In 2015 the Winifred Knight Trust was transferred to Te Karaka Foundation as its first Named Endowment Fund. For 25 years, Winifred Knight’s trust has met educational, community, cultural and recreational needs in the area, including the annual Ohangai School Centennial Teaching Scholarship awarded to a first-year teacher training student from Hawera High School. As part of Te Karaka Foundation this support of the South Taranaki community is now assured in perpetuity.
Winifred Knight was born in India in 1896 to Sergeant-Major James Frank Knight and Edith Rachel (Weeks). When her father retired from the British Army in 1902, Winifred’s family moved to New Zealand settling first in Maungaturoto, North Auckland then in Eltham in 1911. She went to Eltham District High School before enrolling at Victoria University College, and graduated with an MA degree with first class honours in history. Her thesis was on the history of South Taranaki.
She trained as a teacher and completed her country service at Whenuakura, catching the train from Hawera to Patea and walking the rest of the way. She taught at Iona Girls’ College in Havelock North before joining the teaching staff at Stratford Technical High School in 1922 and rising to the position of headmistress seven years later. She retired after twenty-five years at the school. Among her well-known pupils were artist, Mountford Toswill (Toss) Woollaston, Archbishop Brian Davis of Wellington and former Mayor of Stratford, Leo Carrington.
Throughout her life Winifred Knight supported a wide range of community organisations including Girl Guides, the Hawera Women’s Club, the Hawera Horticultural Society, amateur drama festivals, the WEA, the Red Cross, and business and professional women’s groups. She received a Queen’s Service Medal in 1979, and commented that she was “just one of many people interested in helping the community”. She died in 1991.