On the 10th of April 2008, French Ambassador to New Zealand, H.E. Mr Michel Legras, decorated Martine Marshall-Durieux with the National Order of Merit in recognition of her services to France.
Ms Marshall-Durieux has lived in New Zealand since 1972. Since 1973, she has committed herself to the teaching of the French language in New Zealand through her role as a French secondary school teacher in a number of varied institutes. In 2005, she embarked on the mission of teaching French to adult students at the Christchurch Polytechnic.
Her commitment to the promotion of the French language and culture heightened in 1994 when Ms Marshall-Durieux became a member of the Alliance Française of Christchurch’s committee. In 2002, she went on to become the President of the association, a position she held until 2007. At one stage, Ms Martine-Durieux was also Vice-President of the Federation of Alliances Françaises of New Zealand.
However, the National Order of Merit has not been awarded to her soley for her promotion of the French language and culture, but also for the way in which she has served the French community in Christchurch.
In 1998, Ms Marshall-Durieux made her interpreting skills available to staff at both the Christchurch hospital and police station. When required she still carries out this task. 2008 also marks the tenth anniversary of her debut as presenter of the French show, ’Francofiles’, run through a community radio station in Christchurch.
In her role as Honourary French Consul, which she has held since 2000, Ms Marshall-Durieux goes above and beyond the call of her administrative duties by making an effort to meet all the new French residents in Christchurch and assisting them to settle into their new home.
Due to her connections and contacts with local authorities in the French village of Le Quesnoy - Ms Marshall-Durieux is originally from a village close to the town - she is committed to developing relationships between French and New Zealand veterans’ associations. In 2007, she was highly involved in the organisation of the inauguration of the statue of New Zealand soldier Henri James Nicolas and in organising the stay of the visiting delegation from Le Quesnoy.
Ms Marshall-Durieux also takes an active interest in the French community in Akaroa, whom she helps to stay in contact with one another and to trace their French roots.