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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 6, Issue 6, 2008

Women Car Owners: Extracted from the Waimea County Council Register of Motors, 1912-1924

page 40

Women Car Owners: Extracted from the Waimea County Council Register of Motors, 1912-1924

By 1912 the horse was beginning to have outlived its usefulness. Horse feed was constantly rising in price and the animal was time consuming. The man or woman with a motor could be out of the yard and miles away by the time the rider had saddled up for his journey.

As motoring became increasingly popular, vehicles had to be registered. The Waimea County Council passed a resolution at a meeting on 7 March 1912 that Part II of the Motor Regulation Act 1908 would be brought into operation in the Waimea County on the first of May 1912.

The Waimea County Council Register of Motor Vehicles was gazetted on 4 April 1912, and the first entries were duly recorded on 1 May of that year. The hand-written information included the Register Number, Name and address of owner, Date Registered, Make, Weight and use of Vehicle and a Note column. Where a vehicle changed hands, the original owner's name was scratched through and the new owner's name written over the top at that entry number.

There are 2043 entries and 67 of these owners are women. By 1912 women were beginning to prefer motorcars to carriages, as they combined comfort and independence with the exciting possibility of speed.

The first woman on the Register, at Number 162, was Elizabeth Watson of Wai-iti who was registered as the owner of a 10 Horse Power Reo Car on 7 December 1912. Other women followed, but it wasn't until 1916 that the trend began to gather momentum and, by 1924 when the Register finished, it recorded the names of 67 women.

Most women owned new vehicles, with only seven having bought second hand ones. All except three were registered for "Private Use". The three exceptions were "Public Conveyances" driven by women in 1921, 1923, and 1924.

Three women owned 2¾ horse power Douglas motor cycles and two owned Ford trucks.

Who were these women? Where did they live and what sort of vehicles did they own?

The following extracts are from the Register:

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Women Car Owners from the Waimea County Council Register of Motors, 1912–1924
Name Address Date Regist. Make of Car
Anstice, Sophia Trafalgar St 26/04/17 Overland
Barker, Annie (Mrs) Stanley Brook 29/09/24 Chevriolet Touring
Best, Adelaide Wakatu 18/08/24 Buick
Bett, Jessie Nile St 01/09/14 Rover 5 seater
Bett, F A (Mrs) Trafalgar Square 25/06/20 Essex 5 seater
Bisley, Mary Hardy St 12/12/18 Oakland
Bloomaart, Elizabeth Ella Stoke 18/04/23 Ford
Brennan, Abina (Mrs) Royal Hotel 10/12/17 Studebaker
Bridge, Alice Collingwood St 11/04/17 Dodge
Burrell, Florence (Mrs) 151 Bridge St 12/01/20 Ford Touring car
Clarry (Mrs) Nelson 05/10/17 Chevriolet
Clay, Kate Amy (Mrs) Brightwater 20/02/18 Ford
Cock, Frederick (Mrs) Nelson 07/05/24 Overland
Croucher, Letitia Violet Richmond 30/04/17 Dodge 2 seater
Eden, Ethelinda Brightwater 27/10/23 Ford
Eden, Hilda M (Mrs) Richmond 06/10/16 not stated
Genge, Ethel (Mrs) Wainui House 26/09/16 Cheverolet
Gibbs, Alice Winifred Wakefield 01/06/17 Douglas motor cycle
Gilbertson, Caroline (Mrs) Motueka 22/11/23 Ford
Gooding, Mary (Mrs) Wakatu St 17/02/20 Buick
Gottlieb, Rose (Mrs) Thorpe 22/10/20 Ford
Graham, Fanny (Miss) Upper Bridge St 16/10/17 Overland
Grooby, Eva M (Mrs) Roadmans whare 26/09/18 Saxon
Hanson, Emily (Mrs) Spring Grove 10/04/23 Ford 5 seater
Harley, Gertrude (Miss) Nelson 05/09/17 Overland
Harley, Gertrude Mary Waimea Rd 01/10/18 Hubmobile
Harley, May Ellinor Grove St 23/02/17 Overland
Henderson, Elizabeth 20/02/19 Ford
Hudson, Beatrice Tapawera 23/06/19 Buick
Huffam, Katherine Lincoln Motueka 16/01/13 Motor cycle "motor rover"
Hulbert, Lilian Mary (Miss) Poole St 25/03/19 Ford 5 seater
Inwood, Irene Jane (Mrs) Dovedale RD 20/08/24 Ford
Leebody, Dora Ellen Russell St 15/05/24 Ford
Manks, Edith Myrtle (Mrs) 114 Waimea St 28/12/16 Buick
Martin, Anna Stoke 05/09/17 Saxon
Mason, David (Mrs) Puramahoi 05/05/21 Willis Knight
McNab, Mary Port, Nelson 21/02/16 Buick 5 seaterpage 42
McNeill, Mary Brightwater 29/01/17 Saxon 2 seater
Miller, Margaret Motueka 11/11/22 Ford
Muntz, Mary Upper Moutere 26/05/13 BSA
Neil, Gertrude (Mrs) Mount St 05/01/14 Douglas motor cycle
O'Brien, Grace "Enner Glyn" 14/02/20 Maxwell
Ollson, Daisy (Mrs) Wakapuaka 05/10/21 Ford
Ollson, Daisy (Mrs) Wakapuaka 13/02/23 Overland Light four
Peters, Lilian Stoke 05/02/19 Ford
Pritchard, Emily M Milton St 07/12/23 Overland
Renwick, Anne (Mrs) Newstead" 26/01/20 Hudson 4/5 seater
Richmond, E M (Miss) 28 Nile St 22/04/18 Maxwell
Ross, Ethel Maud (Mrs) Mapua 02/10/24 Dodge 5 seater
Russell, Myra Lucy (Mrs) Stoke 09/05/24 Overland
Rutherford, Emma Elizabeth Stoke 05/01/17 Ford
Ryder, Alice Hand (Mrs) Riwaka 07/03/14 RGH
Shields, Constance 31 Shelbourne St 07/10/16 Jeffries
Sloan, Louisa G (Miss) "Awanui" Tapawera 17/05/24 Douglas motor cycle
Sloss, Alice Emily Korere 02/11/17 Ford
Stafford, Aileen B (Mrs) Mount St 16/06/17 Maxwell
Sutton, Mrs John Stoke 03/03/23 Rover
Thomas, Elsie Amy Tadmor 29/10/23 Overland 5 seater
Thomason, Mabel A (Mrs) Orinoco 30/03/20 Dodge
Trewavas, Isabella (Mrs) Motueka 18/05/16 Briscoe 5 seater
Usher, Mary Jane Nelson 18/05/16 Buick 5 seater
Vickerman, Rosetta (Mrs) Tahunanui 27/02/23 Ford motor truck
Wastney, Mary (Mrs) Alton St 18/01/24 Gray
Watson, E (Mrs) Hope 07/07/24 Hupmobile
Watson, Elizabeth Wai-iti 07/12/12 Reo
Woodman, Katherine Motueka 09/01/24 Ford truck
Wratten, Catherine (Mrs) Lower Moutere 19/02/23 Overland


The Waimea County Council Register of Motors 1912–1924 is available on microfilm at the Nelson Provincial Museum Archives at Stoke. There is a separate Index under the owners' names and it is well worth a browse to see if your ancestor's name appears on it.


Waimea County Council. 1912–1924. Register of motors. Tasman Bays Heritage Trust/The Nelson Provincial Museum, Archives collection, fMS WAI.

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Briscoe group. The Nelson Provinical Museum, F N Jones Collection, 28970

Briscoe group. The Nelson Provinical Museum, F N Jones Collection, 28970