Waikato Uni presents honorary doctorate in UK

8 April 2009
A long-time proponent of sustainability has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Waikato.

New Zealand-born woman Zena Daysh was presented with the honorary doctorate recently at a UK function attended by the university's Chancellor, Rt Hon Jim Bolger, and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Roy Crawford. An honorary doctorate is the most prestigious award the university bestows.

Prof Crawford says Waikato University has established itself as a university at the forefront of sustainability, and it is fitting that it acknowledges the hard work of Dr Daysh (now in her mid-90s) over many years. "She is the real story of sustainability."

Dr Daysh's commitment to sustainability was one of the main factors in the founding of the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council (CHEC) in 1969. It aimed to influence Commonwealth governments to create policies that would support sustainable communities and a sustainable world. Human ecology is the study of the relationship between groups of people and their environment.

Dr Daysh, whose father was the mayor of New Plymouth and whose grandfather was the mayor of Blenheim, was born in New Zealand in the early part of last century. She spent World War II in the UK before returning here to work in the Department of Labour and the Treasury where she helped formulate industrial relations legislation.

She now lives permanently in London but has travelled to nearly every Commonwealth country, attending and organising conferences and seminars, and spreading the concept of human ecology. Dr Daysh has won a string of awards and her influence is reflected in human ecology degree programmes now offered at several universities around the world and the CHEC initiatives that are operating in many countries in Asia and Africa.

Her honorary doctorate was presented at a function in London that was co-hosted by the University of Waikato and Kea UK, New Zealand's expat organisation.

Waikato University's Director of Development, Christine Brabender, says those gathered for the event were impressed with Dr Daysh's work, her spirit and her ongoing enthusiasm for sustainability.

"Waikato alumni, Kea UK members and supporters of Dr Daysh were awed by her lifetime commitment that continues even today to create a better world." Ms Brabender says. "They were also impressed with the university's work on sustainability issues such as our contracts to help free lakes from algal blooms, and the links our economists have with Stanford University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences on poverty mapping and environmental policy development. In all these ways, Waikato is trying to extend the work Dr Daysh began decades ago."

Honorary doctorate recipient Zena Daysh with Waikato University Chancellor Rt Hon Jim Bolger and Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford

HONOURED - Honorary doctorate recipient Zena Daysh with Waikato University Chancellor Rt Hon Jim Bolger, left, and Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford. Photo: Supplied.