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PM says Sonja Davies’ life was an inspiration

PM says Sonja Davies’ life was an inspiration


Prime Minister Helen Clark has paid tribute to Sonja Davies, who passed away earlier today in her 82nd year.

Helen Clark said that Sonja Davies’ life had been one devoted to advancing the interests of ordinary New Zealanders.

“She was a battler for women, for working people, and for communities,” Helen Clark said.

“Her work on behalf of childcare workers and shop assistants in particular will always be remembered. She rose to become the first woman vice-president of the Federation of Labour, serving from 1981-87.

Sonja also held public office, as an elected member of the Nelson Hospital Board, the Nelson City Council, and as Member of Parliament for Pencarrow.

“Sonja had a considerable international reputation and made contacts through her work for peace and disarmament over many, many years. Her work in that field included being chairperson of the New Zealand International Year of Peace Committee in 1986.

“She was appointed to the Order of New Zealand, New Zealand’s highest honour, in February 1987.

“The story of Sonja’s life is well known to many New Zealanders through the film Bread and Roses, which was based on her autobiography of the same name.

“Sonja’s life epitomised the triumph of the human spirit over great adversity.

“As a nurse she contracted tuberculosis and endured years of illness until life-saving drugs were available.

“Sonja’s first love died in the Second World War, and her husband and two children also pre-deceased her. Many have been moved to tears by the story of her life.

“I have known Sonja personally for more than thirty years, including during her six years as a Labour Member of Parliament from 1987-93.

“Her indomitable spirit, her optimism, and her dedication to many causes have always been an inspiration to me and countless others.

“Sonja will be sadly missed by her three surviving grandchildren, Ben, Tim and Tony, by her brother David, and by her many friends and admirers,” Helen Clark said.

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