Nelson business pioneer Elspeth Kennedy leaves legacy

Elspeth Kennedy, a pioneering former stock broker and a tireless advocate  for the Nelson Tasman Hospice has died, aged 85.
Marion Van Dijk

Elspeth Kennedy, a pioneering former stock broker and a tireless advocate for the Nelson Tasman Hospice has died, aged 85.

Pioneering businesswoman Elspeth Kennedy,  who dedicated her later life to improving the care of the terminally ill through hospice services, has died in Nelson.

Nelson Tasman Region Hospice Trust chairman John Peters said Kennedy was a special person and the contribution she made to the hospice was "absolutely enormous".

Kennedy had been involved with hospice for more than 15 years and was the chairwoman of the Nelson Tasman Hospice Trust from 1998 to 2014. During that time she was instrumental in building the first hospice facility which has since grown to a 10-bed palliative care inpatient unit on Manuka Street.

"The consequence today is we have a very vibrant, very successful hospice that owes a lot to Elspeth," Peters said

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Kennedy died on Sunday in Nelson. She was 85.

She was born in Invercargill and began her career working for the Invercargill City Council and teaching music. She had a pioneering career as a stock broker and served as the director or various companies before turning her considerable energy to improving the care of the terminally ill by developing the Nelson Tasman Hospice. 

Peters said Kennedy was the first woman to become a member of the New Zealand stock exchange. She was also the first woman to run her own broking business.

"She certainly had a full and varied business life as well as her subsequent life involved with the hospice," Peters said. 

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She was appointed a member of the Order of the British Empire in 1990, and in 2003 was named Nelson Mail Nelsonian of the Year.

In 2008, she was made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order in the New Year honours for her valuable voluntary service to the community. 

She said at the time it was an honour the entire hospice team should recognise as their own.

Peters said it had been Kennedy's wish, supported by the family, that there be no service or memorials. She has asked that any recognition or messages go to the Nelson Tasman Hospice.

"For somebody with such a high profile she was a remarkably private person."

A post on the Nelson Tasman Hospice Facebook page on Wednesday recognised the contribution Kennedy made to the organisation. 

"Elspeth was respected by one and all for her dedication, hard work and excellent fundraising skills. She never accepted "no" for an answer and knew how to get things done and make the impossible happen."

"We are indebted to Elspeth for everything she did for our Hospice, community and our staff. Our thoughts are with Elspeth's family and friends."

 - Stuff


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