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Our namesake

Lady Diana Isaac

Lady Isaac was one of Canterbury's most respected and admired citizens. She was renowned for her generosity and support for the arts, education, and her widely acclaimed work in conservation and the preservation of endangered species.

Born in Devonshire, England, she served in the British Army during the World War II, where she met her late husband, Sir Neil Isaac in India. They married in Delhi in 1946 and established a construction company in India and later moved to Christchurch, establishing Isaac Construction in 1950. Their company began to build the highways and earthworks of Canterbury and remain at the forefront of developing and maintaining Canterbury and South Island roads and infrastructures.

The Isaacs settled on a 1000-hectare property 6km from Christchurch, restored the quarry and over time developed it into a wildlife haven.

In 1977 the Isaac Wildlife Trust was established, with the purpose to create an idyllic and safe environment for New Zealand wildlife. The Trust works to save endangered species, fund scholarships, and ensure that the Peacock Springs Wildlife Park is retained and further developed for the people of Christchurch.

Peacock Springs, named after the peacocks that roam freely across the park, has grown from 20 hectares with just a handful of animals, to 1000 hectares and has become a conservation park set up to study and breed endangered indigenous plants, birds, fish and reptiles.

Lady Isaac's contributions to Canterbury include scholarships at Lincoln and Canterbury universities, sponsoring the Isaac Theatre Royal, supporting the Christchurch Art Gallery and setting up the Isaac Centre for Nature Conservation. She was awarded the ONZM in 2009. Her work has been acknowledged with the award of Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and she was nominated for the inaugural Senior New Zealander of the Year.