Grande dame farewelled in style
One of New Zealand's grande dames was given a farewell in Auckland today at a funeral service she organised herself at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Lady June Blundell, one of the longest serving members of the Order of New Zealand, died in Auckland last week, aged 90.
She was the widow of Sir Denis Blundell, the first New Zealander to become resident governor general, and a patron of several major charities.
The Blundells, who played a major role in the legal and social life of Wellington, owned the capital's Evening Post newspaper.
Dean of Auckland, Reverend Jo Kelly-Moore, described Lady Blundell as a "role model for many, supporter of so many".
In a eulogy her son, Richard Blundell, told around 600 people that his mother had "launched six ships" when her husband was New Zealand High Commissioner to London. She made friends easily and from her early years had been involved in volunteering and charities.
She was patron of St Johns in New Zealand and was "fiercely independent" even up to the point when she used a medical alert bracelet after she collapsed. After the paramedics treated her, she told them to go as she was fine.
They insisted instead that she go to hospital.
"She gave her soul to her work," he said.
As well as St Johns, she worked with Child Cancer Foundation and the Kickstart programme for children at the Homai School for the Blind. She was extensively involved in charity work in Wellington, including fund raising for the Wellington Free Ambulance.
Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae lead the mourners, who included former governor general Dame Catherine Tizard and her former MP daughter, Judith Tizard, former prime minister Jim Bolger, MP John Banks and Sir Edmund Hillary's widow, Lady June Hillary.
The service included a parade of the senior members of the Order of St John and a 150 strong St John's honour guard.