Topic: Remembering Anne Moore: A woman before her time by Alison Brown

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Remembering Anne Moore: A woman before her time by Alison Brown was an entry in the 2012 Memoir and Local History Competition.

Archived version here.

Anne Mia Moore died almost seven years ago, yet her name is still on the lips of many people.

That’s because many Rotorua people walk for pleasure and for exercise and Anne did much to encourage that walking. She is remembered for establishing and fostering Rotorua’s YWCA Walking Club, with the aim of encouraging retired people to walk and to enjoy the outdoors.

Anne’s organised walks were memorable for their meticulous preparation, for her enthusiasm for the history of New Zealand and its conservation, and most of all, for the pleasure they gave so many people.

One of these, now aged 95, recalls: “We went on beautiful tramps through lovely countryside. Anne explored the terrain, knew the difficult areas and worked out the route beforehand, and got the landowner’s permission. She sorted all the details: the exact timing, the clothes we needed, the shoes or boots – even the car pooling.

“She was passionate about helping retired people keep fit. She wanted walking and tramping to be something everyone could do. She was aware of the less fit folk and those who had no time to devote to full-day tramps but was adamant we still needed the exercise. I remember she was particular about footwear, insisting that we wear well-geared boots. We were so lucky to have had all that help.”

Anne believed walking delivered enormous benefits besides exercise, like companionship and relief from stress. She inducted new walkers at their own pace and welcomed everyone, whether they were widows, pensioners, rehabilitees, or unfit and overweight, or lived with a mental or physical disability.

The first of Anne’s planned mid-week, fortnightly walks was in May 1982. By August the group, known as the Pleasure Walkers, wanted to walk weekly and by the end of the following year they were walking twice a week! Membership exceeded 200 by 1986, when Anne created sub-groups to best cater for individual needs.  She devised programmes for ‘Advanced Walkers’ and for the more average Pleasure Walkers. Meanwhile Anne’s friend Joy Gordon catered for the less active with ‘Walking with Joy’, a weekly ‘easy walking’ group that continues to this day. By 1990 club membership had grown to 400 and at the end of 1992 the group renamed themselves the YWCA Cross Country Trampers.

Today, 30 years on, the club is known as the Rotorua Cross Country Walkers. Some of Anne’s advanced walkers are now pleasure walkers; some walkers are now strollers – but they’re still exercising and still keeping fit, and still enjoying the outdoors and the companionship and friendships that Anne foresaw as a major factor in contributing to wellness and wellbeing in older persons.

Anne Moore was clearly an effective motivator of others. But what motivated Anne Moore?

In her address to the club, commemorating its 20thbirthday in 2002, members glimpsed an insight into her thoughts: “In my early 20s, 60 odd years ago, I realised there was very little organised for the people retiring from work and family rearing. Then my mother spent over 20 years in a retirement home where she sat day after day like a zombie with nothing to say. I thought, ‘one day I’ll do something about this’.”

And, when Anne retired, she did.

She’d been an ardent tramper all her life. She saw value in starting a walking club especially for senior citizens who didn’t play golf, bowls or croquet. She’d been an avid cyclist too. Family history records that when at training college in Auckland she’d cycle home to Matamata. Later, with her brother, she cycled on her grandmother’s old bike from Matamata to Gisborne and home to Matamata, via Rotorua, Taupo, Napier, Gisborne and Opotiki. By sleeping on hay they’d packed into a drain on the outskirts of Gisborne the pair got an essential early start for their trip through the Waioeka Gorge. They’d put their backpacks on the service bus to Opotiki and had to get there by 6pm to meet the bus! They even tied logs to their bikes on Traffords Hill, north of Matawai, to slow them down on that precipitous slope. Regardless of the terrain, they had to keep going.

Her son Ian and his wife Bronwyn speak of Anne’s frustration as a young woman – and her determination: “When she was young she wanted to do so many things but was constrained by the social strictures of the day. She was born before her time.”

Her parents and grandparents argued over Anne’s education. Her grandparents believed educating a girl was a waste of time. After Anne matriculated in 1932 she spent three years working on her parents’ farm. It wasn’t until she was 20 that she was able to go back to school to earn her Higher Leaving Certificate, which meant she could train at Auckland Teachers’ College. During this period she worked towards a BA degree which she completed at Canterbury University after the war and after she’d been teaching for some years.

Maybe determination was in her blood? Her family recall that Anne’s forbears were staunch Huguenots who eventually settled in New Zealand in the 1880s. Her grandmother was Danish. There was more than a bit of pioneering spirit in her heritage.

With this intrepid spirit and passion for the outdoors, Anne was a foundation member of the Rotorua Tramping and Skiing Club and a member of Alpine Search and Rescue. Her enthusiasm took Anne on tramping trips to the Himalayas, trekking the Inca trails of South America and a rafting trip in Alaska. Genuinely interested, she was fascinated by and knowledgeable about the diversity of the plant life she encountered on these treks all over the world.

It seems that Anne’s experience and appreciation of these well-planned trips reinforced her belief that walks should be organised with close attention to detail. And that’s precisely how so many YWCA walkers remember their walking days with Anne.

Her legacy remains: her notes, along with the shared experience of Peter Dare and Peter Davis, are contained in the 1983 publication ‘Bay of Plenty-Rotorua Walks’.

Her walking friends certainly appreciated Anne. Ian recalls their affection for her: “As Mum’s pace slowed, the group she walked with slowed their pace too, to stop her pushing herself too hard to keep up. We know this because when Bronwyn walked with them a few years ago she got in front of Mum going up a hill. Someone had a quiet word in her ear, telling her to keep behind Anne.”

Another walker remembers: “She liked to get attention by blowing a whistle when she wanted to address us. We used to tease her that QSM stood for Queen's Sergeant Major.”

A farmer whose land offered good tramping recalled Anne’s determination: “That woman! You just couldn’t say ‘no’. ‘We’re lambing,’ I’d say. ‘We’ll shut the gates,’ she’d reply . . . She’d argue until she wore me down. She always got her way.”

Even at the fading end of her 91-year life, Anne remained determined to help others, doing something she loved. “She kept a good garden and a highly productive vegetable garden, and after she ‘did’ her own garden at Ngongotaha,” remembers Ian, “she ‘did’ the Church gardens – and then went round to do her neighbour’s garden. By then she was over 90 and not in good health.”

Anne was also admired by her many friends, one commenting: “She was a leader with considerable inner strength who knew what she was doing and did it quietly. She wasn’t a chatterer. Whatever she said was natural and to the point – and worth listening to.”

When her admirers suggested in the late 1980s that Anne’s name be put forward to receive a Queen’s award for her services to the community there was no shortage of organisations and individuals keen to support the application.

Anne actively participated in a dozen or more organisations and the family’s attaché case of her memorabilia contains many a letter from office bearers citing Anne’s positive contribution to their organisation. With such liberal praise as ‘inspirational leadership’ they all commented on Anne’s selfless service to the community.

When this service was recognised and Anne was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in the Birthday Honours in June 1990 she received many congratulatory notes, many pointing to qualities in Anne that they particularly admired.

One such letter sums up the community’s regard for this remarkable woman:

“. . . I see it (the QSM) is an affirmation of all you do for so many people . . . my walking is the best part of my week. The complete usage of our time, the planning and detail that go into our outings, even our morning tea spots are beautiful. I like the prompt departure, the sensible use of transport, safe parking, great company and the concern you always show for everyone. Add to that, the history and background we acquire make for great experiences each Thursday . . . You certainly earn our admiration . . .”


In Our Lifetimes ~ New Zealanders Remember. A collection of reminiscences contributed by members of the Rotorua Writers Group 2001.

Women to Remember: Rotorua District, 1893-1993. Conceived by the Rotorua Women’s Suffrage Centennial Committee and edited by Enid Brinkler.

Ian and Bronwyn Moore’s repository of family history.

Several individual Rotorua walkers.


This page archived at Perma CC in October of 2016:

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Remembering Anne Moore: A woman before her time by Alison Brown

Note:About Alison Brown. After a decade of writing features and news stories, truncating press releases, and proofreading for a community newspaper, Alison Brown cut loose. Now her proofreading, editing and rewriting services earn her bread’n’butter, while her cake’n’cappuccinos come from writing about older folk who modestly consider themselves 'ordinary'. She notes: “They seldom are ‘just’ ordinary. Many have led colourful lives and are still doing extraordinary things in their golden years. I feel privileged that these ageless characters allow me to rake through their memories. I see them as colourful role models and I am honoured to be the chronicler of their tales.”
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Remembering Anne Moore: A woman before her time by Alison Brown by Tauranga City Libraries Staff - HC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License