GirlGuiding originally started in New Zealand in 1908 as the Peace Scout Movement, by a New Zealander Lieutenant Colonel Cossgrove from Christchurch. Cossgrove had served in the Boer War with Robert Baden Powell and had started Boy Scout troops in New Zealand.
One of Cossgrove’s daughters, Muriel, asked her father if she and her friends could join in with the boys. What resulted on the suggestion of Baden-Powell was Colonel Cossgrove writing ‘Peace Scouting for Girls’ and the first girls were sworn in as Girl Peace Scouts in September 1908 in Kaiapoi.
Girls 7-10 years were known as Fairy Scouts and girls 12-20 years were Peace Scouts. Girls did a wide variety of activities, many considered radical at that time for girls. The programme was built on activities that improved physical strength and stamina, mental alertness and good moral values. Camping, and jiu jitsu being among the favourites.
The Peace Scout Movement for girls continued to flourish and in October 1923 Lady Baden Powell confirmed that New Zealand was officially registered as part of The Girl Guide Association which had been set up in England in 1909 and became known as The Girl Guides Association of New Zealand.
The organisation has continued to take a leading role in the development of girls and young women, adapting programmes and activities, uniforms and protocols to reflect the ever changing world and communities that it is part of.
Though it has been 100 years since the humble beginnings of the Peace Scout Movement, GirlGuiding New Zealand is still focused on giving girls and young women the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of social, recreational and community action experiences that encourage them to help themselves and help others.
A comprehensive in depth history of the organisation, is documented in the book Ambitious Fun, The Journey of GirlGuiding in New Zealand, available through Mail Order.