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Honours Award Winners

2021 Recipients

2020 Recipients

2019 Recipients

2018 Recipients

2017 Recipients

2016 Recipients


2015 Recipients

2014 Recipients


Noel Brown - Honorary Fellow
Noel Brown has a long history of leadership in design. As design director he was part of the team that took Formway to international success and since 2000 has been instrumental in DNA’s emerging leadership of customer experience design in New Zealand. Noel has been a member of the industry stakeholder group for UCOL’s Fine Furniture Design and Making programme for many years, regarded as a key advisor to the programme. Noel was also a very willing and prolific contributor to the Prospective initiative to shape the future of arts and design programmes at UCOL. Noel also has a 35 year interest and involvement in things Māori and experience as an educator. Noel continues to make an exceptional contribution to the Fine Furniture Design and Making programme.

James Watts - Honorary Associate
James Watts is the founder and Managing Director of Palmerston North-based Internet Service Provider Inspire Net, responsible for bringing high-speed internet to the region. Inspire Net started in a garage as a part-time hobby and has since grown to 30 staff servicing over 20,000 customers. Last year, James was on the judging panel of the Bio Commerce Centres Innovate competition, and James himself represents innovation in our region. James understands how connecting people can change their lives, and is passionate about ensuring that everyone has an affordable option to be online and participate in the global community.

Trissel Mayor - Honorary Associate
Trissel Mayor is the Director of Palmerston North’s social service provider Youth One Stop Shop (YOSS), which serves the needs of young people and their whanau/families. She has also been involved with the Youth Alcohol and Drug Working Group for the MidCentral DHB region, NZ Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development (NZAAHD), Ara Taiohi and the Palmerston North Mayor’s Youth Taskforce. Trissel is also currently a Youth Specialist Social Worker on the Youth Alcohol and Drug Working Group for the MidCentral DHB region. In the past Trissel has published a book on supervision for Youth Workers, spoken publicly on matters concerning reducing youth offending, advocating preventative and early intervention initiatives. She has also actively supported the UCOL Nursing degree programme.

Mavis Mullins - Honorary Associate
Mavis Mullins is a very successful businesswoman from within the UCOL region, with a wealth of governance experience. Mavis holds a number of agricultural directorships responsible for farming activities within the UCOL region, and has contributed greatly to the development of Maori business and agri-business. She is currently Chair of Poutama Trust, Atihau Whanganui Inc., Aohanga Inc and Hautaki Ltd and Director of Paewai Mullins Shearing Ltd. In 2005 Mavis became the first woman to manage a New Zealand shearing and wool handling team, competing in the World Championships in Australia and bringing back two titles. In 2008 she was made President of the Golden Shears Society where, apart from helping the society towards its 50th anniversary she was also instrumental in helping stage the 2012 World Shearing Championships in Masterton. Mavis holds an MBA has also won a raft of special awards, and exemplifies success in business and positive community contribution.

Special Award - Lands Trust Masterton (John Bunny, Chair)
Lands Trust Masterton is a unique establishment in New Zealand, representing community ownership of a significant proportion of the land and buildings in the town. It operates in the interests of the people of Masterton with income generated through property rentals reinvested in Trust assets or distributed as contributions to local initiatives. Education is the primary focus, and many community and cultural groups also receive support through annual cash grants and contributions. The Trust has directly supported UCOL Wairarapa for decades as part of its wider support for education in the region, regardless of often difficult economic conditions. Grants have helped allow a diverse range of tertiary education opportunities to continue to be offered in Wairarapa. The Trust’s annual tertiary scholarships for UCOL Wairarapa students have contributed to strong enrolments and many student successes.


2013 Recipients


Jean McCombie - Honorary Associate
Jean McCombie has made a long and valued contribution to education. As Chief Executive of the former Wairarapa Community Polytechnic, Jean worked closely with UCOL before its incorporation with the polytechnic in 2001. She was a leader in the Community Action Programme team that initiated the provision of tertiary education in the Wairarapa. This led to the opening of the Wairarapa Community Polytechnic in 1989, built on what is now the UCOL Campus. Jean is passionate about education at all levels. Earlier in her career she was a secondary school language teacher at Makoura College and was also heavily involved in setting up the Makoura Community Crèche. She was also part of the team that planned and set up the Ko Te Aroha early childhood and education centre in Masterton, with the philosophy that parents learn alongside their children. As Chair of Wairarapa REAP (Rural Education Activities Programme) Jean continues an association with UCOL.

Denise L'Estrange-Corbet - Honorary Fellow
Denise L'Estrange-Corbet is well known as the co-founder of fashion brand WORLD. Denise has spoken with celebrated UK-based journalist John Pilger at the Peace Awards and sat on Prime Minister Helen Clark's Business Forum in 2000. She was on the board of the Government’s Small Business Advisory Group and is a board member of Heart of the City. Denise was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2002 for her contribution to the New Zealand Fashion Industry. She is an international Gold Elite speaker with Celebrity Speakers and a published author. She lectures and writes on fashion and business extensively, and judges fashion and design events around the country. Denise is also an Ambassador for Diabetes New Zealand, and works extensively with the Mental Health Foundation and the IHC on awareness and fundraising. Denise made a significant and important contribution to UCOL’s Prospective initiative, raising the profile of the Bachelor of Fashion programme during the project.

Sir Pat Higgins - Honorary Fellow
Sir Pat Higgins was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011 for services to philanthropy and the community and was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame in the following year. Sir Pat heads the Higgins Group, founded by his Irish father in 1951 of which he is chairman and co-owner. The Palmerston North based company is one of the leading roading construction and civil contracting specialists in the country. Sir Pat has a strong philanthropic presence in the Manawatu region and beyond. He has contributed considerable time and funds to the motorsport industry and was integral in the construction, management and governance of Manfeild Park. Sir Pat was made a Member d’Honneur of New Zealand Motorsport for his contribution to circuit safety. The Higgins Group is also a major sponsor of the Manawatu Rugby Academy and the Manawatu Turbos rugby team, as well as other sports in the Manawatu.

Mike Webber - Honorary Fellow
Mike Webber is a retired optometrist who has made a significant contribution to the health of the citizens of Whanganui and South Taranaki through his optometry practices as well as by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide medical equipment for the Whanganui Hospital. He has also worked tirelessly to improve the lives of people in many areas of the Pacific, Asia and Africa. Mike was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2007 for services to optometry and the community. For 15 years until 2012 Mike was Chairman of the Eyecare and Medical Trust. He is a Trustee of Rose Charities New Zealand which is part of the worldwide organisation Rose Charities International which supports the Rose Eye Centre in Cambodia. In 2009 he was named Rose Charities International Person of the Year. Mike’s many contributions include voluntary visits to provide eye care in the Cook Islands starting in 1969. In recognition of his long service to the Cook Islands he was made an Honorary Resident by the Government last year.

Tina Sims - Institutional Medal
Tina Sims was Principal of Awatapu College in Palmerston North for 10 years. Tina has since taken up a role with the Ministry of Education as its chief adviser for the Youth Guarantee programme. Before becoming Principal at Awatapu, Tina was the Deputy Principal at Palmerston North Girls' High School. After Tina took up the post at Awatapu College, the school remodelled its technology block and established its own Trades Academy. Under her leadership, Awatapu College was one of the first schools to recognise the value to its students of the new trades’ academies and to take up the opportunity to participate. Tina has had a dedicated career in education, and in her new role will continue to be a valuable influence in the future opportunities for our youth.


2012 Recipients


Al Brown - Honorary Associate
Masterton born Al Brown is an award-winning chef, television presenter, writer, fisherman and restaurateur. He opened Logan Brown Restaurant in Wellington with business partner Steve Logan in 1996. Al has been a culinary ambassador for New Zealand Trade & Enterprise since 2003. He has continued to maintain a strong connection with his home region. He supported UCOL Wairarapa to attract students to revive the Professional Cookery programmes; and presented a day of public cooking demonstrations on the Campus as part of the promotion of the School of Cookery. Al also participated in events for Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand Institute in which UCOL is a partner with Le Cordon Bleu. Al has significantly contributed to New Zealand’s profile internationally and is a great ambassador for this country and for this region. 

Fran Dibble and Paul Dibble - Honorary Fellows
Paul Dibble is an artist of national and international standing. He has lived and worked in Palmerston North since 1977, first as a lecturer in painting and sculpture at the College of Education and since the 1990s as a full-time sculptor working from a foundry at his home in the inner city. In 2004 Paul was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit and he received an honorary Doctorate from Massey University in 2007. Fran Dibble is an artist and respected art reviewer. She is well known in the Manawatu for her regular reviews and columns on art published in the Manawatu Standard. Fran is also Paul Dibble’s partner, workmate and champion. She is the author of Paul Dibble - a book, published in 2002, that covers three decades of Paul’s work. Together they have made an enormous contribution to the heart and soul of our community.

Jule Einhorn - Institutional Medal

Jule was Project Director for UCOL, responsible for the complete transformation of UCOL’s Whanganui Campus. The aim was to rationalise seven different sites into one central campus, located on an entire city block in the historic centre of the city. This required excellent professional knowledge and skills, and ability as a diplomat and negotiator, dealing with government officials, lawyers, architects, builders, movers, local iwi and UCOL staff. Her work included negotiating a Licence to Occupy the Old Main Campus with the Tupoho Whanau Trust, creating the Tupoho Community Complex. This agreement gave local iwi immediate access to an educational community asset, rather than waiting for resolution through Treaty Settlement. Her achievements advanced the development of regional educational provision, as well as local iwi interests.

Bob Francis - Honorary Fellow

Bob has a longstanding interest and involvement with tertiary education in the Wairarapa. He was involved in the inception of Wairarapa Community Polytechnic in 1989 and since then has continued to support the provision of tertiary education in the region. When the Wairarapa Community Polytechnic could not continue to maintain viable delivery autonomously, Bob was an advocate for merging with UCOL to ensure the region continued to have access to tertiary education. He was appointed to the UCOL Council in 2000 and contributed to UCOL’s governance until 2008. Bob was Mayor of Masterton from 1986-2007. He is Chair of the Wairarapa DHB and Pukaha Mt Bruce and continues to advocate for the region and its needs. He has also continued to support and promote UCOL Wairarapa, acting as an advocate wherever he can.

2011 Recipients


Mary Freeman - Institutional Medal
Mary Freeman of the Wairarapa Addiction Services in Masterton has been involved in UCOL’s Advisory Committee for the Bachelor of Nursing since the programme began in the Wairarapa. Mary has contributed greatly to the provision of clinical places for UCOL students. She has worked as a preceptor for students while also encouraging her staff to take on this role. Mary is greatly involved in the Wairarapa community providing support to families and individuals to help them deal with addiction issues. She is involved with, and gives presentations to, multidisciplinary groups in the community on current issues. Mary is living a life of service and commitment that benefits many people and many parts of New Zealand society.

John Maihi - Honorary Fellow
John has contributed hugely to UCOL over the years. He served as a Ministerial appointment on UCOL’s Council from 2002 until 2010 and he has been the Kaumatua for UCOL’s Whanganui campus for many years. John is also actively involved in the operations of UCOL, contributing his wisdom and knowledge as Kaumatua, providing advice and guidance to the Campus Principal and staff. His advice and guidance across a range of issues was vital as UCOL designed, built and began teaching at our new Whanganui campus. Over the years, John has rightly been recognised for his service to the wider community, and has contributed across a range of iwi roles also. John is a man of vision, a leader dedicated to the welfare of all the communities to which he belongs. He is a man of humility, passion and commitment - he tangata ngakau nui - one who has a big heart.

Malcolm Pettman - Honorary Fellow
Malcolm Pettman retired from the position of Chief Executive of Tui Milk Products Ltd in 1991 but his life before and since then has been committed to community, education and service. Malcolm has served on the UCOL Council since 1997, ensuring the institution operated in a financially responsible manner that ensured the efficient use of resources to maintain long term viability. Malcolm’s professional education was as a Chartered Accountant but his working life was linked to many aspects of management in the Dairy Industry. Malcolm has held numerous directorships over the years and was also the Chief Executive of the Tararua District Council during 1995/96. Malcolm offered his services on a voluntary and ongoing basis. He has also been involved with Rotary for most of his adult life and has been a Freemason since 1956.