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Making a difference defines winners

Thursday, March 6, 2014
Making a difference defines winners

The desire to make a difference to the world was a recurring theme reiterated by all of the winners at the Defining Excellence Awards, held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Wednesday night.

The awards celebrate Massey’s alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their professions, their communities, the nation, and the University.

The Sir Geoffrey Peren Award, went to its first female recipient, Linda Jenkinson.

Originally from Palmerston North, Ms Jenkinson is a serial entrepreneur now based in San Francisco and was the first New Zealand woman to take a company public on the NASDAQ exchange. She co-founded WOW For Africa, a new model social investment fund focused on building women-led businesses in Senegal, West Africa. She is now turning her focus closer to her New Zealand roots.

“I’ve learned so much working alongside these amazing women in West Africa, and I am looking forward to bringing this social investment model to women in Māori and Pacific Island communities.”

Prominent disability rights campaigner Don McKenzie OBE, CNZM was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Service Award. Originally from Hawke’s Bay, Mr McKenzie was one of the first blind physiotherapists in New Zealand. He continued his education with rehabilitation studies at Massey University, which helped him gain a wider understanding of the challenges presented to people with different types of disabilities.

He has campaigned tirelessly to ensure people with disabilities are empowered to take responsibility for their lives, and emphasised persistance as a key asset in his drive for change. He gave an example of the struggle to introduce confidential voting for blind people.

“For the last 43 years, I’ve been asking about making confidential voting available to blind people. I’ve been advised that this might be possible in 2020, so we will just have to keep pushing to make that happen.”

Ministry of Education chief executive Mr Peter Hughes CNZM was delighted to accept the Distinguished Achievement Award, in recognition of his 30-year career in the New Zealand state sector. It’s a career path the native-born Wellingtonian is very passionate about.

“If you really want to make a difference in the world, go into public service. It’s extremely rewarding because you can help make positive changes in peoples’ lives.”

The Distinguished Young Alumni Award was presented to Auckland-based shoe designer Kathryn Wilson. Over the past decade Ms Wilson has established herself as New Zealand’s premier footwear designer, and built a reputation as a business leader and brand ambassador.

“It’s nice to be able to take time out to celebrate special moments in your career, and this is one of them. I remember the support I received from my mentors and lecturers at the College of Creative Arts, and I’m happy to pay that forward by mentoring young design students when I can. “

In addition to the Distinguished Alumni Awards, the annual teaching and research excellence awards and professional staff service awards were presented to Massey staff.

Teaching excellence awards were presented to Mr Scott Symonds, Dr Jing Chi, Dr Thom Conroy, Associate Professor John Holland, Dr Damian Ruth and Ms Anna Weatherston.

The early career research medal was presented to Dr Mary Breheny from the College of Health, the research supervisor award went to Professor Steve Morris in the College of Sciences and the individual research medal was awarded to Profesor Sally Morgan from the College of Creative Arts. The Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health team filled the stage as they accepted their Team Research Medal.

The newly-created staff service excellence awards recognised professional services staff, with the “One-Safe” team from the College of Sciences taking out the award for contribution to health and safety practice. Ms Ema Alter from the Centre for Teaching and Learning was recognised for notable improvement in work practices or service experience, and Ms Nancy Braithwaite from the College of Health was recognised for sustained excellence in a service area. The Distance Library Service team received the team award for sustained excellence in a service area.

Proceeds from the evening’s ticket sales will go towards the construction of a new purpose-built Wildbase Hospital, New Zealand’s only dedicated wildlife hospital. Master of ceremonies and Wildbase ambassador Te Radar was passionate about the specialist work done at the hospital.

This year’s Defining Excellence Awards usher in a year of celebrations across all of Massey University’s campuses. 2014 marks 50 years since Massey became a University, and 21 years since the Albany campus was established. It is also 50 years since Massey offered the world’s first degree in food technology.

For more details on the Defining Excellence Awards, go to the website:


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