On the 25th of March 2010, the Ambassador of France, Mr Michel Legras, had the pleasure of awarding the National Order of Merit to two great friends of France, Ms Judith Trotter and Ms Marie Brown.
Judith Trotter can proudly look back on a brilliant career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (from 1965 to 1998) where she served both at home (economic division, Americas division) and overseas (Athens, Bangkok, Singapore, France, Canada and Italy).
She formed a special link with France and the French language during her term at the OECD in Paris, then as New Zealand’s Ambassador to France from 1987 to 1992. As an adept of the French language and culture, Ms Trotter worked tirelessly at improving relations between the two countries. After a last posting as Ambassador to Italy, she chaired from 2002 to 2008 the France-New Zealand Friendship Fund which was created in 1991 as part of the settlement of the Rainbow Warrior dispute. Its aim is to finance projects which will help understanding between the two nations.
Ms Trotter is also a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit which she was awarded for her diplomatic services since 1996.
Marie Thérèse Brown’s whole career has been dedicated to the teaching of French and music. She has been teaching both subjects for 25 years, after obtaining her BA in French and completing her studies at Auckland Teachers College.
In Wellington she alternated choir teaching with regular cello playing with chamber music groups, like the Wellington Chamber Orchestra, and piano concerts. It is undoubtedly in the area of choir singing that Ms Brown is at her best, gaining a strong reputation in the capital and its surroundings, after having successively led groups like the Wellington Youth Choir, the Orpheus Choir, or more recently the Wadestown Singers and in the area of sacred music, the Metropolitan of Sacred Heart Choir.
At the same time Ms Brown was always available to support French culture in New Zealand, as a teacher of French and French literature from 1977, as a member of the Alliance Française of Wellington from 1986, as a member of its board in 2001, as the secretary of the Federation of New Zealand Alliances Françaises from 2002 to 2005, and especially as president of the Alliance Française of Wellington from 2002 to 2004.
In this last position, she contributed to the revival of the Alliance in the capital, a place which for Wellingtonians is like a little French island in an anglophone ocean. In 2006 Marie Brown received the award of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques for services to the French language and culture.
On March 25th at the French Residence, to the guests’ greatest pleasure, she led her own choir, the "Vivace" choir, into the singing of the French and New Zealand national anthems.