The history of Lyceum in New Zealand dates from 1922, when the Auckland Club affiliated with the Lyceum club of London. Other centres, with help and advice of the Auckland members, started their own clubs, numbering 10 clubs by 1966. Most of these clubs were located in the central part of the North Island. Some Clubs affiliated with the International Association but others did not until the resolution adopted at the 1968 Congress at Helsinki led to the formation of the N.Z.Federation.
All New Zealand Lyceum Clubs hold regular Luncheons and Coffee Mornings with varied and interesting speakers as well as a variety of Circles catering for the special interests of members.
The Auckland Club was founded in1919 and became affiliated to the London club in 1922, becoming a member of the IALC. The club occupied a full floor of a department store building, comprising a library, dining room, card room, meeting rooms and an auditorium. Auckland Club hosted the first International Congress in 1983 and the profit from this was used to set up the New Zealand Arts Scholarship which continues to today.
Waikato Lyceum Club
The Waikato Club started in 1926 with a small group of women meeting in rented rooms in Hamilton, the main centre of the Waikato district. By the mid 1950’s, the flourishing club leased, and eventually purchased a property which was freehold by the late 1990s. During this time the club had about 10 Circles and a busy social calendar with the emphasis on Literature and Music. Unfortunately the Club Building was sold in 2009 as it was impossible for a falling membership to meet the cost of new earthquake regulations. The Club now meets in accommodation within a retirement complex
Te Puke Lyceum Club
The Te Puke Club was founded in 1927. Te Puke then the centre of a farming district, is now known for the Kiwifruit grown in the area. Overcoming early accommodation problems, members built a spacious and well appointed club rooms close to the town centre in 1961. Main interests are gardening, crafts, literature, mah-jong and music. The choir entertains members regularly as well as other local organisations.
Whakatane Lyceum Club
In 1936 a meeting was held in the Whakatane Presbytarian Sunday School. Thirty people attended and formed a Women’s Club, hosting a Bridge Circle, a Physical Culture Class and a Drama Circle. Struggling through the war years, the Club went into recess, reforming in 1948. Joining the Federation of Lyceum Clubs in 1972 a property was purchased, later adding a neighbouring house to form the present Clubrooms. Circles are Mahjong, Art Appreciation and Garden, Evening Dinner, a Movie Circle and a Book club.
Tauranga Lyceum Club
With the help of a Miss Willoughby from Auckland on 13th October 1937 a preliminary meeting was held for women interested in social, public, scientific and artistic affairs and nine days later the Tauranga Lyceum Club was formed. Premises at 68 First Avenue were purchased in 1954 and altered in 1978. In November 1939, 600 garments were knitted as members’ wartime activities. Along with club Luncheons and Evening Dinners other circles are Bolivia, Bridge, Mahjong, Craft and Collectables, Garden, Music Readers, as well as 3 groups with tutors, Art, Antiques and Floral Art.
Cambridge Lyceum Club
A small group of women met in 1940 t0 form the nucleus of the Cambridge Lyceum Club, presided over by Mrs H B Rushworth (President from 1940 until 1947). Meetings were held in rented rooms until 1953 when it became apparent by the growing membership that larger premises were required. This led to the purchase of clubrooms, by means of debentures. The Club resigned from the NZ Federation in 2012.
Te Kuiti Lyceum Club
Te Kuiti Club was formed in1944 as a Woman’s club and a haven for farmer’s wives waiting for their husbands. In 1946, under the leadership of Mrs Alice Carrick-Robertson, a former Auckland Lyceum Club member, Te Kuiti joined this international group. The first circle was a gardening circle formed to upkeep the grounds of the first clubrooms. Many other circles soon followed. Membership continued to grow and due to the size and condition of the rooms a new venue was required with better parking- space, and after another two years a building addition was again needed. Membership numbers are rising with a corresponding enlargement in their choir participants. There are many well attended circles.
Otorohanga Lyceum Club
Otorohanga Lyceum Club was formed in 1946. Cora Horneman saw the need for a venue for rural women to wait for their husbands on sale day and to this day Wednesday is still the main club day. Cora Horneman encouraged other women to raise funds with her and eventually built the club house, a short walk from the main street. That building has been added to as funds became available. Today there are well attended monthly circles. Luncheons and morning teas are held also.
Te Awamutu Lyceum Club
On 17th June 1955a foundation meeting was held. At this time there were no other Women’s club in town. The first President was Mrs Helen Parker with164 members. Furniture was purchased from an auction – mart and members were asked to provide a cup, saucer and plate. Circles were Bridge, Garden, Music, Handcraft and an Evening Circle, followed later by Keep Fit and choir. A new building, financed from the club building fund and debentures taken out by members was opened in August 1961 and furnished with furniture renovated by club members. Circles continue with varying success with club luncheons remaining popular.
Morrinsville Lyceum Club
Morrinsville Lyceum club was founded by a group of local women in 1966 in rented rooms above a bank which was dismantled about 20 years later. At this time the club started to raise funds and in less than 2 years, in 1987, moved into their own purpose built rooms, now freehold. Membership now stands at 180 women who enjoy the 12 circles as well as regular luncheons and afternoon teas. The Choir often entertain in the area. The Club has two very enthusiastic tramping groups.