1906 International Exhibition

Women of the Home Industries Committee

The Home Industries Committee was only one of dozens of committees involved in the organisation of the 1906-07 New Zealand International Exhibition held in Christchuch. It was the only one however to include women members. Miss Kate Baldwin, Miss M. V. Gibson, Mrs Elizabeth Gard’ner, Mrs C.H. (Emilie) Croxton and Miss Mary Colborne-Veel served alongside several male committee members, and were active in preparing schedules, receiving entries, and arranging exhibits for the home industries court. According to Miss Colborne-Veel's mother, the women worked extremely hard on the committee; indeed, Mrs Colborne-Veel thought their strength was being over-taxed and feared her somewhat frail daughter was heading for a breakdown.

The name of Miss Kate Baldwin, who had served on a similar committee during the 1900 Jubilee Exhibition, was the first to be put forward. Miss Baldwin played a large role in organising the Home Industries Court, but on the opening day of the Exhibition, she caught a chill and shortly afterwards became seriously ill. She died on 16 July 1907, her health having been in decline for several months. In the six weeks before the Exhibition, Mary Colborne-Veel’s mother was too ill to be left alone, and as the family was unable to find a girl to help with the nursing, Miss Colborne-Veel’s Exhibition work was severely curtailed. After the exhibition opened, however, some assistance during the day was found so that Mary was free to take up her work again.