to 1976, when she became a life member.  She was the club's patron at the time of her death.  Besides her involvement in guiding and the women's club, Winifred was involved in amateur drama festivals, the WEA, the Red Cross, and business and professional women's groups. She was a president of the Hawera Horticultural Society and a member of the New Zealand Institute of Horticulture though she admitted that her "garden grows in spite of me not because of me."




Upon her death, Winifred Knight left various bequests to friends and local institutions and the residue was left to establish a charitable trust known as the Winifred Knight Trust to benefit people and institutions in Hawera and surrounding districts, as the trustees shall determine at their sole discretion.


Winifred Knight died on the 23 March 1991 at Hawera aged 95 years.



Articles "Hawera Star" 3 January 1979, 11 February 1986

Obituary "Daily News" 27 March 1991

Sylvia Lysaght and Sister Lorna Aberley, Hawera (friends)