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AUS member New Zealander of the Year

Association of University Staff

Media Release

Attn Education Reporter 6 December 2007

AUS member New Zealander of the Year

Professor Philip Bagshaw, from the University of Otago was today named as New Zealander of the Year by North and South Magazine. The award was announced at a breakfast in Christchurch this morning by the magazine’s editor Virginia Larsen.

Professor Bagshaw, a medical academic at the Christchurch School of Medicine, was adjudged the top New Zealander from more than fifty nominees and described by the magazine as a surgeon, humanitarian and reluctant activist.

The award follows the opening this year of the Christchurch Charity hospital which has been the culmination of a career in which Professor Bagshaw has been renowned for fighting for the rights of hospital patients and working people. “Some call him a saint, others a Samaritan, while he labels himself a socialist,” says North and South.

In 1997, Professor Bagshaw was one of three Christchurch doctors to receive an Association of University Staff Academic Freedom award following the publication of a damning report, Patients are dying which outlined chronic failures at Christchurch Hospital.

In accepting his award, Professor Bagshaw said that, in the 1990’s, social engineers tried to destroy the community spirit of New Zealanders and replace it with a selfish, self-centered view. “But the message is clear,” he said, “they failed. The flame of community spirit still alive and I hope it will spread like a contagion throughout society.”

AUS National President, Professor Nigel Haworth congratulated Professor Bagshaw on his award, saying that his actions were in the best traditions of academic freedom and engagement, particularly in his willingness to confront politicians and bureaucrats with powerful, evidence-based arguments in favour of the public health system, and medicine in general. “Added to that, he is recognised as a superb university teacher, taking out top teaching awards on a number of occasions,” he said.


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