On March 10, long-time Otaki resident and my friend for over 20 years, Margaret Long died. She was 88 years old and just two days short of her 89th birthday.
Nationally, Margaret will be remembered for leading the campaign for equal pay in the public sector – an Act which was passed in 1960.
Locally she is remembered for her work with the Otaki Women’s Health Group, Otaki Community Health Committee, The Museum Trust and the Historical Society, and also as adviser, mentor, proof reader and friend to many.
She was active in our community for most of the 27 years she lived here, giving knowledge and support to people as well as community organisations. She had a head for statistics and she quickly learnt about the disadvantages women faced, which is why she readily supported women in their chosen field. She was a great mentor to me in my yearly years as a district councillor.
Even as she aged she contributed to many organisations in Otaki. She was ready and able to be part of the fledgling Oral History programme at the museum. She edited the Historical Journal for five years. She was the patron of the Women’s Health Group. Her help and support didn’t end with community organisations. She assisted and proof-read the work of some of Otaki’s authors – all unpaid of course. Her soirees were fun, her support of the ideals of the Labour Party and of women’s and workers’ rights unflinching.
Her early moniker as the ‘firebrand’ of the PSA equally applied to her work and her later vigilance.
Her Queen’s Service Medal was richly deserved and her memory will be cherished by many.