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Zonta Honours Lesley Elliott MNZM

Zonta Honours Lesley Elliott MNZM

Lesley Elliott was honoured as the ‘Zonta New Zealand Woman of the Biennium’ at the Zonta International, District 16, National Conference held in Rotorua recently.

This biennial award recognises an outstanding New Zealand woman, whose contribution to the lives of women and girls in the New Zealand community epitomises the values and aspirations of Zonta International. Previous recipients of the award are: fashion designer & philanthropist, Annah Stretton 2006-2008, business leader Dame Adrienne Stewart 2008-2010, CEO Endometriosis NZ, Deborah Bush 2010-2012 and Chief Executive of National Collective of Independent Women's Refuges, Heather Henare 2012-2014.

Lesley established the Sophie Elliott Foundation in 2010 in memory of her daughter who was killed by a former boyfriend. The foundation aims to prevent violence against women by raising the awareness of all young women, their families and friends about the signs of abuse in relationships.

Zonta District 16 Governor, Janette Irvine, stated when awarding the honour that it was a great privilege for Zonta to be able to acknowledge Lesley, who through the ‘Loves-Me Not’ education programme, has been a consistent and powerful advocate to keep young people safe from potentially abusive relationships.

The ‘Loves-Me-Not’ programme for year 12 students was developed by the New Zealand Police in partnership with the Sophie Elliott Foundation and the Ministry of Social Development. It includes advice and suggestions on how to identify problems in relationships, how to deal with them and where to seek help.

The award was given at a Gala Dinner ‘A Night of Gold’, held at the Blue Baths. In receiving the ‘Woman of the Biennium’ Award, Lesley said “this award is not about me personally, it’s for Sophie and for all those other women who have lost their lives. It recognises domestic abuse is an issue. It’s also about acknowledging the tireless work of all the trustees.”

“I think Sophie would be really proud of how the Loves-Me-Not programme has been rolled out into schools all over New Zealand.”

Earlier in 2015, Lesley Elliott, from Dunedin, was awarded Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for her services to the prevention of domestic violence and won the 2014 Women of Influence supreme award.

Zonta is an organisation of members in business and professions who work together both nationally and internationally to empower women through service and advocacy, with almost 700 members in New Zealand and more than 30,000 members globally.


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