Eveleyn Charlotte Couzins, 1896 – 1945

Eveleyn Charlotte Couzins was Mayoress of Christchurch from 1941 to 1945. She served as mayoress during the mayoral terms of her uncle Ernest Andrews, who was later knighted. Sir Ernest Andrews was the elected mayor from 1941 to 1950, with his niece Miss Couzins acting as an enthusiastic mayoress from 1941 till her death in 1945. She made an outstanding contribution to the community, especially during the war years when she organised parcels for dispatch to New Zealand servicemen abroad.

Entertainer and public speaker

Eveleyn was the only daughter of Mr and Mrs W.E. Couzins. She was born in Christchurch and educated at St Mary’s Convent. She had a lovely singing voice and during the 1914-18 war she took part in many concerts for patriotic funds. As an active member of the Kaneke Club she cultivated her natural gift for public speaking, and this training proved valuable to her during her term as Mayoress.

Eveleyn Couzins died in June 1945 at Christchurch Public Hospital. Although she had suffered from some minor illnesses, she continued to carry out her duties as mayoress until she became seriously ill, two weeks before her death.

Obituary

Her obituary described her as having courage, a sense of humour, a genuine interest in all sections of the community, a clear brain that quickly seized the essentials of any matter brought to her notice, and in all dealings with the public she showed herself tactful, responsible and tolerant but never weak or vacillating. Miss Couzins did not allow party politics to influence her in any way; women of all shades of political opinion helped her in carrying out her duties in succouring the needy and raising funds for patriotic and welfare work. She also possessed rare personal charm, together with the gift of leadership and a lack of self-consciousness.

Large funeral service

The affection and esteem which citizens felt for Miss Couzins was demonstrated at the funeral service held in Christchurch Cathedral. Large crowds began to gather in Cathedral Square early in the afternoon, and a quarter of an hour before the service began, every seat in the Cathedral was taken. Many people stood in the aisles and waited outside. Every section of the community was represented, including detachments from the armed services. The 200-odd wreaths at her funeral were testimony to the respect she commanded in the community. Four vehicles were required just to carry the wreaths.

An effective memorial to Miss Couzins was the naming of a street after her - Eveleyn Couzins Avenue - a most deserving honour.

Sources

  • The Press, 20, 22, 27 and 28 June, 1945, and 29 June 1993.
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