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New exhibition celebrates Otago staff

Tuesday 17 December 2019 2:40pm

An exhibition celebrating the staff of the University of Otago opened in November in the Link.

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata! features stunning portraits of 150 current staff of the University, and has been put together by Otago Bulletin Board Editor Lisa Dick, photographer Sharron Bennett, and designer Heidi Malcolm.



The exhibition ties in with the University’s 150th celebrations. It offers a snapshot of current staff – and features a range of people from senior managers to academics and professional staff. It features staff who have been at the University for more than 40 years and those who have recently started. Staff come from almost all of the University’s campuses around New Zealand.


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Lisa Dick speaks at the opening.

Alongside each portrait is a quotation, which tells more about the staff member and what the University means to them. These are revealing, fascinating, and often moving.

“For some people it’s their family link that’s so important – their sense of belonging is strengthened by knowing their parents, or even grandparents studied or worked here,” Mrs Dick told the audience at the opening.

“Others are the first in their whānau or community to gain a tertiary qualification – and speak of the way coming to University has transformed their lives, and the lives of those around them.

“Some have found themselves by studying here, and want to give that back as staff members.

“Some answers are long, some are short. The shortest ones are no less powerful – like those who have achieved a professorship they had never dreamed would be possible or those who are inspired by a colleague.”

The exhibition is named for the Maori proverb:

He aha te mea nui o te ao?
What is the most important thing in the world?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!
It is people, it is people, it is people!



The Dean of Te Tumu: School of Māori, Pacific & Indigenous Studies Professor Poia Rewi spoke at the opening, followed by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) Professor Helen Nicholson, Mrs Dick and then Ms Bennett.

Ms Bennett says the exhibition is an opportunity to celebrate all staff.

“Every one of these people I met and photographed is a part of what makes this place special.

“They are clearly something to be valued and I think by recording and recognising this handful of people we are celebrating all of the staff of the University.”

The pair have worked on the exhibition for much of the year, and say they are very grateful to designer Heidi Malcolm for bringing it all together so beautifully.

“We’re also really grateful to Sophia Gamperle at Miller Creative Group for her support and innovation in printing and displaying the exhibition,” Mrs Dick says.

The exhibition is presented on the windows of the Link, looking towards the Castle Lecture Theatres. On the outside of the panels there are teasing messages coaxing people to come in and take a look.

“We were so excited to open the exhibition, and are so happy with the reaction of those who attended the opening. We hope lots of people head to the Link and take a look.”


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Guests pose for photos with the exhibition.