The University of Waikato has honoured four alumni with Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2014. They are adventurer Jamie Fitzgerald, economist Dr Arthur Grimes, Pacific education advocate Le Mamea Taulapapa Sefulu Ioane and Waikato-Tainui CEO Parekawhia McLean.
Jamie Fitzgerald is familiar to many as co-host, alongside Kevin Biggar, of TVNZ series First Crossings. He graduated from the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Communication Studies in 2005, not long after he set a world record rowing across the Atlantic Ocean with Biggar in 2003. He and Biggar grabbed headlines again when they became the first New Zealanders to reach the South Pole unsupported on foot - a feat fewer than 50 people have achieved.
In 2009 he established The Big Walk campaign with the Foundation for Youth Development to walk Te Araroa, a 3000km trail stretching across the length of New Zealand with groups of young people, culminating in a meeting at Parliament to discuss ways to combat negative youth statistics.
Jamie focuses now on helping others demonstrate the principles of success and helping organisations create value through his management consultancy business Inspiring Performance, which helps individuals, groups and organisations strategise and achieve goals.
Dr Arthur Grimes
Dr Arthur Grimes is one of New Zealand’s best-known economists. He graduated from the University of Waikato in 1979 with a Bachelor of Social Sciences with First Class Honours, later attaining a Master of Science and a PhD from the London School of Economics.
He had a lengthy career at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, working his way up to Chief Economist where he played a major part in the revision of the Reserve Bank Act. He then became Chief Economist at the National Bank of New Zealand and later Chief Executive at Southpac.
Dr Grimes sidestepped into academia when he became director of the Institute of Policy Studies at Victoria University in 1998. He is currently Senior Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust, and adjunct professor at the University of Auckland, chair of the Hugo Strategy Panel and a member of the Financial Markets Authority Board.
Le Mamea Taulapapa Sefulu Ioane
Le Mamea is one of the University of Waikato’s first Pacific graduates. Before enrolling at the University of Waikato in 1971, Le Mamea taught biology and mathematics at Melville High School. He graduated from Waikato in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and later with a Master of Arts with First Class Honours in English Literature.
Le Mamea became the inaugural director of the Pacific Island Education Resource Centre in 1976, an organisation established to provide English language education, skill development and advice for recent migrants to New Zealand. He was also deputy chairman of the Council for Māori and Pacific Arts of the QEII Arts Council, chairman of the New Zealand Festival of South Pacific Arts and Culture and an Auckland City Councillor for three years.
His community contributions continued well after his return home to Samoa, where he is currently President of the Samoa RSA. In 2005, he publicly called for the Samoan government to reinstitute the commemoration of ANZAC Day in recognition of the Samoans who fought under the New Zealand flag in WWI. He received a Queen’s Service Order for Public Service in 1990.
Graduating from the University of Waikato in 1992 with a Bachelor and Masters of Social Sciences, Parekawhia McLean (Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto) is currently Chief Executive of Waikato-Tainui. She also holds an MA from the University of Wisconsin in Public Administration and Development Policy.
Ms McLean worked for a number of public agencies in Wellington, including the Ministry of Māori Development, Women’s Affairs, the Ministry for the Environment and the State Services Commission, Te Puni Kokiri and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. She was also a strategic advisor to Prime Ministers Jenny Shipley, Helen Clark, and current University of Waikato Chancellor Jim Bolger.
She is currently part of the group overseeing the development of a Waikato regional economic strategy, and has recently become a director of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipoumanu – the whānau ora commissioning entity for the South Island.
Distinguished Alumni Awards
The Distinguished Alumni Awards celebrate and honour Waikato alumni who have made outstanding contributions in their careers and communities, taking into account excellence in the professional, cultural, creative and voluntary sectors.
The 2014 winners join others over the years including New Zealand Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, Wales rugby coach Warren Gatland, former Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung and Google engineer Dr Craig Nevill-Manning.