A few weeks back here at Kintalk, we posted a blog on the Bomb Girls of England, those women and girls who worked in the munitions factories in the English countryside during World War One.
In New Zealand, as in the UK, the manpower shortage meant there was also a significant shortage of workers to another most important part of the economy – the farms - and that problem was solved by the introduction of The Women's Land Service.
By accounts, many of the girls were good workers. Maybe too good as the article “Is It Jealousy?” in the Auckland Star (2 November 1943) suggested when the North Otago Farmers’ Union moved to employ the girls as domestic workers instead of farm workers. The article suggested the farmers wanted the girls to be taken down a peg, and condemned the move.
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Sadly, inspite of their labour keeping the country going during the war years, their contribution was largely unacknowledged; they didn't qualify as service people so were unable to be members of the RSA. In fact the only group to openly acknowledge their contribution was Federated Farmers. The Land Girls held reunions for many years after the war, and in recent times were finally given some recognition - Certificates of Appreciation from the New Zealand Government.
For more about the Land Girls, check out Dianne Bardsley’s book “The Land Girls: In a man’s world, 1939-1946.” There are borrowable copies available in Auckland Libraries.