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St Mary's parishioner Rosemary Bent has inspired members of the Association of Anglican Women and Mothers' Union in Aotearoa and Pasifika with her work in Overseas and Outreach. This year she received a certificate of recognition from the AAW executive.
Born in England, Rosemary came to New Zealand in 1962, and met her husband Michael when she was working for the Christian Mission Service. The couple lived in New Plymouth during Michael's term as Vicar of St Mary's (1976-85), and later in Fiji and Papua New Guinea when Michael was serving there.
Rosemary became Waikato O and O convenor in the 1980s, and when she and Michael went to Fiji in 1985 she was the AAW magazine Circle's correspondent on the Polynesian Executive. She helped Sister Clare Masina at the Anglican orphanage St Christopher's Home, and was secretary for its Board of Governors.
Rosemary and Michael experienced the first two Fiji coups: on one occasion Michael was threatened with stoning when trying to take Communion to the sick in the hospital in Suva.
They returned to Waikato in 1989, where Rosemary had another term as O and O Convenor, then in 1994 they were called to Papua New Guinea, where they were involved in dangerous situations, being held up in their house at night and shot at in their vehicle during the day.
Rosemary has written: “I taught English to the Anglican nursing students, and helped establish the women's programme at Newton Theological College. This programme... was a wonderful help to students' wives, giving them opportunities to learn English or pidgin if they could not read.
“I taught them how to make more nutritious food using vegetables and fruit from their gardens, how to share one egg by using it in cooking instead of father having it to himself, and unravelled the mystery of a cooking stove when they were used to outside fires.”
On the couple's return to New Zealand in 1998, Rosemary was for three years New Zealand O and O Convenor. From 2008-2011 she was MU provincial president and representative on the AAW executive.
* With acknowledgements to the AAW magazine ‘Circle’.