Honorary Doctorates 2011

An Honorary Doctorate is the most prestigious award that the University of Waikato can bestow. For their significant contribution to the University, the Waikato region and the wider New Zealand community, the University is pleased to award the following worthy recipients:

Lynda and Jools Topp (The Topp Twins)

Conferred 20 October 2011



The Topp TwinsNew Zealand’s famous and favourite comedy pair, Jools and Lynda Topp, have entertained audiences for more than 30 years.  The comedians, singers, feminists and social activists were raised on a farm near Huntly, and started their career as buskers in downtown Auckland before undertaking numerous New Zealand and overseas tours, cutting at least eight records and making more than a dozen television shows and a movie.

The Topp Twins were high-profile opponents of the 1981 Springbok rugby tour, strong proponents of homosexual law reform, and vocal campaigners for Māori land rights and Nuclear-Free New Zealand.

Their movie, Untouchable Girls, was released in 2009 and immediately broke records for best opening day and weekend in New Zealand’s movie history. The documentary charts the twins’ life stories and highlights major social and political movements during the last three decades. It also tracks Jools’ diagnosis, treatment and recovery from breast cancer.

Cathy Dewes

Conferred 06 September 2011



Cathy DewesCathy Dewes (Te Arawa and Ngāti Porou) is a life-long champion Māori rights and teaching. She earned a degree in Māori from Victoria University and while at university joined peers to form the Te Reo Māori Society, supported the Māori Language Petition and lobbied for Māori news on radio and television. She was one of the original battlers for Māori Language week which is now in its 37th year.

In 1985, she opened one of the first Māori language schools in New Zealand, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ruamata in Rotorua and worked unpaid for almost a decade until government funding was secured and she is still the school’s principal. She considers the development and implementation of the Aho Matua approach to learning and teaching in Kura Kaupapa Māori her major achievement.

She was the first woman to stand for the Te Arawa Trust Board and is a current member of Te Rūnanganui o Te Arawa, the iwi authority representing the majority of hapu of the confederation of Te Arawa, and through these affiliations has developed a teacher education programme in association with the universities of Waikato and Auckland. Cathy maintains her life-long interest in Māori radio and continues to serve as a trustee with Te Reo Irirangi o Te Arawa. She is a director of Māori television and is a Trustee of Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi.

James Judd

Conferred 16 March 2011



james judd

James Judd, British-born maestro, worked tirelessly to promote New Zealand classical musicians and New Zealand music through performance and recording during nearly a decade as music director with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and his links with this country remain.

He came to New Zealand in 1999 to take up his position as Music Director of the NZSO – the first person to hold that title in the orchestra’s then 50-year history. He championed New Zealand composers and new commissions, and a year into his tenure the NZSO enjoyed a new level of visibility and international renown through appearances at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the specially televised millennium concert with Kiri Te Kanawa as soloist.  

Mr Judd’s advocacy of New Zealand music and musicians did not stop when his tenure ended. In 2007, as he prepared to leave New Zealand to take up new challenges, he was given the honorary position of Music Director Emeritus, signalling an ongoing relationship with the NZSO. Currently, his work keeps him travelling the world conducting orchestras and operas, but he has been granted permanent residence in New Zealand which signals that he will continue to enrich New Zealand’s cultural scene.

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