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Durie rewarded for 50 years of academic excellence

Mason Durie rewarded for 50 years of academic excellence

Professor Mason Durie being capped by Otago University Chancellor Lindsay Brown. Photo - McRobie Photographics Ltd Dunedin

Tuesday, August 18, 2008
Reward for 50 years of academic excellence

Massey University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Mäori) Professor Mason Durie returned to his alma mater, Otago University on Saturday, to accept an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and deliver the graduation ceremony address.

“It is an overwhelming honour not only for myself, but especially for my wife and family, for my colleagues and for my people," Professor Durie told the graduates and others present. "There is a proverb that recognises achievement, not as a solo effort but as a collaborative undertaking. ‘Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari i te toa takitini.' Anything I may have accomplished is a tribute to the many who have made it possible.

“This graduation ceremony has even more significance for me, coming as it does exactly 50 years after I first enrolled at Otago University in zoology, physics, chemistry and botany.

“Rather than reflecting on the 50 years past – and although we cannot predict the future with absolute certainty, there are three challenges of world-wide significance that will need to be addressed; global inequalities, global warming and global colonisation.”

He said the challenge for universities will be to provide an education environment where learning occurs across disciplines and between subject areas. “That does not necessarily mean abandoning deep learning in favour of broad learning, but it does mean transcending the limitations of a system where the acquisition of knowledge is split into time-worn subject domains.

“The impacts of global inequalities, global warming and global colonisation, serious as they are, can be mitigated by a new generation of scholars working together to bring balance and sustainability to New Zealand and the globe.”

Professor Durie is of Rangitäne, Ngäti Kauwhata and Ngäti Raukawa descent. He grew up in Feilding, attended Te Aute College and graduated from Otago with the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine and ChB in 1963. Following his medical studies he took up a two-year internship at Palmerston North Hospital, after which he gained a postgraduate qualification in psychiatry at McGill University in Canada.

He then returned to become Director of Psychiatry at Palmerston North Hospital. He was a member of the Royal Commission on Social Policy from 1986 to 1988.

In 1988, he was appointed to the Chair in Mäori Studies at Massey University and is the acting Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. In June this year, he received the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ Mark Sheldon prize for meritorious work in service provision and research to advance knowledge and understanding of indigenous mental health.

He was named Public Health Champion of 2003 by the Public Health Association of New Zealand and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1995 and, in 2001, was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.


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