1970 to 1980 - The First Ten Years

The founding President with her committee, backed by an enthusiastic membership, had an active and full term of office. In just one year, Wellington had fulfilled its requirements (meetings, exhibitions, public demonstrations, etc.) and became a Chartered Chapter in September 1971. By the end of Ruth Scott’s term as President in May 1972 the membership had risen to 64.

Mollie Paul, a former member of the Sydney Chapter and holder of a Teacher’s diploma from the Sogetsu School, became the Chapter’s second President from 1972 to 1974. This too, was a busy time in the still formative years, which saw a visit and demonstration by Iemoto Hakushi Tsujii of the Saga School in October 1972. The Chapter Charter was received from Headquarters late that year and at the end of March 1973 meeting this was formally presented to Ruth Scott, founding President, by Mrs Kiyoko Mitsudo, wife of the then Ambassador of Japan and Co-Patroness of the Chapter.

1974 saw Gean Kerr take over the presidential mantle. Gean had been an active Board member since the Chapter’s foundation. She had studied Sogetsu Ikebana in Sydney with Norman Sparnon. She has a deep love of all floral art and was then a judge, teacher and lecturer in the The Floral Art Society of New Zealand. During her term of office Norman Sparnon, Master of Sogetsu and Ikenobo Schools, visited Wellington from Sydney. Gean’s energy, artistry, love of nature and efficiency contributed greatly to the growth of the Chapter and, by the end of her term of office in 1976 membership had again increased to 78.

Neville Ramsay, President from 1976 to 1978, though not a student of Ikebana loved its beauty. She was a nature lover and a member of the Horticultural Society of Lower Hutt. Neville brought to I.I. meetings her great enthusiasm, ready friendship and bountiful hospitality. In September 1976 the Chapter presented a display at the 50th World Daffodil Convention in Lower Hutt, where the first convention had been held. Wellington Chapter No. 158 were awarded the Silver Medal!

The 3d World Convention in October 1976 was attended by six Chapter members. Ruth Scott was appointed Credentials Chairman by Headquarters.

Another important event during Neville’s term as President came at the beginning of 1977 when the Embassy of Japan Kindly offered their rooms at the Japan Information and Cultural Centre for our future group meetings! A perfect venue!

Nola Sinclair, who had been a dedicated member of the Board, took over as President from 1978 to 1980. Her interest in Japan and things Japanese was of long standing. She had studied the language – and was one of the best students at the evening class!

At the 12th Australia and New Zealand Regional Conference held in Queenstown in 1978 Wellington put in an application to host a Conference after the 4th World Convention to be held in 1981. Guest Demonstrator at the Conference, Iemoto Kazen Yoshimura of the Ryusei-Ha School, with his wife and two assistants, later visited Wellington and demonstrated to an audience of over 300 at the Little Theatre, Lower Hutt.

Nola’s term marked the start of a period of concerted effort by members to promote Ikebana and for fund-raising both to combat the adverse exchange rate and to prepare for the coming conference. A highlight was a display throughout one of Wellington’s biggest department stores in 1979. 23 members presented arrangements representing four schools of Ikebana.

At the Annual General Meeting in 1980, delegates to the 13th Regional Conference in Adelaide were instructed to make application for Wellington to host the 14th Regional Conference in April 1983.