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Alumni news

Alumni - Scott Shand building

Alumni news

Celebrating the past
Inspiring the future

Next year marks a significant milestone for the University: its 150th anniversary. This will provide a unique opportunity for us, as a University community, to reflect on a history of profound achievements that have helped our society, our country and our world.

To enable the University to continue to convert academic thinking into practical applications with real-world benefits, our Annual Appeal is supporting five important initiatives that have a significant impact on our society – and will all be part of our 150th celebrations.

Every dollar counts. Your contributions – large and small – all help us in this important work. Thank you for yor ongoing support.

Alumni Student Scholarships

Alumni scholarships

Every year hundreds of gifted students apply for scholarships at the University of Otago. For some, this is their only chance to overcome the hardships and barriers associated with attending university. But many more miss out. Your donation could be truly life-changing. It will allow a student to study and receive great support in their university life. This cost is out of reach for some families.

Alumni Music Theatre Performing ArtsMusic, Theatre and Performing Arts Facility

Our stated goal is to have “an international reputation for innovation and excellence in teaching, research, performance, and performance‐as‐research in the fields of Music, Theatre Studies and Performing Arts”.

To this end, the University has committed to a $26 million project to both construct new and refurbish existing buildings to create a state-of-the-art Music, Theatre and Performing Arts Facility with multi-use recording and performance spaces available for use by students and the local community.

EXPINKT™ cancer rehabilitation programme


Exercise provides valuable support for cancer patients and survivors through their treatment and helps them cope with related side effects. The EXPINKT™ Gym is a private facility for cancer survivors to come together, take comfort and rehabilitate from primary clinical treatment. Clients are given individualised and carefully supervised training for six to 12 months before “graduating" to group classes. Significant improvements in fitness, muscular strength and quality of life have been observed. Currently 120 EXPINKT™ members attend the gym each week, some twice a week. There is nowhere in New Zealand that provides the type and level of support offered at Otago’s EXPINKT™ Gym. Your support will ensure this valuable programme continues to be of service to our community for the next three years.

Alumni Marins StudiesMarine Studies: replacement research catamaran

For the past 30 years Otago has operated a research vessel to enable staff and students to take part in scientifically significant research expeditions. However, as research challenges and teaching needs grow, the University hopes to replace its ageing RV Polaris II with a new catamaran offering greater technical and teaching capabilities across a range of environments. Your support will help us replace our ageing wooden vessel and support the annual operating costs of a new 31.8 metre catamaran.

Blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease

Alumni Alzheimers

With improved healthcare and better nutrition people are living longer and enjoying healthier lives. Yet with longer life comes an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This disabling condition requires better means of early detection, so therapies can commence earlier – a recent discovery by the Brain Health Research Centre may address this.

To make a donation please go to the secure giving page:

Annual Appeal

For further information please go to:
or email:

To find out more about the University's 150th celebrations please visit the 150th website.

Donors recognised at Court of Benefactors dinner

Alumni CoB chancellor
Chancellor Dr Royden Somerville QC speaks at the Court of Benefactors dinner.

A Court of Benefactors dinner held at the Staff Club last month enabled the University to thank its major donors for their ongoing support and to brief them on new developments.

Speakers included the Chancellor Dr Royden Somerville QC, Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) Professor Tony Ballantyne, Professor of Earthquake Science Mark Stirling, and clinical director of the Mackenzie Cancer Research Group Professor Bridget Robinson.

Dr Somerville says the dinner was timely as the University heads into its sesquicentennial year and the opportunities this presents to celebrate Otago’s rich heritage and its exciting future.

“The philanthropy of the Presbyterian Church in the Otago and Southland region contributed greatly to the University’s foundation in 1869.”

This culture of philanthropy continues to be important today.

“The generosity of donors – individuals and organisations – often reflects their desire to contribute to the University in areas where they have a personal passion. Their selfless support of higher education, research and the community outreach undertaken at Otago makes it possible for the University to pursue its principal objective of benefiting human well-being,” he says.

The Court of Benefactors was established in 2006 to recognise the contributions of major donors ($1 million and more) to the University. September’s dinner recognised the admittance of eight new benefactors to the Court.

Samoa alumni chapter underway

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Distinguished guests and the Samoa Alumni Network executive at the Taumesina Resort event, April 7.

Samoa Otago Alumni Chapter President To’oto’ooleaava Dr Fanaafi Aiono-Le Tagaloa says pride, an emphasis on fun and some very clear goals will lead to a range of exciting and relevant activities for Otago supporters in Samoa.

Fanaafi, who studied History (BA (Hons) 2001) and later gained a Law PhD (2009) at Otago, says being elected as chapter president at a gala event in Apia on 5 April was an “honour and privilege”, which will lead to many opportunities to give back to Otago.

The La O Samoa executive committee held its first meeting less than a week after its formation and drafted a constitution. After the unanimous adoption of the chapter's constitution in May at a special general meeting, an activities and fundraising committee was also formed and the group had its first public outing on 1 June when it marched in Samoa's 56th Independence Day parade.

The group’s first fundraiser – a Hike-athon up Mt Vaea to Robert Louis Stevenson's grave – was held on 25 August.

Fanaafi says fundraising projects and appeals are focused on supporting next year’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

Share your memories with us

The Otago Magazine is dedicating its first issue of 2019 to celebrating the University’s 150th anniversary – and we would like you to be part of this.

We are looking for standout memories from Otago alumni that we can highlight – and there is no limit to the scope of this.

  • What is the thing you loved most about Otago?
  • What is the one most important thing you learned at Otago or that you did for the first time?
  • Tell us about your favourite lecturer/tutor; the friends you made; relationships forged; your most memorable activities – academic, social, cultural and sports.
  • How did your time at Otago change your life?

Email your memories to:
Or post to: Otago Magazine Editor
PO Box 56 Dunedin, 9054, New Zealand.

Please include your name and the years you were at Otago.
Any photos you have are welcome as well.

Alumni events and reunions


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Tauranga 31 July
Beth Trask; Ernie Trask BD 1971.

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Tauranga 31 July
John Boulton MB ChB 1971; Monique Aitchison BCom 1995; Graham Mountfort BSc 1958; John Maunder PhD 1965.

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Christchurch, 19 April
Emeritus Professor Robin Fraser MD 1987; Maria Choukri, PhD 2107.

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Melbourne, 24 May
Graeme Steven BA (Hons) 1979, chair of the Melbourne Alumni Network; Lesley Hoy MB ChB 1983; Vicky McIver BA (Hons) 1977.

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Christchurch, 19 April
Tom Mitchell MSc 1949; Margaret Reid.

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Fiji June 30
Joji Malani MB ChB 1979, president of the Fijian Alumni Network (right), and guests at the event held at the New Zealand High Commission in Suva.

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Berlin 7 July
Douglas Ross MA with a copy of the Otago Magazine that features a photo of him in his student days.