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History of Phyllis Harriet Moffatt (nee Win) and the Win family

February, 2010
Collated by Aroha Moffatt and Sue Clark

History on the Win Family

John and William Win there mother Elizabeth Griffith born in Wales early 1800's she married Robert Win in North Wales during the mid 1820's, Elizabeth and Robert had five children two of which died when infant, after Robert's death, Elizabeth remarried James Roberts, they all arrived in Nelson 26 October 1842 aboard the "Thomas Harrison". John and William were aged 15 and 14 respectively. They later married sister's Catherine and Harriet Humpherys, there parents were Edwin and Mary Humpherys and with five other siblings arrived in Nelson 21 August 1842 on the Sir Charles Forbes. Phyllis Moffatt nee Win mother Harriet Humpherys was only eight years old at the time.

John and William became partners in farming ventures and remained so till their families were old enough to take up farms of their own. The Brothers first farm was bought in Stoke, but early in married life this was sold and they moved to 88 Valley while there the house was destroyed by fire they sold and bought land in Ranzau, Hope area, this is where most of their families were born. John and Catherine had fourteen children one of which was Stillborn, William and Harriet family was of twelve children. With this amount of children this was a feat of its own, coping with early settler's life in Nelson.

In 1863 land was offered for sale in Dovedale and after exploring the valley the WIN brothers bought a block of land at auction and became the first residents of Dovedale.

John Win became the leader in the community, representing Dovedale on local bodies. John was also known to be very good at removing teeth the good old Whiskey bottle was a major assets in this procedure.

William became the "Doctor" to the valley and was an expert in setting broken bones and healing the sick. Catherine and Harriet were often called upon to do various nursing duties and there homes were often open to neighbours and strangers alike.

I must mention that the skills Catherine and Harriet showed when dealing with many a medical situation may have been learnt from there mother Mary Humpherys according to writings by Phyllis Moffatt. Mary Humpherys was from Nottingham, she had worked with various doctors during the hard times England. Mary was also a good Methodist, and started to nurse the rich and poor alike and she was called the monthly nurse, because after the baby was born, she stayed a month, doing housework and caring for patient and baby. It was not only maternity cases but any type of injury or illness. There were very few doctors at this time and hospitals did not eventuate until much later.

Life must have been pretty primitive, on arrival in Dovedale the Win Brothers had to set about clearing the land and establishing some form of housing for there families. The land was covered with native bush and bird life was in abundance, including many various species, the kaka was often hunted for the pot. The land was cleared in order to run stock and plant crops, make fences, and cattle were the first to arrive to assist with farm life, horses came later. Clearing the land was essential to the wellbeing of the families lets face it you just couldn't go to a Supermarket back then.

Many an accident happen while clearing the land, it is a known fact that lot of injuries were caused while using an axe, falling tree, burns, and broken limbs all came into the equation. Drowning often occurred while crossing rivers, and childbirth also played a big roll in the early life of pioneer women. About 1882 the residents of Dovedale and surrounding district presented, William Win with a silver tea and coffee service for his help in rendering first aid.

One of the first institutions in Dovedale in fact I ( Phyllis Win) believe was the school, which was used as a school, a church, a dance hall, meeting house, Sunday school and later a Library, by this time the valley was quite settled. In the evening music, a sing-song around the piano, and at times other instruments were introduced, two of Phyllis brothers played the Violin, table games were sometimes the order, drafts, cards and many other types of games.

Going back to events recorded about early life for the Win families each day was set aside for various tasks, bread making day and butter making, and after making butter everything had to be washed and rinsed well and put in boiling water. There was washing days and often water had to be fetched or pumped, ironing was also done weekly, once a week every room was thoroughly cleaned out, everyday was set aside for some task to be accomplished, Sunday was usual a quite day for reading, mending, sewing and needle work. Church also played a roll within there life in Dovedale.

Bathing was performed in the winter in big tubs or later a sit bath, in summer one went to the river, if one could manage it one went every day, or at least as often as one could.


Phyllis Harriet WIN was born in 1868, and attended the first Dovedale School, she married Percy George Moffatt in1895 in Dovedale, in 1898-99 they moved to Motueka . Percy and Phyllis where blessed with six children, Nina Phyllis Moffatt the eldest was to become Matron of the Grey Hospital, Greymouth. Second daughter Joyce Harriet went on to become a School Teacher, Lillian Theresa Home Sciences at Nelson Polytech, and son Malcom Percy worked at the Anchor Founder and later at the Power Sub-Station at Stoke and a daughter Margery Constance 1904-1905 Percy George and Phyllis Harriet Moffatt were Mayor and Mayoress 1913-15 in Motueka when War was declared in 1914. Mrs Moffatt took a very active part in most organizations for the Welfare of Soldiers and Next-of -Kin, and the Navy League.

She was really involved in the Motueka War Relief Fund and arrange many a shipment of clothing, eggs and was President of the Motueka Lady Liverpool Fund we hold letters from the Department of Internal Affairs (War Fund Office) Wellington, confirming this. A long with letter dated Sept.3rd 1914 from the Salvation Army National Headquarters Wellington the Commissioner then was William J. Richards. Mrs Moffatt was then dealing with Commissioner Cox who was the head of Army's Women's Slum, Social and Rescue Work in England.

Mrs Moffatt Honoured with Life Membership to the RSA in appreciation for all her endeavour's during the 1914-1918 1st World War.

In 1937 Mrs Phyllis Harriet Moffatt was the proud recipient of a CORONATION MEDAL on the occasion of King George VI Coronation.

Mrs Moffatt's interest was also directed towards Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Presbyterian Church and the Women's Missionary Union, and Red Cross.

In the 1930's Depression she volunteered her home as a depot for clothes for those in need. People who had clothes to spare bought them to her and many a mother was grateful to call quietly to find suitable garments for family. At the time great emphasis was being placed on immigration to increase the population, but Mrs Moffatt often said "Our best immigrants are our own babies and we should do all we can to improve conditions for mother and children", that still applies to day.

In August 1914 she sent a letter to the Nelson Branch of Plunket requesting that a District Nurse be permitted to visit Motueka to explain the purpose of the movement.

September 10 Mrs Moffatt received a reply advising that a Nurse Morgan would visit Motueka in ten days on her arrival a meeting was convened and Mrs Moffatt was appointed Chairperson and continued in that capacity following the establishment of the Motueka Branch of Plunket.

Phyllis Moffatt was a strong advocate in the establishment of a Cottage Hospital in Motueka early 1920 which provided services until 1973. She was a Member of the Nelson Hospital Board for 27 years (1920-1947) and felt very strongly that there should be some form of institution to serve the large western portion of the district. Mrs Moffatt was the first women in Motueka district to become a member of the Local Authority, when she was appointed to the Nelson Hospital Board.

During her time on the Hospital board it is recorded that she only ever missed one meeting owing to the fact that she was a patient in Hospital.

As a member of the hospital board Mrs Moffatt gave great service, was a keen worker and interested herself particularly in women and children, within the Hospital and Motueka District. She made it her custom when in Nelson for Board Meetings, to visit the Women's and Children Wards, chatting with patients and giving gifts of fruit to those who had none.

A committee was formed in May 1921 to formulate a sound scheme for raising money to establish and maintain a Cottage Hospital in Motueka.

Pressure from the community on the then Public Health Department agreed to the project as long as the community was prepared to contribute to the cost. The bulk money was raised at a carnival at Memorial Park. Seven Hundred and Fifty Pound (750) was raised.

In May 1922 the Committee then wrote to the Nelson Hospital Board asking that they proceed with the establishment of a Cottage Hospital in Motueka. Negotiations began to buy the former Darville Private Hospital for 2,500 Pounds the communities contributions of 750 Pounds was paid in 1923, the title was then transferred to the Nelson Hospital Board and operated in various forms until 1993.

On her Retirement the Hospital Board Member made an appreciative remark on her service and presented her with a Standard Lamp and a Collection of Books. She was also the first women on the Motueka District School Committee, and taught Sunday School at Dovedale.

The family was truly honoured when in 1973 the Geriatric Hospital was renamed the "Phyllis Moffatt Memorial Hospital" and thereby perpetuating her name in Motueka's History for ever it was proposed by Miss L.M.C. Ingram, to the then Nelson Hospital Board, "she said" it would give great pleasure to the citizens of the Mouteka borough and district, it would be a fitting tribute to the long and valuable service she gave the Nelson Hospital Board and the Hospital of Motueka, the Boards vote was unanimously agreed a pond by all.

Copy supplied of Letter written to Phyllis's Family dated 25th June 1973 re the naming of the Geriatric Hospital at Motueka "Phyllis Moffatt Memorial Hospital" I know for a fact that it gave the family great pleasure when they chose to perpetuated her name in the Hospital Service of Motueka and Motueka History, what with being a founding member in the establishment of a hospital in Motueka in the first place.

We the family of the late Phyllis Moffatt are truly saddened that some form of recognition regarding all her service she gave to the Community of Motueka and Hospital no longer exist. Maybe a plaque should have been made and placed somewhere by the community and hospital board to commemorate her Memorial ("Phyllis Moffatt Memorial Hospital"). After all isn't a Memorial something to be honoured, treasured, and preserved (not a building). Right up until her death in 1958 at age 90 the community of Motueka meant a lot to her.

Comment by Aroha Moffatt, on behalf of the Moffatt Family:
[Posted 23 September 2010]
A big thanks to all concerned. I was total blown away when I came across the article, beautifully presented. Well done for preserving our History on Phyllis Moffatt (nee Win) and Family.

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