Pioneering is part of who we are. That’s why each Ryman village is named after a Kiwi or Aussie trailblazer. Anthony Wilding, Lady Diana Isaac, Evelyn Page to name a few. They lived with passion and purpose, they pushed further, they went beyond the ordinary. That’s exactly what we strive to do every day at Ryman. To pioneer a new way of living, for a new retirement generation.
Dame Hilda Ross (1883–1959)
Born Grace Hilda Cuthberta Nixon, Hilda Ross was a social activist and politician. Alongside a lifelong passion for music and playing the piano, she was vitally involved in welfare work and later politics at local and national levels.
Ross was an avid organiser during WWII forming the Hamilton Women’s Auxiliary Volunteer Corps and serving as president of the Lady Galway Guild and the Hamilton Ladies’ Patriotic Committee. Following the death of her husband, she applied her skillset, no-nonsense approach, and determination to politics.
Ross was the first woman to hold a council seat when elected to the Hamilton Borough Council in 1944, then in 1945 she was elected New Zealand National Party MP for Hamilton. She held this seat until her death in 1959. While acting as Minister of Social Security, Minister of Welfare of Women and Children, and Minister of Child Welfare, Hilda’s dedication and fierce advocacy for social welfare significantly benefitted New Zealand.
Among her causes, Ross supported gender equality, equal pay, and the education of girls and women regardless of their career choice. The ‘Mother of New Zealand’ was the 3rd New Zealand woman to be awarded an Order of the British Empire, DBE.
Hilda’s generosity and commitment to the Aotearoa community were immense. Her life and work have been documented online in the Te Ara Encyclopaedia.