Bequest to go towards sustainability research

Sustainability research at the University of Waikato has been given a boost thanks to an incredible $500,000 bequest from the late Dr Zena Daysh.

Zena Daysh

Zena Daysh, an Honorary Doctor of the University of Waikato, had a lifelong commitment to sustainability.

Although New Zealand born, Zena lived in London for more than 50 years and saw herself as an evolutionist battling for change in people's attitudes. Her passionate advocacy of collaboration and integration between governments, universities and non-governmental agencies to improve the lives of the disadvantaged laid the groundwork for the establishment of the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council in 1969.

As well as a CNZM from New Zealand, she was awarded the inaugural New Zealand Inspired Lifetime Achievement Award and received a United Nations Habitat Scroll of Honour Award.

Dr Daysh travelled widely, attending and organising conferences and seminars, and spreading the concept of human ecology - the study of the relationship between groups of people and their environment. Her influence is today reflected in the number of human ecology degrees now offered at universities around the world and initiatives in place across Asia and Africa.

Her bequest to the University of Waikato will be used to fund Dr Zena Daysh Doctoral Fellowships in Sustainability, available to postgraduate students across a wide range of subject areas.

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford said the university is pleased to be able to offer a scholarship of this kind. "Sustainability is integral to our teaching and learning and Zena was a pioneer of sustainability.

"She promoted university programmes all over the world that motivated indivduals and groups to take a holistic and environmentally sustainable approach to development."

The bequest was acknowledged at a luncheon held late in 2011 and guests heard from University of Waikato alumna and former Hamilton mayor Margaret Evans and Daysh estate executor John Bonham of London.

Ms Evans said the contribution Zena Daysh has made to the world has been absolutely huge in the field of human ecology and her legacy will be remembered by many people.