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Joyce Gilling was born on the 27 July 1907 at Matapu, the youngest daughter of  Herbert Washer Gilling and Janie nee Tresise.


Joyce Oliver first became interested in Plunket Society work when living in Wanganui.  She became a member of the Gonville sub-committee, and after moving to Hawera in 1936, was elected to the Hawera branch committee in 1937.  From then on, Joyce proceeded to leave her mark on the Plunket Society to the extent that she became known as Mrs "Plunket" Oliver.  Not only did she spend 30 years serving on the committee, but she spent half of that period in office.  From 1943-1950 she was treasurer, and from 1950-1958, president.  From 1957-1965 she served as Dominion Councillor, and when she resigned from "Active Service" she was unanimously elected to the Advisory Board.  In 1959, after 22 years of service, she was presented with a long service badge.


Her eight years as president is the period for which Mrs Oliver is most remembered.  The $18,000 needed for the construction of new Plunket rooms was raised during that term and they stand as a monument to her work. 


Six thousand dollars was raised by direct public appeal and the remainder through such projects as a baby carnival, which brought in nearly $4000, the T B Morris play "Froat on the Rose" which had its world premiere in Hawera, a performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Naumai Park by the Hawera Repertory Society, children's concerts, fashion parades, garden parties, a Christmas carnival and a pony club gymkhana.


Joyce's interest in Plunket really began when her son was born.  He suffered from projectile vomiting and Mrs Oliver was advised to enter the Mothercraft Section of Stewart Karitane Hospital in Wanganui so that her baby could be kept under observation. " The best way to get to know people is to go on a Plunket committee", and she was in favour of the "Plunket Square" originated by Sir Truby King. This system ensures that the committees are thoroughly representative of the whole community, covering all religious bodies and professions.


In 1968 a silver salver was presented to Joyce Oliver by the Hawera Plunket branch.  The presentation, together with the conferring of life membership, the highest honour of the Plunket Society, crowned 30 years of continuous and distinguished service given by Mrs Oliver to the Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children.

Irene Joyce Oliver died on the 21 August 1990 at Tauranga.



Undated Women's Weekly Article