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Congratulations Isabelle

The team at Alliance Française Palmerston North would like to congratulate its administrator, Isabelle Poff-Pencole, who was awarded the prestigious status of Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit on Queen’s Birthday weekend.

This honour, awarded to Mrs Poff-Pencole for her outstanding work as a translator and interpreter, but also for the essential role she played in growing the Alliance Française Palmerston North, stands as a well-deserved recognition of her involvement for the local community.

Isabelle has been on the committee of the Alliance Française Palmerston North since 1997, its Secretary and Treasurer from 2000 until 2003, its Vice-president from 2003 until 2006 and its President until 2015. Under her leadership, the Alliance Française Palmerston North has developed from a small social club of 20 members meeting once a month in 1997 into a sizeable French language and cultural centre with approximately 800 members and 200 students.

Isabelle’s work at the Alliance Française has brought many important benefits to Palmerston North.  Of note, the Alliance Française supports French-speaking refugees and migrants by offering free French literacy classes. It also offers free weekly conversation groups and operates a well-resourced French Community Library while organising educational, cultural and community events.

The Alliance Française organises over 30 events per year that are attended by a total of approximately 13,000 people. Cultural events include the popular French Film Festival, a formal Bastille Day celebration, a stall at the Festival of Cultures, the Fête de la Musique (a free whole-day Music Festival), monthly French film nights, talks, concerts, art workshops and more.

Isabelle is also a team person, and easy to work with. She is a great leader with vision and patience in achieving the goals of the community organisations she has worked with.

Since 1997, Isabelle has accomplished 21 years of voluntary service, and today, we are proud to announce her nomination as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. 

The article below was published by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet this weekend, following the announcement of the recipients’ names. All Alliance members are encouraged to view the website for a full account of the NZOM recipients’ achievements.


POFF-PENCOLE, Mrs Isabelle Paulette Nicole

For services as a translator and interpreter

Mrs Isabelle Poff-Pencole joined the National Council of the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters in 1999 and held various voluntary positions with the National Council over 15 years, including Officer, Treasurer, Vice President, and President.

During this time Mrs Poff-Pencole played an instrumental role in the professionalization of the Translation and Interpretation sector in New Zealand. She wrote the guidelines for official and legal translation services and negotiated a new professional liability insurance scheme for all members. She helped introduce new categories of membership to attract and upskill paraprofessional translators and interpreters and worked on the new codes of ethics and practice, as well as a benchmarking system.

She joined Alliance Française Palmerston North (AFPN) in the late 1990s and under her leadership the AFPN has become a sizeable French language and cultural centre with approximately 800 members and 200 students. She joined the Committee of the Federation of Alliances Française of New Zealand in 2000 and has held the positions of Vice President and President. Mrs Poff-Pencole has concurrently worked as a voluntary community interpreter for local refugee and migrant populations and set up free French literacy classes for children to study and retain their native language.