Miss H. E. Bowen

Miss H. E. Bowen epitomises philosophy of the pioneer women - deeds not words!

Filename: sw1_24.pdf ( download )

Size: 400 KB

Document type: application/pdf ( )


This text that follows is the content of the attached PDF.


In Karaka Lodge, the home of Miss H. E. Bowen (shown in earlier life in photo at left), Queen Street, it is not difficult to recapture the atmosphere of 50 years ago. 

This fine old house, with its wide verandahs, huge windows and high ceilings, surrounded by aged trees, recalls vividly those days of gracious living which disappeared with the development of the internal combustion engine. 

Miss Bowen is a spry, petite little woman whose energy and activity belie her years. It is her wide range of interests which has kept her youthful. Apart from one period of several years, she has lived in Levin since 1892 and, for over 60 years, has been keenly interested in politics, both local and national. Other interests include her church, cultural activities and numerous organisations such as the Y.W.C.A. and the Red Cross Society. 

Miss Bowen recalls that in 1892, when she arrived here with her mother, they alighted from a public works train at the only station then in existence, a little flag station far up The Avenue. Dense bush crowded close to the railway line on both sides and the Bowens were glad to be met by a friend and driven back to the township. 

In 1896 Mrs. M. A. Bowen was appointed postmistress at the magnificent salary of £20 per annum. Miss Bowen assisted her mother until she was herself appointed to the position in 1902. By this time the post office store had been moved to the site where Montgomery’s Furnishings stands. 

Photo at left shows Miss Bowen's house Karaka Lodge in Queen Street east. Built in 1910 it now faces Karaka Crescent east and has been modified. 

Mrs. Bowen ran the drapery-grocery store which opened in Oxford Street and her daughter’s post office door opened on to Queen Street. At their back door huge trees stood at dignified distances with a carpet of tiny delicate ferns underfoot. 

About this time Miss Bowen bought her first bicycle, one of two which she wore out in the course of her work and outings. Miss Bowen claims to be the first woman cyclist in Levin.


Only woman to serve on borough council

A few years were to pass before Miss Bowen was asked to stand for the borough council - the only woman to serve on that body. During the years she served her position at the poll grew from seventh to third and second from top - a tribute to her usefulness and popularity. 

Recalling early days, she spoke of Mr. James McIntyre, local headmaster, whose school roll was 58 pupils when she arrived here.


In 1894 “that grand old man,” Mr. Nation, came here with his newspaper. The same year saw the State Farm established by Richard John Seddon as a refuge for the unemployed.


Miss Bowen still has a postcard from Sir Joseph Ward, posted as the bells rang in the new century. The card celebrated the penny postage.


People were more community-minded, Miss Bowen says. (The photo at left shows Miss Bowen and Christina Prouse at a gathering in honour of Miss Bowen, by women's societies of Levin and district in 1948). There were many functions in well-filled halls. In 1905 the women held a mock parliament. Basis of discussion was a women’s parliament. Few of the developments they envisaged came to pass, Miss Bowen admits.


Among well-known executives of the Y.M.C.A. were the Rev. J. McCaw and Messrs. W. G. Adkin, L. A. Bowen, James Prouse, P. W. Goldsmith, R. R. Harris and F. E. Parker. Miss Bowen was active in organising, writing and playing in operettas and concerts to raise money for the Anglican Sunday schools, Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, etc., and was organist of the Weraroa Church for a time as well as Sunday school superintendent.


Greatest regret for Miss Bowen - the passing of the beautiful bush walks - the evenings spent at the boating club, the stands of timber round the lake.

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion


Tags: Post Office

Miss H. E. Bowen

Creator:Corrie Swanwick
Creation date:Levin's Golden Jubilee, March, 1956
Publisher:The Chronicle