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Averill Margaret Adlam - 1989 - 2006 Rotorua's longest serving woman councillor

Averill in 1989  

Rotorua's longest serving woman councillor, Averill Adlam entered local body politics in 1974, stepping down in 1989 to live in Auckland where she enjoys a well earned 'retirement'.

Born in Dunedia in 1928 Averill was educated at Kaikorai Primary School and Otago Girls High School before obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree at Otago University.

Margaret and Henry Millow encouraged their daughter in her love of the arts and the environment. Childhood visits to West Coast beech forests held a special fascination,

A guided tour of Whakarewarewa with Guide Rangi was a particular highlight for the young Averill, leaving a lasting impression which would influence the course of her life.

Married to Ronald Thomas Hardy Adlam (Pax) in 1950 at Dundedin, Averill became the mother of three children.

The family arrived in Rotorua in the late 1960's after living for a time at Thames where Averill first became involved in community affairs, mainly in the activities of the S,P.C.A., and was later president and patron.


A member of the Little Theatre and Chamber Music Society, she played a major role in the establishment of the Rotorua Community Arts Council in 1978.

Elected to the Rotorua City Council in 1974, Averill later paid tribute to her mentor, the late Honorable Ray Boord, mayor of Rotorua.

Sometimes a controversial figure, Averill found herself the "espouser of unpopular issues".

Believing in the value of Fluoridation, she was a leader in the bid to have the water supply treated - a decision rescinded after the amalgamation of the Rotorua City and County Councils in 1979.

An outspoken critic of some local Town Planning issues, including the management of the Government Gardens, Averill often became frustrated by what she perceived as the indecisiveness of those involved. She was known on occasion to resort to the use of satirical verse as a medium of expression.

Anxious about the increasing number of geothermal bores in the area and their effect on the Whakarewarewa reserve, the founder of the Rotorua Geyser Preservation Society, in 1978 she set about gathering research data and promoting their restriction within a 1.5 m radius of Pohutu Geyser.

Beautiful Rotorua
Pohutu Geyser  

Convinced of the need for conservation of all the district's geothermal assets, her unrelenting efforts brought the control of the resource into Government hands with the subsequent ban on the drilling of bores in the designated area.

Averill also campaigned to save Tikitapu Bush,

On her retirement in 1989, Averil Adlam reiterated her deep concern about the development of the whole Rotorua region,

"It's not fancy buildings and developments that make a place like Rotorua, it's the thermal and other natural wonders, " she said,

Rotorua News, 1989

This piece was sent to me by Averill in 1992 when we were corresponding re Athalia Westaway. We have continued to write to each other over the years, if only at Christmas. So it was with deep shock and sadness that we received the news this Christmas from Averill's daughter, Jennie that Averill lost her battle with cancer and died on the 21st August, 2006 . The thoughts and prayers of all her Westaway cousins are with her and all of her family and she will never be forgotten, especially for her wonderful sense of humour, zest for life and endless campaigns to preserve the environment.

See also her family history The Great Escape to the Colonies kindly sent by Nicola Aldridge

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  © 2003-6 Sheila Yeo | For more information on the Westaway family and the research contained in this site email sheila@yeosociety.com or call me on +44 (0)1626 360978