In Memoriam: Anne Rodger MNZM, Life Member of the Dunedin Branch

Anne RodgersDunedin branch members were shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death on 23 November 2023 of a valued and loved branch member, Anne Rodger. Just days before, she had been MC at the 100th birthday celebrations of the Dunedin Women’s Branch of the Labour Party, after returning from a South Seas cruise with daughter Gillian. She had been ill, but this was unexpected.

The citation for a well-deserved MNZM in the New Year’s Honours List of 2019 stated:

"Anne Rodger had been a member of the National Council of Women since 1983 and served as both Secretary and President of the Dunedin Branch. She was instrumental in establishing the NCW’s Alexandra’s Branch.

"She represented the Dunedin Branch on the Dunedin Forum for Non-Violence for three years, facilitated the 1993 forum ‘Towards a Non-Violent Society’ and was a member of the NGO Coordinating Committee for the Beijing World Conference on Women from 1992 to 1996.

"At Catholic Social Services in Dunedin she established a ‘Birth Support Group’ for very young parents and co-facilitated a post-natal programme for women raising infants alone. She initiated a group to address issues for grandparents responsible for the upbringing of their grandchildren, which is now a nationwide service run by Presbyterian Support services.

"Anne had held numerous voluntary executive and committee roles including with the Dunedin Childcare Association, Dunedin Māori Women’s Welfare League, Otago Co-ordination Committee for the Disabled, the Young Women’s Christian Association, the Council for Equal Pay and Opportunity, the Help Sexual Abuse Foundation, the Mosgiel University of the Third Age, the Dunedin University Club, SeniorNet Otago, and Abbeyfield (Residences for the Elderly) Dunedin which she helped establish."

At the funeral of her husband, former Labour Cabinet Minister Stan Rodger, Ken Douglas said of Anne:

“Anne's life evolved very significantly, from novice nun to political progressive to mother and mentor and latterly to her husband's carer."

The Hon Pete Hodgson, said about Anne:

“What we often saw was a classical manifestation of a political wife and mother – nurturing, advising, supporting, and – especially earlier in her life – campaigning. What was always just a little less apparent was her own political activity, which stretched back beyond the 45 years I knew her. Much of it was in a variety of local and national women’s organisations. Indeed, it was after I heard Sir Ken Douglas speak at Stan’s funeral service that I realised the depth of her contribution as a young woman to the union movement, especially in Wellington.

"She was a bit scary, as all insightful women can be, and capable of swift judgement, befitting her impatience for progress with the topic at hand. For at least some of us, she was a safe pair of ears with an astute perspicacity."

As a member of the Dunedin Branch, Anne was a Corresponding Member, then National Convenor of the Laws and Status of Women Standing Committee, a position she held from 1993-1996. She was presented with a Distinguished Service Award in 2016. Her political advice, knowledge and expertise on policy and legislative issues was much valued by her friends in the Branch.

Her friends in the Branch expressed their love and appreciation and sense of loss in the following statements:

  • "It is hard to imagine our NCW gatherings without her insightful comments and dry sense of humour."
  • "I will miss my regular chats with Anne. Her support and knowledge will be a great loss to me."
  • "She will be sadly missed in so many ways and by so many organisations."
  • "The sun was shining when I sat down to catch up on the news. Now, without Anne, the world is suddenly dark and bleak."

Poroporoaki Anne. Haere, haere.


To read more articles from The Circular (January-February 2024) issue 645, click on the tag below.
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