News and events

08 June 2022 - 9:46pm

Win Rockell’s contribution to education, especially that of women and girls


Win valued education very highly, especially that of women and girls. She began her B. Sc degree as an extramural student from Massey, completing it after the young family moved to Palmerston North. There she soon joined what was then known as the Manawatū Branch of the New Zealand Federation of University Women.  Win was active in that organisation from 1969 as Secretary, President, and assisting with the Academic Dress Hire service which she convened for a short time.  Funds from the gowning service have for several decades provided scholarships for female students.

For three years from 1985 to 1988, the Manawatū Branch hosted the National Executive and Win was Vice President.  Like some others during those three years, she was still active on the local branch committee and also in hosting the only International Federation of University Women Conference to have been held in New Zealand.

Win’s contribution to education in the wider community through what’s now known as Graduate Women no doubt contributed to her serving on the Massey University Council from 1986. Five years later Win was the first woman to be appointed Pro Chancellor at Massey University fulfilling this role until she retired from the Council in 1999.  At a capping ceremony in 1993, Win was presented with a Massey medal.  She would have chuckled about receiving this prestigious award during what was the centenary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand.

In summary, Win was a strong woman, decisive, assertive, pragmatic, though sometimes she made unilateral decisions.  Her work in education, marriage guidance and as a JP showed her willingness to help people improve their life chances. Win managed to fit her outside interests around her valued family life. When going to their home for meetings, we were always impressed with Win’s exquisite needlecraft on display, her hospitality, her ready laughter and her desire to promote education.

Rest in peace Win.

- Rowena Taylor & Mary Skipworth representing Graduate Women Manawatū