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Exceptional service recognised in New Year Honours

Monday 18 January 2021 1:24pm

2021 NY honours story
Top left to right: Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, Sir Ian Taylor, Dr Tasileta Teevale. Bottom left to right: Professor Michael Baker, Professor Steve Chambers, Sir Mason Durie.

An inspirational group of University of Otago alumni, staff and friends have been recognised in the 2021 New Year Honours. They have been awarded for their exceptional service across a wide range of areas, including Māori health, public health, infectious disease research, Pacific arts and education, theatre, sustainability, ecological restoration, broadcasting, business and women’s health.

Sir Mason Durie image
Sir Mason Durie

The highest honour in the country, the Order of New Zealand (ONZ), was awarded to Emeritus Professor Sir Mason Durie KNZM, for services to New Zealand. The ordinary membership of the ONZ is limited to 20 living members. For more than 40 years, Sir Mason has been at the forefront of a transformational approach to Māori health and has played major roles in building the Māori health workforce. He graduated from Otago MB ChB in 1963 and was awarded an Honorary LLD in 2008.

Sir Mason has also championed higher education for Māori. He has provided national academic leadership for Māori and indigenous development in roles as Deputy Chair of Te Wānanga o Raukawa, Professor of Māori Research and Development, and as Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Massey University until 2012. He remains Emeritus Professor of Māori Research and Development at Massey.

His accomplishments include gaining funding to establish a Centre for Māori Health Research, Te Pūmanawa Hauora, and negotiating the Māori mental health programme, Te Rau Puawai. He chaired the Ministerial Taskforce on Whānau Ora and was Chair of Te Kāhui Amokura, a Standing Committee of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee. Sir Mason was appointed in 2019 as one of three inaugural Ruānuku by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand's Māori Centre of Research Excellence, and received the Blake Medal in 2017.

Sir Mason says receiving the ONZ is a personal honour but also an honour for Kaupapa. “It recognises the importance of health, and has special focus on Māori health.”

He says the honour is also a recognition of the work of people such as the late Henry Bennett and Professor Eru Pōmare, and many others Sir Mason has worked with over the years, including Dr Anthony Ruakere, Dr Paratene Ngata, Dr David Yates and Dr Leo Buchanan.

Initiatives he has led which he feels have made a particular difference to Māori health include setting up a group of Māori health community workers in the 1980s, who took a wider community approach to their work. The initiative was later expanded across the country.

“It was also a privilege setting up the Whānau Ora taskforce, which was a major step forward in looking at health from a broader perspective.”

He says Māori health medical expertise has blossomed since he was a student at Otago. “In my day there were only one or two Māori graduates, now there are 30 to 40. A transformation has taken place.”

Sir Ian Taylor image
Sir Ian Taylor

Sir Ian Taylor CNZM has been made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM) for services to broadcasting, business and the community. Sir Ian graduated LLB from Otago in 1975.

Sir Ian’s business, Animation Research Ltd (ARL), is in its 30th year and continues to be a global leader in technology development, having pioneered and been a world leader in real-time 3D visualisation for major sports broadcasts. Animation Research received the award for ‘outstanding new approaches in sports broadcasting’ at the 2015 Sports Emmy Awards for their development of the America’s Cup mobile application.

He was named the 2019 New Zealand Innovator of the Year. Sir Ian is currently focused on an initiative called ‘Tech for Good’, which is developing technology tools for use in education and health care. He has played a key role in a collaboration between Methodist Mission South and Animation Research to create virtual learning environments for prison inmates. For the Tuia 250 commemorations, he developed digital simulations of the re-created ancestral voyages undertaken for the commemoration.

Sir Ian has also been involved with the Dunedin Waterfront Vision project since 2018, he has been a Board member of Māori Television, NZ On Air, the New Zealand Film Commission, IT Professionals New Zealand, Dodd-Walls Centre, and Callaghan Innovation. He is a member of Ngā Kuitūhono, the Māori Advisory Group to NZQA.

Sir Ian says his honour is an acknowledgement of all the people he has worked with on his 30-year journey.

“It all began at Otago with Professor Geoff Wyvill. I don’t think any of this would have happened without him, or without Sir Eion Edgar,” he says. Sir Eion, Chancellor of the University from 1999-2003, was one of the early supporters of the animation company.

He remembers being introduced to Professor Wyvill in the Department of Computer Science, and the “incredible, mind-boggling work he was doing. I’d never seen it before. TVNZ had asked if we could do an animation, and I remember taking it [their suggestion] down to Geoff and he said, ‘do you want it to look like that, or do you want to do it properly?’ He was so easy to talk to, so open and excited.”

Professor Wyvill identified four students who could help him – Paul Sharp, Stu Smith, Craig McNaughton and Chris Haig – and they are still with the company today. Furthering connections with the University, ARL has also worked with Professor Holger Regenbrecht and the Department of Information Science.

Sir Ian says he has had wonderful comments from people around the world about receiving his Knighthood. “The overall sentiment from all the comments is that Kiwis take a pride in what we’ve done, and feel that they own it as well.”

Before founding Taylormade Media in 1989 and Animation Research shortly after, Sir Ian gained his law degree, was a singer in a rock and roll band and a television presenter. “My background is as a storyteller, and my contribution [to ARL] has been telling the story that these people wrote, and keeping us moving forward, that’s all I can claim.”

He credits Otago with introducing him to his wife Liz Grieve, one of only 15-20 women in his law class. He says he couldn’t have succeeded without her – as a lawyer she provided the steady home life and raised their two children while he “spent years travelling the world and having a good time”.

His advice to students today is to “really be passionate about what you do, and that will drive you”.

“When I was doing a business degree someone offered me a place in a rock and roll band, so I did the band. When I finished my law degree I was offered a job on Play School. If I took the logical step none of this would have happened. Follow what excites you.”

Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman
Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman

Sesquicentennial Distinguished Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman QSO from the Department of Public Health at the University’s Wellington campus has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to public health.

Professor Howden-Chapman is co-director of He Kāinga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme, funded by the Health Research Council for over two decades, and director of the New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities. She has been honoured for her public health work researching the links between urban housing, health and well-being. Her research on housing, conducted in partnership with local communities, has had a significant influence on standards for housing and energy policy in New Zealand and internationally.

Professor Howden-Chapman says she is delighted to receive the honour, an indication that her work in public health is making a difference.

“It shows the importance of healthy housing is being recognised.”

Her real reward last year though was in being awarded large research grants, including a $12.4 million (GST excl) Endeavour Fund grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which will enable her to employ her research team, who were awarded the 2014 Prime Minister’s Science Team Prize, on a permanent basis.

Professor Howden-Chapman chaired the World Health Organization Housing and Health Guideline Development Group, which launched new guidelines in 2018.

She currently chairs the Scientific Committee of the International Council of Science, Urban Health and Wellbeing: A systems approach. She is a director on the Board of Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities.

She was awarded the Health Research Council’s Liley Medal and the Royal Society’s Dame Joan Metge Medal in 2008 and was elected a member of the Royal Society Te Apārangi in 2013. She was appointed a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order in 2009 for services to public health.

Professor Steve Chambers image
Professor Stephen Chambers

Professor Stephen Chambers, Department of Pathology and Biomedical Science, University of Otago, Christchurch, received the CNZM for services to infectious diseases research. Professor Chambers established the Infectious Diseases Department at Christchurch Hospital in 1987, the first such service in New Zealand outside of Auckland, and he remained Clinical Director until 2015.

For more than a decade he was the only infectious diseases physician in the South Island. He also founded and developed The Infection Group, a collaboration between the Canterbury District Health Board and the University of Otago that is now a leading infectious diseases clinical research team in New Zealand and a world leader in research on certain diseases.

Professor Michael Baker image
Professor Michael Baker

Professor Michael Baker from the Department of Public Health at the University’s Wellington campus has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to public health science.

Professor Baker is a member of the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 Technical Advisory Group and has been at the forefront of New Zealand’s response to the pandemic, supplying expert advice to the Government, conducting research, and providing information directly to the public and the media.

He wrote what is almost certainly the world’s first Covid-19 elimination strategy and has published research on the pandemic in major international journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet and The BMJ.

Professor Baker says the honour came as quite a surprise, and book-ends the most intense year of his working life. He sees the award as recognition for the wider team of researchers who came together on the Wellington campus to work on the pandemic response.

“I think we’ve made a difference, and I am hoping our collaboration on COVID-19 may provide impetus for a future where scientists work even more closely with political leaders to help manage other major health and environment challenges.”

Professor Baker has been a Professor of Public Health since 2013 and is Director of the Health Environment Infection Research Unit (HEIRU). He is a member of the New Zealand Science Media Centre’s Advisory Board and the World Health Organisation’s Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination.

Dr Tasileta Teevale
Dr Tasileta Teevale

Director of the Pacific Development Office at Otago, Dr Tasileta Teevale, received the MNZM for services to Pacific education and public health research.

Dr Teevale has contributed to the public service sector and academia for more than 20 years through her research work in Pacific youth health and education, sports, physical activity and public health in relation to Pacific peoples in Aotearoa.

Dr Teevale’s notable research work has included a large school-based weight management intervention and the Youth2000 survey series, a national study of the health and well-being of New Zealand youth. She played a pivotal role in the establishment of the University of Otago’s Pacific Development Office, of which she has been the Director since inception, and has been responsible for monitoring and implementing the progress of the Pacific Strategic Framework 2013 to 2020 university-wide.

She is a founding member of Universities New Zealand Pacific Komiti. Dr Teevale has advised the public service sector on the Ministry of Education Summit, Ministry of Pacific Peoples Vision Summit and reviews of NCEA, Tomorrow’s Schools and NZQA.

Mrs Pauline Smith received the MNZM for services to Pacific arts and the community. Mrs Smith is an alumna of Otago and previously a Lecturer in Pacific Studies at the University of Otago College of Education, Southland campus.

Robert Burns Fellows Ms Joanna Randerson and Mr Victor Rodger were both awarded the ONZM, for services to the performing arts, and for services to theatre and Pacific arts respectively.

Friends of the University to be honoured included philanthropists Mr Dick Jardine and Mrs Jillian Jardine, who both received the MNZM for services to philanthropy and conservation. Mr and Mrs Jardine gifted their Woolshed Bay home and property on the shores of Lake Wakatipu to the University, to be used as a research retreat. It is one of the most significant gifts Otago has received.

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

The Order of New Zealand ONZ:

Emeritus Professor Sir Mason Durie KNZM for services to New Zealand

Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit KNZM:

Sir Ian Taylor CNZM for services to broadcasting, business and community

Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit CNZM:

  • Professor Stephen Chambers for services to infectious diseases research

  • Dr Stuart Gowland QSO for services to health and education

  • Distinguished Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman QSO for services to public health

  • Dr David Kerr for services to health and business

Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit ONZM:

  • Dr Christine Foley for services to victims of sexual assault

  • Dr Janette Irvine for services to women and women’s health

  • Dr Timothy Malloy for services to health

  • Dr Colin Meurk for services to ecological restoration

  • Ms Joanna Randerson for services to the performing arts

  • Mr Victor Rodger for services to theatre and Pacific arts

  • Dr Gail Tipa for services to Māori and environmental management

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit MNZM:

  • Mrs Susan Anderson JP for services to restorative justice

  • Professor Michael Baker for services to public health science

  • Professor Bronwyn Hayward for services to political science, particularly sustainability, climate change and youth

  • Mr Samuel Judd for services to the environment and sustainability education

  • Dr Jann Medlicott for services to philanthropy, the arts and radiology

  • Ms Melissa Moon for services to athletics and charitable causes

  • Mr Paul Norris for services to the tourism industry and conservation

  • Mrs Pauline Smith for services to Pacific arts and the community

  • Dr Tasileta Teevale for services to Pacific education and public health research

  • Mr Gary Watts for services to mental health

The Queen’s Service Medal QSM:

  • Mr Lester Dean for services to the Pacific community

  • Reverend Falkland Liuvaie for services to the Niue community

  • Reverend Alison Stewart for services to choral music

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