Farewell Mayoress Betty

Photo of Betty Anderson

Betty Anderson, sponge maker extraordinaire, toilet cleaning champion and friend to many, was farewelled in Gordonton recently.

Fittingly, the memorial service was in the hall, and the New Zealand flag flown at half-mast. 

John Bridgman, former Gordonton District Committee chairman, said every community has a sponge cake maker for functions – “Betty was our one, you could always count on Betty.”

She was on the first committee of the newly created GDC in 1989.

“Previously she had been booking office for Hukanui Park, and it was noted in the minutes thanking her for her ‘watchful eye over the park’.

“She would have been involved with the hall with many duties, Betty liked to be involved with everything… When I was chairman of the Committee, I was sometimes referred to as the Mayor.  On occasions Betty would say to my wife, Louise, that I may be Mayor, but she was the Mayoress.”

In 2002 the public toilets in Hukanui Park were opened. “We told Council we would maintain and clean the toilets to a higher standard than any other contractor. Betty was the sub-contractor to the Committee as cleaner, a job she did till 2016, for 14 years. She was world famous – photos of her and the toilets are now all around the world.”

Not only would she clean them first thing in the morning, but also in the afternoon if it was a busy day -“Such was Betty’s dedication.  This includes cleaning off graffiti on a Christmas morning.”

She was also ‘nurse Betty’ – ” if I had any orphaned, sick or a triplet lamb, Betty would take and rear them. There were many children she helped for pet lambs for calf club day. It was never a problem for Betty.”

She helped many in the community.  “Betty was a sharing person who would go out of her way to help others, which we are deeply indebted. My family is deeply grateful of her kindness and help. Tena kota, tena kota, tena kota katoa.”

The service was a casual and delightful, one that Betty would have enjoyed, said Judy Cole, who gave a brief tribute.

Betty was involved with the hall committee, the Milky Way newsletter and the NZ Women’s Institute, to name but a few.

A loyal member of the Institute, Betty was renowned for her specialty cream sponges, as well as producing a supply of rhubarb and excess garden vegetables.

“I was told you would pick up rubbish to keep the Village tidy and clean. You even cleaned the public toilet more than once a day. You have been admired for being such a willing community minded person, helping families in need, without question and so willingly.”

Peter Hope shared stories of his sister Betty’s early years. Born in Kaukapakapa, the family moved to Piako Rd, Gordonton in 1948.

“This is where Betty was to spend most of her life. She started her schooling right next to her current house (the original Gordonton School in Hukanui Park). Getting to school was by bike or walking.

“Sometimes, during winter, we would catch a ride on the back of Mr Weir’s old truck, sitting around the warm milk cans.”

Calf club day was always a big day – “Betty always had a calf and won ribbons, there was also the sand saucer to decorate.

Photo of Betty Anderson, calf club day

“One year she had a pet lamb – now all pet lambs grow into pet sheep and they liked to bunt and chase you. One year her sheep got into the house and chased our nana through the house!”

Regional School Athletics Day was always a big day on the school calendar. His sister, he said, was a fast runner. “She was always placed in the races she entered. I can still picture her in her baggy navy bloomers!”

The family would occasionally pile into the Hudson Terraplane and go to Raglan for the day. “These were great days because they were few and far between. Sometimes aunts and uncles and cousins would come and some of the neighbours and we would make a day of it.”

Betty was a good singer and in the early 60s the Hopes and the Boyds got a band together called the Hukunui Horrors where Betty did a lot of the singing. “We would travel around the district to local dances and perform.”

In 1967 Betty moved to Kerikeri, where she met Martin, and the family moved back to Gordonton around 1971, where she lived ever since.

His sister made the best sponges ever. “One day I decided to make one while Barb was at work. I rang Betty for her recipe, cooking times, temperatures etc, and away I went, mixing everything together. When the time was just about up I rang Betty again,– stick a knitting needle into it she said and if its dry take the sponge out of the oven and drop it onto the floor, why I asked, it stops the sponge from sagging in the middle. My sponge was perfect, thanks to Betty. I still have my 100% sponge making record.”


Betty’s sponge

4 large eggs
½ oz flour
5 oz sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 ½ oz cornflour
Pinch salt
Separate eggs, beat whites with salt until stiff.
Add yolks, then sugar. Beat until thick and creamy.
Fold in sifted dry ingredients.
Bake in two 8” tins, 150 – 160 deg C, fanbake 150 deg C for 24 minutes.

Note: do not use fresh eggs – use room temperature eggs.
Grease tins and/or use baking paper on bottom of tins.
Wait till sponge crinkles at side of tin before removing from the oven.
Drop sponges on the floor after taking out of the oven.

Chocolate sponge

3 eggs
1 tbs golden syrup
1/2 cup sugar
½ tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cornflour
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp flour
1 dsp cocoa

Beat egg whites and salt until thick, add yolks and sugar, beat again then beat in the golden syrup.

Fold in sifted, dry ingredients and vanilla.
Bake in greased 8” sandwich tins, for 15 minutes at 375 deg C.

Share this page:

One thought on “Farewell Mayoress Betty

  • March 15, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Lovely to see a local life celebrated. It was very moving to hear the heartfelt tributes paid to Betty by so many Gordonton families. She made a huge difference to many lives with her care, kindness and support. It was a lesson in how making contributions in your own tight community ripple out widely. Betty’s breeding of corgis was mentioned briefly and I have her to thank for one of the joys of my life, our dog Aroha (named by Betty’s daughter Wendy).
    Aroha nui


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: