Home > Inside NorthTec > Council Honours Awards

Council Honours Awards 
Print Page Email a friend

Since 2007, the NorthTec Council has given awards to individuals that have made major contributions to the community. Past recipients are:


2011 Recipients

View photos from awards ceremony on Flickr

Chris Booth- Honorary Fellow
Born in Kerikeri in 1948, Chris has pursued a career in sculpture, much of it associated with the land, earth forms, and indigenous peoples of the regions he has worked in.

Following his tertiary education at the University of Canterbury, Chris branched out to study with various sculptors in England and in Europe the likes of which included John Milne, Dame Barbara Hepworth, Denis Mitchell, and Quinto Ghermandi of Italy. While his sculpture sometimes draws on indigenous Mäori and Aborigine characteristics, his works remain individual, and capture aspects of topography, natural history, and landscape forms where he constructs them. Major commissions have been at the Hamilton Gardens, done in collaboration with Diggeress te Kanawa (2004-2005); Whangarei Millennium Sculpture, in collaboration
with Te Warihi Hetaraka (2003-2006); Lincoln University (1997); Matauri Bay Rainbow Warrior Memorial (1990) and the renowned Auckland ‘Gateway’ in Albert Park in the same year. For 40 years now, Chris has been involved with land art projects in New Zealand and all over the world.

He has given illustrated lectures and assisted with tutoring and workshops at NorthTec in the 1990s and recalls several projects he was rather fond of, including Gateway to the Sea. This sculpture, created with the assistance of two NorthTec students, was constructed using 4 tonne of Paradise Stone for the inaugural show of the Art Gallery
later named after his close friend Geoff Wilson, who was tragically killed.

In spite of the huge success he has enjoyed, Chris remains humble about the recognition he is receiving from peers remembering the advice he once received from one of Britain’s great sculptors, Dame Babara Hepworth. She taught him that professionalism was just as important to international success as talent was, and that to be a successful sculptor
one needed to be prepared to take financial risks to attain the tools to realize a vision.


Dave Culham - Honorary Fellow
Like numerous boys from his era, David left school at age 15 and concedes he spent time “lounging around” on his parent’s farm near Paparoa for a few months. That was until he got a break on his 16th birthday when he landed his first job as an apprentice blacksmith welder at Tappers in Whangarei. David served a five year apprenticeship there, before going on to complete his Compulsory Military Training at Ardmore near Papakura aged 21.

He went on to start his own engineering company. David said at the time he was the only qualified pressure welder in Northland with his company, Culham Engineering, being boosted by pressure welding projects at the Moerewa Freezing Works.

In 1960, David’s company became involved in the oil refinery construction at Marsden Point. Operating for nearly 53 years now, David said Culham Engineering is recognised as one of the major engineering companies in New Zealand. The operation of the company was taken over by David’s son, Shane, a few years back. It currently employs 150 staff, and since being established, has trained around 500 apprentices with many coming from NorthTec, David said. “It’s a major fact in the
engineering world that there are insufficient tradespeople, but we have done more than our bit.”

Added to David’s achievements, he joined the Whangarei District Aero Club in 1969, and two years later bought his own Cherokee 6 seven-seater aeroplane. He served as Vice President of the club for 17 years.
Mr Culham was also elected onto the Whangarei District Council in 1989, and the North Power Trust in 1992. He served for three terms with the District Council before deciding to step down and resigned as a trustee from North Power last year.

What he wants graduates and students of NorthTec to know was what his mother told him many years ago, and that is, if you take the letter T off the word can’t, you are left with can!


Robert Edward Lescher- Institutional Medal
Former Councillor, Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the NorthTec Council.

British born, Robert had started his career with The Treasury in Wellington in 1961, while studying at Victoria University where he earned a government scholarship to complete his economics degrees with Honours. Once his studies had been completed, he remained with The Treasury for 27 years, apart from two short secondments.

Robert’s widow Marilyn, said he had commented that one of the great aspects about working at The Treasury was being surrounded by people with exceptional minds and talents. “One often got involved in masterminding jobs from conception, through Cabinet committees, and various government agencies into legislation.” Working for people like Sir
Robert Muldoon and Sir Roger Douglas, Robert was living and breathing in “extraordinary economic times.”

Newly married and in search of a different lifestyle, meant that Robert and Marilyn left Wellington in 1989, when he became a Northlander. It was not long before Robert involved himself in local body issues and politics being elected as a councillor on the Far North District Council on which he served two terms.

As the FNDC representative on the council of what was then Northland Polytechnic, his financial expertise and knowledge of how government operated was to stand him in good stead.

Robert really enjoyed this most satisfying work serving for well over 12 years becoming Deputy Chair and later Chairman of the NorthTec Council. He had also been elected onto the Board of the national organisation representing all New Zealand Polytechnics. She said Robert was a great believer in education for everybody, and that he was
immensely proud of the work NorthTec had done in Northland.


Robert Webb - Honorary Associate
A back injury sustained at work in 1991, not only saw Robert change jobs, but saw he and his wife Robyn, take the protection and advocacy of the region’s birds under their own wings.

Following the injury, Robert was unable to return to heavy transport driving which persuaded he and Robyn to start up the Native Bird Recovery Centre at Maunu that has become their life’s devotion. While founding the Bird Recovery Centre allowed Robert to stay active after his injury, it also fulfilled their desire to “give something back to the community by helping the many protected endemic, native, and wild birds.”

The Bird Recovery Centre has become synonymous with Whangarei, not only for nursing sick and vulnerable birds back to good health, but disseminating important publicity about protecting the birds, ensuring those important messages are heard and understood. These vital messages have been taken out to schools in the North Island which has
resulted in a number of educational programmes being set up. “I now visit many schools in the North Island taking Sparky, our live Kiwi, to most. Touching a live Kiwi is a first for most, and something they (the children) never forget,” Robert said.

His work with the Centre and schools saw him receive a rare  Conservation Award in 1993. Six years later, he was awarded a Queens Service Medal for Public Service, that he says showed him what he and Robyn were trying to achieve at the centre was well worth their effort.

Robert says when starting the Bird Recovery Centre 21 years ago, it was a steep learning curve with no training programmes available to know how to run the service - just his own methods he had devised from watching, listening and learning from the bird’s behaviour and mannerisms.


2010 Recipients

Allen Wihongi - Institutional Medal
Allen WihongiAllen Wihongi is an artist, educator and passionate advocate for the development of Ngāpuhi. He was born in Kawakawa and educated in Kaikohe before leaving to train at Elam School of Fine Arts. He then embarked on a 28-year career as a teacher. He was senior lecturer in the School of Design at Wellington Polytechnic and Head of School and Manager of the School of Applied Arts at Northland Polytechnic. He then worked for the Ministry of Fisheries assisting iwi and hapū with their customary rights gained under the Fisheries Settlement Act.
For the last seven years he has been working on behalf of Ngāpuhi as Manager of Hapū Development and Projects, Relations Manager and Iwi Development Leader for Te Rūnanga a-iwi-o-Ngāpuhi. He occupies a senior leadership position within Te Rūnanga a-iwi-o-Ngāpuhi and advocates for Ngāpuhi in national forums.
His artwork has achieved national and international recognition. He is known as a fine artist and as a creator of mixed media works and has acted as a Maori design consultant on a number of significant projects. He was a member of the design team for the “Tomb of the Unknown Warrior” at the National Memorial in Wellington and the design team of the New Zealand Memorial ANZAC Parade in Canberra. Allen is also known for his design work and carving. He has worked on the design and decoration of various marae wharenui. His latest work was the design and decoration of the Kohewhata Marae complex in Kaikohe.
Allen has been a member of numerous organisations and advisory groups over many years, at national, regional and local levels. He was national president of Aotearoa NZ Association of Art Education and director of the group's national conference. He was a member of the Maori Art Education Advisory Group and the Australasian Institute of Art Educators.
Allen's dedication to whānau, hapū and iwi is matched by his generosity of spirit towards all those who are looking to develop themselves in the service of others. His belief in the right of the individual to think independently and enjoy freedom in their creative expression has informed his work as an artist, educator and advocate for Ngāpuhi.


Douglas Chowns - Institutional Medal

Douglas ChownsDouglas Chowns was born into the village of the English Art movement epitomised by the Dr Munro Circle and Social Realist Slade Professor Hubert Von Herkomer. His visits to the studio of equestrian painter Lucy Kemp Welch during WW2 at an early age were the catalyst for his enduring love of the smell of turpentine and oil. 

Douglas has pushed his professional creative boundaries since attending art school in 1953 with his day-to-day work encompassing the diverse fields of drawing, painting, design, typography, photography, film, television and printing processes. 


His advertising campaigns in the late fifties and sixties are still remembered around the world and provided him with the financial base to enable him to live and paint full-time in New Zealand after years of trouble-shooting and international travel.  


Influences on his work are wide-ranging and include the formative experiences of wartime England, and the hugely influential 1951 Festival of Britain. His social realist artistic style is informed by the powerful experience of having lived amongst people who were struggling to cope under oppressive political regimes in Europe and the Caribbean.


His powerful figurative statements in oil painted on large canvasses hang in the presidential suite in Timor Este and in the Gaelic University, Sabhal Mor Ostaig, on the Isle of Skye. 


His 2009 retrospective exhibition “66 years of creativity” showcased examples of life drawings, watercolours, illustrations, paintings and ground-breaking video techniques for their day, as well as high fashion garments,  fashion photography, serigraphy, hand-printed fabrics, murals and unique interior panels.


Douglas was a Department of Education T3 Senior Tutor and initiated the fulltime tertiary-level study of crafts and arts at what is now known as NorthTec. “My burning desire was to establish an Art School in Northland as a payback for my own good fortune.”


He tutored many of Northland’s most successful practicing artists and craftspeople from the 1980s. Douglas organised study tours of France and Spain, ran weekend workshops and courses throughout Northland and initiated the first full-time Diploma in Craft Design.  He describes himself as the longest practicing fine artist in Northland having survived thirty-seven years living entirely on the proceeds of assignments, sales of his art and creativity without any other income or assistance. 


Douglas has been a member of the Northland Society of Arts for 33 years and has exhibited in New Zealand and internationally since 1975. He has fulfilled civic and corporate commissions and his works can be found in public and private collections around the world.  Despite spending half of his life in New Zealand he remains proud to continue to be numbered amongst the school of “Bushey Artists”.  


Mike Sanderson - Honorary Fellow

Mike SandersonWhangarei-born Mike Sanderson is one of the world’s leading sailors and professional sportsmen.

He is Team Director for TEAMORIGIN™ the British America’s Cup Team and was awarded the prestigious accolade of ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year for 2006 by the International Sailing Federation.

Mike has performed at the highest level in almost all forms of sailing. He has been involved in three America’s Cup campaigns. Most recently he was mainsheet trimmer with Oracle BMW during the 2003 America’s Cup campaign, where his team reached the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals.

Mike has won the Volvo Ocean Race on two occasions, but achieved his highest goal to date by leading TEAM ABN AMRO to one of the most emphatic victories in the history of the race, winning six out of the nine offshore legs and five of seven in-port races. He has broken a number of world records, including the 24-hour speed record as skipper of ABN
AMRO ONE. He was also skipper of Mari Cha IV, which captured the historic transatlantic monohull world speed record in October 2003.

Mike was also an integral member of the design and build teams that worked on the development of Mari Cha IV, both ABN AMRO boats, Open 60s, and Oracle BMW.

Mike is married to the British yachtswoman Emma Sanderson MBE, (née Richards) and they have two young children, Amelia and Merrick.


2009 Recipients

Gloria Herbert - Honorary Associate

Te Rarawa and Te Aupouri

Gloria HerbertTe Kororia Areruia Rollo (Gloria Herbert) was born at Pukeahuahu, Pawarenga in 1936 just across the river from where she now lives. Gloria grew up and was educated in Auckland after the family moved to the city just before the Second World War. In 1953 they returned
to Pawarenga, and Gloria met Jim Herbert. She and Jim married in Auckland in 1955 and returned to Pawarenga in 1956 where they bought a small dairy farm, developed the land, and raised a family of three sons and four daughters.

Although Gloria has never held any degrees she was always a skilled communicator, and that helped her to teach her children in their early years of comparative isolation. Once they had grown she continued to use her skills, firstly with local community development in Pawarenga and Hokianga, then regionally in Tai Tokerau. In the late 1980’s she moved into the national arena and, finally, into the international milieu in the 1990s.

Through the years Gloria’s main focus has been on environmental law reform, consultation with indigenous peoples and local community development. Gloria has extensive experience working for and alongside iwi, Maori and community organisations.

She provided Maori Liaison Services for Far North District Council for several years, and has held numerous board appointments in the private and voluntary sector. Gloria has been involved in a wide range of activities focusing on both Maori and community development in Hokianga and Tai Tokerau, including as the Te Rarawa representative on
the Tai Tokerau MaÅNori Trust Board and as a member of the Waitangi Tribunal.

Until ill health struck in 2006 and again in 2008, she worked in a wide range of organisations, particularly for the benefit of her whanau, hapu and iwi of Te Rarawa and Te Aupouri.

Sid Going - Honorary Associate

Patuharakeke -Takahiwai, Ngati Hine and Ngapuhi

Sid GoingDubbed Super Sid by his fans, Northland’s and perhaps New Zealand’s most loved rugby man, Sid Going, played 86 matches for the All Blacks between 1967 and 1977. Sid was also a MaÅNori All Black from 1965 to 1977.

Many fans rate him as New Zealand’s greatest running halfback, because of his flair and unpredictability that enabled him to bag 10 tries in test matches, and a total of 23 in All Black games. He delighted North Auckland fans during his long tenure as halfback, often serving alongside his brothers Ken and Brian in that side, and as a New Zealand Maori.

Super Sid was honoured with an MBE in 1978 for his contributions to Rugby, and continued to be involved with the game after retiring. He coached Northland secondary school teams from 1988 to 1992, and was selector-coach of the provincial side from 1993 to 1996. He played and captained the North Auckland side in the sixties through to the late seventies and was made a life member of the side whilst still playing. Sid was also selected in a World Rugby Fifteen to play against England in their centenary year in 1971.

Sid was educated at Maromaku Primary School, Northland College and Church College. He has been a farmer for all of his life with church, family, community and sport playing very important parts of his life. Although he has travelled to many parts of the world
playing rugby, Sid says, Northland will always be where his heart is.
Sid has served his community well with many years on school boards of trustees, the Maromaku Domain Board, the Northland Rugby Union Board and the Mid-Northern Rugby Club Committee. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints in Canada, served as Bishop and is currently in the Stake Presidency. Sid is happily married
to Colleen, with six beautiful grandchildren and five children (one now deceased).

Jules Flight - Institutional Medal

Jules FlightJules Flight holds a MA(Hons) from Canterbury University and a Dip Tchg from Christchurch Teachers College and has been immersed in education for 40 years. He began his teaching career at Rodney College where he became Head of Social Studies. During the “Energy Crisis” he was econded to Wellington to lead a nationwide Energy Education
Programme involving the development of multi-disciplinary teaching resources and the rofessional development of teachers. This was followed by a period as Deputy Principal at Thames High School and then an appointment as Principal at Bream Bay College.

After nearly seven years at Bream Bay College, Jules took on the dual role in Northland as advisor to Secondary Principals and advisor on the implementation of NZQA. Next he held the position of Director of Enterprise Development at Auckland College of Education.

Jules was on the Polytechnic Council for over twelve years, six of these as Chair. He was a ministerial appointment, and was unique under the previous government in that he was the only Chair re-appointed for a full third term.

Sport has been a central interest for Jules and he was involved in competitive squash, indoor basketball, cricket and rugby. He also achieved provincial honours as rugby referee for both Thames Valley and Northland. He was a founding Director of On the Ball Promotions, with the main character ‘Jeff the Ref’ appearing in national media to promote the laws of rugby.

Jules has a depth of involvement in community organizations including Lions and more recently the Maungawhau Advisory Group to Auckland City Council. He has been the Chair of the Thames Valley- Coromandel Substance Abuse Centre; Rodney, Thames Valley and Whangarei Referees Associations; Tai Tokerau Link Advisory Committee; Northland Secondary Schools Rugby Union; and Northland Secondary Schools Principals Association. He was also an advisory trustee to Multi-Serve Educational Trust.

Jules lives with his wife at One Tree Point and commutes weekly to Auckland where he is a Returning Officer for the Mt Albert Electorate and Chair of a body corporate.


2008 Recipient

Rhondda Rutherford-Dunn - Honorary Associate

Paper Mill founder Rhondda Rutherford-Dunn is this year’s recipient of the NorthTec Council special award of Honorary Associate of NorthTec.

When the former choreographer moved from Auckland to Whangarei with husband John she realised a livelihood from choreography was unlikely.  She changed her direction, initially teaching wheelchair aerobics at Tikipunga High School.  She then joined CCS to support the recreation officer and became fundraiser and PR person.  Rhondda also worked through Women’s Refuge with children who were “damaged”, and helped men in the community with long-term mental health problems through her role as activities organiser.

Fourteen years ago determined to give people with a challenge or disability a creative outlet and lift their self esteem Rhondda came up with the idea of making paper out of recyclable materials.  She set about sourcing funding and support for her initiative, “The Paper Mill”, which is now based at the Blue Goose site on SH1.

“If I could do it burned out as I was then I just knew the person with a disability could get as much pleasure out of making paper …. it’s a very delightful, simplistic craft and something they could achieve without stress,” she says.

Rhondda believes the “open door” policy of inviting the community, businesses and politicians in to have a look around and meet the people involved have played a part in the tremendous support of The Paper Mill over the years.

And of the special people who work there, Rhondda says: “One of the biggest rewards has been to see their courage.  You have to teach with a lot of love and a lot of softness and a lot of patience – they are so receptive.  They are so proud of what they do and so proud of their city.  It doesn’t matter what their disability, if they are intellectually stimulated then they think they can do anything.  Here they are part of the community.”


2007 Recipients

 Michael Hill - Honorary Fellow

  • Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit – CNZM [2001]
  • Laureate, New Zealand Business Hall of Fame 2006
  • International Businessman and Entrepreneur
  • Creator of the annual Michael Hill World Violin Competition for emerging violinists from around the world.

Michael HillFollowing the loss of his family home in 1979 in Whangarei, Michael opened his first Michael Hill Jewellery Story.  His revolutionary selling techniques, which included dramatically different store designs, a product range devoted exclusively to jewellery and high impact advertising, led to Stock Exchange listing in 1987 and by 2006 150 stores in New Zealand, Australia and Canada with more than 1656 employees.


Michael Hill has made an outstanding and distinguished contribution to New Zealand society.  His achievements are inspirational for all Northlanders who aspire to business practice and business education.

The NorthTec Council, as the primary Tertiary Education Institute of Northland, is honoured to recognise Michael Hill and to acknowledge him with the inaugural 2007 Council award of the institution’s highest award of Honorary Fellow of NorthTec.

Wade Doak - Honorary Associate

  • Underwater explorer
  • Author, photographer, film documentary producer
  • Environmentalist

Wade DoakWade Doak lives at Ngunguru on the beautiful east coast of Northland.  Originally a secondary school teacher, Wade Doak has been in turn a diving pioneer, underwater hunter, undersea film maker, treasure diver, researcher into reef fish and shark behaviour, oceanographer and environmentalist.


Wade has published 18 books since he discovered the sunken Elingamite and its treasure with Kelly Tarlton.  Since that time in 1966 Wade has brought to our knowledge the underwater worlds surrounding Northland.  He has expanded by direct practical observation our understanding of our fish and marine mammals such as dolphins.  In more recent time Wade has turned his attention to what he has called “land diving” and is adding to our knowledge of Northland’s unique land environments and their flora and fauna.


Wade Doak has made a significant and distinguished contribution to New Zealand knowledge and society.  His achievements are inspirational to all who value the addition to our knowledge base by practical observation and sensitivity to the world in which we live.


The NorthTec Council, as the primary Tertiary Education Institute of Northland, is honoured to recognise Wade Doak and to acknowledge him for his outstanding contribution to our understanding of the North and its marine and land environment with the award of Honorary Associate of NorthTec.

Hekenukumai Busby - Honorary Fellow

  • MBE Award 1994
  • New Zealand Commemoration Medal 1990
  • New Zealand, Aoteoroa’s leading authority on traditional Polynesian and Mäori
    stellar navigation
  • Master carver, Master Waka Builder, and tohunga

Hekenukami BusbyHekenukumai Ngaiwi Puhipi [Hector] Busby, of Te Rarawa, is a traditional navigator from Northland. He is recognised as a leader of the revival of ocean-voyaging and navigation using traditional Polynesian double hull canoes and way finding methods.


In 1991-1992 Hekenukumai built the waka hourua [double hulled canoe] Te Aurere. It has voyaged to Hawaii, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island.

Hekenukumai has made an outstanding and distinguished contribution to society and to the community. His achievements in re-establishing skills and practices are inspirational to all who seek knowledge and all who seek to appreciate the origins of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

The NorthTec, Tai Tokerau Wananga, Council, as the primary Tertiary Education Institute of Te Tai Tokerau is honoured to recognise Hekenukumai Busby and to acknowledge this legendary leader with the inaugural 2007 Council award of the institution’s highest award of Honorary Fellow of NorthTec.


Print Page Email a friend
Connect with us: Become a fan on Facebook View our photos on Flickr Watch our videos on YouTube Follow us @northteconline Link up on LinkedIn Subscribe to an RSS Feed Share