Life story

Life Story: Maureen Haynes, Christchurch’s Lady of Wool, has spent her life helping others

OBITUARY: Maureen Jean Haynes became known as the Christchurch Wool Lady after hoarding thousands of balls of wool and woolen items for famine victims.

However, her donations did not stop at wool, and work for the homeless and food banks continued until her final moments.

Her son, Gavin, said she was still arranging pickups and food parcels in the days leading up to his death at Buller Hospital on December 3. She was 75 and had battled health issues including pulmonary heart disease and pneumonia.

In lieu of flowers, the family asked for food donations for the food bank.

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Maureen Haynes was born in England and moved to Australia before settling in New Zealand.

Staff/stuff photographer

Maureen Haynes was born in England and moved to Australia before settling in New Zealand.

Haynes acquired the label “lady of wool” in the early 1980s when she used wool and knitters to make rugs and clothing for Ethiopian refugees after aid agencies identified that starving children were also freezing to death. About $250,000 worth of goods arrived in 10 days, including medicine, clothing and wool.

She said Things in 2020, the initial call for food bank charity work came to him in a one night vision. The next morning she called Foodstuffs and got 2000 boxes of spaghetti.

Soon Haynes and her husband Peter were working up to 10 hours a day collecting bulk food from distributors and donating it to those in need through their charitable trust and the Pataka Food Bank.

She helped organize a huge knitted scarf for the Telethon in the 1980s and was involved with Hope Children, which helped children with cancer and organized trips to Disneyland for them.

Haynes organized a long scarf for the Telethon in the 1980s.

Provided

Haynes organized a long scarf for the Telethon in the 1980s.

She received the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal in recognition of service to New Zealand and the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal in 1993.

The couple – who had four children, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren – retired to Westport. After Peter’s death in 2015, Haynes continued to volunteer, giving directly to families via Facebook and through agencies including the Salvation Army, Elim Church, Women’s Refuge, Poutini Waiora and Victim Support. She helped start The Sharing Shed, which ran a food bank in town at the Art Hotel every Thursday.

Gavin Haynes said his mother was called by God to volunteer and help those in need.

“Mom was an amazing and inspiring woman who could see the silver lining in every cloud. She treasured the little things of time at the beach, being around friends, but most of all helping people. She was a wealth of knowledge and that was great to turn to for advice.

Haynes, known as the Christchurch Wool Lady, helped those in need in Westport.

Joanne Carroll / Stuff

Haynes, known as the Christchurch Wool Lady, helped those in need in Westport.

“I miss her so much. I used to call her every few days and we had a spinning session.

Maureen Haynes was born in Eastbourne in Sussex and moved to Australia as a teenager with her parents.

She then moved to Invercargill, before settling in Christchurch.

Gavin Haynes said his mother was a selfless woman with a special fondness for Queen Elizabeth.

Haynes busy knitting for the Ethiopian appeal in Christchurch on March 20, 1985.

Press Historical collection

Haynes busy knitting for the Ethiopian appeal in Christchurch on March 20, 1985.

“When I was 15, she used to take me with her to the hospital and take me to the ward where children with cancer gave out toys at Christmas. She had lunch with the Queen in 1986 – she was so excited about it,” he said.

Wendy Hoeter-Stokes, who had been friends with Maureen Haynes for 25 years, said she was a “beautiful Christian woman”.

“She used her gift of giving to bring joy and comfort to so many and to serve the Lord in the community. She had a significant impact on the community.

Neighbor Jess Brophy said she had only known Haynes for six months, but in that time Haynes inspired her to continue her legacy of giving and donating.

“She was an amazing woman. She had an open door policy and people always came out with something. Food, clothes, whatever they needed,” she said.

Haynes and Jess Brophy when Brophy brought Maureen's dog, Benji, to see her in the hospital

Provided

Haynes and Jess Brophy when Brophy brought Maureen’s dog, Benji, to see her in the hospital

Brophy and her children considered Haynes a grandmother and Haynes showered them all with love and kindness.

“She would do anything to help anyone. When my phone broke, she updated hers, so she could pass me her old one. She was always doing nice things like that.

Brophy said that while Haynes was in hospital, she arranged for her to collect food donated from Christchurch to take back to Westport.

Haynes died while Brophy was in Christchurch, leaving Brophy upset and unsure where the food should go.

At a Christmas party for prisoners’ families, Brophy wondered, “What would Maureen do?” “. She then composed 20 food parcels to distribute to families.

Haynes, the Christchurch Wool Lady, has died aged 75.

Provided

Haynes, the Christchurch Wool Lady, has died aged 75.

“Families now have only one income. Some of the women said they did not know how they were going to feed their children that day. I know Maureen would have wanted to help,” she said.

Brophy had planned to spend Christmas with Haynes, but decided to volunteer with the Salvation Army instead in her honor.

The couple had spoken of the death, Brophy said.

“She was so okay with it and she was sure that she had done good in life to go to her God. She inspired me so much that I want to carry on with her legacy. If I can do half of the things she has done, I will be happy.


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