Five Waikato alumni have been acknowledged for their achievements and community contributions in this year’s 2023 King’s Birthday Honours, among them, Former Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and All Blacks coach, Wayne Smith.
Dame Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit
Former Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, was named a Dame Grand Companion, one of the highest honours in the awards, in recognition of her services to the State. Dame Jacinda graduated with a Bachelor of Communication Studies in 2002, and was recognised for her contribution as a Member of Parliament and as Prime Minister, leading New Zealand’s response to many issues of national and international significance including the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attacks and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit
Former All Black and All Blacks coach, Wayne Smith CNZM, who received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University in 2019, was named a Knight Companion for services to rugby. Sir Wayne graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours in 1979, and was recognised for his role as Head Coach of the Black Ferns at the 2022 Rugby World Cup, and for his advocacy of women’s rugby.
Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit
Dr Will Edwards (Taranaki, Ngāruahine, Tāngahoe, Pakakohi, Ngāti Ruanui), graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1996 and was recognised for services to Māori heath, in particular as an advocate for positive ageing for older people and Māori, and as a Māori community leader for more than two decades.
Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit
Emeritus Professor Alison Cree graduated with a PhD in Biological Science in 1987 and was recognised for services to herpetology, particularly tuatara, and her work as a leading zoologist to enhance conservation outcomes for herpetofauna. She is based at the University of Otago.Queen’s Service MedalPat Wyatt graduated with a Bachelor of Teaching in 2002 and was recognised for her contribution to netball in her community of Rotorua for more than 50 years.
University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley said it is wonderful to see so many people who have a relationship with Waikato being recognised for the contributions they have made in their communities and society over many years.