The Jaycee Movement

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Photo News, number 43, dated 7 April 1967. The by-line reads “Every Easter the children in the cerebral palsy unit of Rotorua’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital each receive an Easter egg from an Easter bunny”. The service was provided by Jaycee.

Henry Giessenbier founded the Jaycees in 1920, with 3,000 members, in St. Louis, Missouri. It was Henry’s vision to provide young people with opportunities which they had little or no access to otherwise attain. He believed that young people could change the world.

The Jaycee movement was introduced to New Zealand in 1932 gaining momentum after 1944 – their main focus being “self-education, underpinning the social good works” (Butterworth, 2007)

“In its heyday, Jaycee was one of New Zealand’s liveliest service organisations, with members who were both ‘developers of people’ and ‘builders of communities’. The organisation made an impressive contribution to the social infrastructure of New Zealand. Almost every community has amenities built or aided by the Jaycees.” (Butterworth, 2007)

The Jaycees flourished up until the mid-1970s and still exists, though at reduced levels. In Rotorua there were two chapters, Mokoia which operated from 1968 – 1994 and the Rotorua chapter from 1953 – 1990. (Butterworth, 2007)

The Jaycees were an enthusiastic bunch who fund raised and helped clean up parts of the city. Here Jack Lang captured their efforts cleaning up parts of Kuirau Park.

Jaycee Kuirau Project, 1966, photograph by Jack Lang (b.1915, d.1986), Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (2010.100.23)

They held Charity Balls and raised money by holding a telephone appeal. Stunts to publicise the appeal were many and varied. From a shallow dive at the pools, a bedstead derby and “pseudo running of a pirate T.V station”. (Photo News, 1964)

Photo News, Number 11, Aug 1 1964, Logan Publishing Co. Ltd.

The Jaycees certainly showed their “willingness to embrace co-operative social betterment”. (Butterworth, 2007)


Share your comment

For more blogs visit

Website by Hodgeman Web Design