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Wellington’s new plaques to honour great local women

Famous radio broadcaster Maud Basham will be remembered in Wellington today with the unveiling of a plaque in her honour.

Basham, affectionately known as Aunt Daisy, broadcast for 27 years from the Hope Gibbons building (on the corner of Taranaki and Dixon streets). The plaque will be revealed on the Dixon Street footpath outside the building.

The unveiling kicks-off a Wellington City Council heritage plaques project.

Basham’s plaque unveiling coincides with the celebration of 125 years of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. Two other notable Wellington women will have plaques unveiled in coming weeks to continue the women’s suffrage theme: Catholic nun and social worker Suzanne Aubert (also known as Sister Mary Joseph and Mother Aubert), and writer Iris Wilkinson, better known as Robin Hyde.

More plaques will be installed in Wellington each year, gradually telling more about Wellington’s history.

The plaques project was led by Councillor Nicola Young, who has the Central City portfolio.

Cr Young says Maud Basham, known as the “first lady of radio”, blazed a trail for women in broadcasting with her role as Aunt Daisy.

“She was probably New Zealand’s first celebrity foodie, and published 10 cookbooks; one was reprinted 21 times and some are still in print. Her unsophisticated recipes show how much New Zealand has changed, although we all know the classics such as brandy snaps and Anzac biscuits,” says Cr Young. “I still use her recipe for bumble bee biscuits.

“Aunt Daisy was both famous and loved; her frenetic patter was networked throughout New Zealand. She was an unbridled optimist, a committed Christian, and a shameless promoter of the products that funded her show – although she insisted on testing everything she advertised, so her audience really trusted her.

“When she sailed to the US in 1938 on a goodwill mission, Wellington’s Town Hall overflowed with fans wishing her well and the train stations en route to Auckland were crowded with well-wishers singing her programme’s theme song.”

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says it is important to recognise a city’s history.

“Wellington is a city that takes great pride in its heritage, and the Council is a strong supporter of retaining and promoting this heritage for our people and visitors.

“These plaques will serve to inform people and remind us that Wellington’s buildings are more than just concrete and steel, but part of our city’s living history and our people,” the Mayor says.

“The plaques are a fitting tribute to the many special people who have helped make the capital the wonderful city it is today.”

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