The New Zealand Social Workers' Interim Steering Committee, 1962 – 1964.

Merv Hancock was the driving force behind the establishment of the New Zealand Association of Social Workers.  Ann Aburn (2014, p. 73) tells us:

It is well known that the idea to form a national organisation for social workers was Merv Hancock’s brainchild.  At that time, Merv was the District Child Welfare Officer in Palmerston North and soon, with his enthusiasm and boundless energy, he had inspired us with his idea of having a New Zealand-wide organisation for all social workers, not only those in government departments, but also voluntary agencies.  Previously, while in Dunedin, Merv, together with Arch Eliffe, had formed an Otago Association of Social Workers.  Groups had also been set up in other districts. So, having these contacts, Merv canvassed social workers throughout the country. There was a consensus that there should be some formal national association, so he started the ball rolling.

Our original Palmerston North group became a local steering committee. By then I had moved from social work to motherhood, but I continued to participate in meetings, as I was doing some voluntary supervision for the Probation Service. Other Child Welfare and Probation staff were co-opted as required, one of them being Gary Hermansson. I was given the task of compiling mailing lists, which entailed contacting as many social work agencies as possible and asking for the names of all their staff.  We had names of those involved in the district groups and were able to access names of those working in statutory agencies. When working in the Department of Maori Affairs, I had compiled a National Directory of Social Services, so I already had the addresses of all the voluntary agencies, big and small.

The Interim Steering Committee, set up by 1962 Social Workers’ Study Conference in Dunedin, must have been very busy. Planning and coordinating for the four day Inaugural Conference in Auckland in 1964 would have been a massive task.

Auckland Association of Social Workers, Broadsheet Two.
Auckland Association of Social Workers, Broadsheet Two.

The historical document we release today is Broadsheet Number Two.  A simple two sided broadsheet issued by the Auckland Association of Social Workers on behalf of the New Zealand Social Workers Interim Steering Committee.  The broadsheet refers to Broadsheet One which “contained the results of the work on Ethics allocated…to the Otago Association of Social Workers and the work of the Central Districts Social Workers Association who were asked to draft a Constitution”.  This work appears in the report of the Inaugural Conference (the next item to be released).  If anyone has a surviving copy of Broadsheet One please let us know. Click on the Broadsheet Two to download it.


Aburn, A. (2014). Reflections. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Review, 26(2/3), 72–74.