Meet the woman called the governor

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An Oamaru woman has risen to the Altrusa’s top role in New Zealand.

Maria Mackay’s official title is Altrusa International District 15 Governor – District 15 comprising New Zealand from Auckland to Invercargill.

Mrs Mackay is only the second Oamaru Altrusan to achieve the honour.

The first was the late Lynnette Young, who died in 2005 just six months into her two-year term.

Mrs Mackay has been a member of the women’s service club for 40 years.

“I was just a babe when I was asked to join,” she said.

Her progression up the ranks began with nomination to the district board, of which she became a director in 2013.

After two years in that position, she spent another two as first vice-president, then two as vice-governor.

“When I became a director, I never dreamt I would be where I am now,” Mrs Mackay said.

She was humbled by the honour, and excited by the opportunities it would bring.

“I’ve been mentored the whole way. The mentoring and support is absolutely amazing.”

Mrs Mackay travelled to Altrusa International headquarters in Chicago last year for training.

Next month she will represent New Zealand at an Altrusa gathering in Reno, Nevada, carrying her country’s flag at the opening ceremony.

Mrs MacKay would need a few days’ leave from her job as a full-time teacher at Oamaru North School for the Reno trip.

She has not yet told her new entrant pupils, but nearer the time she would show them on a map where she was going.

As part of her tenure as governor, Mrs Mackay sets a “vision” for the two-year period.

She chose “embrace the journey”, wanting all Altrusans to get the most out whichever path they were on.

Another aspect is visiting all 20 Altrusa clubs around New Zealand – something she was greatly looking forward to.

Invitations to events have already arrived.

On June 12, Mrs Mackay went to the Taieri Altrusa club to install its president and a new member.

“I’m very lucky,” she said.

She values Altrusa for the service it gives to the community, the fun members have while doing so, and the friendships they form.

Some of the projects masterminded in Oamaru have been picked up by other clubs, including Christmas gifts for rest-home residents, swimming lessons for children, and the fabric bazaar.