HUGGINS, WINIFRED AGNES (BEM)
Winifred Agnes Huggins was born in 1896 in Inglewood, one of six daughter's of Alexander Iden Huggins and Lily Victoria nee Swanston. The Huggins family lived at Ohawe Road for many years about the turn of the century. The girls were educated by a governess, Miss Rixon, who later went to the Lysaght family at Mokoia. Later, they moved into Hawera and Winifred became a member of the Hawera Women's Club as well as working as a music teacher in the town.
By 1950, and living in Auckland, Winifred had founded the St Heliers Beautifying Society, and with several like-minded friends rescued Dingle Dell, in Fern Glen Road, St Heliers from being overgrown with bramble and weeds. This idea fired her imagination and she founded the New Zealand Tree Society. Before that, she once confessed, she wouldn't have known a kauri tree from a pohutukawa. For the next 35 years she diligently raised tree seedlings, both native and exotic, to plant in Dingle Dell and other small areas around Auckland. At one time she had as many as 4000 in her backyard.
Miss Huggins' favourite tree project was what she called "the King's kauris." She planted the first of a stand of 100 kauris in Dingle Dell as a memorial to King George VI, who died in 1952. It was not long before she was raising kauri seedlings from three sections she owned at Laingholm in her own backyard across the road from Dingle Dell.
She also planted many exotic trees in the dell, a move not entirely endorsed by some, who argued that only natives should be planted there. Miss Huggins firmly disagreed, pointing out that only crops and exotics had been grown on the Tamaki isthmus for the previous 140 years and that it was not until 1924 that the first native trees were planted in the area.
She was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1969 for her work in founding the Tree Society and for her conservation and tree planting efforts both in Auckland and around the country. In 1984, a memorial seat was erected in her honour at the entrance to Dingle Dell but by then she was in poor health and unable to attend the dedication ceremony performed by the then Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon.
Winifred Agnes Huggins died in St Andrews Hospital, Glen Innes on 7 September 1988.
Barbara Kemp, Hawera
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