New Zealand, D9930

Club Inauguration and Charter Meetings


Early History

Minutes of the Inaugural Meeting

Charter meeting

Charter Members

Early History

Len Whitehead

In 1959 two meetings established the Taradale Rotary Club. Minutes and Newspaper reports record the inauguration meeting in early 1959, followed by the Charter Night in mid-year.

The formation of the Rotary Club of Taradale took place in 1959 mainly as a result of the interest and enthusiasm of Ron Munro and Len Whitehead of Taradale and Past President John Alexander of the Napier Club. Len Whitehead had moved to Taradale from Paeroa in 1955 to take up a position as Presbyterian minister. He had been a member of the Paeroa Club and was convinced a Rotary Club was viable and would be good for the development of the community. Before he died, he vested his original correspondence which he conducted with the then District Governor, Mr G.T. McDowell.

Ron Munro

These letters reveal that Len spent a lot of time in 1955 pursuing the idea after an approach from local people who might be surmised to include Ron Munro a local chemist. Approaches were made in the latter half of 1955 to Mr Harold Holt, President of the Napier Club, who assisted with a survey to determine whether the Borough of Taradale could support the diversity of classifications required by Rotary. While supportive of the cause, the correspondence with G.T. McDowell suggests that the District Governor took a cautious and prudent approach. Because of this the Napier Club turned down the request to to assist with the formation of a Taradale Club.

Tom McDonald

Ron Munro enlisted the support of Tom McDonald and along with Len Whitehead "they persisted and gained the interest of Past-President John Alexander of Napier, who eventually became the District Governor's Representative. He and some Napier members met with key Taradale personnel" (quote from Len Whitehead's notes) and a review was done in 1958 which lead to the formation of this club in January 1959.

The first of these was held on Wednesday, 21 January, 1959, and was held in the Supper Room of the Town Hall. From the minutes of this meeting, it is clear that this is the date from which the Taradale Rotary Club commenced it existence, because Tom McDonald was installed as the first president that night by District Governor George Kerslake.

The following notes on the Charter Members have been provided by Jim Dine, a Charter member, who is one of the two who remain full and active members of the Club in 2005.

Jim recalls

"An approach was made to The Rotary Club of Napier to form a club in 1955 but this was turned down, Napier thinking there were not enough suitable people to get the twenty five members required to form a club.


RON MUNRO, TOM McDONALD and LEN WHITEHEAD persisted and gained a review in 1958 which lead to a meeting being called with the then District Governor GEORGE KERSLAKE in the October or November to gauge the interest in forming a club.


At that meeting, from memory, were the following men. :-


GEORGE KERSLAKE the D. G. of District 294.

JOHN ALEXANDER, Past President  of the Napier Club the District Governor's Representative,

HUGH HENDERSON, President of the Napier Club,

TOM McDONALD, a member of the Napier Club and the first Taradale Club President,

HARRY CLARK, also a member of Napier Club and Taradale Clubs first Senior Active Member.

LEN WHITEHEAD a Past President of the Paeroa Club,

RON MUNRO, one of those who persisted for the review,

ALAN MUNRO, Ron's son,

FRED YEO, the Mayor of Taradale,

JACK McDONALD, Department Store Owner,

LLOYD LEMAN, Taradale's Town Clerk,

CRAIG NORTH, a Builder and Past Town Board Member,

MARK POTHAN, a Cycle Retailer and Mechanic, and

Me, [ JIM DINE ], an Electrician.


Because it was a beautiful fine day the actual Meeting was held in the Car Park outside the Council Office. After only a short discussion the D.G. agreed that a club could be formed, JOHN ALEXANDER to organise. The meeting then went and inspected the venue for club meetings, the Town Hall Supper Room. All this took less than an hour. On the 21st. of January 1959, about 30 businessmen from Taradale and the areas around Taradale met and agreed a Rotary Club should be formed and that it should meet on Thursday at 5:30 PM., thus The Rotary Club of Taradale was formed."

The Inaugural Meeting

The first meeting of the Rotary Club of Taradale was held on Wednesday 21st January 1959. Tom McDonald was elected as the first President, and this meeting makes the start of the Club's existence.

The minute notes have been copied from the Minute book kept by the Club's first Secretary, L.V.Leman. This book is an historic document and available for any club member interested to read it. Click here to read it (PDF version)

 The Charter Night

On Saturday 6th June 1959, the club celebrated receiving its Charter, thus becoming a full member of Rotary International. The local paper, The Daily Telegraph fully reported the event.


[Report, Daily Telegraph, June 8th 1959 ]

Charter Presented To New Rotary Club At Taradale

The recently-formed Taradale Rotary Club has now  joined the 10,000 other such clubs in the worldwide fellowship of Rotary International. The 27 members of the club have now been linked with more than half a million men in 100 countries who belong to the movement.

The absorption of the Taradale club into Rotary International was effected on Saturday night, when the club received its charter.

District Governor G. H. Kerslake,

hands the charter to Club president,

Rotarian T. B. McDonald

Click image to see full photo

The ceremony was performed by District Governor G. H. Kerslake, who handed the charter to the club president, Rotarian T. B. McDonald, at a function held in the R.S.A. Hall, Taradale.

The meeting was attended by a large gathering of Rotarians, their wives and official guests, drawn from all parts of the Hawke's Bay province, with a substantial representation from many other clubs in the 294th ' Rotary District.

The occasion was a happy one. The presentation of the charter to the Taradale club was preceded by a banquet attended by more than 200 people.

The chairman was Rotarian J. Alexander, a past-president of the Napier Rotary Club, who, as the District Governor's special representative, was in charge of the formation of the Taradale Rotary Club.

The function was presented by the Napier Rotary Club as sponsor club. The hall was attractively decorated with flowers and greenery and the stage was set with Rotary banners, flags and a large replica of the Rotary wheel.


Before the dinner, grace was said by the padre of the Taradale club, Rotarian the Rev. L. G. B. Whitehead. A welcome to Taradale was extended by the Mayor, Rotarian F. G. Yeo. After the invocation by the padre of the Napier club, Rotarian the Very Rev. 0. S. 0. Gibson, a welcome was extended by District Governor Kerslake. He outlined the events which finally led to the formation of the Taradale Rotary Club and paid a tribute to the work done by Rotarian Alexander on the District Governor's behalf.

Rotarian Kerslake commended the sponsor club (Napier) on bringing Rotary to Taradale. He introduced two past District Governors, Rotarians S. Hayton (New Plymouth) and W.P.P. Gordon (Stratford), and welcomed the chairman of the Hawke's Bay County Council,Mr R. A. Nimon, as a special guest.

The roll call showed that Rotarians and their wives were present from the following clubs; Dannevirke, Feilding, Levin, Masterton, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Stratford, Taupo, Terrace End, Waipawa, Waipukurau, Wairoa, Carterton and Opotiki.

Left to right:

R.Munro, L.Whitehead, J.Alexander,

 Lloyd Leman,DG George Kerslake,

T.McDonald, -,-,-,Jim Sutherland

-not identified.

(Thought to be members of other clubs)


The advent of Rotary in the borough would mean a new community service in Taradale, said Past District Governor Gordon in addressing the assembly. It would mean new and lasting friendships and closer understanding of the other fellow and his problems, he said.

"It should mean that vocation will develop a new meaning, and Rotary expects you to maintain high ethics in business," he told the members of the new club. "If your daily work is measured in s. d .you are missing out on life. Vocational service means more than just words" he said.

At the beginning of each year, said Dr Gordon, there would be in Taradale a group of men who would meet and say: "What does Taradale need most?" They would then set out to meet that need.

The speaker referred to the interest which should be taken in the international sphere for the promotion of understanding and good will.

Click to expand.

No one in this photo has been identified.


In presenting the charter to the president of the Taradale club, Rotarian McDonald, District Governor Kerslake said: "As representative of Rotary International District 294, I present to the Rotary Club of Taradale this symbol of membership in a worldwide organisation. Rotary has used no magic formula in its rapid growth, but has captured the imagination of men by the master key of friendship. That key opens every door and the tremendous strength of Rotary stems from the fact that 1100 clubs are united in service.

"Taradale now .joins us in the quest of that ideal," he said. "By deeds and not by words, their club will move forwards to form a strong link in the worldwide chain. I wish you a rich experience in Rotary as you go forward to serve."

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In receiving the charter, Rotarian McDonald said that Taradale was only a .small district but would make up for that by keenness in Rotary.

"The charter which we have received to-night enters Taradale into a great organisation of 1100 clubs spread throughout the world. We are now at one with them," he said. "It is a wonderful privilege that we now have more than halt a million friends. I am certain that the Rotary club will grow in strength. The whole idea of Rotary must benefit Taradale.''

The Taradale president concluded by thanking the Napier club for its sponsorship and District Governor Kerslake for his support. Rotarian McDonald gave special thanks to Rotarian J. Alexander for his work in the formation of the club. "He is really the father of the Taradale club," said Rotarian McDonald.


Following the introduction of Taradale club members by the vice - president, Rotarian J. Sutherland, gifts to the new club were presented by representatives of visiting clubs and individual members.

During the evening, which concluded with supper, a vocal item was given by Miss Janet McDonald, and elocutionary items by Miss Maia Alexander.

Accompanist for the programme was Rotarian W. Gilmore; of the Taradale Rotary Club.