Author(s): Elizabeth Orr
Biography & Memoir | No Category
A pioneering feminist’s candid memoir.
Elizabeth Orr has made a long and distinguished contribution to the campaign for equal pay and pay equity for New Zealand women. The stories she tells in her memoir cover this — and many more aspects of her varied and colourful life.
Born in Wellington in 1929, the daughter of controversial forester Pat Entrican, Elizabeth’s early education was enlivened by stints on backblocks farms. At university she mixed with talented literary personalities and future lawmakers; she married Gordon Orr, later Secretary for Justice and a member of the Waitangi Tribunal.
In 1966 Elizabeth led a delegation to government to establish the National Advisory Council for the Employment of Women. She helped set the terms for the Commission on Equal Pay and saw the 1972 Equal Pay Act put in place.
In the 1990s Elizabeth became the first female chancellor of Victoria University, combining university duties with building stone walls, conserving stands of native bush and creating an 18th-century style country garden at the family property near Otaki.
‘Candid, tenacious and illuminating, Elizabeth Orr’s memoir is a rich account of a 50-year dedication to campaigning for equal pay. With an eye for humour and self-appraisal, Orr shows us sides of New Zealand life that will surprise many readers, alongside the practical importance of good typing and a marriage of true partnership. The year 1972, alongside 1893, deserves attention as a national and global milestone in the history of New Zealand’s politics of equality. Orr is central to that story.’ — Charlotte Macdonald, Professor of History, Victoria University of Wellington
‘This book is a wonderful account of the battle for pay equity for New Zealand women. Elizabeth Orr’s determination and perseverance through decades of triumphs, reversals and disappointments ensured the fire was never extinguished. Working with Elizabeth and the other members of the Coalition for Equal Value Equal Pay on the Kristine Bartlett case was a privilege and the highlight of my professional career.’ — Steph Dyhrberg, Dyhrberg Drayton Employment Law