Artist world famous in Paeroa loses health battle weeks after being awarded the Queen’s Service Medal


Paeroa artist Dawn Elliott prepares her paintings for exhibition and sale in 2011.

jill cleave/Stuff

Paeroa artist Dawn Elliott prepares her paintings for exhibition and sale in 2011.

In life, Dawn Elliott was full of colour, and so too in death.

At the Paeroa artist’s funeral service on Tuesday, ornate frames holding paintings of landscapes, still lifes​, and figures adorned the packed Memorial Hall.

Paintbrushes protruded from a flower arrangement, and her casket was hand-painted in blues, yellows, and pinks.

Dawn, 81, died on June 25 but according to friends and family, her legacy will live on.

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News clippings, photos and paintings on display at Dawn Elliott's memorial.

Kelley Tantau/Stuff

News clippings, photos and paintings on display at Dawn Elliott’s memorial.

Upon moving to Paeroa in 1996, Dawn became a member of the Paeroa Society of Arts, and initiated an art exhibition known as ‘Paeroa’s Art in Windows’, wherein shop windows and businesses displayed art relating to life in Paeroa.

She taught painting classes at Paeroa College until 2009, then rented a venue to continue teaching art on a voluntary basis for the society.

She married Ronald Elliott in 1959, and together they had five children.

It was Ronald who, over the last few years, was determined to see his wife awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in recognition of her achievements in art education.

Dawn Elliott puts finishing touches on a painting back in 2011.

JILL CLEAVE/Stuff

Dawn Elliott puts finishing touches on a painting back in 2011.

This year, on June 1, she was finally named a recipient.

Unfortunately, due to Dawn’s ill health, she was never able to be presented with the award.

The QSM will now head to the Governor General’s office to await presentation to Dawn’s family.

In a tribute to his mother, Dawn’s son Stephen said her legacy would live on.

“There are only three types of people in this world: those that let it happen, those that watch it happen, and those that make it happen.

Paintings on display at Dawn Elliott's funeral service showcase her many talents.

Kelley Tantau/Stuff

Paintings on display at Dawn Elliott’s funeral service showcase her many talents.

“Mum was unique in the sense that she was all three,” he said.

“She would let her art students express themselves through painting; she would then watch them gain self-confidence in their work; and she’d be happy to see the difference their newfound ability would make in their own lives.

“Mum was not a nobody,” Stephen said, “and she never considered herself a somebody, yet she will leave this world as Dawn Elliot, QSM. World famous in Paeroa, just like L&P.”

Paeroa Arts Society president Jan Clark said the art classes Dawn taught would always be known as ‘Dawn’s Art Group’.

Dawn Elliott pictured with one of her paintings in 2012.

jill cleave/Stuff

Dawn Elliott pictured with one of her paintings in 2012.

“She made me promise, more than once just to be sure, that I would continue her class in her absence.

“I am not a tutor, but I will open the doors and put the kettle on, so we can continue to support each other as Dawn’s class,” she said.

“She gave our world colours … and we will forever hear her asking: ‘Where is the light coming from?’

“Dawn, the light was coming from you. Until we meet again, paint in peace.”