Big things can grow from the smallest of objects given time and the right application of will.
Sir Neil Isaac, born in South Canterbury in 1915, met his British bride to be Diana, on a troop ship bound for India towards the end of the WW2, while serving for the NZ Army. Sir Neil served with the New Zealand and British forces within the Royal Engineers division, completing his army career as Major in New Delhi, India when the war ended. Lady Isaac served within the British Army.
Married in Delhi in 1946, Sir Neil and Lady Isaac’s lives together and all that grew from their visionary achievements and enterprises, was a labour of love.
At the conclusion of WW2 Sir Neil and Lady Isaac’s life together started with a contract to build the Nagwa dam, deep in the jungles of India. The completion of this project corresponded with the commencement of the partition of India and after 4 ½ years in India, they returned to New Zealand to craft a new life there together.
In a nostalgic acknowledgment to their early married life in India, where they found tranquillity after such turbulent world events, they named the rehabilitated quarry “Peacock Springs”.
Sir Neil and Lady Isaac worked on combining construction with conservation, together, every year up until Sir Neil’s death in 1987. Lady Diana then took over the Trust’s chairmanship, growing the Isaac property considerably and expanding on the Trusts conservation activities.
Sir Neil’s many achievements were formally recognised with the following honours;
- Queens Service Order in 1982
- Member of the Imperial Society of Knights Batchelor in 1986
- Inducted into the NZ Business Hall of Fame in 2007
- Founder, Chairman and Managing Director – The Isaac group
- Trustee, World Wildlife Fund of New Zealand
- Commissioner of Rolleston
- President N.Z. Contractors Federation
- Chairman Alloy Steel Ltd.
- Justice of the Peace – New Zealand
Sir Neil died on 8th May 1987, after a lifetime of service to his country, construction and conservation.
Lady Isaac died in November 2012. Amongst her many achievements, the improvement and protection of this land and its wildlife surely rates as one of her greatest.
Lady Isaac’s many achievements were formally recognised with the following honours;
- The New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009 for services to business, conservation, and the community
- The Queens Service medal in 1990
- An honorary doctorate by Lincoln University in 1998
- An honorary doctorate by Canterbury University in 1999
The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust will ensure this great work lives on in perpetuity.