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Muriel Smyth was born on 15 November 1904 at Lawrence, Otago, the eldest of three daughterís (one of whom died in childhood) of William Roger Smyth, a goldminer, and Margaret Ann nee Adams.Muriel could trace her Smyth ancestry through the Smyths of Rathcoursey in County Cork, to the 15th century.


Muriel grew up in Lawrence and was educated at the Lawrence District High School.In 1927, she graduated from Otago University with a BA degree, and in 1929 began teaching at Hawera High School.In 1950 she left to become senior assistant mistress at Wanganui Technical College, finally retiring to Hawera in 1955.Her sister, Doreen, with whom she had a very close relationship, was a teacher in Palmerston North.


Murielís mother came to live with her in Hawera.Muriel was an early member of the Hawera Ladies Probus Club.She had many interests and skills, turning her mind and hands to painting pictures, writing poetry, cryptic crossword puzzles, dress-making, millinery, cooking and gardening.She delighted in formal entertaining when friends visited, preferring such, since her reserved nature did not so much enjoy casual visiting. She had a lively sense of humour and a delightful chuckle when amused.


Muriel died on the 26 September 1991 at Hawera aged 85 years and left the following in her will - $400,000 to the Otago University Medical School for cancer research; $20,000 as the William and Margaret Ann Smyth Trust for pupils of Lawrence High School to attend university; $20,000 as the Doreen Smyth Grant for people from the Lawrence area to attend the Outward Bound or a Spirit of Adventure trip.


Various legacies were left to other charities.



Public Trust Office

Hawera High School 1919-1969 Jubilee Booklet

Dorothy Hawker, Christchurch