Emeritus Professor Alison Rich (left) and Emeritus Professor Alison Marion Cree were two of 18 Otago academics and alumni recognised for their services and contribution to Aotearoa.
The careers of two distinguished Otago professors have been recognised with a King's Birthday Honour.
Emeritus Professor Alison Marion Cree became a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to herpetology, particularly tuatara, while Emeritus Professor Alison Rich became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to oral pathology.
They were among 18 Otago academics and alumni recognised for their exceptional contribution and service to New Zealand. Each was drawn from a wide range of professions, communities, and areas of interest, including choral music, journalism, mental health, Pacific communities, and education.
Emeritus Professor Cree is a leading zoologist and herpetology expert who has worked to enhance conservation outcomes for herpetofauna.
She retired in 2021 after 30 years at Otago, including time as the Head of Department of Zoology.
Having worked with tuatara on and off since 1985, she hopes being singled out for an Honour will increase awareness of the distinctive reptiles and amphibians of Aotearoa New Zealand, and the people who care for them.
“There's a community of people who take an interest in studying and protecting these species, including indigenous kaitiaki, conservation managers, ecosanctuary staff and fellow herpetologists, and I've enjoyed working with and being inspired by them all. I hope that this award helps them feel recognised also and perhaps stimulates some new folk to join the ranks.”
Professor Emeritus Rich is a pioneer in oral pathology and leads New Zealand's only Oral Cancer Pathology Centre, providing specialist diagnostic oral pathology reports to dentists, dental specialists and anatomical pathologists nationally.
She spent more than 25 years at Otago, including stints as a student, lecturer, professor, Acting Dean and Head of Department, before retiring in January.
She was “completely flabbergasted” when she was told she would receive an honour.
“I was delighted and surprised, I never aspired to anything like this,” she says.
As well as meaning a lot to her personally, and as a culmination of her career, it was “also an acknowledgement to the great colleagues” she's worked with over the years.
She was especially pleased to receive it for services to her specialty discipline of oral pathology.
“It doesn't receive a lot of attention, so this puts the specialty in the spotlight as well.”
Alumni and staff King's Birthday Honours recipients with links to their citations
Emeritus Professor Alison Marion Cree, of Dunedin. For services to herpetology, particularly tuatara.
Dr Karen Lesley Grylls, ONZM, of Auckland. For services to choral music. MusB(Hons), BA.
Mr Colin Charles James, of Auckland. For services to journalism and public policy. BA, MA.
Dr Ruth Lilian Spearing, of Christchurch. For services to haematology.
Dr Michael Frederick Klaassen, of Auckland. For services to plastic and reconstructive surgery. MB ChB.
Ms Deborah Anne Panckhurst, of Wellington. For services to foreign affairs and Māori. BA(Hons).
Professor Emeritus Alison Mary Rich, of Dunedin. For services to oral pathology. BDS.
Mrs Yvonne Annette Browning, of Invercargill. For services to education and youth. Bed.
Dr Siale Alokihakau Foliaki, of Auckland. For services to mental health and the Pacific community. MB ChB.
Mr Gerard Anthony Hanning, of Dunedin. For services to education and the community. BA.
Mrs Keni Upokotea Moeroa, JP, of Dunedin. For services to the Cook Islands community. BSCW.
Mr Derek Monty Shaw, of Nelson. For services to the environment, local government and athletics. BSc(Hons).
Mr Arthur Graham Sutherland, of Wanaka. For services to outdoor education. BA, PGDipArts.
The Queen's Service Medal
Dr Handunnethi Kolitha De Silva, of Lower Hutt. For services to health. DipObst.
Ms Karen Desiree Knudson, of Dunedin. For services to choral music. MusB(Hons), MA.
Reverend Alofa Ta'ase Lale, of Dunedin. For services to the community. BTheol.
Mrs Bernice Monica Lepper, of Alexandra. For services to the community and education. BA.
Mrs Kirsty Jean Sharpe, JP, of Queenstown. For services to the community. DipHSc.