Victoria’s distinguished alumni honoured at gala dinner
Published 15 April 2011
About 500 guests attended a prestigious black tie dinner in Wellington last night to honour some of Victoria University’s top alumni.
The University presented Distinguished Alumni Awards to six graduates who now rank among New Zealand’s most influential leaders, thinkers and creative talent.
They are film director Taika Waititi, professional accountant John Shewan, artist Piera McArthur, lawyer Sir Thomas Gault, entrepreneur Rod Drury and former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast.
The 2011 Distinguished Alumni Awards gala dinner was held at the Wellington Town Hall. The event is sponsored by The Dominion Post and the Wellington Convention Centre.
Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh presented the awards in front of a gathering that included some of New Zealand’s foremost academics, legal, business and industry executives, and creative leaders.
Victoria has presented Distinguished Alumni Awards since 2006, introducing the accolades as a way of recognising and honouring former graduates. The awards are given to alumni who have made an exceptional contribution to their discipline or profession and to New Zealand as a whole.
Professor Walsh says the awards illustrate the pathway to success that Victoria graduates undertake.
“The winners also portray the qualities that we value and aim to instil. This includes leadership, critical and creative thinking and a commitment to excellence.”
On the day of the ceremony, The Dominion Post published an article Victoria University honour for Taika Waititi:
He said that, although he felt touched by the acknowledgment, “I do feel a bit like I’m getting honoured for taking the most easy course available at university, so I [sort of] feel like I’m cheating a little bit”.
While the university provided a great creative education, Waititi also got a social education.
“I think … part of life skills is also socialising … I think many people make the mistake of not going out … you can spend a little bit too much time with your nose in your book or with your fingers on a keyboard, and you miss out.”
Waititi said one of the highlights of university was the great people he had met, with whom he had remained close friends, including “New Zealand’s foremost expert on Shakespeare”, David Lawrence, Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, and playwright Jo Randerson.
Victoria was a great place to attend, he said, though he had one suggestion: “If they moved it off the top of that hill, it would be great … and closer to the cafes on Cuba St.”
Nothing much to add, except for CONGRATULATIONS, MR. WAITITI!!!