Rosalie Smith QSM

Story & pictures by Betty Jeeves.

Use your talents to serve your community says QSM recipient
A basic philosophy has served Katikati woman Rosalie Smith well during her life when she says “You should use your talents to serve your community. My talent was writing.”

The 2008 New Year honours QSM recipient, for services to agricultural journalism and the community, grew up on a bush farm between Lakes Rotoma and Rotoehu It was here as a youngster she gained a love of the bush which was to become a catalyst to how she lived her life.

Although the family moved to Katikati when she was nine years old, Rosalie Goodyear attended Epsom Girls Grammar School, and went on to complete a BA in history at Auckland University. During this time she became a member of the Students Association executive, one of many similar positions of responsibility she would take on in the ensuing years. After training at Auckland Teachers College, Rosalie taught at Christchurch West High School until she married Katikati dairy farmer Ted Smith in 1957.

Four children followed and while bringing them up, Rosalie took up a position as Bay of Plenty Times Katikati correspondent, and for the next 10 years reported for the Katikati Advertiser. This led to her becoming a BOP Times staff reporter.

When she told the editor there was not enough written about the local farming scene, it was not surprising he made her the farming reporter. For three consecutive years from 1982 her writing won the newspaper the Best Provincial Newspaper for farming coverage.

During this time a discussion with Don Brash, who at the time was managing director at the New Zealand Kiwifruit Authority which oversaw the export of kiwifruit, saw Rosalie tell him “You need better communication with growers.” This “communication” led her to set up and edit New Zealand Kiwifruit, a magazine for the Kiwifruit Marketing Board. “It was a real learning curve

having to write and edit,” she says. The initiative earned the journalist the Rongo Award for Agricultural Journalist of the Year in 1989.
However there was more than one horticultural group who needed to “communicate” and Rosalie was also responsible for starting up the Persimmon Growers quarterly journal and AvoScene the journal of the Avocado Growers Association and Industry Council.

Rosalie enjoys a challenge and says, “I’ve tried to pick up what challenges I could.” Her next challenge was freelancing and by 2002 she was specialising in horticulture.

Becoming involved in various community groups she held the position of secretary for the Katikati District High School committee, Katikati Domain Board encompassing the Bowentown, and Uretara Domains and Hot Springs Reserve, the Katikati Library committee and was first secretary for the Dave Hume Pool committee. She also conducted historical tours in and around Katikati and Athenree, her history degree being a great help in this pursuit.

Rosalie says she is always interested in learning, and while working during these years she also studied English Literature extramurally with Massey, and in 2003 gained a postgraduate diploma.

Because of her love of the bush she joined the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park Advisory Committee, later became Chairperson, and says she felt her ability with the written word let her play a part in helping to stop the clear felling of the Kaimais.
President of Katikati Toastmistresses Club and the Katikati Contract Bridge Club are other positions she
Held in the early days, and now she is involved with Katikati archives.

In 2003 when Rosalie was the Convenor of Mural Town Twilight Concerts the organisation won the Western BOP TrustPower Community Award. This was followed two years later when Katikati Rotary Club made her a Paul Harris Fellow, an award made to a member of the community for exceptional service.

Rosalie enjoys being involved in the community and is not put off by the workload especially when she is passionate about something, so it is not surprising to find she is currently a committee member for the Aongatete Forest Trust, and also fronts a group for the Uretara Estuary stream recovery work, the latter after being approached by Andrew Lawrie, who is contracted to Western Bay of Plenty District Council to encourage biodiversity.

But as is her way, this hard working lady doesn’t take credit for the work, saying even though she helped set up and became deeply involved in the Uretara Estuary Managers, it is Lawrie Donald from Environment Bay of Plenty, who has been a great mentor, “He suggested we enter the awards. We have a very good committee, and to our great surprise we won!” These accolades were the Minister of the Environment’s Green Ribbon Award 2007 and Western BOP TrustPower Heritage and Environment Award 2007.

Perhaps it is her motto and something we should all think about that gets the results, “Think global, act local, to improve our environment.”

Environmental issues are not the only thing Rosalie is interested in. Although she says, “I’m not musical at all,” when she wanted to raise funds for the arts, she turned to nature and began garden rambles. But as is usual when someone has a great idea it is copied, so fundraising took another turn when Rosalie called upon Moira James “Our music specialist,” and so the increasingly popular Mural Town Twilight concerts was born. Now, as it’s Patron, Rosalie says she has found it, “Very satisfying and very rewarding to give so much pleasure to people.”

Rosalie is an energetic woman who as you can see lives life to the full, so you would think she would not have much spare time. But she acknowledges she is very fit with a strong constitution, and is extremely well organised. Crosswords and jig saws “keep the mind active” along with reading, history, tramping, gardening—hers is flourishing, and yoga which she has practised for the past 20 years. She has also sailed her own yacht.

But as is the norm for this special lady, she attributes the work she does to the support of others, and says she would not have been able to achieve what she has without the support of one particular person, her husband Ted. “I’ve had a very tolerant and supportive husband,” she says fervently. And then there is her family, “My family mean an awful lot to me—I have 14 grandchildren,” she says with a smile.