The Prime Minister has paid tribute to highly-regarded conservationist, businesswoman, philanthropist and arts patron Lady Diana Isaac, who died at home in Canterbury last night.

Lady Diana is best known for co-founding and running Isaac Construction with her now deceased husband Sir Neil Isaac.

She was also well regarded for the work she had done to help others, particularly as a champion for the arts and conservation up until her death, said Mr Key, who said his thoughts were with her friends and family.

"Lady Diana's contribution to Canterbury and New Zealand was truly remarkable.


"It is difficult to imagine anyone who was more generous or worked harder for the people of Canterbury," he said.

Lady Diana was born in Devonshire in England and met her New Zealand husband Neil when they both served in the British Army at the end of World War II.

They married in India and settled in New Zealand in 1950 where Sir Neil and Lady Diana founded their construction business.

The plantings they made on their quarrying operations eventually became the 1100 hectare Peacock Springs Conservation Park.

Lady Isaac was also a huge patron of the arts and her legacy would endure through the Isaac Theatre Royal, the Isaac Centre for Nature Conservation, and the creation of scholarships at Lincoln and Canterbury Universities.

She was awarded a Queen's Service Medal and the New Zealand Order of Merit.

"Lady Diana will be missed immensely but her decades of philanthropy will be enjoyed for generations to come," says Mr Key.