NEW ZEALAND WOMEN AMATEUR
IN THE BEGINNING
At the 35th NZART Conference held in Hamilton in June1961, an announcement was made asking any YL amateurs to meet together.Thelma Souper ZL2JO had been one of the few licensed YLs attending Conference for some time, and as she had heard that there were some newly licensed YLs present, she was anxious to meet them. Consequently, the first YL meeting took place with Thelma, Florence Voss ZL1AXP, Vicki Shaw ZL1OC, Celia Reed ZL1ALK and Elsie Whitely ZL1JP. These YLs were pleased to meet each other and felt that it was time to encourage other women to participate in this male dominated hobby, and to possibly form a YL club. It was decided to hold a monthly 80m. net, beginning Tuesday 11 July 1961, and this was held with eight check-ins, those present at Hamilton plus Judith Holland ZL1AWM Sylvia Kirkland ZL2QZ (now ZL2LS) and Molly Blake ZL3AO. ZL1AXP was net controller. A circular letter was sent to all known YL amateurs inviting them to join in and so began the regular YL nets, which continue to this day. "Break - In" editor generously gave the group space in the magazine and YLs featured every month with "YLNews", this being changed to "WARO" in 1965.
"YL News" tried to profile one licensed YL each month, with photo and description of the rig, family, etc. and these were very well received by the OM amateurs at the time. It is noted that in September 1961 Sylvia then ZL2QZ made the first two-way ZL YL SSB contact with the States on 80 metres. These were the days when SSB was just becoming established on the amateur bands, in fact she was the first YL to operate SSB in New Zealand. In October 1961 the group decided to appoint a President Florence ZL1AXP, and a Secretary Thelma ZL2JO.
The next step was to form a club, and consequently a meeting was held in Brents Hotel, Rotorua on 10th March 1962 with seven YLs present: Thelma ZL2JO, Celia ZL1ALK, Vicki ZL1OC, Judith ZL1AWM, Florence ZL1AXP, Janette, ZL1ANA, and Enid Rosen. many others were supportive, but unable to attend. "After considerable discussion" (to quote the report) the name of the group became New Zealand Women Amateur Radio Operators, the inaugural meeting of WARO was held. Molly ZL3AO was elected to the position of Vice President, and Foundation Members were all those YLs previously mentioned, plus Eve Rimmer ZL1AIO, Rae Braddock ZL1FI ( now ZL4NI) , RuthLobb ZL3PL, Zelda Garlick ZL3AAB, and Winifred Scheffer ZL2AOA. The establishment of the group was reported in many newspapers by the Press Association. A set of rules was drawn up with the objects of the group: "To promote and encourage interest in radio amongst women radio operators".
Subscriptions were set at 5/- per year. Full membership was limited to women radio operators, but associate membership for other interested YLs has attracted a number in the First Annual Report, written in July 1962 membership stood at 13 transmitting and 9 associate.
"Official" Photographer for that inaugral meeting was Colin Shaw ZL1CS, and he continued in that role for 25years.
The USA had formed YLRL in 1939 as an international YL amateur group and South Africa already had a women's radio club (1952), so New Zealand became the third English speaking country to form its own YL group. Since that time there has been the formation of CLARA Canada, BYLARA (Great Britain), and others including ALARA (Australia) who celebrated their 21st Birthday at the ALARAMEET in Perth 28th and 29th September 1996. There was a large contingent of ZL WARO members and their partners at Perth for the 21st. Birthday celebrations.