Thursday 23 February 2023 3:23pm
Lady Patricia and Sir Alan Mark
It was with great sadness we learned of the recent death of Lady Patricia (Pat) Mark QSO. Our thoughts and sympathy go out to her husband, University of Otago Emeritus Professor Sir Alan Mark CBE, their children Jenifer, Stephen, Alastair and Bridget, and her nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Lady Pat and Sir Alan have been lifelong advocates for the protection of Aotearoa New Zealand’s natural habitat and wildlife. Meeting at Otago as Botany students in the 1950s, the couple continued to have a close association with the University throughout their lives.
Both Lady Pat and Sir Alan were the first in their families to attend university. Lady Pat graduated with a BSc in Botany and Geography.
After gaining her degree, Lady Pat worked at the Botany division of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) library in Christchurch, before joining Sir Alan at Duke University in North Carolina, where they married. After Sir Alan gained his PhD, they returned to settle in Dunedin.
Throughout her life, Lady Pat committed a huge amount of her time to several conservation organisations, including The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, the Otago Natural History Trust and the Mt Aspiring National Park Board. She was a committed volunteer and supporter of the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and an active campaigner in the ‘Save Manapouri’ campaign.
Lady Pat was also a Justice of the Peace (JP), and as well as putting her energies into their family, her love of books saw her working at different times over the years at various University libraries. She was also a member of the Otago Hospital Board for two terms in the 1970-80s and a member of ASH (Action on Smoking & Health).
She was an active member and tireless volunteer on the New Zealand Federation of University Women (NZFUW), now called Graduate Women Otago – including seven years as an Otago Branch Committee Member and serving on the National Executive from 1973-1976 as Convenor of International Relations. She was made an Honoured member of the Otago Branch in 1983 and helped organise graduation regalia for more than 40 years.
Lady Pat was also a member of the National Council of Women (NCW) from 1967-2007 and was made a Life Member of NCW Dunedin in 2007. She was awarded a Queen’s Service Order (QSO) for services to the community in 2000.
In 2020, as part of their efforts to further the aims of environmental conservation and boost ecological education, the Marks made a generous gift to the University’s Ecology Fund. In 2022, The Marks’ Ecology Award was established, with the aim of supporting promising University of Otago students undertaking ecological research.
Fittingly, the first recipient of the award, Marine Science PhD candidate Stephanie Bennington, is also a Conservation Ranger at the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, an organisation close to Lady Pat’s heart.
In 2020 the Marks also made a substantial donation to Orokonui Ecosanctuary, to support its important conservation work. Their lifelong contribution to the conservation and preservation of New Zealand’s natural habitats and wildlife was acknowledged and honoured by both organisations at a function at the University in September 2020.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor Sciences, Professor Richard Barker says, “Lady Pat and Sir Alan have been massive supporters of the University of Otago and exemplary in showing how one can make a difference through personal effort in all aspects of their lives.
“This leadership has been transformational for the Conservation movement in Aotearoa New Zealand, as well as for our Botany and Ecology programmes at the University of Otago. Our gratitude is profound and our thoughts are with the Mark family at this time.”
A close friend, Professor Kath Dickinson from Otago’s Department of Botany, says Lady Pat was “a tour de force, a great supporter of women, and family”.
“In many respects over the years, she forged her own way, being an inspiration, supporter and friend to many, giving freely of her time to the causes and roles that she felt passionate about and committed to,” she says.
“She had an enduring and abiding love and fascination for the natural world, the specialness, beauty and wonders of New Zealand’s plants and animals and the natural landscapes of this country, and those beyond our shores.”
Kōrero by Margie Clark Communications Adviser Development and Alumni Relations Office.