“You have a feeling that you are doing something worthwhile”

New Year’s honour for Wendy

2004. Lower Hutt woman Wendy Zamanek says it’s neat to be listed on the New Year’s honours list. Receiving the Queen’s Service Medal for Community Service not only makes her proud, but she says the award recognises the two women’s organisations that she sweated blood and tears for during the 80s, 90s and today.

One of six Lower Hutt residents to receive an honour, she is an elder of the Presbyterian Church and was ordained at the Seatoun parish in 1985. She now belongs to Knox St Columba Presbyterian Church since moving to Lower Hutt five years ago.

Knox Senior Minister Rev Alastair Smales said he was thrilled for Wendy. “It is an acknowledgement of her dedication and commitment to others.

Wendy is very regular at Knox and from time to time has led services and preached.”

Mrs Zemanek says news of the honour hit home on her daughter’s birthday in November last year.

“I got a birthday present on her birthday. You are not allowed to tell anybody (about the honour). I didn’t, I kept dead quiet. Only my husband knew. He said between then and Christmas he could see steam coming out of my ears with the effort of holding the news in!”

Having been widowed time has been on her side, but remarriage has not slowed life down.

Currently Secretary of the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women, she also works as an IT teacher at Chilton St James School where she has taught for eight years.

“I have always grown up with the sense of importance of service to the extent that when I was in secondary school, I knew that I would under no circumstances work in business.” It never crossed her mind to contribute elsewhere but in the volunteer sector – “I do believe that God sets a path for you to walk,” she says. Trained as a teacher during the 1970s, she began community work in the 1980s.

“I decided I would do something worthwhile with my life so thought I would get involved with women’s organisations nationally and within the Presbyterian Church if I could.”

She served as a member and then secretary for the Wellington unit of the Council for Mission and Ecumenical Co-operation (COMEC) during 1990-1992, which was originally set up in 1984 to oversee Presbyterian Overseas Missions work. The Wellington section was responsible for African missionaries.

The thrust of her community work has been with the National Council of Women in New Zealand. Coming from the Federation of University Women she entered the Wellington branch of the Council as a delegate. Her serving capacities included being a board member, heading the Cultural Standing Committee (on cultural issues), acting as convenor, and in 1992 performed as secretary for the national organisation.

Her service with this organisation was meaningful: “You have a feeling that you are doing something worthwhile and that your voice is being listened to. There is so much satisfaction working and developing close bonds of friendship with other women who have the same ideals, the feeling that together we can make a difference.”

By Peter Veugelaers

Published 2004, Challenge Weekly


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