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Political journalist, musician honorary doctorates


23 April 2008

Political journalist and dedicated musician to receive top honours

Victoria University of Wellington will present honorary doctorates to political journalist Colin James and musician Richard Nunns this year.

Colin James is New Zealand’s foremost political journalist, and has made a major contribution to the public’s understanding of New Zealand politics and business, based on a profound knowledge of the country’s political, social and economic history.

His professional career has spanned print, radio and television media. A life member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, he is the author of several books, a former editor of the National Business Review and New Zealand Books, and has contributed to conferences and seminars on policy issues in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. In particular he has managed and contributed to several projects at Victoria’s Institute of Policy Studies, always with exemplary distinction from his role as a journalist.

“It is greatly satisfying to have the opportunity to acknowledge Colin James’s substantial achievements as a political commentator, journalist and author. Colin has been at the forefront of his profession for some time, and he is highly regarded for his independent scrutiny and astute analyses of political and governmental developments,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh.

Richard Nunns has been a leading performer and teacher in the revitalisation of traditional Māori musical instruments—Taonga Pūoro—that were once thought to have been lost forever. He has provided music for the Whale Rider and Lord of the Rings soundtracks, and held a writing fellowship at Victoria University in 2000 to document the work with Taonga Pūoro.

Richard Nunns worked with Hirini Melbourne, visiting marae in all parts of the country, learning, teaching and performing widely with the instruments, and he has collaborated with many New Zealand composers and performers. He has toured widely in the Pacific, the far East, the Americas and Europe, and his honorary doctorate is supported by the wider Māori community.

“Richard Nunns has been generous and persistent in sharing his musical skill and knowledge in the renaissance of Taonga Pūoro, instruments that are a central icon of New Zealand Māori music. Victoria University is delighted to recognise his part in this revival and his skill as a performer,” says Professor Walsh.

Colin James will receive an honorary doctorate of literature at the University’s May graduation and Richard Nunns will receive an honorary doctorate of music in December.


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