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Outstanding Psychologists Recognised By Peers

The New Zealand Psychological Society highlighted the importance of psychologists to the community’s wellbeing, and the need to care for and recognize those in the profession, at its recent virtual conference.

Dr Sonja Macfarlane, an Associate Professor at the University of Canterbury, was awarded this year’s Dame Marie Clay Award. Veronica Pitt, executive director of the society, says the selection panel found Dr Macfarlane exemplifies the spirit of Dame Marie Clay with her work to enhance the quality of educational and developmental psychology.

“She has infused her work with the Māori understanding that people, their mana, and identity, grow and are nurtured within their network of relationships,” the panel said. “Central to all her teaching is her desire to demonstrate the processes and pathways within te ao Māori that enable children and young people to learn and mature into the best they can be.”

Dr Macfarlane was one of four award winners and several fellows announced at the society’s annual conference earlier this month. Other award winners include Dr Roxanne Heffernan and doctoral students Ririwai Fox and Charlotte Bremer.

Dr Heffernan, who won the GV Goddard Early Career Award, is a Teaching Fellow at Victoria University. Her work is leading the way to help develop better tools to predict offending and reoffending in individuals. “Dr Heffernan’s work in the field of corrections and forensic psychology has been recognized as influential and she is applauded for challenging assumptions and practices, leading to better treatment and improved quality of life for those in Corrections,” the selection panel said.

Ririwai Fox, a doctoral student at Victoria University, and Charlotte Bremer, a doctoral student at Massey University, are the recipients of the Society’s prestigious scholarships.

The Karahipi Tumuaki President’s Scholarship recognises Māori-centred research of value to the Māori community. “Ririwai Fox’s research sheds light on a person’s right to ‘be Māori’ through their whakapapa and their propensity to ‘being Māori’ through their behaviours by introducing the concept of cultural embeddedness,” the panel said. “His work exploring cultural embeddedness provides a unique insight into Māori cultural values and their influence on the behaviour of Māori people.”

Charlotte Bremer’s Postgraduate Student Social Justice Research Scholarship is to support students researching significant issues of social justice.

“Restorative justice seeks to address the harm caused by criminal behaviour. It can help to meet the needs of the victim/survivor and has also been shown to reduce the likelihood of reoffending,” the panel said. “Charlotte’s research seeks to develop structured guidelines to assess psychological risk and personal readiness to engage in the process to avoid potential harm and provide the best opportunity for positive outcomes. Her work has wide implications both within New Zealand and internationally.”

The society has four new Fellows and one Honorary Fellow.

  • Fiona Howard – previously Senior Tutor, University of Auckland, now Clinical Psychologist in private practice.
  • Dr Rose Black – Poverty Action Waikato & Waikato District Health Board
  • Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki – Senior Lecturer, University of Waikato
  • Professor Angus Macfarlane – previously University of Canterbury, now Retired
  • Associate Professor Carla Houkamau – University of Auckland (Hon Fellow)

“This year’s Fellows have all made a substantial contribution to the advancement of psychological knowledge and practice in New Zealand,” says Veronica Pitt. “Their work encompasses clinical psychology, community psychology, indigenous psychology and, educational psychology and they have each shown leadership, guidance and, mentorship that has helped shape thought leadership within their disciplines.”

In keeping with the He Ara Oranga report recommendation to increase the psychology workforce, these awards, scholarships and Fellowships exemplify the Society and psychology’s commitment to advancing wellbeing for New Zealand and to nurturing the next generation of psychologists.

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