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Italian President honours Auckland resident

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has awarded Auckland resident Alessandra Zecchini the title of Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia for services to Italian culture and foreign relations.

The state honour — which translates as Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy — is bestowed on Italians and foreigners who have promoted relations between Italy and other countries. It also reflects on the promotion of Italian culture in the world.

His Excellency Fabrizio Marcelli, Italian Ambassador to New Zealand, awarded the honour yesterday at the annual Festival Italiano street festival in Newmarket, Auckland.

Born in Milan and raised in the province of Modena, Alessandra Zecchini immigrated to New Zealand in 1997 with her Kiwi husband. They settled in Oratia, Auckland, raising two children bilingually and founding publishing company Oratia Media.

Zecchini has been widely active in the Italian community. She is a long-standing committee member and former President of the Società Dante Alighieri di Auckland, and a representative on the Com.It.Es Wellington.

Since 2006 she has been Director of the annual Festival Italiano Auckland, which is the country’s largest Italian cultural event, and among Auckland’s busiest ethnic festivals.

As a writer and editor Zecchini has produced numerous articles about Italian food, culture and travel; written three recipe books; and helped publish Italian books in New Zealand. She has taught Italian language and culture at the Dante Society for over 20 years.

She has promoted Italian cuisine widely, and founded the Slow Food Auckland chapter, the country’s most active group in the Italian-based food network.

“I am greatly honoured to receive this recognition and thank all the wonderful Italian and New Zealand friends and family who have helped to make it all possible,” Zecchini said.

“The honour recognises the strong bonds between our countries, something we saw wonderfully at yesterday’s street festival.”

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