If you noticed the floral colours appearing on vacant land on many street corners around Christchurch, you can thank the district's Rotary Clubs.
The Colour Me Christchurch flower planting campaign is one of the projects that president of the Christchurch South club, Sarita McLean is most proud of.
"I joined Rotary to be able to make a difference and planting over 700 petunias raised so many smiles."
Despite having a Bachelor of Chemical Technology from Massey University, a paper on Health and Safety set her off on a different career path, and Sarita now runs a health and safety consultancy in Christchurch.
It was a casual conversation with a friend that led her to join Rotary.
"I thought it was something I could do when I was semi-retired, and then I thought, well actually, the best time to do it is now."
Rotary has well and truly shed its image of golf playing businessman and Sarita is one of more than 200 female Rotarians including five female presidents in the 9970 district that encompasses the top half of the South Island.
"The mix of people and even the different age groups is great. Every meeting is enlightening and I am constantly inspired by what members just get on with and do.
"They work away quietly getting things done, and are quite modest about their accomplishments.
"I remember the first time I went back into Cashel Mall and saw the hanging flower baskets everywhere that the Ashburton Rotary Club had organised. I was really overcome because it was such a caring and thoughtful touch."
How would you sum up your style?
I aim for smart casual although my daughter disagrees some days.
The best style advice I ever heard was . . .
Keep trend to the minimum and grace to the maximum.
Stay simple yet stylish and top it up with a confident smile!
What will you never wear?
Skinny jeans, anything white, Crocs.
Do you have a favourite treasure or quirky memorabilia?
I love Royal Albert rose patterned china. My mother-in-law passed on her Old English Rose tea set which she started collecting over 50 years ago.
I didn't really want to look into the china cabinet after the February earthquake in case they had been damaged but luckily they have withstood the earthquakes well.
What are the challenges to being a woman president in Rotary?
The same challenges faced by women in the workplace; the demands on time, energy and resources.
Luckily my club is very progressive and has had a number of women presidents. Members are very supportive.
There are two other female presidents in my cluster group and our Assistant Governor is also female.
Were you named after anyone?
No, but my name means small river in Hindi.
If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
Yes I would hope so! I am a fairly good listener.
Also a lesson I learnt early in my career was not to judge anyone and to treat everyone equally. I try and look for the good in everyone.
What's the first thing you notice about people?
Mountain hideaway or beach house?
Can I put in an order for a mountain hideaway next to a gently flowing river or a lake?
If it had been up to me . . .
Where do I start? I'd ensure a timely resolution to those in our city living in earthquake-damaged properties now that winter is here.
Provide opportunities for people so they can achieve their goals and take responsibility for their actions.
Thinking selfishly I'd settle for my family living closer, certainly within commuting distance.
I have a passion for . . .
My family, both immediate and extended and this beautiful country I call home.
- © Fairfax NZ News