Governors Message

Governor for 2022 – 2024 Biennium

First and foremost, thank you. It is an honour to serve as your Governor for the 2022-24 Biennium.

More than ever with Covid-19, the increase of violence to women and girls has increased. Climate change is effecting this also, and the need for us to work together is more needed than ever.

I joined Zonta in 2007, and, like you, I was curious about what Zonta was all about. I’d been introduced by a business friend who said, “Let’s go to Zonta” – but what was Zonta? We went on a visit, and then she moved to Auckland, and I had to make the difficult decision of whether or not to return. Endometriosis New Zealand was a charity/organisation that Zonta had as a project at the time, to help with a programme into schools, to improve the lives of girls who are in excruciating pain and disrupting their school lives, affecting their futures. It was an easy decision to stay in Zonta in the end, because I had just had a hysterectomy related to having endometriosis myself.

How could I not go back to an organisation that educated, supported, and helped women and girls not only locally, but also nationally and internationally?

As I learned more about Zonta, I was saddened to learn that such an organisation was even necessary. Why was there a need in today’s world? We should have achieved equality in society by now, right? Wrong, which is why I thank each and every one of you for devoting your time to Building a Better World for Women and Girls. I discovered that we are frequently paid less than men, and that most boards at the time had very few women on them.

The thought of domestic violence, the hugely unthinkable number of women and children killed by their own family in New Zealand, and the fact that this organisation, Zonta International, can actually make a difference in so many lives is why this is still so relevant.

Zonta International was founded in 1919 in New York, USA, and we are still making waves in the world to advocate for women’s rights and human rights. That we can’t help women and girls as much as we can if we work together, and that working together can make a huge difference.

As time passed, I became more and more involved as we voted in our individual clubs to help local charities, because let’s face it, we all know how important it is to help on a local level. And each year, as a club, we all vote for our own club charity. So that we can assist the communities in which we live. It is critical to assist your community’s women and girls. There is a lot to do, but we know from the results how influential each club is in its own community, so thank you for everything you do at the local level.

Every biennium, we also vote to support a national charity. For the past two years, for example, we have helped raise awareness for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, a charity to which Zonta New Zealand has donated over $80,000 to fund their SALT programme over the 2020-2022 Biennium, where grandparents are taught how to raise their grandchildren.

Often, they are suddenly full-time carers for their Whanau, when they could be going on a cruise around the world, a retirement trip to visit friends, lunches with friends, and so on, but because their children have been killed, or are involved with drugs, or for a variety of other reasons, they are now full-time carers. Because there is no funding from our New Zealand Government like there is for Foster Families, for example, they are expected to simply care for them because they are family. The amount of pressure placed on these grandparents is incredible.

As a result, it is a very worthwhile cause to contribute to the funding of this programme, which will assist these families in remaining strong and caring for one another. To assist a different generation in learning how to communicate with their grandchildren as full-time caregivers.

Then there are international charities to which Zonta contributes. How can we turn our heads and not notice what else is going on in our world?

That is what draws me to Zonta, because we not only care about our own community and country, but we also make time to help others all over the world. From health education in Papa New Guinea to health and awareness in Puru, to the Ending Child Marriage programme and climate change and education assistance in Madagascar. If there is one thing I appreciate about Zonta, it is its professionalism. How we align ourselves with projects being worked on by the UN. This means that we can make a difference in so many people’s lives.

President Ute and myself are very concerned that Zontians look after ourselves too. We do so much work for so many people that it’s easy to forget that we, too, are important. We want to focus on two times a year, while continuing to do all of the wonderful work you do, to stand up and be seen in our communities on International Women’s Day / Rose Day on March 8th, and also the 16 Days of Activism in November/December each year. Have a voice and be noticed. Our country and the world must work together to create a better world for women and girls.

And it’s very important to me that we all look out for one another in our Zonta Clubs. We are confident that we are making a positive difference in our community. But it is also critical that you reach out to each other, empower and support each other in leading Zonta Clubs, coming up with new ideas, trying old things again, and generally being there for each other.

It is critical that we increase our membership. Do invite people to bring a friend. If you are reading this and are not a member of Zonta, you are most welcome. We’d love for you to go to a club. To work together to make the world a better place.

Together, we will build a better world for women and girls.

It’s not about what you or I can do on our own; it’s about what we can do together. We are always stronger when we work together.