Elizabeth Gilmer

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Dame Elizabeth Gilmer
Elizabeth Gilmer.jpg
Wellington City Councillor
In office
Personal details
Born Elizabeth May Seddon
24 March 1880
Kumara, New Zealand
Died 29 February 1960
Wellington, New Zealand
Spouse(s) Knox Gilmer
Relations Richard Seddon (father)
Tom Seddon (brother)
Children 2

Dame Elizabeth May Gilmer DBE FRHortS (née Seddon, 24 March 1880 – 29 February 1960) was a New Zealand social worker, educationist and horticulturist. She chaired the Lady Galway Patriotic Guild.

Early life[edit]

Born as Elizabeth May Seddon at Kumara to the future New Zealand Prime Minister Richard Seddon and Louisa Spotswood Seddon, she attended the Kumara School and Wellington Girls' College.[1]


Gilmer was a member of the Wellington Hospital Board from 1938 to 1953. From 1934 to 1957 she served as the Government nominee on the Wellington Colleges' Board of Governors. In 1942 she was elected to the Wellington City Council, where she served from 1941 to 1953, as chairman of the Libraries and Parks and Reserves Committees. She worked on the passage of the Native Plant Protection Act and the reinstatement of Arbor Day. She stood for Parliament in 1935 and 1938 in the Wellington North electorate but declined to accept nomination for any political party; she stood as an Independent Liberal in 1938.[2]


For her contributions during the First and Second World Wars, Gilmer was awarded, firstly, the OBE (1946), and then the DBE (1951). She was the first New Zealand woman to be awarded the DBE. Gilmer was awarded the Greek Red Cross medal in 1937, and the Coronation Medal in 1953.[1]


On 3 July 1907, at St Paul's Church, Thorndon, Wellington, she married Knox Gilmer (1879–1921); they had two daughters. They lived at Te Marua, Upper Hutt.


Gilmer died at Wellington on 29 February 1960, less than a month before her 80th birthday.


  1. ^ a b Foster, Bernard John (9 November 2011). "GILMER, Dame Elizabeth May, D.B.E.". In A. H., McLintock. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 
  2. ^ Labrum, Bronwyn. "Gilmer, Elizabeth May". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 2 April 2017. 

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