The first woman elected to the NZ Stock Exchange

Elspeth Kennedy was a precocious business talent.

When still a teenager, she ran her grandfather's Invercargill coal business in the late 1940s.

As well as learning business acumen from her family, Kennedy picked up her love of music in her grandparents' home where four generations lived under one roof.

It was that aptitude for singing and ballet that put her business career on hold, when she was invited to train at Trinity College of Music in London in 1952.


But it resumed again in force in 1972 after her marriage ended and she become involved in a capital-raising project for the Richmond Borough Council.

This led to her crossing paths with Wellington stockbroker and financier Sir Frank Enouf.

He was obviously impressed, hiring Kennedy at his firm and in 1982 she was nominated as a member of the NZ Metropolitan Stock Exchange.

She needed 75 per cent of the ballot in her favour and, despite a close vote, she became the first woman elected to the New Zealand bourse.

The same decade she also became the first New Zealand woman to set up a sharebroking firm, establishing Kennedy Sharebrokers in 1987.

Together with a string of roles on boards in the South Island, Kennedy was instrumental in setting up Nelson's first hospice inpatient facility and spent 16 years working to improve the care of the terminally ill as chair of the Nelson Tasman Hospice Trust.

Kennedy, who died in 2017 aged 85, was appointed a member of the Order of the British Empire in 1990 and made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order in 2008.

She was inducted posthumously into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame this year.