A Brief History of Prominent Zonta Member:
Maureen Steven, Club of West Auckland
In 1985 when my children were old enough to drive, continue their studies and activities themselves, I decided to do something of interest to me. Having been involved in education all my life, I wanted something that still involved people but where I could meet those in different professions. Terry my husband, was a Rotarian so I was familiar with service clubs and had been involved in helping him in Rotary. Zonta, with its goal of improving the status of women, therefore, held great appeal.
I joined the West Auckland Club and have had 30 marvellous years where Zonta has been a huge part of my life and I might add, Terry’s too as he always gives his full help and support to all our fund raising and social functions. From my first AGM I was voted onto the Board and so began my learning process of the wonderful organisation Zonta International.
My early days in Zonta gave me a great introduction. I soon discovered how well a mixed group from various backgrounds could work together to achieve Zonta’s goals whilst having fun and fellowship, which were very much part of the times.
During my 30 years in Zonta Auckland West I have been a member or Chairperson of every committee and was the first president to serve for two years. This set a precedent for many who followed! I have been involved in organising many West Auckland Annual Dinners, which is always a pleasurable event attended by women who help us raise money and enjoy the fellowship and friendship. I chartered the original Z Club for West Auckland at Kelston Girls College and over the years, I have interviewed students for awards – always a pleasurable event and a real interest of mine; encouraging young women to reach their potential.
I have also been able to introduce several new members to our club. Some have moved on while others have stayed and become dedicated Zontians.
I have represented Zonta on several women’s groups. I have enjoyed attending conferences and a convention in Melbourne was a highlight. The experience of meeting remarkable women with dreams and visions is most inspiring. I have learnt a lot from the conferences and conventions. Seeing the whole picture of an international organisation provides an overwhelming desire to see it flourish.
I attended the conference in Auckland when New Zealand separated from Australia and became Zonta International District 16 – a momentous and exciting function!
For many years I had a desire to see Auckland clubs work more closely with each other to utilise their strengths. When the presidents of East Auckland, Auckland 2, North Shore and I met at the conference in Christchurch, we made a decision to form a presidents group, which I am pleased to say carries on to this day. One memorable evening we had early on was when all the combined clubs met for a dinner, joined by members of B’Nai Brith, and listened to Leslie Max as speaker. The warmth and friendship shared was very special that night.
Joan-Mary Longcroft always said, “When asked to do a job in Zonta, always accept.” I have experienced myself and seen other women grow in confidence and leadership skills through participation in Zonta. Knowing there is always someone to help enables that growth. I was very honoured in 2014 to receive the Jan Aitken Award, for a Zontian who makes a difference.
The special bonds I have formed with so many wonderful women in Zonta, has added a huge richness to my life. Seeing the results of our combined efforts is gratifying and is what makes Zonta successful.
Life in Zonta has changed in many ways over the years but thankfully the basic aims and goals remain steadfast.