The University of Waikato 50th Anniversary

Our People: Former staff

Our 50th anniversary is a time to reflect on the valuable contributions people have made to the University of Waikato. Here are the stories of four of those hardworking people that made contributions to the University of Waikato.

Jeremy Callaghan

Former Assistant Vice-Chancellor

Jeremy Callaghan gazes across the fields at the University of Waikato with a cricketer's eye. "I played a lot of cricket here," he says. "That tree used to be our changing room, we'd tie the dog up there. We had the old grass wicket back then, then we put in these artificial ones."

Jeremy has been back at the University of Waikato to hold a series of Professional Development workshops about the chairing of committees, with committee chairs and secretaries, to improve the participation and engagement of staff at meetings and committee effectiveness more broadly.

Along with leading several workshops, Jeremy has also recommended updates to codes of practice, reviewed rules of procedure, created induction material for the committee chairpersons, and recommended guidelines for running informal meetings that do not come under the more formal requirements of Council and its standing committees. Close to 100 University staff participated in the workshops and he is hoping they will lead to more effective functioning of University committees.

The material he produced during his time here will also be used for a new chapter for his book, The Excellent Secretary. It has also been something of a trip down memory lane, as he checks out the view of the Student Centre from the third floor of B Block. "All that wasn't there then, it was just the library." Jeremy was the University's Registrar in 1988 before serving as Assistant Vice-Chancellor from 1989-2002, when he left and headed to Ireland.

"It's all developed very nicely, it's fantastic to see how good the whole campus looks. It looks an absolute treat." Jeremy says it's hard to draw parallels between the University today and what it was a decade ago, but says it is highly regarded academically. "In those years the University had a very high reputation. In my view it really was cutting edge with things such as education for Māori, Management School was very much leading edge. We set up a School of Māori and Pacific Development, a Law School, the Academy. We had some brilliant people on staff."

He says the University of Waikato is highly regarded and still a hugely innovative place."It feels like I'm coming back to a well established university."


Norman Kingsbury

The University of Waikato's first Registrar

Norman Kingsbury was just 31 when Vice-Chancellor Don Llewellyn appointed him foundation registrar. Mr Kingsbury, a history scholar, had been assistant registrar at Victoria University and arrived at Waikato with a varied and strong background, having been involved in student politics, teaching, vocational guidance, and at one stage heading the secretariat of the International Student Conference based in The Netherlands.

Mr Kingsbury was innovative and forward thinking, encouraged student involvement in decision-making and he and Dr Llewellyn both had a focus on regional outreach, wanting the University to recognise its responsibilities to Māori and to widen access through Continuing Education.

Four years after his appointment, Mr Kingsbury was promoted to Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor, and he was often key to smoothing relations between different groups, keen to see matters went beyond talk and issues and operations were successfully concluded.

In 1974 he took study leave to investigate university extension activities at different institutions; he spent more than two years in Botswana as the foundation registrar of a new university there, and two years later completed his masters in education at the University of Exeter.

Norman Kingsbury retired from Waikato in 1988, took up consultancy in the sector and was appointed to several key government positions in the sector, including chair of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (TEAC) in 2000. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Waikato in 1990.


Theo Roy

University of Waikato's earliest professors

Theo Roy was one of the University of Waikato's earliest professors. He came to Waikato with a fascinating history. He was the son of a New Zealand-born missionary mother and his Indian father was an Oxford-educated professor of English.

Professor Roy had a privileged childhood in India – he didn't set foot inside a kitchen till he was 21 years old - and was fluent in six eastern languages including Urdu and Arabic. He was a decorated Ghurka officer with a distinguished career in the Burma campaign of the Second World War. He ended the war with the rank of captain, with shrapnel in his body, and was awarded the Nepal Star. Later, after serving on frontiers during the partition of India he was awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal (equivalent of the Military Cross).

Theo Roy lost three brothers in the war and when his father died, Theo came to New Zealand with his mother. He'd earned a masters degree at India's Lucknow University and lectured in Auckland before coming to Hamilton to work at Waikato. That was in 1961 when Waikato was still a branch of Auckland University.

At Waikato Professor Roy first lectured in history and was later appointed professor of politics. He wrote more than 120 papers on a wide range of subjects – from military strategy, to Asian politics, through to comparative religion. He had an extensive list of contacts from other universities particularly in the Asia Pacific region and this helped put Waikato on the international map and helped Waikato to attract overseas students.

His son Ian Roy says his father made friends across society, on campus, down at the Hamilton Club, the RSA and the Cossie Club, "which turned out to be quite useful because he wasn't much of a handyman".

Professor Roy would often host students in his home, and often take tutorials down at the pub, says Ian.

When he retired, Professor Roy was appointed Emeritus Professor and he continued to lecture part-time at the University. He also went on cruises and would be in demand as a lecturer, able to talk about the countries he and his fellow passengers were visiting.

Emeritus Professor Roy died in December 2013 and Ian says his father's war experience helped shape his values, which were different from a lot of New Zealanders. "He saw some pretty terrible things during his life time and observed people's responses. The crisis in Burma, the slaughter that surrounded the Partition of India, the nationalisation (or destruction) of property, it all underpinned his belief in the portability of education".

"Dad believed you could take away people's possessions but you couldn't take away their education".

"And he wasn't a wishy-washy lecturer," says Ian. "People seemed to get his concepts and the relevance of them. He was good at marrying the theory with practice of the world – he brought theory to life."


Ron Lycette

Grounds Supervisor 1965-1979

On Knighton Rd in Hamilton, just beside Gate 2 A of the University of Waikato, there's a tree. It's not a particularly special tree, the gingko. It's pretty big, maybe ten metres high, and looks to be in pretty good condition.

Ron Lycette kicks at the leaf litter around its base, scans the immediate area, finds nothing and shrugs. "There used to be big logs here. We put them over the top of the root system to help it stay upright," he says. "This is the first big tree we put in."

Ron knows more about the University grounds than most, having spent 14 years - from 1965 to 1979 - as the grounds supervisor after previously working at London's Kew Gardens.

Arriving at the still-new university came as something of a shock, he says. "When I came here in February, it was cold and wet and just bleak paddocks with a few rather ordinary buildings stuck on top. I thought, hell, what have I done to myself, this whole place was nothing. It was just a paddock, we had to drive the cattle out."

He says they started with an overall plan to impart education into the gardens they developed. "It's not just a garden, it's an educational facility so it has to do more than just look good." He aimed for a succession of plants in family relationships to illustrate botanical diversity.

"There is a reason for the order and a lot of hidden messages here. The main thing was to integrate the gardens into the campus and to make it unique, distinctive and Waikato and something people can be proud of. It should be something that gives everyone a feeling of some sort and it's turned out that way."

out that way." Wandering around the campus in late 2013, Ron is clearly happy with the way things have turned out. "I'm now seeing new trees I dreamt of as mature specimens, something that was a seed is now there in its prime. That's the joy of doing something like this. It's so green and lush. This place started as paddocks and I'm happy to say it's now a lovely place to be. I enjoy it."

This page has been reformatted for printing.