A Tribute to Dame Rosie Horton

“Kua hinga te Totara I te ao nui a Tane

The Totara has fallen in the forest of Tane”


The whakatauki epitomises the perfect metaphor to express the deepest sadness in our hearts on the hearing of the passing of Dame Rosie Horton.

Dame Rosie Horton was one of Aotearoa’s great Totaras and her loss will leave a gap in our nations spirit. Dame Rosie was a key figure in advocating for the betterment of Aotearoa – many of her devotion focused on wāhine and children. 

This generosity saw Dame Rosie become a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to philanthropy. Across more than forty years, Rosie was involved in rasing the profiles and resources of a range of organisations, included being the founding trustee, patron, former chairperson of the Breast Cancer Foundation, as well as the trustee and Patron of Starship Foundation, founded the Friends of Starship. Involvement with Women’s Refuge, Gut Cancer Foundation, SPCA, University of Auckland’s Centre of Brain Research was also in her generous kete. 

We remember Rosie’s contribution.


I am sure we all mourn the loss of our treasured GW member and friend to many, Dame Rosie Horton. She was a generous sponsor of so many of the early initiatives of Global Women and Breakthrough Leaders programme. She has been a source of inspiration to us all in her commitment to service and philanthropy and the many causes that have benefitted from her energy and leadership. She was loved and deeply respected by many. I think of Michael and her precious family at this time.  May she fly free and rest in peace.

— Dame Jenny Shipley


She was an incredible woman, welcoming, kind and caring. It was clear how profoundly passionate she was about the causes so close to her heart. She was an inspiration for those of us working in health having seen her incredible impact on Starship. Her dedication and compassion are traits I will always remember her by. Very sadly missed, rest in peace Dame Rosie.

— Cecilia Robinson


Dame Rosie Horton was one of the most focused and effective women I ever knew – ambitious to do good, be constructive and move mountains and barriers in the way. She was highly strategic, well connected, and willing to get her hands dirty and do the work. Energetic, highly motivated, hardworking and not afraid. She was instrumental in supporting many key initiatives in the early life of Global Women and she was kind to me personally – once she told me that she had nominated me for an award and  was lobbying the chair and judging panel to make sure I got it. I told her it was impossible, but she made it happen. So I would have a platform to continue the work I was doing for women of colour.

 I want to be like Rosie – and I will miss her greatly.

— Mai Chen


Dame Rosie was a true Wāhine toa,  leading by example,  tirelessly and graciously working for her causes and the good of others

— Theresa Gattung


Dame Rosie’s contribution went far further than the public face of philanthropy. She was strategic in doing her best to make sure the right people were in place to spend funds well. I was delighted when she offered to deliver pamphlets for my campaigns for DHB elections. I trust that she was pleased with the Starship Foundation achievements for the children of New Zealand.

— Lee Mathias 


Those of us whom were fortunate to have shared her essence will take into account of context and era how she shepherded awareness and fundraising for both her private and public charities in addition to her other philanthropic contributions. She was aware of change and provided active leadership and support as this space transitioned. Her family especially her grandchildren were important to her. Wishing Michael and their families long life.

— Jillian Friedlander
Cover photo credit: Ashburton Guardian