April 1926 – July 2011
Dame Vivienne (Viv) was born in Lower Hutt to Hugh and Winnie Lowe. She attended Eastern Hutt School, Hutt Valley High School and Victoria University. She graduated from Victoria University in 1948 with an MSc in Chemistry. The same week as her graduation, she married Robert (Bob) Boyd in the Lower Hutt Baptist Church.
Viv and Bob started married life in Wellington but moved back to Lower Hutt in the early 1950s. They had four children: Vivienne, Alan (now deceased), Dorothy and Rosemary.
Viv and Bob joined Epuni Baptist Church in April 1952. Apart from a five year break from 1961 to 1966, when Bob’s work with NZ Railways took the family to Dunedin (where they became active members of Hanover Street Baptist), they were members at Epuni until their deaths. Viv was the longest serving member of the Epuni Baptist Church at the time of her death.
In 1986 she was knighted as DBE for her service in New Zealand community and public affairs. This included being president of the National Council of Women (1978-1982), a member and later chair of the Consumer Council (1975–1988) and chair of the Abortion Supervisory Committee (1979-1980).
Viv’s CV lists so many roles and activities that it is impossible to include all details, however her activities can be grouped into a few categories. Her primary focus was described by the Dominion Post, on June 17, as “advocate for women.” In addition to her National Council of Women activities, she was a member of the Equal Opportunities Tribunal panel (1979-89) and a member of the NZ Government delegation to the World Conference on the UN Decade for Women (Copenhagen 1980).
Viv also used her talents within the wider Baptist community. She was the first woman appointed to the Baptist Union Council (1970-1985), and the first woman appointed to the position of president of the Baptist Union (1984-1985). She also served as a deacon at Epuni Baptist.
As National Leader Rodney Macann stated in his funeral tribute, Viv felt strongly that a Christian and church perspective was needed in any discussion of wider community and social issues. To provide this perspective, she became a member and later the convener of the Baptist Public Questions Committee (1967-1972, 1977-1979).
Viv also served on bodies such as the Royal Commission on Nuclear Power Generation (1976-78) and the Steering Committee for the Review of Gambling (1990).
Dame Vivienne largely retired from public office when her husband’s health declined. Bob died in August 2004, bringing to a close 56 years of marriage. According to her daughter, Viv described married life as “one long conversation.”
She will also be remembered as one who loved to talk and tell stories, including her extensive travel stories. She had an excellent analytical mind and was a very capable speaker. She was passionate about her local church.
Viv’s family were also very important to her. Even as her health deteriorated she kept in touch with the happenings of her three daughters, seven grandchildren and her new great-grandson.
– Jean Cavaney