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A Local Celebration Of LLLNZ's 40th Anniversary

Barbara Sturmfels and Anne Heritage
Auckland New Zealand
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 4, August-September 2005, p. 86.

The claim to fame of the Central Auckland (formerly Mt. Albert) LLL Group is that the very first meeting held in the name of La Leche League in New Zealand took place in Mt. Albert, Auckland on April 25, 1964. It was decided that the auspicious occasion of the 40th anniversary of that meeting needed some local recognition, and the Group Leaders and Leader Reserves settled on an afternoon tea on May 2, 2005.

We kept it simple by asking for contributions to refreshments and for donations to cover our costs. We reduced postage to a minimum by using word-of-mouth and email invitations and by placing a free community notice in the local newspaper.

We were fortunate that one of our Leader Reserves, Jill McIntyre, offered to host the tea in her large home because about 60 women turned up, with an age range of more than 40 years! They included current and retired Leaders from around Auckland and current and former members of the local Group and its predecessors -- with, of course, a sprinkling of children. An extra bonus was the presence of two women, hitherto unknown to us, who had seen the newspaper notice -- one had been a member of a Palmerston North Group in the late 1960s and the other was a former Rotorua Leader of the 1970s who just happened to be visiting Auckland from overseas.

Most notably, we were delighted to welcome Shirley Walker, who was one of New Zealand's first LLL Leaders, and her three daughters (Jane Gunson, Lucy Lawson, and Stella McFarlane) who all became Leaders in their turn. Is this some kind of world record, we wonder? We also honored Sue Sutton, who was accredited more than 30 years ago, making her LLLNZ Area I's longest-serving Leader. Both women were presented with a copy of the story of the LLLI Founders, SEVEN VOICES, ONE DREAM, as a token of our appreciation.

There was, needless to say, a birthday cake, which was cut by as many women as we could persuade to admit to being 40 years of age, including Sandra Arbuckle and Lisa Walshe, who had cut the 30th birthday cake (their photo was featured with an article in NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 10, No. 4), and by Sue, who has a 40-year-old child. Group Leader Barbara Sturmfels, who has recently acquired the skill of playing with logos on her computer, surrounded the cake with a paper row of the ruby-and-gold New Zealand anniversary logo.

By the time those two ceremonies had been carried out, attendees were eager to return to the business of the afternoon -- catching up with old friends -- and so the presentation of "lucky dip" prizes for those who had kindly donated was carried out with a babble of background chat. We acknowledged most donations with either a 40th anniversary note pad or an LLLNZ key ring. However, the greatest pleasure was in hearing LLL Leaders and members, past and present, exchanging news and discussing the importance of their involvement with the organization. La Leche League seems to occupy a place of strong affection in many hearts, even for those who left many years ago.

Comments on the afternoon included the following:

From my childhood memories of LLL until now, I know that any LLL function will inspire, challenge, and comfort me and empower my parenting.
Wonderful memories of those days -- -we were such a great support group for each other. And we were agents of social change! So much more than breastfeeding -- the whole of parenting.
LLL stays with me for life. The skills I have learned underpin all I do. I appreciate the opportunity to still belong.
Invaluable support and establishment of lifetime values. Family bonds -- now evident in children and grandchildren.
Wonderful days with lovely people.
Enjoyed meeting up with people from ages past and making new friends amongst newer LLL members.

In the words of the diary of Kathleen Peace, who organized that first gathering 40 years ago, "All present soon found mutual interest and became good friends."

Barbara Sturmfels and Anne Heritage were accredited as LLL Leaders with the Mt. Albert (now Central Auckland), New Zealand LLL Group in 1996 and 1983 respectively. Each is the mother of two children and lives in Auckland. Both have worked at Group, Area, and Affiliate levels. Presently, Barbara is the LLLNZ Director and Anne, a former LLLNZ Director, is an LLLNZ Peer Counsellor Programme Training Coordinator. This article originally appeared in the July-August 2004 issue of LLLNZ Aroha. Send articles about "Leaders' Stories" to Nancy Spahr at 174 E. Main St., Peru IN 46970 USA, or email NSpahr at

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