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First-year students welcomed to Otago

Tuesday, 21 February 2017 2:20pm

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Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy speaks at Otago's 2017 Convocation ceremony at Forsyth Barr last night. Photos: Sharron Bennett.

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy is challenging first-year students to share her four major aspirations as they begin their studies at the University.

Speaking to about 4000 students last night at the third annual Convocation ceremony, Dame Patsy listed the areas in which she hoped to make a difference to New Zealand society during the next few years – in creativity, innovation, diversity and leadership.

The ceremony marks the start of the academic year and formally welcomes all first-year students to Otago.

On a warm summer’s evening at Forsyth Barr Stadium, students listened as Dame Patsy outlined the country’s growing diversity and the tolerance and attitudes they would need to make the strongest contribution to the future.

"You all have potential to contribute, to achieve, to make your mark. You are fortunate to have made it to university. So make that difference and run with it as far as you can."

New Zealand had made good progress towards equality in some areas but there was still much to do, including pay equity for women. She also said every New Zealander should at some time visit Waitangi.

Students needed to support all those making a significant difference to people in their community.

“You all have potential to contribute, to achieve, to make your mark. You are fortunate to have made it to university. So make that difference and run with it as far as you can.

“You will not always succeed at everything you try, but you can learn from your failures.”

The students had shown “excellent taste in selecting this venerable university”, Dame Patsy said.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne had three challenges for new students: be a great student; make memories that will last a lifetime; and be a “superhero”.

Many students at the ceremony would find their “soulmates” at Otago. And many in the audience were “about to become major players in your life story”, she said.

Students had to get involved in as many aspects of University life as possible while they were here.

“I strongly encourage you to leave without regrets.”

Students needed to “act like a superhero” and respect the diversity “that makes Otago such an amazing community”. They needed to call out bad behaviour and make it clear racist and sexist comments were far from acceptable, Professor Hayne said.

Tolerance was one of the key personal attributes employers would be looking for after students had graduated.

“This is where you find out who you really are,” she said.

Other speakers included Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, OUSA President Hugh Baird, Ngai Tahu kāumatua Edward Ellison and University Chancellor John Ward.

Check out some more photos from convocation:

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