The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 8 (April 1, 1932.)
Selling New Zealand — Reminiscences of a Delightful Family
If you are not already aware, you will find on enquiry that New Zealand is officially represented in Australia by Trade and Tourist Commissioner L. J. Schmitt. But in a recent chat with his daughter, who is at present on holiday in New Zealand, I gathered the impression that we are also ably represented in Sydney by a whole family of unofficial Commissioners. Take, for example, Geoff, Mr. Schmitt's younger son, a pupil at Waverley College, Sydney. Though a small fellow of ten, he is a powerful advocate among his contemporaries of the attractions of New Zealand scenery. Well-armed with photographs and the other paraphernalia of a publicity go-getter, he gets his teacher's permission periodically to give lectures to his classmates, and while they sit enthralled he tells them stories of the Maoris, of alpining, of hot springs, and of shark-fishing in the waters of the Winterless North. I believe that he is also quite capable of booking trips for the Christmas vacation. His work cannot be checked off in statistics but it helps to sell New Zealand! There is also Pat, aged twelve, and Bernard, four years older, who very loyally do their share of the great work.
Among women I have met in Australasia, I know of few with a more delightful personality than Mrs. Schmitt, whom I had the privilege of knowing intimately before she left New Zealand. Devoted to her family, strong-minded, and very capable, she tops these qualities with an effervescent flow of spirits and a sense of humour that endear her to everyone she meets. It is not surprising, therefore, that she has made herself very popular in Sydney society, and that the functions at which she acts as hostess with Mr. Schmitt are always most successful. She takes an absorbing interest in everyone with whom she chats, and more especially so if they are New Zealanders. She makes everyone share her infectious gaiety. Like so many other public women of to-day, too, the keynote of her character is simplicity and kindliness, as many a stray New Zealander, temporarily hard-up, could testify. Together with Lady Julius and Lady Braddon, Mrs. Schmitt is a patroness of the New Zealand Women's Association. Membership of this Association is confined to people born in New Zealand. The Association is quite a strong body, and does excellent work in making New Zealand known in Sydney social circles. It also entertains distinguished New Zealand visitors, holds regular luncheons, and a special annual luncheon on Dominion Day.
Mr. Schmitt brings to our representation in Sydney not only a wide knowledge and experience of modern business, but qualities of an exceptional kind, for he has a magnetic personality and an unusually clear and acute page 63 mind. He would, indeed, be at a loss if it were otherwise. He has to sell New Zealand scenic attractions and organise and maintain an efficient agency service throughout Australia. The fostering of New Zealand trade is an even more important task calling for endless resource, patience, tact and energy. He is the buffer between New Zealand and Australian business men and manufacturers, and the value of his work is evidenced in the increasing number of enquiries he is called upon to handle. But these, the dual tasks of his official designation, are by no means the whole of the day's work. He receives and officially entertains distinguished New Zealand visitors, and, on behalf of our Government, joins with the Sydney Government in welcoming many other distinguished, visitors from overseas. To New Zealanders in Sydney he is the Government itself, and has to warn, admonish, instruct, sympathise, inform, and discharge a variety of other kindly, and occasionally unkindly offices, for the numerous callers who form a cue outside his office every day. I asked Miss Gwen whether he could not get a secretary to attend to them. “Oh, no,” she said; “they are all New Zealanders, and may have some genuine reason for asking his assistance. He could not risk sending them away unattended to.”
While Miss Schmitt has been having a delightful time staying with old friends in various parts of the North Island, she never forgets her responsibilities as the daughter of the Trade and Tourist Commissioner. One maxim to which she is devoted is: “Buy New Zealand-made Goods,” and she puts that into practice with a thorough-going loyalty that New Zealanders as a whole would do well to emulate. It is a habit that she also has in Sydney, and one that she communicates to her friends there. At home, Miss Schmitt is the right-hand support of her mother, whom she assists in the constant round of entertaining which is an essential and important part of the Commissioner's work. She has her mother's infectious spirits, and a most vivacious and winning personality. She does regret New Zealand. “Would you like to be back here?” I asked her. “Oh, yes,” was her enthusiastic reply; “Sydney is a wonderful city, and everyone is so delightful, but I do not like the sweltering summer heat after equable New Zealand. Luckily we live not far from the water, and I spend all my spare time in the summer, surf-bathing. And Sydney surf-bathing is 'swish.’”
Certainly New Zealand is fortunate in being whole-heartedly represented by such a delightful family.