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Alumni news

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Alumni news

Shaping the future together: this year's Annual Appeal is raising funds to support seven projects that help make a difference to families and communities throughout New Zealand. To find out more – and to donate – please go to the Annual Appeal web page.

Working for Otago: making connections in the UK

The UK/Europe Alumni Network provides a welcoming environment for Otago graduates. It actively recruits alumni, updates its membership register, circulates relevant university information and hosts University-themed events. It fosters close links with the Development and Alumni Relations Office, and other chapters worldwide.

Kirsty Fiddes (BDS, 1993)

Kirsty FiddesAfter graduating from Otago’s Dental School Kirsty worked in Wellington for five years before joining The Dental Surgery in London in 1999. She is an active member of the New Zealand Business Women's Network and a founding member of the New Zealand Dental Society in London.

Studying at Otago continued a family tradition for Kirsty, and she now enjoys being Chair of the Otago Alumni UK/Europe Chapter and fundraising for University projects. Her involvement stems from a belief that “being part of the University family involves reinforcing its common beliefs and goals”.

Jennifer Moates (LLB, 1981)

Jenny MoatesJenny developed a love of the law of tort while at Otago and has spent the last 30 years putting it to good use as a lawyer in the City of London, predominately advising the insurance industry. She heads the catastrophic injury team at BLM and has been instructed in a number of high profile fatal accident and catastrophic injury claims.

She is committed to raising the profile of Otago University in the UK, as well as assisting alumni to establish their careers and lives there. Jenny is secretary of the Otago University Trust UK.

Duncan Blaikie (MB ChB, 2000)

Duncan BlaikieSince 2009, Duncan has been a solicitor at Slaughter and May, London, working in intellectual property and technology law. Duncan trained and worked in medicine before heading to Cambridge University, where he transitioned to law. He was a professional rugby player (for the Highlanders and Chiefs) and also represented Cambridge University.

“All Otago alumni I speak with look back fondly on their time at the University, and most mention the people they met as a particular highlight. The UK chapter helps alumni develop and maintain links to the wider Otago network, and provides a focal point for their re-engagement with the University.”

Leighton Cassidy (BSc, LLB, 1997)

Leighton CassidyLeighton is a partner at international law firm Fieldfisher, where he heads the intellectual property protection team. He loved his time at the University of Otago and playing rugby for the University A team.

"Involvement with the UK alumni chapter has allowed me to connect with a new generation of Otago alumni and those in Otago’s impressive network of alumni working in leading UK and international businesses. We should be proud of the successes of our alumni in the UK and I have been delighted to play a small part in maintaining our wonderful network."

Sir Paul Beresford (BDS, 1970)

Sir Paul BeresfordSir Paul is a Conservative Party politician and MP for the Mole Valley constituency, and was knighted in 1990 for services to inner city rehabilitation. He now sits on 13 parliamentary committees, chairs the House of Commons Administration Committee and is a member of the House of Commons Commission. He was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of the Environment from 1994 to 1997.

Sir Paul is also a former chairman of the Otago UK alumni chapter. Sir Paul continues to practise dentistry part-time, “thanks to an Otago BDS with a special interest in restorative cosmetic dentistry”.

Alistair Wishart (LLB, BA (Hons) 2000)

Alistair WishartAs a student Alistair was actively involved with the OUSA and is now a counsel at Vinson and Elkins LLP, advising on energy, petrochemical, water and other infrastructure projects. He is ranked in the Chambers UK Guide and Legal 500 UK.

“The UK is a long way from Otago, but many alumni pass through or settle here. It is always nice spending time with Otago people and our alumni events are a great way to maintain ties.”

Dr John Zinzan (BDS, 1969)

John ZinzanAfter qualifying John moved to London to work in dentistry; in 1974 he established the Zinzan Dental Practice in Knightsbridge.

In 1990 he invited more than 700 UK and Europe-based graduates to the first Otago Alumni event at New Zealand House, and subsequently helped maintain a database of UK-based alumni and hold regular Otago events. In 2003 he was the inaugural recipient of the University of Otago Medal for Outstanding Alumni Service.

“I spent five exceedingly happy years in Dunedin, meeting lifelong friends. With alumni numbers growing it seemed a very good idea to set up a committee here in London to organise annual meetings of Otago graduates and to help maintain similar friendships.”

Kyla Chapman (BCom (Hons), BA, 2001)

Kyla ChapmanKyla is technical operations leader for International with the global broking and advisory firm Willis Towers Watson and, since 2013, has also been treasurer of the Otago University Trust (London), involved in the running of the annual fundraising event held at historic UK landmarks.

“I enjoyed my time at Otago immensely and made many lifelong friendships. I love being able to work with other like-minded people in London in keeping the memory of those days alive and hope to benefit future generations in the process.”

To contact the network, please email


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Alumni get-together, Hong Kong, 12 January, 2017. Find out more about the Hong Kong alumni chapter activities at

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The Friends of Otago reception at the Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), 16 February, 2017, San Antonio Texas: From left: Dr Cathy Chapple, Dr Catherine Patla, Professor Leigh Hale and Dr Stanley Paris.

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Phys Ed class of 1977 reunion, Dunedin, 27 January 2017.

For information about upcoming alumni reunions and events

For information about alumni benefits and services