Global Women members are kicking off the new year on the right foot with three inspiring women leaders recognised for their services to New Zealand on the 2017 New Year Honours list.
Dame Fran Wilde
Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DMNZ) for services to the State and the community
Throughout her years in local, regional and central government, Dame Fran Wilde has changed lives and revitalised cities.
Her political career has seen her move from Member of Parliament and Minister of the Crown to Mayor of Wellington, and later, Chair of the Wellington Regional Council.
In 1986, during her time in Parliament, she successfully sponsored the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. This ended decades of legalised discrimination against gay men. In 1992 she became Mayor of Wellington.
Early in 2016 she retired from the Wellington Regional Council and currently holds governance positions in several national and regional entities including as Chair of the Remuneration Authority and the Wellington Lifelines Group, a Treaty of Waitangi Chief Crown negotiator, Deputy Chair of the New Zealand Transport Agency and of the Capital Coast District Health Board, and director of Te Papa Tongarewa and the Whitireia-Weltec Council.
Her current community roles include Chair of Wellington on a Plate and of The Great War Exhibition, board member of Business Mentors NZ Ltd and a trustee or patron of several other organisations.
Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to the insurance industry
As a leader in New Zealand’s insurance industry, Naomi Ballantyne has established three nationally important life insurance businesses. Around one in four New Zealanders has been covered by a policy sold by these insurers during her career.
Her honours citation notes that she “has been the main driver of the industry’s product innovation over the past 34 years and during that time has created careers for hundreds of New Zealanders, business opportunities for thousands of Small Medium Enterprises, hundreds of millions of dollars in shareholder value, and financially supported many thousands of New Zealand clients when health issues interrupted their lives.”
In an interview with Stuff, she said of the Honour: ”I have spent so long being the underdog, or the challenger on the receiving end of a lot of criticism from competitors, to actually have someone do the opposite is very surreal. I’m absolutely humbled and gobsmacked. It’s lovely.”
Order of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to health and the Indian community
Ranjna Patel has been the driving force behind the expansion of Nirvana Health Group, one of New Zealand’s largest Primary Health networks, which she and her husband started as a sole GP practice in 1977. Nirvana Health Group now services 190,000 patients across more than 30 medical clinics in mostly low socio-economic communities.
She is the founder and president of Ghandi Nivas, which offers counselling and temporary accommodation for family violence perpetrators. She also plays a significant role in Auckland’s Indian community—including helping to establish Shree Swaminarayan Hindu temple in Papatoetoe, serving as the first women President of the Manukau Indian Association between 2010 and 2012, and acting as a member of the Executive Committee of the New Zealand Indian Central Association.
The Honour tops off a year that saw her widely recognised for her work. She was named Visionary Leader at the 2016 Deloitte Top 200 Awards, and topped the Master category of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Her ONZM is only the second to be awarded to an Indian women in New Zealand.