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Politician and community stalwart honoured

Politician and community stalwart honoured

From the construction of Wellington's multipurpose stadium to sponsoring two of the most controversial pieces of social legislation, former Wellington Mayor and MP, the Hon Fran Wilde, has been at the forefront of change in New Zealand.

Those are just a few of the achievements that will be recognised later this year when she receives an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Victoria University of Wellington at its May graduation ceremonies.

Ms Wilde, who has a BA from Victoria University and a Diploma of Journalism from Wellington Polytechnic, was elected as MP for Wellington Central in 1981 after several years of working as a journalist, public relations consultant and Parliamentary researcher.

During her time in Parliament, Ms Wilde served as Government Whip, Minister of Tourism, Minister for Disarmament and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade and Conservation. As Minister of Tourism she initiated KiwiHost training and a joint venture strategy between the public and private sectors that laid the foundation for future policies.

As an MP, she was also responsible for sponsoring two major social legislative initiatives, the Adult Adoption Information Bill, which facilitated contact between adopted children and their birth parents, and the Homosexual Law Reform Bill, which removed criminal sanctions against gay men. She also chaired the Government Administration Select Committee. Resigning from Parliament in 1992 on winning the Wellington Mayoralty, she began the process, epitomised in the successful branding Absolutely Positively Wellington that saw the Capital emerge from its reputation as a sleepy town of public servants to become the vibrant city of today. She also initiated the city's first strategic plan, began the Wellington City Council's privatisation programme, initiated the fibre optic network that now runs through the central city and resolved the 20-year dispute over the treatment of the city's sewage.

Standing down after completing one term in 1995, she chaired the trust that developed Wellington's multipurpose stadium. That year also saw her named Wellingtonian of the Year and made a member of the Queen's Service Order (QSO).

Joining Trade New Zealand as chief executive in 1997, she introduced its first strategic plan and commercial disciplines that saw it radically increase outputs and client satisfaction, then win a prestigious Baldridge Silver Award from the New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation.

Now running her own consultancy company, she is Chair of Wellington Waterfront Ltd and of the Food Safety Advisory Board, as well as a director of ANZ Banking Group NZ Ltd, NGC Holdings Ltd, Pulse Data Ltd and Ceanic Ltd. Her community service includes chairing the New Zealand International Arts Festival and membership of the boards of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce, Project K and UNICEF New Zealand. She has maintained her international connections and is chair of PBEC New Zealand and a member of the Advisory Board of the UNDP’s Pacific-focussed Regional Rights Resource Team. Her previous appointments include a host of roles in the corporate, public, education and community sectors. She also has a long association with Victoria, both as a student, former council member and former Chair of Victoria Link Ltd.

Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon said Ms Wilde's contribution to New Zealand, and to Wellington in particular, was difficult to categorise as it crossed many different fields.

"Fran Wilde has played a significant role in New Zealand's public life, never shying away from standing up for what she believed in simply because of the controversy it might invoke. She has particularly dedicated herself to improving the life of the people of Wellington, bringing passion to all she has undertaken. As New Zealand's Capital City University, Victoria is pleased to honour a Wellingtonian who has given so much to the city and New Zealand."

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