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Women unite to boost trackers

The Wairarapa Federation of the Women’s Institute [WI] donated $1100 to WanderSearch at a packed federation meeting at Carterton’s Dalefield Hall this month.

WanderSearch devices are small, robust radio-frequency signal transmitters worn by a person at risk of going missing, such as people living with dementia, or young people with cognitive conditions such as autism.

Sam Milligan, who established WanderSearch in Wairarapa eight years ago “really appreciated” WI’s support.

“You as a group have supported us really well over the last few years,” Sam told the federation. “This [money] will go in our operational account to buy more pendants, help maintain those out in the community and help with fuel costs,” he said.

There are 25 WanderSearch pendants in use across the region and the number fluctuates depending on demand, Milligan said.

They bring peace of mind and “a lot more freedom” not only for those wearing the pendant but for their family, he said.

“We’re finding that lately we’ve had more pendants issued for younger children, rather than older people suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.”

The WI – whose motto is ‘unity is our strength’ – was established in Aotearoa in 1921. There are more than 2500 members nationwide in 159 local branches across 29 district federations.

The Wairarapa Federation is made up of nine WIs located as far north as Mount Bruce and as far south as Featherston.

These days, WI members tend to be older women, but the reasons they remain in the institute today are the same reasons they joined, which for some was 40 or 50 years ago.

“It’s the companionship,” long-time member Carol Wingate said.

Wingate and her sisters followed their mother’s footsteps into the Tinui WI, which has been around for 93 years.

When Wingate’s children were small, the WI offered the chance to meet “women in the exact same situation, at home with children, being a farmer’s wife”.

Today, Wingate appreciates knowing that once a month she’ll meet up with her friends.

The meeting at Dalefield Hall demonstrated that knitting, sewing, baking and jam-making remain central to the WI’s kete of skills and pleasures.

Lunch was full of home baking, Wingate’s sister knitted a colourful poncho during Milligan’s presentation and a superb handmade double quilt was won by one lucky WI member.

The yo-yo [the biscuit, not the toy] competition was also a firm favourite, particularly with the judges, one of whom quipped: “WI doesn’t stand for Women’s Institute but for Weight Increase.”

For more information about the WI in Wairarapa, visit www.wi.org.nz/

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