A career spanning about 40 years teaching and performing music in Hawke's Bay has resulted in a Queen's Service Medal in the New Year Honours for retired Havelock North teach Elizabeth Curtis.

A chorister, composer and organist, Curtis arrived in Hawke's Bay in 1977 and soon started teaching across the high schools of Havelock North and Hastings.

Most latterly she organised the Hawke's Bay Young Musician of the Year contest from 2011 to 2017.

She taught and directed choirs at Westlake Girls' High School, Takapuna, and boys school Wellesley College, Lower Hutt, before coming to Hawke's Bay where she has also taught and directed choirs at Hereworth School and Iona College


As an itinerant singing teacher she taught at Woodford House, Iona College, Hastings Girls' High School, Karamu High School and Havelock North High School, the latter for 25 years, until the end of 2009.

She has been organist and choir director at St Luke's Parish Church since 1978 and accompanist and vocal coach for the Linden Singers of Hawkes Bay since 2006.

Her first choral training was with the Dorian Choir in Auckland, where she was also a member of the Community Arts Singers, a chamber choir of eight to 10 voices who took unaccompanied choral music to the provinces many weekends of the year.

In Wellington, where husband Arthur was headmaster at Wellesley College, she sang in the Phoenix Choir and after moving to the Bay was active in the Hawke's Bay Opera, in various capacities, as a chorus member, chorus mistress and surtitle reader.

Her compositions are all choral works, written for Iona College, Hereworth, Havelock High and St Luke's Choirs and the Linden Singers. Sing a New Song was commissioned by the Hawke's Bay Branch of the Registered Music Teachers who hosted the national conference at Woodford House in January, 2004.