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Exceptional service recognised in New Year Honours

Friday 21 January 2022 1:27pm

new years honours collage
Clockwise from top left: Faumuina Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga, Professor Harlene Hayne, Jenny Agnew and Trevor Agnew, Professor John Hutton, Malcolm Wong, Professor Jacinta Ruru, Professor Jim Mann.

Congratulations to all the University of Otago staff and alumni who have been recognised in the 2022 New Year Honours.

Awarded for their exceptional contribution and service, the honours recipients are drawn from a diverse range of professions, communities and areas of interest, including health and health education, Māori and Pacific health and wellbeing, film and theatre, business, music, wildlife conservation, law, New Zealand-China relations, sport, rural health, historical research and children’s literacy.

Among staff and alumni honoured, Professor Jim Mann CNZM was made a Knight Companion for services to health, and former Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne ONZM was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to health and wellbeing. Otago staff member and alumna Faumuina Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga was also awarded the CNZM, for services to Pacific health and tertiary education, while Professor John Hutton was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit ONZM for services to women’s health and education. University of Otago Council member and alumnus Malcolm Wong was awarded the ONZM for services to the community and New Zealand-China relations.

Professor Jacinta Ruru, Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Māori professor of law, was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit MNZM for services to Māori and the law. Christchurch couple and Otago alumni Jenny and Trevor Agnew were both awarded the Queen’s Service Medal, for services to historical research and the Chinese community, and historical research and children’s literacy respectively. The full list of Otago staff and alumni to receive honours follows at the end of the story.

Jim Mann profile
Professor Jim Mann

Professor Jim Mann has been made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to health. The award follows a CNZM in 2002 and recognises his decades of work demonstrating links between nutrition and health which have informed world-leading interventions in the fields of coronary heart disease and diabetes.

Co-director of the Otago-based Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Centre (EDOR) and Director of the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, Professor Mann has been published in almost 400 scientific publications and 90 book chapters.
Research produced by Professor Mann and his colleagues has informed national and international guidelines relating to disease management and health promotion issued by the World Health Organisation and other health bodies. At the age of 77, Professor Mann remains very much an active contributor to his field. A month at his holiday home to start 2022 will be spent editing the sixth edition of his very successful textbook Essentials of Human Nutrition. “My father worked as a GP until he was in his mid-80s. So I've got quite a few years yet.”

Born in South Africa, Professor Mann received his medical education, early clinical experience and introduction to research there and in England. He moved to Otago in 1988 with the promise of a job which would allow him to balance research and clinical work, becoming Professor of Human Nutrition and Medicine and Head of Endocrinology at Dunedin Hospital. Receiving the knighthood was a pleasant surprise although Professor Mann says with a laugh that he almost accidentally deleted the email while clearing the torrent of correspondence in his inbox. “It's great recognition but I see it as recognition for what we as a group of colleagues and collaborators with a shared vision have been trying to achieve rather than recognition for me. And I think that's the way it's intended. Somebody's got to front up and in this instance that seems to be me.”

Former University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne with Sophia’s parents at the signing of The Sophia Charter at the University of Otago in 2020.

Professor Harlene Hayne has been appointed CNZM in recognition of her commitment to the health, wellbeing and safety of students and her pivotal role in launching the Sophia Charter to enhance the safety and wellbeing of students and young people, while serving as Vice-Chancellor at the University of Otago. The Sophia Charter was created following the tragic death of young student, Sophia Crestani, at a party in North Dunedin in 2019 and brings all facets of the local community together in a “circle of support” and shared responsibility to reduce harm and increase wellbeing for students. Professor Hayne worked closely with the Otago University Student Association, Dunedin City Council, Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, and the Otago Property Investors Association to establish the Charter.

Professor Hayne says she is humbled to receive the award. “It is an incredible honour to be recognised in this way for simply doing the right thing, in helping Sophia’s parents achieve their goal of making a vibrant student community safer,” Professor Hayne says. “I admire their incredible grace and bravery in the wake of any parent’s worst nightmare, and it was a privilege to walk alongside them in laying the foundations through Sophia’s Charter for a collaborative effort to foster a more supportive, inclusive and safe environment for students.” Professor Hayne is a leading academic recognised for her research in memory development and adolescent risk-taking. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and of the Association for Psychological Science. Professor Hayne joined the University of Otago in 1992 and served as Vice-Chancellor from 2011 until joining Curtin University in Western Australia as Vice-Chancellor in 2021.

Tai profile
Faumuina Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga

Faumuina Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga has been named as a Companion of the Order of Merit in the 2022 New Year’s Honours List for services to Pacific health and tertiary education. “To me this is a reflection of our collective contribution as Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand,” she says. “It signals that we are engaged and contributing positively to the fabric of New Zealand society.”

Her career has been devoted to improving Pacific health and education outcomes through capacity building in the tertiary sector ¬- the focus of her doctoral studies, which she completed last year. In 2009 Professor Sopoaga became the inaugural Associate Dean (Pacific) at the University of Otago. It was in this role that she was able to build Pacific capacity in the University’s health professional programmes and enhance the training of Pacific students interested in a career in health. She acknowledges the ongoing support from the New Zealand Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Pacific Peoples in these efforts.  She is a public health and primary care physician and has worked as a GP locum around the Otago region. She was also awarded the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Excellence in Tertiary Teaching in 2018.

Last year, she became the first Pacific woman promoted to Professor at the University of Otago and was the first medical doctor of Pacific descent in Australasia to be promoted to a Professorial role. Professor Sopoaga is currently the director of Va’a o Tautai, a team that supports Pacific academic excellence within the Division of Health Sciences at Otago University. “I’m able to do what I do because of my amazing team. I am also sincerely grateful for the excellent support from the University leaders. I realised early on that I couldn’t do this by myself. I was passionate, but it’s like being in a waka; if you’re paddling by yourself, you’re not going to get very far. Working in a team is always better. “We can achieve better health and education outcomes through a collective approach,” she says.

Professor Sopoaga is grateful for the opportunity to take up a part-time role as a Health Adviser in Samoa for NZMFAT. “It’s important to continue to nurture and strengthen our relationship with the Pacific region. The health security of New Zealand is closely linked to the health security in the Pacific region.”

Malcolm Wong profile
Malcolm Wong

Otago Commerce alumnus and University Council member Malcolm Wong was appointed ONZM for services to the community and New Zealand-China relations. Mr Wong was Treasurer, Secretary and the Chair of the fundraising subcommittee of the Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust since its inception in 1997. He has been Chair of the Trust since 2008. The Trust has built the only authentic Chinese Garden in Australasia and has gifted it to the city of Dunedin. Through the Trust, he has fostered the Dunedin-Shanghai sister city relationship, visiting Shanghai on several occasions.

He has supported the Lawrence Chinese Camp Trust which works to record the history of Chinese and gold in central Otago, and has been a Trustee of the Chinese Tax Poll Heritage Fund since 2017, raising awareness and education of the history of Chinese communities in New Zealand. He was Chair of Dunedin Shanghai Association from 2006 to 2015. Mr Wong has been a Councillor on the University of Otago Council and a Trustee of the Otago Community Trust since 2018 and has been actively involved with Anglican Church organisations.

Hutton profile image
Professor John Hutton

Professor John Hutton was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit ONZM for services to women's health and education. After graduating in Medicine from Otago in 1968, Professor Hutton became a Member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1974 and was awarded a PhD from the University of London in 1979. In the early 1980s, he was the public advocate for the continued availability of the injectable contraceptive, Depo-Provera, rebutting misinformation of its possible carcinogenesis. In 1983 he was appointed the Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Wellington School of Medicine where he introduced secondary Obstetrics and Gynaecology services to the Kapiti Coast and ultrasound into Wellington Women’s Hospital. He also then facilitated more student educative experiences in women’s health, including at Family Planning clinics.

In 1985 he founded the New Zealand Infertility Society (now FertilityNZ), after recognising the importance of improving services for those suffering infertility. He became Deputy Dean of the Wellington School of Medicine in 1989 and, in the 1990s, upgraded the Postgraduate Education requirements for New Zealand trainees in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. In 1994, he resigned as Head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department to establish a regional tertiary fertility service.

Although Professor Hutton retired from clinical practice in 2014, he continued teaching students, including the development of an electronic logbook for trainee interns to monitor their clinical experiences, and an electronic learning resource as an alternative to the undergraduate Obstetrics and Gynaecology textbook. He retired in October 2021. “Although I have been honoured for services to women’s health and education, I really appreciate all the University of Otago staff who helped develop and deliver the various resources,” says Professor Hutton.

Professor Jacinta Ruru

Professor Jacinta Ruru, who was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit MNZM, is one of New Zealand’s leading Māori legal scholars and has been involved in celebrating mātauranga Māori for more than 20 years. Professor Ruru is an Otago law alumna and has lectured at Otago’s Faculty of Law since 1999. She has published widely on Indigenous peoples’ rights, interests and responsibilities to own and care for lands and waters. She is a strong advocate for recognising tikanga Māori in law and decolonising the tertiary sector including legal education. She has co-founded many initiatives including the University of Otago Māori Academic Staff Caucus, Te Poutama Māori, and the Māori teaching and learning research theme Poutama Ara Rau. She co-directed Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research from 2016 to 2021.

Professor Ruru is Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Māori professor of law and was one of the first Māori women to be elected Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. She holds Ministerial appointments to Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand Board and Kāhui Wai Māori, the Māori Freshwater Forum. Her contributions have been recognised by the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Excellence in Teaching and an inaugural University of Otago Sesquicentennial Distinguished Chair.

Agnew NYH 22 image
Jenny and Trevor Agnew

Otago arts alumni Jenny Agnew and Trevor Agnew were both awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to historical research and the Chinese community, and historical research and children’s literacy respectively. Jenny has a BA in English and French from Otago, while Trevor graduated with a BA and MA in History. Jenny was a secondary school teacher for more than 40 years in Darfield, Winton and Christchurch and has contributed previously untold histories of Chinese people in New Zealand, helping correct misunderstood accounts of early Chinese settler life.

Together with her husband Trevor, Jenny has given New Zealand-Chinese history talks throughout the country and contributes to academic discourse on local Chinese people in Dunedin and their long history in New Zealand. She and Trevor researched and wrote Merchant, Miner, Mandarin: The Life and Times of the Remarkable Choie Sew Hoy (2020), about Jenny’s great-great-grandfather. This contributed to Choie Sew Hoy’s posthumous membership of the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame and the Sew Hoy building in Dunedin being recognised as a category one heritage building.  Jenny says when they received the email about the honours, at first they thought it must be a joke, but when they realised it was true they said it was wonderful to have the work they have been doing over many years receive this kind of recognition.
“I think for me it is about bringing a part of New Zealand history a bit more forward and presenting it. The number of people who have said to me ‘I didn’t know Chinese had been here so long, I didn’t know Chinese settled here’.

Trevor was a teacher for nearly 40 years and has contributed widely as a freelance writer and reviewer. While teaching at Hillmorton High School in Christchurch, and Central Southland College in Winton, he regularly wrote articles, book and television reviews for several publications including The Listener, Southland Times, and The Press. He reviews children’s books and writes author interviews for Australian magazine Magpies. He has written more than 3,000 New Zealand book entries for The Source, an Australasian website listing available children’s literature for schools and libraries.

Trevor helped found the Christchurch Friends of the Library and was involved for many years with the New Zealand Literacy Association and the School Library Association. He was a judge of the 2010 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, and the 2019 and 2021 Mallinson-Rendel Illustrators Award. He says they were “immensely moved that people cared about what we had written” and he also felt overwhelmed when it was pointed out to him that his was the only literature award in the entire New Year Honours this year. “So I feel very humbled. It’s a nod to the importance of children’s literature which I am happy to receive.”

He says they were “charmed” by the fact they both received the QSM. “We do most things together. We’ve been married for 55 years, we’re getting quite good at doing things together.” He also said it was nice to see his history degree from Otago being put to good use.

New Year Honours 2021 awarded to University of Otago alumni and staff:

Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit KNZM:

Professor Jim Mann, CNZM, of Dunedin. For services to health.

Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit CNZM:

  • Rāwiri Paratene, ONZM, of Auckland. For services to Māori, film and theatre.
  • Professor Harlene Hayne, ONZM, of Burswood, Australia. For services to health and wellbeing.
  • Dr Geoff Lorigan, of Auckland. For services to business and leadership development.
  • Faumuina Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga, of Dunedin. For services to Pacific health and tertiary education.

Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit ONZM:

  • Dr Linda Bryant, of Wellington. For services to pharmacy and health.
  • Ms Gaye Bryham, of Auckland. For services to sport and recreation.
  • Professor John Hutton, of Wellington. For services to women's health education.
  • Dr Lindsay Mildenhall, of Auckland. For services to neonatal intensive care and resuscitation training.
  • Mr Malcolm Wong, of Dunedin. For services to the community and New Zealand-China relations.

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit MNZM:

  • Dr Graeme Fenton, of Whangarei. For services to Māori and rural health.
  • Ms Shannon Pakura, of Porirua. For services to social work.
  • Dr Ken Romeril, of Wellington. For services to haemotology.
  • Professor Jacinta Ruru, of Port Chalmers. For services to Māori and the law.
  • Mrs Beryl Wilcox, of Invercargill. For services to the community.
  • Dr Doug Wilson, of Taupo. For services to health and seniors.

The Queen’s Service Medal QSM:

  • Mrs Jenny Agnew, of Christchurch. For services to historical research and the Chinese community.
  • Mr Trevor Agnew, of Christchurch. For services to children's literacy and historical research.
  • Mr Aart Brusse, of Dunedin. For services to music.
  • Mrs Lynley Bunton, of Dunedin. For services to education and the community.
  • Mrs Ailsa McGilvary-Howard, of Kaikoura. For services to conservation, particularly wildlife conservation.
  • Mrs Irene Mosley, of Mosgiel. For services to the community.
  • Mrs Noeline Watson, of Cromwell. For services to the community.