Margaret King Spencer was a writer, gardener, craftswoman, photographer, accomplished cook and a quiet philanthropist. Born in 1914 at Tolaga Bay, she attended Iona College in Havelock North until the 1931 earthquake forced her return home at the age of 17. During her life she wrote four histories of the settler community on the East Coast, and a posthumusly published book on gardnering. Margaret, and her sister Helen, created a stunning garden at their Richardson Avenue home, donating all revenue from public visits to Bernardos. She was an ardent environmentalist and argued against the use of chemicals in horticulture. In 1973 the family gifted its 112 hectare estate near Tolaga Bay to the Crown, an area now known as King Spencer Scenic Reserve. Upon her death in February, 1999, she bequeathed $1.5 million to Gisborne charitable organisations, along with clear instructions as to the use of those funds. The Writer’s Encouragement Trust was part of that bequest.
The Margaret King Spencer Writers Encouragement Trust was a bequest from the Gisborne writer and historian, Margaret Spencer, that has enabled the establishment of a Trust, set up to further assist members of the public to acquire, develop and improve their literary writing skills and to the extent that it is in the public interest to do so, the publication of the writers’ works. Each year the Trust awards up to $5000 for writing about or to those who are a writer from Gisborne – East Caost – Tairawhiti working in literary, historical, or scientific fields.
One of this year’s recipients was the Tairawhiti Writers’ Hub, who will publish an anthology of local writing under the Souther Skies label.
Further information can be obtained by contacting The Margaret Spencer Writers Encouragement Trust, C/- BDO, PO Box 169. Gisborne. Phone 06 8691 400. e-mail: email@example.com