About

The Kapiti Herb Society holds one meeting per month on the second Tuesday of the month at 10 am, at the Senior Citizens Rooms, Ocean Road, Paraparaumu Beach.

The meetings have a sales table offering a varied selection of goods supplied by our members with proceeds going to the club. Members are able to borrow books and magazines on herbs and related subjects from the library. There is also a raffle with 3 tickets for $2.

Social Activities include guest speakers, discussion groups and workshops.

 

Newsletter: All members receive a monthly online newsletter, The Bay Tree. The editorial team welcomes contributions from members to make The Bay Tree a more accurate reflection of the interests of members and herbal matters.



Our History Summary:   Was presented to the current members at our 40th Anniversary in 2019 by Leoni Harris who is one of the current founding members.  
The following is what she shared with the membership at our Anniversary get-together.

     Thank you for inviting me to celebrate this significant occasion with you, the 40th anniversary of the Kapiti Herb Society, a celebration we can feel a great sense of pride in.
     It seems I may be one of the last remaining foundation members of the Society. To help me recall some of those early memories I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and reminiscing over the rich resources held in our library in the form of photo albums and scrapbooks.
     Thankfully, in those early years, members had the foresight to record events, if but briefly, on the societies early progress. This is a rich historical resource that we are very fortunate to have inherited. Long may it be treasured.
     The Kapiti Herb Society was formed in 1979, the culmination of a W.E.A. course on ‘Herbs and their Uses’ tutored by an English woman, Muriel Breed.

     There were 6 lectures in all, held over 6 weeks:
Introduction, Classification, Use of herbs in cooking, Use of Herbs in the garden, Use of Herbs in first aid, Propagation and growing.
     Kapiti in 1979 was at the beginning of its metamorphic journey from sleepy holiday baches to a rapidly developing village.
    At the time I was a mother of a 6-year-old living in Paraparaumu. Feeling somewhat isolated I was looking for an interest that would take me out into the community with an opportunity to meet new people along with a meaningful learning experience.
     Through listening to Muriel’s lectures we soon discovered she was indeed a rich font of herbal lore. It was like being thrown deep into the pages of some ancient old herbal, with traditions that had been buried deep, in books and manuscripts, in antiquity. It was all very contagious and we longed for more.
     Only one month after Muriel’s stimulating lectures, in August of 1979, 20 enthusiasts attended an inaugural meeting at the old Paraparaumu Community Centre, with the aim of forming the Kapiti Herb Society.
     Jean Ingram and Muriel Breed lead the first committee as President and vice president. Alison Proctor, Jeanne Samuels, Anne Webb, who you know well, and myself, were part of the 13 who made up that first committee and who worked with great passion and tremendous energy.
    The following year, 1980, Muriel Breed was invited to become the Society’s patron.  From that initial inaugural meeting in August 1979 …… The first subscription was set at $2.00 single and $3.00 double.  Artist Maureen Duffy offered to design the first logo, a Chamomile flower.  The Wellington Herb society were very supportive offering copies of their constitution, newsletters, lists of members who lived in the Kapiti area who may like to join us and suggested speakers. Their support was invaluable.  The library started with books loaned by members.
    The first issue of the Annual Journal ‘Dittany’ was published that same year. 15 Herb societies were established throughout New Zealand at this time.
     In December 79 the first Christmas luncheon was held, put on by the committee. A charge was made of 50 cents for members with permission to bring one guest!  There was a tremendous amount of rich knowledge along with sheer
passion, enthusiasm and volumes of energy from the committee and members who put everything they knew and learnt into practice.
     Under the umbrella of this remarkable high achieving team, the Kapiti Herb Society formed and began its journey. We were all wanting to be a part of it.
     By the end of 1981, 2 years after that inaugural meeting in 1979, membership had grown to 79 financial members.
     By the end of 1982, 3 years on, there were 130 members. Florence Kane,  president at the time, was reported to have said: “This is an indication of the resurgence of the interest in herbs.”
     Five years on, in August 1984, membership had grown to an amazing 200. By then more assistance was needed from members to work behind the scenes.  It was clearly time to look at how to continue and be able to accommodate so many members. The numbers had outgrown the space available in the hall.  It was decided to trial additional evening meetings.
     The society donated a further 10 chairs to the Centre.  It was also at this time that the newsletter format changed to A5 size and now called ‘The Bay Tree’. It was catalogued for the NZ National Bibliography. Copies are now filed in the National Library of NZ’s permanent collection. Members Gardens - as a source of inspiration.
     We were very fortunate to have Anne Webb’s stunning garden close by in Tiromoana Road, Raumati. She began her garden by digging up her huge front lawn and redesigning it along the lines of a traditional English Herb garden with a central axis. Anne welcomed visitors selling herbs at her gate. You were often greeted by her gentle nature and her welcoming smile. It was a lovely bonus if she was at home she would happily share her herbal and gardening knowledge with you. She was delightful. Anne grew her healthy well-established herb plants from cuttings or seed either in her glasshouse or in boxes set out around the house. 
     Our society sales table flourished from her efforts and generosity. All were beautifully labelled with Anne again willingly sharing her herbal and gardening knowledge.  She appeared to re-design her garden every year, miraculously it seemed to
establish itself overnight, a testament to her wealth of horticultural knowledge and landscape design skills.
     On occasion we were treated to meetings in her garden, sometimes a pot luck lunch was included. It was a visual and tasting experience, an absolute joy, adding much to our herbal experiences and knowledge.
     A Quiz would sometimes be held there, and as we wandered around her garden we would take time to pause and visually see, taste and smell the herbs as we went. At times a few of the less common herbs had been added and would whet our appetite further. Morning tea at Anne’s was always a delicious treat.
     Jeanne & David Samuels garden at the end of Makora Road Otaihanga, on the banks of the Waikanae River, was a beautiful award-winning country garden. Herbs took a prominent place here too, surrounded by beautiful woodland shrubs, including Rhododendron and established trees. Jeanne too was an extremely knowledgeable and generous woman. We often made trips to her garden, held the odd meeting there, and the food she served was delicious too. She was a wonderful cook. Her bubbly, happy, personality, energy and enthusiasm she willingly shared with us all. It was infectious.
    Visitors with a passion for herbs came from far and wide, often entertained in Anne and/or Jeanne’s gardens but also at our meetings.
    Herb Societies visited from Whanganui, Wairarapa, Blenheim Societies visited in those first years and as far away as Australia, America and Japan.
     When Esther Deans, author of “No Dig Gardens”, visited from Australia, the local Horticultural Societies and the general public were also invited.
     Publicity at the time was amazing and of a kind rarely seen today. Both the Kapiti Observer and the Evening Post wrote many articles on our activities, progress and events, some on individual members gardens, the visitors that came to see them and numerous articles were written just on herbs alone.
     There was also, to my surprise, a clipping from the NZ Listener with interesting comments on the 5th volume of ‘Dittany’. Worth a read!
     I pondered why these articles on interest groups in our area are seldom seen today making these quite remarkable. I am very grateful that these have been kept as a record of that time. They make very interesting reading and may hold many an idea for today.
     Displays were a common event taking great member energy to pull together, whether in the Kapiti Library, Coastlands Mall and another for Conservation week.
     A significant source of income came in 1982 at our Christmas luncheon when our first 70-page publication “Herbs - A Guide to their Use” was launched by Florence Kane [president] and Jeanne Samuel’s husband, David Samuels, after many months of preparation. It had been initiated by a suggestion from members for a committee to collate their herbal recipes. It turned out to be a far cry from the professional end result, a book the society was very proud of.
     One ensuing result of this was, not only the number of sales made but the opportunity for 8 members to give various talks to local organisations; 500 copies were sold immediately for $6.00 ea. at that luncheon. A turn around reprint over the Christmas break resulted in 2000 copies being sold overall.
     It held within its pages medicinal remedies, herbs for use in the kitchen, recipes for cosmetic creams, infusions, drying and harvesting herbs, insect repellants, soil disinfectants and so much more.

Displays:
     Substantial displays could be seen in Coastlands Mall, the Paraparaumu library or at the Waikanae Centennial Fair to name but a few.  The large display in the Kapiti library covering many shelves of herbal books, preserves and remedies was pulled together, and yet another impressive display was set up in Coastlands Mall.
    It was wonderful to see members of the public showing such interest in our displays, spending time hovering and asking questions. A large display was also created and manned at the Waikanae Centennial Fair.

Trips always brought on a buzz of excitement.  
- Our first bus trip in 1981 was to the Wellington Herb Society’s Herb garden, overlooking the Lady Norwood Rose Garden.
- The second trip held in the same year to Cross Hills Rhododendron Trust in Kimbolton.
- Another to Marton to visit historical Westoe along with numerous other gardens in the area.
- Palmerston North held a trip for us to a series of private gardens including Whanganui’s Bason Botanical.
- At another time we made a trip to Massey University to view the propagation house and the P.W. Herb garden there.
- Locally we visited Geerling’s and Pukehou nurseries and another a mystery trip to Gear Homestead, Porirua Council plant nursery with lunch in Wellington at Peter Waugh’s Natural cafe.

     Annual NZ Herb Federation Conferences meant opportunity for a wonderful exchange of fresh ideas, friends made and knowledge gained.  Three committee members, Anne Webb, Jeanne Samuels and Alison Proctor represented the Kapiti Herb Society attending their first, and the inaugural NZ Herb Federation Conference, in Invercargill.  Also attending were well-known Botanist Gillian Painter, and Gillian Polson, Educationalist, both of whom were authors of several well-known
books on herbs and herbal lore. Gillian Polson wrote “The Living Kitchen” which you may know.  Members attended further Federation conferences in Auckland and Christchurch.

     Income also came from the sale of fresh herbs and potted plants on our abundant sales table, through raffles, at craft markets, Southward&#3';s craft fairs, Kapiti Floral Festival. Members sold potted and fresh herbs at a craft market held in Marine Gardens.

Meetings:
Scientist Dr Pike on “Wider Aspects of Pollution” and it’s the effect on our future and our children…. in 1984! And here we are 35 years on….  Harry Sellen’s from the Kapiti Horticultural Society spoke on soil improvement, organic gardening, composting and compost bins as well as home remedies for insect repellants made from Rhubarb leaves and garlic.
     Members shared knowledge and skills on taking cuttings, propagation, unusual herbs, herb families and garnishes.
- Janet McKenzie on Natural Foods
- Ngaire Kerr on Tussie Mussie’s
- Anne Webb on how to prepare a Herbarium
- The Rev Tiooke captivated his audience on “Medicines of the Maori”
- Muriel Breed our patron on Pot Pourri
- Mr Mason of Fielding’s ‘Old Rose Nursery’ on “Old Herbal Roses”
- A special additional meeting was held when Gillian Painter visited.  There were guest speakers on Iridology, - -Acupuncture, Diet, Bread, Herbal Winemaking.
- A potting workshop was held, Parks and Reserves gave a talk and MasseyUniversity visited and talked on tissue culture.

Community projects
• As part of a Rotary project on Raumati Road, the Kapiti Horticultural society and Kapiti Herb Society together contributed, ours a herb garden.
• Members brought along herbs to plant in the P E P workers training scheme vegetable garden at the back of the Community Centre.
• We were involved in the setting up of the first Kapiti College Herb Garden and began the initial stages of the Mary Potter herb garden.

     I’d like to thank you all very much for giving me this opportunity to reflect back on this rich journey at that time in my life. It’s been a real pleasure sharing it with you today. I wish the society all the very best for the future ahead.


Kapiti Herb Society is a member of the Herb Federation of New Zealand.
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