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Honours abound for Otago alumni

Friday 8 June 2018 12:13pm

Former Prime Minister and Otago graduate Sir Bill English speaks about his time as a resident of Selwyn College at the residential college's 125th anniversary celebrations in Dunedin earlier this year.

A former Prime Minister, community leaders, conservationists, healthcare professionals, sports people and church leaders - it's hard to find an area in which the 16 Otago alumni recognised the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours List haven't made a significant contribution.

Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit: The Right Honourable Simon William (Bill) English, for services to the State. The Right Honourable Bill English was the 39th Prime Minister of New Zealand from December 2016 to October 2017, during which time he focused on trade relations, the development of social investment, and new ways of the Crown working with Maori.

Mr English gained a BA, English (1983) and BCom, Accountancy (1984) from accounting. He was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Wallace (now the Clutha-Southland electorate) in 1990 and was MP for Clutha-Southland until standing as a list only MP in 2014. His first Ministerial roles were as Minister of for Crown Health Enterprises and Associate Minister of Education in early 1996, later being appointed Minister of Health that same year and then Minister of Finance and to the portfolio of Treasurer in 1999. He led the National Party in opposition from October 2017 until stepping down from politics in February 2018, having previously been Leader of the Opposition from 2001 until 2003. Following the 2008 election he became Deputy Prime Minister in the fifth National Government and was appointed Minister of Infrastructure for a single term of Parliament and Minister of Finance. As Finance Minister from 2008 until 2016, Mr English oversaw one of the fastest-growing economies in the developed world, steering New Zealand through the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes and ensuring the Crown accounts were in a strong financial position.

Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit:  Mr Richard Andrew Griffin, for services to broadcasting and the media industry. Mr Griffin left Otago before completing his medical studies. He was appointed to the Board of Radio New Zealand (RNZ) in 2010 and was Chair from 2011 to 2018. During his time as Chair Mr Griffin has overseen a transformation of the national broadcaster into an efficient and effective multimedia company with greater reach and relevancy to New Zealand society. As a result RNZ's web services have seen a significant leap in traffic since 2010. He has also overseen development of The Wireless, RNZ's online service for youth. He has overseen RNZ's high performance against its Charter objectives and was instrumental in increasing baseline Crown funding for RNZ in Budget 2017. As a past Radio New Zealand Political Editor and a Life Member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, he was Chief Press Secretary and Media Advisor to Prime Minister Jim Bolger from 1993 to 1998. He was Manager of Policy Development, Government Relations and Communications for Television New Zealand from 2000 to 2007. He represented TVNZ on the New Zealand Television Broadcasters Council from 2003 to 2007. Mr Griffin was a Director of the public relations consultancy Fraser Griffin Wood Ltd from 2007 to 2013.

Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit:  Mr William Bryce (Bryce) Johnson, for services to conservation and the environment. Mr Johnson gained a DipWLM, Science, from Otago in 1976. He was appointed in 1980 as the first director of the National Executive of New Zealand Acclimatisation Societies, later re-designated as CEO of the New Zealand Fish and Game Council, a role he held until December 2017. Mr Johnson was instrumental in the establishment of the New Zealand Landcare Trust and remained on the Trust Board since its inception in 1996. He was the architect of the Conservation Law Reform Act 1990, with the creation of separate Sports Fish and Game Councils to replace Acclimatisation Societies. He contributed to the Resource Management Act 1991, to retain the provision of Water Conservation Orders from the Water and Soil Conservation Act and the inclusion of the protection of wetlands and the habitats of trout and salmon. In 2003 he led Fish and Game New Zealand's 'Dirty Dairying' campaign to raise public awareness of worsening water quality issues as a result of dairy industry development. He was appointed to the Walking Access Consultation Panel from 2005 to 2007, which led to the establishment of the Walking Access Commission. Mr Johnson ensured Fish and Game support for the Land and Water Forum's trial of a collaborative governance process looking at improvements to land and water management in 2009 and 2010.

Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Dr Amanda Margaret Meredith Oakley, for services to dermatology. Dr Oakley is a dermatologist who founded DermNet NZ in 1995, now the world’s most popular online resource for skin health, where she continues as Editor in Chief. DermNet NZ is Health-on-the-Net certified, receives visits from 2 million people globally a month, and was registered as a charitable trust in 2013. Dr Oakley has practiced as a dermatologist in the Waikato region since 1986. She was Clinical Director of the Department of Dermatology of Waikato District Health Board for 12 years and since 2002 has taught as an Honorary and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Auckland’s Waikato Clinical Campus. Academically her research has centred on teledermatology, dermoscopy and other methods for early diagnosis of melanoma. She has published an extensive range of research papers in these fields and is the author of ‘The Textbook of Teledermatology’ and the general practitioner’ textbook ‘Dermatology Made Easy’, both of which are used internationally. Dr Oakley is a past President of the Australian and New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society and of the New Zealand Dermatological Society, and was President of Waikato Postgraduate Medicine.

Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Mr Barry Charles Thomas, for services to tourism and business. Mr Thomas gained a Bachelor of Commerce from Otago in 1965, and has since founded of a number of successful and well-known New Zealand businesses. A chartered accountant by trade, one of his most notable contributions has been to one of New Zealand's most successful tourism businesses, Skyline Enterprises. He was appointed to the Board in 1975 and soon after became Chairman for 33 years. Under his leadership Skyline has grown to a market capitalisation of $780 million, employing more than 1,000 full time employees. He oversaw Skyline's diversification of its portfolios of operating companies and it now has businesses throughout New Zealand as well as operations in Singapore, Canada, and South Korea. He was a leader behind the development of the Skyline Luge and has helped expand the Luge concept offshore. He established Mountain Scene, a tourist publication to promote the Southern lakes region, which became one of New Zealand's most awarded independent newspapers. He was instrumental in establishing the Queenstown and Christchurch Casinos and their charitable trusts, which have distributed more than $4 million to community groups over the years. He has been involved with the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand and the New Zealand Tourism Board. Mr Thomas has been a Board member of Christchurch International Airport, Queenstown Airport Corporation, and the New Zealand Rugby Union Board.

Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Professor Spencer Wynyard Beasley, for services to paediatrics. Professor Beasley is President of the New Zealand Association of Paediatric Surgeons and former President of the Australia and New Zealand Association of Paediatric Surgeons. More than 20 years ago Professor Beasley initiated the establishment of a specialist paediatric surgical service for the South Island, which is now a four surgeon unit based in Christchurch providing outreach clinics and operating lists in regional centres, with an emphasis on equity and access to quality services. He graduated MB ChB (1976) from Otago and has been instrumental in developing audit processes to monitor trends and inform practice and management issues within the unit. He has contributed to surgical education in his specialist area, and across the nine Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) specialities. He has held several leadership roles with RACS, through which he has had an influence on the training of almost all paediatric surgeons in New Zealand and Australia who have qualified within the past 20 years. He is a former Trustee of the Rainbow Children's Trust, current Trustee of Children's Cancer Research Trust, and a member of the Pacific Association of Paediatric Surgeons Board of Governors. Professor Beasley is a member of the Male Champions of Change group, made up of senior leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics committed to achieving gender equality in their organisations and fields.

Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Mrs Tracey Anne Fear, or services to netball. Mrs Fear studied Physical Education at Otago, and graduated in 1993. Prior to this, in the 1980s, she had played for the Silver Ferns. She was Captain in 1988. Mrs Fear played 69 tests for New Zealand, including gold medal wins at the 1985 World Games and 1987 World Tournament. After retiring as a player, she became immersed in coaching, including coaching the New Zealand A, New Zealand Under 21s, Waikato and the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic teams. She worked for the sport's governing body, Netball New Zealand, first as a netball development officer before taking up the role of Netball Director. In this role she was responsible for the development of netball from five year olds through to the Silver Ferns. She became the High Performance Director at Netball New Zealand in 2002, a role she held for 10 years. During this time, she was responsible for the development and implementation of their strategic plans for high performance. Achievements included overseeing the successful campaigns for the 2003 World Netball Championships, 2005 World Youth Championships, and back to back gold medals at the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games. Mrs Fear was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

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Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Emeritus Professor Helen May Leach, for services to culinary anthropology. Emeritus Professor Leach gained an BA (1965); MA (1968); PhD, Anthropology (1976) from Otago. During her career she became an authority on culinary anthropology and has conducted research for more than 50 years into the history of New Zealand, the archaeology and anthropology of Oceanic culture, and the social history and anthropology of horticultural practices. Professor Leach has lectured at the University of Otago’s Department of Anthropology since 1969, is the author of 22 books, and has contributed more than 40 chapters to other publications. In the 1960s and 1970s she authored several books on prehistoric man in New Zealand and later achieved renown with her 1984 publication ‘1,000 Years of Gardening in New Zealand’, an illustrated study of gardening throughout the entire period of human settlement in the country. More recently she completed a ten year research project into the material culture of cooking among New Zealanders living in the past two centuries. Throughout this project she collected more than 2,000 New Zealand cookbooks, many of them fundraising texts contributed by local communities, which have been catalogued into a comprehensive database and is a significant resource for the culinary anthropology field. Professor Leach has published a series of critically acclaimed books including ‘The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand’s Culinary History’ (2008) and ‘Kitchens: The New Zealand Kitchen in the 20th Century’ (2014).

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Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Professor Robert Matthew Love, for services to dentistry. Professor Love, (BDS (1983), MDS (1994), PhD, Dentistry (1999) Otago), is a recognised international expert in dental accreditation, education and regulation and a multi-award winning researcher. Professor Love has held a number of senior positions with the University of Otago's Faculty of Dentistry, including Professor and Head of Department, Department of Oral Diagnostic and Surgical Sciences, Deputy Dean and Discipline Head of Endodontics. He developed generalist and specialist clinical programmes that have educated New Zealanders and led to internationalisation, in particular providing higher education for practitioners from the Pacific Islands. His training of specialist endodontists is recognised internationally as world standard and he has trained the majority of practicing endodontists in New Zealand. He is a member of the editorial boards of three major journal publications in his field and a member of the Asia Pacific Endodontic Federation. He has given numerous national and international presentations and held governance positions with a number of professional organisations. He was first appointed to the Dental Council in 2002 and served until 2011, including time as Chair. He was an inaugural member of the joint accreditation committee with the Australian Dental Council and initiated a partnership with the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada. Professor Love has been involved in international benchmarking of assessments of overseas dental practitioners to set global transparent standards.

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Associate Professor Janet Lynn Fanslow, for services to the research and prevention of family violence. Dr Fanslow is an Associate Professor in the section of Social and Community Health at the University of Auckland’s School of Population Health. She gained an MSc, Psychology (1990) from Otago, before researching family violence for more than 20 years. Her work has been instrumental in proving its high rate of prevalence and exploring means through which it can be prevented. Her early work in this field, funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC), was instrumental in establishing recognition of family violence as a treatable health issue. She was Principal Investigator of the HRC-funded New Zealand Violence Against Women Survey (NZVAWS) in 2003, the largest study of violence against women undertaken in the country with 2,855 women consulted in face-to-face interviews. She is now co-director of the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse, which collates and publishes data and research on the issue, offering a suite of specialist information to practitioners, researchers and policy workers in the field helping to inform programme delivery and assist with funding applications. She is the author of a number of reports and guidelines regarding family violence, child and partner abuse, and elder abuse and neglect. Associate Professor Fanslow was appointed to the Expert Advisory Group on Family Violence in 2013.

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Mrs Dianne Millicent Kenderdine, for services to the community and the cheese industry. Mrs Kenderdine gained a DipHSc, Consumer & Applied Sciences from Otago in 1967 before beginning work as a social worker in 1970. She joined the Anglican Trust for Women and Children (ATWC) in 1977, later being appointed Chairperson from 2000 to 2013. As Chairperson Mrs Kenderdine oversaw the restructuring of the Trust's assets to provide financial security to continue delivering services to the community. She was instrumental in the professionalisation of the Trust in terms of how it was structured and run. She was instrumental in recruiting a capable Board before stepping down as Chairperson and remains a current Board member. As an active member of the Friends of the ATWC she has helped organise and volunteer at numerous fundraising events and has been a rostered volunteer cook for the Granger Grove programme for more than 20 years. While a member of the Selwyn College Parent Teacher Association in the early 1990s, she implemented the Breakfast in School programme. She taught Community Education cooking classes for 28 years. She was a Brownie Leader from 1982 and was District Commissioner for Selwyn from 1985 until the early 1990s. Mrs Kenderdine has been Secretary of the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association since its inception in 2003 and a driving force of the awards organising committee since the inaugural Champions of Cheese awards.

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Mr John Gordon Rayner, for services to kayaking. Mr Rayner (LLB, Law (1982), Otago) has been involved with kayaking for 45 years. Since the early 1990s Mr Gordon has represented kayakers at local authority hearings and tribunals to protect Central Otago rivers from development, damming, jet boats, and mining. He was a key driver in the development of the Hawea Whitewater Park near Wanaka in collaboration with Contact Energy. He was a founding member of Central Otago Whitewater in 1989 and from 2000 began coaching whitewater kayaking for youth in Alexandra and later other parts of Central Otago. He also manages a beginner kayaking programme in Alexandra. He obtained grants, sponsorship and established fundraising opportunities enabling the club to purchase equipment and provide travel assistance for junior kayakers to attend national and international events. A number of juniors from Alexandra have represented New Zealand at Australasian and world championship levels. He organises an annual whitewater camp on the Hawea river, introduces junior kayakers to grade three whitewater on a weekly basis during the summer, organises local slalom and freestyle events, and has helped organise seven national and secondary school slalom championships in the lower South Island. Mr Rayner has represented New Zealand at world championship level in slalom, freestyle and rafting, and is the current world masters slalom champion in his age group.

 Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit: The Very Reverend Pamela Jean Tankersley, for services to the Presbyterian Church and the community. The Very Reverend Pamela Tankersley (BD, Theology & Religion (1987) Otago), has been involved in the leadership of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ), including as Moderator of the General Assembly and as Moderator of the Council for World Mission. Reverend Tankersley was Parish Minister in three parishes in New Zealand between 1987 and 2003. She was appointed Global Mission Coordinator of PCANZ from 2010 to 2012, during which time she strengthened relations with partner churches in India, Asia and the Pacific. She was elected as a member of the General Committee of the Christian Conference of Asia from 2005 to 2010. She has made key contributions to increasing women's voice in the church. She has represented the New Zealand Association of Presbyterian Women at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women for three consecutive years. Locally in Palmerston North she has been a driving force behind the establishment of budget cooking classes, a children's playroom, and organising children's activities. Reverend Tankersley has personally taken in young women escaping violent relationships, providing accommodation and sustenance until they were able to move on safely and into work.

Companion of the Queen’s Service Order: Dr Paul Hugh Stewart Reynolds, for services to the State. Dr Reynolds (who gained a BSc(Hons) (1976), PhD, Biochemistry (1981) from Otago), was Chief Executive of the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) from 2008 to 2015, during which time he oversaw the Ministry’s repositioning of its role in the environment management system to focus on long-term stewardship.Notable examples of his leadership include MfE’s work on water, resource management, and exclusive economic zone reforms. He played a key role in the creation of the environmental reporting framework for the provision of independent public commentary on the state of the environment. He has chaired a range of entities including the Natural Resources Sector, comprising a number of public service departments, the Advisory Board to the Victoria University of Wellington School of Government, and joint Chair of the regional council Chief Executives’ Environment Forum. He is currently Chair of Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, Deputy Chair of Landcare Research Ltd, a director of AgResearch Ltd, and Chair of both Sir Peter Blake Trust and Eastland Community Trust. His earlier public service career included senior roles at the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF). At MAF Dr Reynolds was influential in developing the Emissions Trading Scheme, particularly its forestry component.

Queen's Service Medal: Reverend Perema Leasi, for services to the Pacific community. Reverend Leasi (BTheol, Theology & Religion (1995), Otago) is currently solo Minister at Christ the King Pacific Islands Presbyterian Church Porirua. Reverend Leasi has been involved in the Porirua community since 2001, having previously been Minister for St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Te Awamutu, where he worked to rehabilitate prisoners and help former prisoners re-integrate into the community. He continued this work on his move to Porirua and in 2015 he was recognised as one of Porirua's 50 most influential people at the Porirua 50th anniversary celebrations for his contributions to prisoner rehabilitation and youth work. He is Chairperson the Porirua Samoan Combined Churches and serves as Secretary for the Samoa Ministers' Fellowship of the Wellington Region. He has organised community events including combined church services, youth sports days, and the annual celebration of Samoa Independence Day. He is patron of the Lavalava Samoa Language Class 101. Reverend Leasi has been Chairperson of the Wellington Pacific Bible College since 2002 and is a committee member of Wellington Pacific Health Services.

Queen's Service Medal: Dr John Francis McGettigan, for services to rural health. Dr McGettigan gained an MB ChB (1972) from Otago. He has been a General Practitioner for the Methven community for 40 years. Dr McGettigan began as the sole doctor for the district, working from a small consulting room which was part of his family home. He was the driving force behind the development of a new improved facility in 1985, which now employs five doctors and several nurses and clerical staff plus hosting visiting specialists. The Otago University Medical School uses the Methven Medical Centre for trainee doctors to spend time in a recognised rural medical health hub. For many years he has accepted sixth year trainee doctors in the practice for ongoing education in the area of general rural medicine. The new Medical Centre has proven to be a key asset for the Methven community following the growth of the town through agriculture, dairying and tourism. He has worked closely with Mt Hutt ski field's medical facility, offering training and mentoring to staff and assisting in emergencies requiring minor surgery and trauma treatment. Dr McGettigan has earned a reputation locally for his special care to the elderly residents of Methven House rest home, as a strong supporter of local St John, and his work within the Catholic community for the schools and Parish Pastoral Council.