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A Brief History of Prominent Zonta Member:
Iris Olwyn Orchard, QSM, Club of Christchurch Canterbury


Iris was a Charter Member of the Zonta Club of Christchurch-Canterbury at its inception in 1970, serving as inaugural Treasurer and on every committee over the years since. She represented the Club at International level and her record of representing the Club collecting for charities was unbroken for 32 years.

From 1995 and for a number of years, Zonta Club of Christchurch-Canterbury was involved in the restoration and replanting of an area around the Styx River. Iris was instrumental in organising teams of members to spend weekends clearing and planting with the guidance of the Christchurch City Council.
She continued to maintain a link with the Council and through her the Club received regular updates.

Iris was a tireless worker for our club over the years. Her sterling work kept us all in line with the Zonta International by-laws and financial reporting. In fact, most Treasurers would expect Iris to have some comment – either long or short – on their monthly reports to the club. Iris had a wonderful memory for all manner of facts and happenings of our Club and the wider Zonta community. She was proud of her independence, despite it not being the norm for her generation of women to aspire to being an accountant.

Many of our members will have fond memories of seeing Iris on her bike – around all areas of Christchurch, or catching buses, with a number of connections, to participate in Zonta events – nearly always with some home baking in her bag. Iris retired from Zonta in 2005, but right up to that time she participated in club events despite her advancing years.

Just after she’d been to Wellington in 2004 to receive her Queen’s Service Medal, she brought the medal to our club meeting to show everyone, and it was very impressive. She also told us all about her day in Wellington, and she was obviously very proud to receive the award as we were proud of her.

For years she opened her home to many international students and judging by some of her stories, at times was quite perplexed by some of the things they did.

Iris retired from Zonta when she was in her 80s and died in 2012. She will always be remembered for her hard work and dedication and willingness to give advice to new members of the club and those serving on our Boards.