D16 History

Zonta International is an organisation of business and professionals who work together to empower women worldwide through service and advocacy. Zonta first arrived in Australasia in 1929 with the establishment of a club in Sydney. There is no record of this club surviving past 1935.

In 1965 Dorothy Thompson, from Canada, made the first of her epic visits to New Zealand and Australia. By 1971 she had organised clubs in five New Zealand cities and seven in Australia. The first clubs in Australasia formed Area 3 until 1972 when the Area designation became a Region. Permission was granted for District 16 to be formed in 1974. The Auckland Club was the first club to be formed in Australasia and was chartered 15 November 1965 with Cherry Raymond the first club president.

District 16 continued to cover Australasia until September 1989 when the 8th District Conference was held in Auckland. At that conference it was proposed, because of the wide geographical area of the District and the growth in clubs, that it be divided into three districts. After much discussion this proposal was accepted and the new districts commenced at the Dallas Convention in 1990. New Zealand remained as District 16, in recognition that the first club in Australasia was Auckland. Cherry Raymond was the first Governor, with Joan-Mary Longcroft the first Lt Governor and Jan Bowman the first District Secretary.

Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia formed District 23. New South Wales, Queensland and A.C.T. formed District 24. In 2008 District 22 (Queensland) was formed.

Over the last 50 years, District 16 has evolved from a small gathering of Auckland women who took a brave ‘leap of faith’ into the world of Zonta in 1965 to the election of Wellington Zontian, Lynn McKenzie, as Zonta International President for the 2012-2014 biennium.



With its Charter issued on November 15th 1965, the Zonta Club of Auckland, organised by remarkable Toronto Zontian, Dorothy Thompson, was established as the first New Zealand Zonta club, with Cherry Raymond elected as Charter President and Anne Gambrill as Treasurer. Current Auckland Zontians, Joan-Mary Longcroft and Lillian Chrystall, were also Charter members.

Dorothy Thompson also helped to establish Zonta clubs in Wellington, (1969), Hamilton, (1970), Christchurch (1970) and Dunedin (1970).

In 1973, Cherry Raymond, Regional Representative, organised the first Regional Conference in Auckland.


Australian and New Zealand Zonta clubs were formed into District XVI at the Zonta International Convention in Boston in 1974, with Dr Judith Dey (Sydney) installed as the first District Governor (1974-1976) followed by Beverley Shore Bennett (Wellington), the first New Zealand District Governor (1976-1978).

At the second District Conference in Wellington in April 1977, District XVI was divided into four Areas with Valerie Webster (Hawke’s Bay Area) and Ann Mallinson (Wellington) appointed as the first New Zealand Area Directors.

Until 1990, Australian and New Zealand Zontians worked closely together and shared an alternating governorship. The organisation of the Zonta International Convention in Sydney in June 1984 became a major District XVI responsibility, with Jeanne Edgar appointed as New Zealand co-ordinator. The Convention saw the formal introduction of the Zonta Rose.


At the District Conference in Auckland in 1989, Governor Susan Laidlaw oversaw the division of District XVI into three smaller Districts, with New Zealand, now District 16, retaining the original name in recognition of its foundation status. Cherry Raymond, Charter President of the Zonta Club of Auckland, became the first District 16 Governor from 1990-1992.

The current District 16 Governor is Janet Hope QSM, (Hibiscus Coast) 2016-2018.

Prepared by Jennifer Loughton, MA Hons. History, District Historian and Archivist, (Christchurch South)

New Zealand Zonta Clubs in charter date order

(Includes all clubs current and historic, listed together)

Auckland: (1965)
Wellington (1969)
Hamilton-Waikato (1970)
Christchurch-Canterbury (1970)
Dunedin-Otago (1970)
Manawatu (1975)
Hutt Area (1976)
Auckland West (1976)
Bay of Plenty (1977)
Christchurch North Area (1977)
South Auckland (1977)
Nelson Area (1978)

Tokoroa-Putaruru (1979)
Mana Area (1979)
South West Christchurch Area (1979)
Auckland North Shore (1979)
Wanganui (1980)
Auckland 2 (1984)
East Auckland (1986)
Tauranga Area (1988)
Timaru (1989)
Hibiscus Coast (1989)
Bay of Islands (1991)
North Canterbury Area (1991)

Port Nicholson (1992)
Thames Valley Area (1992)
Hamilton-Waikato 2, (1992)
New Plymouth (1992)
Hatea-Whangarei (1993)
Ashburton (1994)
Christchurch West (1994)
Marlborough (1995)
Christchurch East (1996)
Metropolitan Dunedin (1997)
Waimakariri (2002)
Oamaru (2008)
Mangawhai (2010).

Selection of Photos from Across History