Three University of Waikato alumni and a former staff member have been recognised for their achievements in the 2024 New Year Honours List.
Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit
Rt Hon Trevor Mallard was named a Knight Companion for services as a Member of Parliament and as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Sir Trevor was first elected to Parliament as the Member for Hamilton West in 1984. He was appointed to Cabinet in 1999 and held many ministerial portfolios throughout his 35-year career before retiring from politics in 2022. Sir Trevor graduated from the University of Waikato with a Certificate in Continuing Education in 1985.
Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit
Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson (Ngāti Maniapoto,Ngā Puhi, Ngāi Tahu), who received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University in 2020, was recognised for services to governance and Māori. With over 27 years' experience in governance, Ms Simpson has dedicated her career to projects improving outcomes for Māori, iwi development and integrating Māori practice into business. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1987, Ms Simpson has been a catalyst for positive changes in roles focused on the environment, sustainability and climate change.
Queen’s Service Medal
Karen Ngatai graduated with a Graduate Diploma in Tourism Management in 2006 and was recognised for services to the community. Ms Ngatai has been an elected representative on the Ruapehu District Council for 18 years, including five years as Deputy Mayor.
New Zealand Antarctic Medal
Dr Megan Balks, a former staff member and alumna of the University, was recognised for her services to Antarctic soil science. With a career that began in 1990, Dr Balks is now one of New Zealand’s leading soil scientists, contributing significantly to Antarctic soil research. Dr Balks was a Lecturer in Earth Science in the School of Science from 1988 to 2018, and completed her PhD in Earth Science during this time, graduating in 1995. She supported 10 graduate students in Antarctic soil research along with over 40 others on New Zealand-related projects.