Margaret May Blackwell
Margaret Blackwell was born in Kaiapoi in 1907, and had her early education at Kaiapoi Borough School. After a year at Christchurch Girls’ High School, she completed her secondary education at Columba College in Dunedin. Later in Dunedin she trained and qualified as a Karitane nurse. Returning to Kaiapoi, she was a district commissioner in the Girl Guide Association. She was also a keen sportswoman, particularly in tennis and golf.
In the mid 1930s Margaret travelled to England and in London studied preschool education under the direction of Susan Isaacs. Margaret travelled throughout Europe prior to World War 2, and during the Spanish civil war she helped escort refugee children to England. She showed her concern for the safety of the children again after the declaration of war in 1939, when she helped escort a large group of children by ship from England to Canada. She remained in North America during the war, furthering her experiences and training in early childhood education at Toronto University and also at Columbia University in New York.
On her return to New Zealand after the war, she settled in Auckland where she worked for many years as a child psychologist at Auckland Hospital. She was an early advocate of parents staying with their young children during periods of hospitalisation. She was also an early advocate of finger painting as good therapy for children. During this time she became very involved with the inter-church counselling centre, with the telephone life-line service and with the friends of the service whose purpose was to raise funds.
Margaret Blackwell died in Sacramento, California in 1980, after a period of hospitalisation in San Francisco and Sacramento.