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Champion for the Arts wins Metlifecare’s Senior New Zealander of the Year

Former New Zealand Festival executive director Sue Paterson was last night crowned Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year at a prestigious gala night in Auckland. In front of Prime Minister Bill English and other dignitaries, Paterson from Wellington was recognised for her 40 years of service to arts and culture.

The judging panel noted Paterson’s delivery of four iconic festivals celebrating the arts in New Zealand along with special events like last year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. They also recognised her achievement in turning around the fortunes of the Royal New Zealand Ballet company as its General Manager in the 1990s.

Paterson was announced as the senior category winner ahead of finalists Ivan Pivac, an academic and disability advocate from Auckland and Elaine Gill, a trustee of the Taranaki Arts Festival for 25 years.

“I’m really humbled to win this year’s award. I’m incredibly passionate about the arts and the inclusive enjoyment the industry provides to the wider community – I’m proud to have been part of staging world class events right here in New Zealand,” says Paterson.

The Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year Award recognises those aged 60 and over who have made an outstanding contribution to the country through their chosen field and are role models for the wider community.

Leading retirement village operator Metlifecare is an ongoing supporter of the award and chief executive officer Glen Sowry says the calibre of entrants and finalists was as strong as ever this year.

“There’s a misconception that in later life the sense of adventure and drive for success slows down, but you can tell from our finalists last night that is far from the truth,” says Sowry.

“We’re proud to support those who are making remarkable contributions to society, and our three finalists are shining examples of Kiwis over 60 who are passionate about making New Zealand a better place and who have achieved considerable success in their senior years,” he said.

Editor’s notes

The Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year Award is one of six prestigious award categories at the annual Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards. Previous winners have included John Russell, Donald Sew Hoy and Frances Denz.

Winner: Sue Paterson

  • Paterson led the biennial New Zealand Festival from 2009 until earlier this year, which brings live art experiences from across the world to New Zealand and generated more than $100 million for Wellington’s local economy last year
  • Previously, she led the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company and is described as a ‘living legend’ in the dance and arts sector, renowned for growing audiences and cultural programmes while producing huge financial turnarounds

Finalist: Ivan Pivac

  • Aucklander Pivac achieved remarkable qualifications in health, academia, music and languages after being blinded by an accident at age 12
  • Pivac imported products to aid severely disabled patients and supplied these to district health boards, retirement villages, charities, trusts, special needs schools, private clients and professionals throughout New Zealand

Finalist: Elaine Gill

  • Taranaki’s Gill has been a trustee of the Taranaki Arts Festival for 25 years. The festival includes WOMAD, an international event which celebrates music, food and culture from around the world, and with a $3 million budget contributes $12 million to the local economy
  • Gill continues to chair a wide range of community organisations, including Taranaki Community Health Trust, Volunteering New Plymouth, Dress for Success, Taranaki Computer Trust, Taranaki Employment Foundation, and Patron of New Plymouth Riding for the Disabled

Judging criteria:

  • The individuals current contribution and benefit to society and impact on community or nation
  • The time & efforts dedicated in working toward goals
  • The length of service that that the individual has been making a difference
  • Their impact on individuals, their cause, the local community or nation
  • Any continuing commitment if relevant to their personal development by participation in courses, forums, conventions and community activities etc.
  • The degree of difficulty in achieving their goals
  • The challenges faced and overcome

Other Winners:

Kiwi Bank New Zealander of the Year: Taika Waititi

Auckland University Young New Zealander of the Year : Rez Gardi​

Kiwi Bank New Zealand Local Hero: Hayden Smith

Sanitarium New Zealand Innovator of the Year: Professor Ed Gane

Mitre 10 New Zealand Community of the Year: Randwick Park


For more information head to: http://nzawards.org.nz/


About Eve Williams

Eve Williams is the Content Developer and Social Media Administration for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.