About Christchurch

There is nowhere else in the world where, within two hours of an international airport, you can ski at a world-class alpine resort, play golf, bungy jump, raft, mountain bike, hot-air balloon, wind surf, whale watch and visit internationally-acclaimed wineries and gardens. Christchurch is New Zealand's second-largest city and the gateway to the South Island. Bordered by hills and the Pacific Ocean, it is situated on the edge of the Canterbury Plains that stretch to the Southern Alps.

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Introducing the Christchurch Group

The Christchurch Group of AAPNZ welcomes all Personal Assistants, Executive Assistants, Office Managers, Administrators, Receptionists, Secretaries, Accounts and Payroll Officers, to come along and be involved in a wide range of opportunities with us. In our busy administrative roles, we work hard to provide a high standard of service and support for our organisations, but we also recognise that we need support too.

Group meetings are held on the third Monday of each month.  Our meetings are currently held at The Christchurch Casino (Chi Kitchen) from 5.30 - 7pm.  The meetings are a combination of networking events (Admin after 5) and professional development meetings where members come together and hear from guest speakers who cover a wide variety of topics.  During these meetings there is always the opportunity to share with each other our experiences, knowledge and skills, while socialising with like-minded professionals (and make new friends in the process!). 

Our passion is to help you develop your career and provide you with the tools you need.  Our members receive a monthly newsletter, and are kept up-to-date through the group's Facebook page.

If you are interested in joining or would like to find out more, please contact us.

Valerie Lang

Christchurch Group President


Life’s lessons learned

  • Left school after 6th form at end ’85 vowing and declaring “I would never be a secretary”.
  • My first job: Statistical Clerk at NZ Meteorological Service, or The Weather Office, in Kelburn. It sounded exciting! It wasn’t. I scaled sun cards and checked hand-written sheets covered in numbers. I lasted six months. Lesson number one – If you get a job with major components that you don’t enjoy, avoid them in future. I know now that I don’t have a great relationship with numbers.
  • I moved to Colonial Mutual Insurance company Ltd where I sent letters to clients who hadn’t paid their invoices. One person sent the letter back to me with a lovely hand-written note that said “This policy isn’t worth a tin of baked beans. Please don’t send me any more letters or I shall send Lord Blackadder around to chop your head off”. I don’t know that I learned anything at CML, but I did spend a lot of time in pubs and got very good at pool ‘cos there was a table in the cafeteria. Well, I was young!
  • For some reason, I felt I should use the keyboard skills I’d gained at college so took a secretarial position at the Wool Board. I was seconded within the organisation to a role which was my introduction to Board papers and ridiculous deadlines.  The job was actually far bigger than the young me was ready for. Lesson learned (although not until much later) – Personal and professional inexperience can sometimes work against you. Both my physical and mental health suffered. I developed RSI/OOS and was diagnosed with depression anxiety, although I think, thanks to genetics, that had always been there.
  • I took a low stress job at AJ Park & Son, Patent Attorneys, as a word processor operator. The work was interesting and the people were great – lots of PAs and administrators around my own age. One of the secretaries to a partner left and they offered me the role, which I leapt at and I was good at it. By the time I left, I was doing work at a junior associate level. Lesson learned – this admin thing can be pretty good.
  • It was also around this time that I was introduced to Rotaract. I don’t think it exists any more but in the early ‘90s, it was huge. It was like Rotary for 18-30 year olds. Wellington South club was the largest in the district and I made some friends that I am still in touch with today. It was also in Rotaract where I learnt how to run meetings and organise events (we hosted and attended some fantastic social and community-based events). It wasn’t long before I was the club president and worked my way up to District Rotaract Representative (DRR or Dr R as we called it) which meant I was responsible for all the clubs in District 9940, which ran from New Plymouth down through Palmerston North, over to Masterton through the Hutt and around Wellington. I got to travel – I went to Melbourne for DRR training and was part of an exchange team around another district which covered southern Victoria and some of South Australia. I’m still in touch with one of the people I met on that trip, in fact a couple of years ago I spent the day with her in Melbourne after we hadn’t seen each other for about 20 years. Thank you Facebook! Lessons learned – people can achieve amazing things if they put their mind to it. Hard work can also be a hell of a lot of fun. Grab the opportunities that come along. Hang onto good people. Things you do in your personal life may have transferrable skills to your professional life.
  • When I left AJ Park I was going to go temping. I enrolled with the Lampen Group who had a position available working with its own Permanent Consultants. The job went permanent and, although I loved it there, it re-aggravated my RSI and I had to leave after a year.  Lesson learnt: not everything you enjoy is necessarily good for you.
  • Thus began my foray into the role of PA at AMP. Due to staff changes I ended up being not very busy. I was given some really boring data entry work to do. To make it a bit more interesting, I gave myself really challenging deadlines to finish it. It was after that that I spent six months medically redundant because of OOS. I have to admit, it was nice having a housekeeper courtesy of ACC and it was one of the few times I’ve ever had a half-decent tan. It was relaxation therapy that helped me recover. Lesson learned – relaxing has great health benefits; learn how to do it properly.
  • I went back to the workforce doing four hours a day and eventually I had worked my way back up to full-time work. I spent three years at Frontier Software and another couple at the NZ Furniture Industry Training Organisation before landing a PA role at PricewaterhouseCoopers. And I had landed. This was real PA work looking after a Partner and his team. It’s also where I met Vicki Faint, who will feature later. Lesson learned – find a job you love and hone your skills.
  • I’d also joined a public speaking club and was dabbling in debating. I loved it and even won a couple of competitions. I would spend a lot of my spare time researching current topics du jour for various debates which was doing my brain wonders. I decided to embark on a NZ Diploma in Business and went to Massey University doing night classes. I later switched to the Open Polytechnic and finished the other half of my Diploma by correspondence. It took me six years but in 2004 I got to go to graduation and wear an academic gown and everything! Lesson learned: Feed your brain. Enjoy and celebrate your achievements: it feels wonderful.  Bask in what you are capable of when you put your mind to it.
  • In 2003 I saw an advert in the paper for auditions for the Company of Musical Players. I’d always loved being on the stage so I auditioned and lo and behold I got in! Later I spent three years on the CMP Executive Committee. I still do the odd stage show with Upper Hutt Musical Theatre. Lesson learned – embrace your creativity and do something that stirs your passion.
  • In 2005 I joined the Reserve Bank of New Zealand as PA to the Board of Directors and Communications Team, a role I would spend seven years in, although it really only felt like five. It’s also the year I joined AAPNZ. I was a finalist for the Administrative Professional of the Year Award in 2007. I didn’t win. Vicki Faint did that. Lesson learned – celebrating other people’s achievements can also be wonderful. I gained Certification in 2008 and achieved Associate designation in 2012. I was President of the Wellington Group from 2010-2012. This year I have applied for Fellowship.  Lesson learned: you might be a role model to someone; practice what you preach.
  • When I was looking for my current role, which I‘ve been in for four years now, I realised that it was very important for my work to be personally interesting so was very fussy about what I applied for. When I saw the job advert for Training & Education Coordinator at the Australian & NZ College of Anaesthetists I thought ‘I can’t do that, I’m a PA’ but then I looked very carefully at the position description and I realised that I did actually have the skills to do all the tasks described. Obviously, I got the job and I love that I get to do things I’m good at with material that is meaningful. I also know how my work directly feeds into the organisation and the anaesthesia profession. I look forward to going to work in the mornings. Lesson learned – think about what you enjoy in your work, what lights you up and how what you do in your role contributes to the overall organisation.
  • Last year I was nominated for a staff excellence award in customer service. I have no idea who sent in the nomination; it wasn’t my manager – I asked her. I was pretty blown away – I just do what I do. Lessons learned – do things well and with a smile on your face and it will make a difference and be noticed. Be generous with your praise because it might make someone else feel like a million dollars.
  • So that’s me. As well as having a job I love, I deliberately surround myself with positive people and I actively indulge in ME time, which I guess is easier for me ‘cos we don’t have kids. But I don’t think I’m anything special – I put my pants on one leg at a time like everyone else. I’ve been lucky to have done a fair few things in my time on this earth and hopefully there’s a fair bit left to discover. I guess the big lesson I wanted leave you with is to just give things a go. Find stuff you like doing, whatever makes you happy, and find ways to have it into your life.

Newsletter - Canterbury Tales

The Christchurch Group Newsletter, Canterbury Tales, contains articles on recent events and items of interest, updates on Committee details, advertiser's promotional items as well as helpful information.

If you have any interesting items for our newsletter or just a general query for the editor, please contact the Carol Drayton, Newsletter Editor at



Upcoming Events

March - Monday 20 March 2017 at Christchurch Casino.  Guest speaker: Alison McKessar, AAPNZ National President

APD Day - Wednesday 26 April 2017:

  • Sherie Pointon Workshop:  3 - 5pm, Hintons Restaurant, 705a Wairakei Road
  • AAPNZ Christchurch Dinner:  6pm onwards, Hintons Restaurant, 705a Wairakei Road

AAPNZ AGM & Professional Development Forum - Auckland - Thursday 13 July 2017

Executive Secretary Live - Auckland - Friday 14 & Saturday 15 July 2017.  See AAPNZ Website for further details.






Valerie Lang

Group President


Joanne Gallop

Vice President 


Wendy Duff

Group Website Editor


Lakshmi Dalal 

Membership & Database Officer


Katherine Kaynes

GMT Member


Carol Drayton

Group Newsletter Editor


Leigh Jackson

GMT member

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Upcoming events