Miss Ruth Herrick began her job at the top in 1942 when she was appointed Director of the newly formed Women’s Royal New Zealand Naval Service. Born into a prominent Hastings family, she was both a trained teacher and Chief Commissioner for New Zealand for the Girl Guides.
This experience she brought to the huge job the New Zealand Naval Board had appointed her to. She was required to form both an Administration and Policy for the WRNZNS based on the regulations of the WRNS in Britain but adapted for New Zealand. In addition her directive included responsibility for recruiting and training. She started from nothing and with only a Deputy Director and clerk, she built a capable group who took an effective part in the RNZN’s war effort. From day one Ruth Herrick set high standards both for herself and for the women under her command.
Selection was thorough. 350 out of 870 applications for enlistment up to January 1943 were rejected for a variety of reasons. Ruth Herrick preferred to run below complement rather than settle for second best. The standards she laid down continued throughout the war and were adopted again when the WRNZNS were re-formed in 1947.
The only member of WRNZNS to hold the rank of Chief Officer, Ruth was made an Officer of the British Empire in 1946 for her tireless devotion to duty. She was later made a Commander of the same order for her services to the Guide movement. She died in Wellington on 21 January 1983, aged 91.