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The couple were married, and in 1957 Dawn stepped down
from the national team with the arrival of the elder of her two
children, John, followed later by Paul.
However, she kept her hand in as a player coach for Waikato
She was also heavily involved in the local arts and theatre
culture, with her first major production being Merrie England
for the Te Kuiti Choral and Operatic Society, after having spent
time with the Lyceum Club in Te Kuiti.
“She loved to sing and often was asked to do so at weddings
and other special events,” says Paul.
“ The move into the operatic society was a natural progres-
sion and she performed as well as directing or producing
many of their shows.”
At that stage John had taken up a block of land in Pakeho
(near Oparure) and while she spent time – as young wives
do – helping him on the farm and raising her two boys, the
need to be involved in the community was still very strong.
To that end, she took up a position with Te Kuiti High
School in 1967, teaching a range of subjects. It was here she
got very involved in the sports and music side of the school’s
From a sports perspective, she took over coaching both
basketball and netball teams and did a beautiful job of it.
A year after taking the senior netball team on, the team won
the Waikato Inter-secondary School Tournament, a highlight
for her that was only superceded by winning the third division
NZ Basketball title in Westport in the mid-1980s.
By 1975, Dawn headed the school’s music department and
had begun choral and orchestra mini tours around the King
Country area, as well the Te Kuiti Combined Schools Music
Festival held annually in the town.
SUPPORTING THE TOWN
These wide-ranging activities saw the development of
Dawn’s enduring involvement in creating better facilities for
“Mum was involved for about 17 years as part of the core
group which got the Les Munro Centre going,” says John
“ That and the netball pavilion,” adds Paul, with both saying
the Royalans netball team remained her passion for the rest
of her life – she was its patron and a life member.
“Mum was on every committee. She was involved in choral
and theatre, arts, sports from netball to surf lifesaving (she was
an excellent swimmer and must have taught the whole district
how to swim)” John laughs at the memory.
“I look around town now,” says Paul, “and I see Mum’s influ-
ence on a number of buildings she helped get off the ground.”
Dawn was not backward in coming forward when it came
to the district council either.
They all knew her on a first name basis and she fought
many a memorable battle on the community’s behalf while
in the groups and committees of which she headed or was
a member of.
It was not surprising then, that in 1980, she was awarded a
Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to the community.
Her work with the operatic society and theatre was ongoing
and Dawn produced some truly stunning stage productions,
from Brigadoon, The Mikado, South Pacific to the much
vaunted (and difficult) Fiddler on the Roof.
The Te Kuiti School hall had to be co-opted for that; such
was the need for a bigger stage than was available.
She was awarded life membership of the choral and operatic
society and was also given merit awards, in 1995, for outstand-
ing service to musical theatre by the New Zealand Federation
of Operatic Societies Inc.
Dawn is remembered for being the quintessential hostess.
She loved to entertain and both her sons remember sum-
mers were a never-ending whirl of family and friends coming
to stay, with barbecues and swimming and the annual New
Year’s parties that were always the highlight of the season.
“You know, she never left the house – even if she was going
to help Dad with docking – without first “putting on her face” as she used
to put it,” says Paul. “She put the glamour in farming”.
Yet, for all that, she was known for her ability to relate to everyone.
She was a teacher, a mentor, a coach who spent her life continually giv-
ing to the people and children of the wider district, someone who made
an indelible and memorable impact.
Her passions were . . . in order . . . her family, her community – and the
Royalans netball team or “her girls” . . . her sons say.
In their laconic way John and Paul sum up their much loved, industrious
and talented mother in one line.
“She was a bit of alright, Mum was!”
ARTS and theatre was a huge part of Dawn’s life. She performed,
directed and produced a multitude of shows.
DAWN pictured in 2013 with her fellow Royalans Netball Club life members, Jenny Small (back
left), Liz Riley, Pat Hickey and Dot Ball.
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