Wendy Logan has cause for a double celebration on New Year's Day. She has been named in the New Zealand Royal Honours List for 2014 for a Queen's Service Medal for services to early childhood education, on the same day she turns 62.
"We'll be having a big party with family, as it's also my birthday," Mrs Logan said from her son's home in Melbourne where she is visiting.
She said the award was recognition for the importance of early childhood as much as it was for the part she played in it.
Mrs Logan stepped down in October from a 24-year tenure as chief executive of the Nelson Kindergarten Association, but is continuing a management contract as general manager of the Marlborough Kindergarten Association.
Her involvement with early childhood goes back 30 years when she became a member of the Grove Street Kindergarten committee in 1983. It triggered wider involvement in administration and governance roles, leading to her appointment as chief executive of the association in October 1989.
She gained the management contract as general manager of the Marlborough association in March last year.
Mrs Logan, who has a degree in accounting, said recently her interest in early childhood education began when she was assistant manager at Nelson's Rutherford Hotel. A waitress there who was also a kindergarten teacher prompted her interest.
She was "really surprised" to receive a letter in mid October informing her she had been recommended for the award. She was then delighted to receive a letter from the governor-general on December 13, confirming the award, and then a congratulatory letter from Prime Minister John Key on December 16.
She said it was an honour to be recognised for her service to early childhood education nationally and locally as well as her other community work.
She was also humbled when considering the number of people she had worked with whom she felt should have shared this recognition.
High points along the way included the building and licensing of the Brook, Pinegrove, Waverley St [Richmond], Golden Bay, Hira and Auckland Point kindergartens. Mrs Logan has also enjoyed working with "thousands of parent volunteers" on committees, family liaison groups and board members.
"Everyone who works and volunteers in early childhood education gives their time, because they are passionate about the benefits of this high quality early education for all children."
Mrs Logan acknowledged the boards, members and staff of New Zealand Kindergarten, Nelson Tasman Kindergartens, Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa and NZEI for their work and support.
The award also recognises her contribution to local and national early childhood education policy, especially regarding standards and funding, and her work with young people through her role with Soroptomist women's service club, of which she has been an executive member since 1981.
Mrs Logan established a teen-parent unit in 2011 with support from Soroptomists. She has been finance convener for the southwest Pacific division of the global organisation since last year.
She said accomplishing the set up of the teen-parent unit, and new kindergartens, was a result of the strong collaborative relationship she had with Nelson MP Nick Smith, and she especially appreciated his assistance.
"My fellow Soroptomists have supported me with many projects for young children. They have also provided me with the opportunity to be involved in other community projects and a number of club members have shared their skills and mentored me."
Her greatest thanks went to her husband and mother for their love and support. "I look forward to continuing to work towards ensuring that all children have access to affordable, inclusive and culturally relevant early childhood education," she said.
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