Mayor Honours Capital's Bon Ami

11 November 2009

Mayor Kerry Prendergast today (10.11.09) honoured Olivier Pellenard, the departing head of Alliance Française in Wellington, for his contribution to the cultural life of the city.

Mayor Prendergast gave M. Pellenard an Absolutely Positive Wellingtonian award in recognition of his work at the head of the French cultural organisation.

Absolutely Positive Wellingtonian awards are presented to individuals considered to have given outstanding service to the city.

Mayor Prendergast said it was extremely fitting that the city recognise M. Pellenard's contribution in this way. At a farewell reception in the Council Chambers, she praised him as a true citizen of the world who had raised the profile of French culture in Wellington and contributed to the entertainment and education of thousands of Wellingtonians.

"Olivier has been a great ambassador for French culture and a great friend to Wellington," she said. "We will miss him hugely but we appreciate that the time has come for him to move on to the next chapter in his life."

M. Pellenard's achievements in his four years in Wellington include organising the prestigious Cartooning for Peace festival last year. It was the first time the festival had been held in the southern hemisphere in its 10 years of existence and came about after M. Pellenard brought its founder, the French political cartoonist Plantu, to the city.

M. Pellenard became director of the Wellington Alliance Française and Délégué Général of the organisation in New Zealand after four years as deputy Délégué Général of Alliance Française in the United States, based in Washington DC.

Though Alliance Française is best known for its language teaching, under M. Pellenard's leadership it has brought French culture to the fore in Wellington.

Other notable events have included the visit of French jazz musician Mario Canonge, the revival of the annual Fête de la Musique, events to mark celebrations including Bastille Day and Beaujolais Nouveau, and French film festivals.

"Under Olivier's leadership, Alliance Française has become a major part of Wellington's vibrant cultural scene and we thank him for that. We also hope this will be 'au revoir', not 'goodbye'."