Ailsa Stewart’s father was the harbourmaster for the Whanganui Harbour Board, and Ailsa, born in 1943, grew up in the port suburb of Castlecliff, where the sights and sounds of a working harbour were central to her childhood, as she recalls here. Ailsa attended Castlecliff Primary School and Whanganui Girls College, then trained as a nurse and later as a midwife, working in Dunedin, Scotland and Wellington before returning to Whanganui where she took a job at Whanganui Base Hospital. Later jobs took her to Tonga and to the Solomon Islands; she then spent many years as a Whanganui District Councillor and was the first elected member of the Whanganui District Health Board. She was appointed a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for her work in the community and awarded a New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993 for 30 years of service to women and children. Her life of service continues today, in a range of volunteer roles, and she concludes this interview with a reminder to others of the value of volunteering.
Extracts from the interview can be heard here - the full interview can be accessed at the Alexander Heritage and Research Library, Whanganui.