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Wellington arts manager Sue Paterson dies

Tributes are flowing for Sue Paterson who died yesterday aged 65, following a long time living with cancer.

Photo Deirdre Tarrant, courtesy of DANZ.

While Sue Paterson’s work was not limited to the arts, it was in that sector that she made great waves over nearly half a decade.

She was instrumental in the rise of pioneering contemporary dance company Limbs, managed The Front Lawn, the music/theatre venture of Don McGlashan and Harry Sinclair, and pulled back the Royal New Zealand Ballet from the brink, when it was facing closure with a million dollars of debt.

Sue also worked for the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council, and overseas at London Contemporary Dance School and the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust.

She also tried working for the Department of Conservation, but the arts was her passion, especially dance.

Sue was Marketing Director of the biennial New Zealand Festival from 1994 to 1998. She took on the role of New Zealand Festival Executive Director in 2009 and continued in that role until 2017, rolling out four New Zealand Festivals, six Wellington Jazz Festivals, and four Lexus Song Quests.”

She was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004, and in 2017 was named Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year to recognise her 40 years of service to arts and culture.

“Sue was a lovely person and did outstanding work in the arts sector over a long period,” says Mayor Justin Lester. “She led the New Zealand Festival with flair and energy.

“Wellington City, and the arts sector in particular, was fortunate to have someone of Sue’s ability in such pivotal roles for so long.

Sue was a member of the Wellington Zoo Trust Board for the last two years.

Wellington Zoo Chief Executive, Karen Fifield MNZM says, “Sue was a wonderful person, always living life to the fullest with a positive attitude, and love and kindness for others. Sue absolutely loved Wellington Zoo and being on our Board. We will miss her deeply, as will many others.”

Her favourite animal at the Zoo was the Capybara.