Newspaper Article 2013 – Italian connection for teacher

Italian connection for teacher


Patricia Therese Louisa “Patsy” Burns (1934-2013

Patsy Burns was a well-loved teacher and resident of Clive whose life had a direct positive impact in the areas of education and the promotion of Italian language and culture.

Raised on the family farm at Clive, (a favourite memory was soaking eggs in tea, to ensure they were the “nice brown eggs” favoured by the visiting priest), Patsy attended Clive Primary School to Standard 3, St Joseph’s Convent School, Hastings, to Standard 6 and then St Joseph’s High School, Hastings, where she attained Dux.

After graduating BA in English from Victoria University in 1958, she attended a one-year language course at Perugia University, Italy.  Returning to New Zealand, she taught at Penrose High School, Auckland (1960-62), Hastings Girls High School (1963-65), and St. Mary’s College, Wellington (1965-67).  She also completed three years’ further studies in Italian at Victoria University from 1965-67.

Italy beckoned and, for the next four years, Patsy worked as a governess teaching English and managed a beauty salon.  She made life-long friendships, revisiting often over ensuing years; the last in 2011.

Patsy returned to Hastings Girls’ High School in 1972, becoming a popular head of the English department from 1976-1993.

Since retirement, as well as writing short stories in Italian and English, Patsy taught Italian language and culture at adult education night classes at Hastings Girls’ and Napier Boys’ high schools from 1999 to 2008, in her home and with the U3A from 1996 to 2012.

Her aim was always to promote Italy through her first-hand knowledge of its language, people, customs and the riches of its art, music and literature.  This was acknowledged last year by Ambassador Alessandro Levi Sandri of Wellington, on behalf of the Italian Government, thanking her for the “energy, time and effort” dedicated to this cause.

She had a kind, vibrant, fun-filled and practical personality and outstanding intellect.  She embodied all that is meant by the Italian philosophy: “La Bella Figura”.

Patsy is survived by her two brothers, Frank and Tony Burns of Clive.

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Format of the original

Newspaper article

Date published

9 March 2013


Hawke's Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • Frank Burns
  • Patricia (Patsy) Therese Louisa Burns
  • Tony Burns
  • Ambassador Alessandro Levi Sandri

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