AUT announces Matariki Award winners

05 Jul, 2024
AUT announces Matariki Award winners

The Auckland University of Technology (AUT) announced the winners of Ngā Whakamānawa o Matariki – AUT’s Matariki Awards on Tuesday at its annual Matariki staff celebration.

Ngā Whakamānawa o Matariki are the University’s new top-level internal awards for staff recognising excellence, service and distinction across academic and professional disciplines.

There are nine awards, with each award aligned to a star within the Matariki constellation—three for educators, three for professional services, and three for research.

The awards

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Damon Salesa, says the awards recognise the profound impact AUT’s staff make on the lives of students, the advancement of knowledge, and the betterment of society.

“Their dedication, expertise, and extraordinary achievements not only enrich our academic and professional communities but also shape the future of AUT. Each winner's unique perspective and accomplishments remind us of the incredible value that every individual brings to our university,” he says.

Congratulations to this year's winners.

Ngā Whakamānawa o Matariki

Matariki | General Educator Award

the NZSL team at AUT
Dr George Major and Senior Lecturer Susie Ovens

Winner – The New Zealand Sign Language Team from the School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Dr George Major, Senior Lecturer Susie Ovens, Rachel Coppage, Pascal Marceau, Julia Freeman and Melissa Simchowitz

The New Zealand Sign Language Team are this year's Matariki General Educators of the Year.

Their achievements have had a significant impact on the Deaf community, external groups, and the Māori deaf community. They are dedicated to providing authentic learning opportunities for deaf students and promoting inclusivity. Their contributions have made a positive difference in empowering the Deaf community and fostering cultural awareness.

Waipuna-ā-rangi | Kaupapa Māori Educator Award

Prize-giving photo
Lecturer Toiroa Williams received the award on behalf of the team

Winner – Mahitahi Team from the Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies

Associate Professor Rachael Ka’ai Mahuta, Dr Hazel Abraham, Dr Dean Mahuta, Senior Lecturer Donald Ripia and Tania Smith-Henderson.

The Mahitahi team are this year's Waipuna-ā-rangi Kaupapa Māori Educators of the Year. They have successfully developed and delivered a course that exemplifies a Te Tiriti partnership approach to teaching and curriculum. Their commitment to collaboration and inclusivity has resulted in a wide-reaching impact, positively influencing many students through the Mahitahi Collaborative Practice course. The team's efforts have been recognised and praised for their ability to make a meaningful difference in the educational experiences of many individuals.

Ururangi | Pacific Educator Award

Prize-giving photo
Dr Junior Nomani

Winner - Dr Junior Nomani from the School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences

Dr Junior Nomani is this year's Ururangi Pacific Educator of the Year. Junior specialises in the manufacturing science of complex materials, with a strong emphasis on advancing STEM learning. Junior's dedication to fostering collaborative learning environments and mentoring students has left a lasting impression. His contributions extend beyond the traditional scope of teaching, as he actively works to positively impact the wider Pacific community. Junior's commitment to education and community engagement is commendable, and his efforts have had a significant and uplifting effect on learners and their communities.

Tupu-ā-rangi | Professional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award

Prize-giving photo
Pam Laird

Winner – Pam Laird from the School of Sport and Recreation

Pam Laird is this year’s Tupu-ā-rangi Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Professional of the Year. Pam's commitment to continuous self-development and her efforts in building cultural competency and Te Reo Māori skills have left a lasting impression. Her dedication has empowered her to assist other non-Māori individuals and promote allyship both at AUT and within Aotearoa-New Zealand society. Pam's contributions and achievements in enhancing cultural understanding and fostering inclusivity are commendable, positively impacting those around her. Her ongoing growth and dedication inspire others and contribute to creating a more inclusive and culturally aware environment.

Waitā | Professional Innovation Award

Prize-giving photo
Jing Boyd

Winner – Jing Boyd from the School of Clinical Sciences

Jing Boyd is this year’s Waitā Professional Innovator of the Year. Jing's ingenuity and resourcefulness shone through when she created and developed an innovative solution to a compliance issue within the health and environmental sciences faculty, all without a budget. Jing’s highly impressive compliance app not only increased visibility but also provided clear guidance to students on the requirements. Her determination and problem-solving skills have significantly improved the compliance processes, benefiting both students and faculty members alike. Jing's accomplishments demonstrate her ability to think outside the box and make a positive difference within her field.

Hiwa-i-te-rangi | Professional Rising Star Award

Prize-giving photo
Sandelyn Lua (centre)

Winner – Sandelyn Lua from the School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences

Sandelyn Lua is this year’s Hiwa-i-te-rangi Professional Rising Star of the Year. Sandelyn’s diligence in delivering her work in the Bachelor of Engineering programme and her commitment to supporting other teams and colleagues across the school and faculty have left a lasting impression. Her dedication to not only her own responsibilities but also to the success of those around her is truly commendable. Sandelyn’s willingness to go above and beyond in supporting others demonstrates her strong work ethic and collaborative spirit. Her contributions and support are vital in creating a positive and inclusive environment within the school and faculty.

Tupu-ā-nuku | Early Career Researcher Award

Prize-giving photo
Associate Professor Shahab Ramhormozian (left)

Winner – Associate Professor Shahab Ramhormozian from the School of Future Environments

Associate Professor Shahab Ramhormozian is this year’s Tupu-ā-nuku Early Career Researcher of the Year. Shahab's research is centred around enhancing the sustainability and resilience of built structures in response to the risks posed by severe earthquakes. The significant impacts of Shahab's research on critical contemporary issues have impressed many. His growing research excellence and valuable contributions have garnered recognition, leading to a substantial MBIE grant award. Additionally, Shahab has successfully developed extensive research networks both nationally and internationally. His research's relevance, impact, and high quality demonstrate its significance in the field. Shahab's work carries great value and contributes to addressing crucial challenges in ensuring the safety and resilience of built structures in earthquake-prone areas.

Waitī | Postgraduate Research Student Support Award

Prize-giving photo
Charlotte Ashby, Dr Ed Maunder and Jane Hall

Winner – Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ) Culture Team

Charlotte Ashby, Jane Hall, Dr Ed Maunder, Dr Eric Helms and Professor Lesley Ferkins.

The SPRINZ Culture Team are this year’s Waitī Postgraduate Research Student Supporters of the Year. The SPRINZ Culture Team has made impressive efforts to create a structured programme of engagement to promote a positive, supportive, and productive research environment for postgraduate research students affiliated with SPRINZ. Their incorporation of key aspects of whakawhanaungatanga and living AUT’s values of Tika, Pono, and Aroha demonstrates their commitment to caring for postgraduate research students and fostering a sense of belonging and whanau. By cultivating such a culture, the team creates an environment where students can thrive and reach their full potential. The team's dedication to creating an inclusive and supportive research community is commendable and contributes to a nurturing and empowering environment within SPRINZ.

Te Huihuinga o Matariki | Research Excellence Award

Prize-giving photo
Professor Alice Theadom

Winner – Professor Alice Theadom from the School of Clinical Sciences

Professor Alice Theadom is this year’s Te Huihuinga o Matariki Researcher of the Year in Excellence. Alice's research is centred around mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and concussion. Her findings have received international validation and have played a significant role in reshaping the understanding of mild traumatic brain injury and concussion. Furthermore, Alice's establishment and leadership of the Traumatic Brain Injury Network showcase her dedication to advancing research in this field. Her leadership position in her research area highlights her expertise and influence, and her contributions are highly valued. She has contributed to advancing knowledge and improving care for individuals affected by these conditions.

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