Distinguished New Zealand Geographer
Distinguished New Zealand Geographer Medal Recipients
The Society recognises the outstanding and sustained contributions and service the following New Zealand Geographers have made to Geography and society, whether in New Zealand or overseas. The recipients may use the designation DNZG in recognition of the award. The first Distinguished New Zealand Geographer Medals were awarded in 2001.
A copy of the nomination form for the Distinguished New Zealand Geographer Medal can be downloaded here.
Professor Robin Kearns (University of Auckland)
Awarded September 2014
Emeritus Professor Robert Miller Kirk (University of Canterbury)
Awarded September 2013
Emeritus Professor Robert Miller (Bob) Kirk has made an outstanding and sustained contribution to the New Zealand Geographical Society, Physical Geography in New Zealand and the University of Canterbury and the Community, by way of:
- Scholarship of national importance to the University of Canterbury and other tertiary institutions
- Scholarship of high international standing and significance in Physical Geography by way of original field work and publications in books and peer-reviewed journals
- Community oriented services as a former Member of Canterbury Regional Council
- Contributions to Policy as Regional Councillor and at a national level
- Sustained contributions to the New Zealand Geographical Society
- Contributions to University leadership in roles of Head of Department; Pro-Vice Chancellor Research; Deputy Vice Chancellor; Acting Vice Chancellor
- Providing inspiriation for up and coming geographers
Bob Kirk has dedicated his research and publications as physical geographer specialising in the science of coastal landforms and lakeshores, and the physical processes that form and change them to the science of Coastal Geomorphology since 1965. He has a deep interest in the relationships individuals and communities have with the sea and coastlines and associated issues as concerns coastal management. This work over 35 years has included coastal and lake planning and management matters, as much in policy, planning, management and conflict resolution as in technical work with coastal processes.
A Past President of the Canterbury Branch of the New Zealand Geographical Society and national President for the New Zealand Marine Science Society, Emeritus Professor Kirk has made a remarkable contribution to the Science of Geography and many from Secondary School teaching to Tertiary education levels have benefited from this. He is a firm believer that “proper appreciation and sound, sustainable uses of our natural environment are rooted in a clear understanding of the physical processes that form it” and this is reflected in his many years of teaching, research and publications in the science of physical geography.
So far, Professor Bob Kirk published 86 papers in international and national peer reviewed scientific journals, such as Progress in Physical Geography, Coastal Engineering and Nature, books and conference proceedings and 145 technical reports. He has frequently appeared in Court as an expert witness leading to precedents that have influenced coastal management in New Zealand. Bob has also written the definition for river mouths, which affects how all such features and estuaries, these part of the coastal zone, have since been managed.
Fieldwork has included 150 projects throughout New Zealand, in the Pacific and also in Antarctica. Studies have included mixed sand and shingle beaches, the physical development of lakeshores, shore platform erosion, coastal housing and port developments.
Bob Kirk headed the Coastal Research Group in the Department at the University of Canterbury for 35 years, and in doing so building on work begun by the late Professor George Jobberns (1895-1974) CBE, LLD (HON), who founded the Department of Geography. During this time more than 120 Masters and PhDs were completed by students in that group of which 109 theses have focused on coastal subjects and nine in Resource Management.
Professor Kirk became Head of Department and subsequently Pro-Vice Chancellor Research supporting staff and student research across the university. He also served as Deputy Vice Chancellor to two Vice Chancellors and for a time, as Acting Vice Chancellor. His responsibilities included Research Grant and Departmental Equipment Grant funding rounds; the prestigious Erskine Fellowship, as Chair of 18 university boards and committees. He oversaw a successful financial recovery programme for the university and structural reform into four colleges and the School of Law. He has served as Chair for 18 university boards and committees and while Pro-Vice Chancellor, he had oversight of 17 research centres within the university and presided over the creation of six of these.
IN 2004 Professor Kirk was elected to Environment Canterbury (ECAN) from Christchurch South constituency and served for five years until May 2010. He also qualified as an RMA Hearing Chair, in particular the Chairs of the Regional Planning Committee and the Finance and Audit Committee. While Chairman, he reviewed the Regional Policy Statement and Regional Plan. Professor Kirk also held various roles in ECAN including completion of four and a half years of a Regional Plan (the “Water Plan”) subsequently adopted by Government appointed Commissioners who replaced the Council.
Professor Philip Morrison (Victoria University of Wellington)
Awarded September 2013
Professor Philip Morrison is an outstanding researcher, teacher and graduate supervisor, and a leader and strong advocate for Geography both inside and outside the university sector, and an ambassador for New Zealand geography internationally.
Professor Philip Morrison has an excellent record of productive scholarship- more than one hundred research papers, reports, and conference proceedings. His research articles are in a wide variety of prestigious journals including Urban Studies, Housing Studies, Labor Economics and Geoforum. He also has an excellent co-edited book – Geographies of Labor Market Inequality, published by Routledge Press which followed his book, Labor Adjustment in Metropolitan Regions, published by the Institute of Policy Studies and Victoria University Press. His work on housing and labor markets is ground breaking and important, not just in Geography, but more broadly across the social science disciplines.
Like all good geographers Philip Morrison has wide ranging interests from local policy to rural development in Sarawak Malaysia. He is most well known internationally for his work on two broad issues – (1) labor markets and (2) housing and housing markets. In both these areas he has made important contributions. More recently he has developed a research interest in the geography of “happiness” and hosted a successful conference at Victoria a year ago. I expect that there will be a flow of interesting and important papers from this research endeavor.
He is particularly interested in how the organization of local labor markets affects the opportunities for young, unskilled and what he describes as “vulnerable workers”. This interest began in the 1980s and culminated in his co-edited volume with Ron Martin in 2003. Most recently, a paper published in Urban Studies – Unemployment and urban labor markets- is an important contribution to the debate about how local labor markets work. It is quite possible that this paper will become a seminal work in the debate about local labor markets. On the second topic he has addressed a wide variety of housing and housing related issues from issues of deprivation to the way in which development changes the inner city neighborhoods of our cities. These studies provide a context for his current interest in how residential sorting is creating and re-creating urban structures in large metropolitan areas. There is a tendency in social science research within New Zealand to emphasize the unique aspects of New Zealand’s development and indeed to play down the global similarities of processes in New Zealand’s metropolitan areas. What Philip has done is bring relevant New Zealand research to international attention. His papers provide important research on New Zealand using New Zealand data (some of the best in the world, I might say) and will likely inform international thinking on residential sorting. To uncover and interpret these changing patterns is enriching both New Zealand social science scholarship and that of the international community.
Often research in the academy has only a limited circulation but Philip Morrison has always been concerned with the policy implications of his work and over two decades he has been a leader among New Zealand geographers in demonstrating the value to be gained from the analysis of large data sets (over and above the usual census). These have included the World Value Survey, and European Commission surveys, the New Zealand Quality of Life Survey, the New Zealand General Survey, and the Household Travel Survey. To these data sets he has applied contemporary analytical methods for the purpose not only of testing prevailing theory but to contribute to public policy debate. He worked with both Treasury and the then Department of Labor to sponsor the biennial conferences he initiated and organized on Labor, Employment and Work. These conferences have been an opportunity for academics and those in local and government work to interact and learn from one another. The 15 Volumes of LEW conference proceedings alone are a signal achievement.
His research and teaching have always been intertwined and he has brought his strong analytic training to supervising and helping more than 50 graduate theses. This is a testament to his interest in and concern for geography and geographic learning. Many of these students have gone on to productive and careers themselves and this is in no little part because of Philip Morrison’s skilled mentoring.
As a senior member of the geography staff Philip was at different times, head of the VUW human geography program and director and head of the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences. His tenure as Head of School spanned two PBRF (Performance Base Research Funding) rounds where the human geography group was ahead of the rest in the country in 2006 and first equal with Auckland in 2012. Clearly, his administrative role has been every bit as effective as his research and teaching roles.
Individually, his research has been recognized in the award of several substantial research grants beginning with a Commonwealth Scholarship in 1973 which funded his PhD, the first Hodge Fellowship from the New Zealand Social Science Research Fund Committee in 1985, the Association of Commonwealth Universities Development Fellowship in 1990, visiting fellowships for research at the Centre for Urban Studies, University of Toronto and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in 1995. He had an Urban Studies Journal Visiting Fellowship to the University of Glasgow in 1999 and a visiting fellowship to University of Cambridge in the same year. He held a Henry Lang Fellowship at the Institute of Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, 2002-2003 and a Royal Society of New Zealand International Science and Technology (ISAT) award in 2009.
His contributions to New Zealand geography more broadly have included organizing NZ Geographical Society Conferences, including the 2008 conference. He also served as editor of one of the country’s two leading geography journals, Asia Pacific Viewpoint, for over 17 years including jointly editing the 1985 book on Mobility and Identity in the Island Pacific (Chapman and Morrison, 1985). He currently serves on the board of several other international journals as well as regularly reviewing manuscripts for the leading journals in the field.
Professor Tony Binns (University of Otago)
Awarded December 2012
Professor Tony Binns is one of the most internationally distinguished geographers currently working in New Zealand. Over a long and productive career he has made an exemplary contribution to Geography at the tertiary and the secondary levels in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and internationally. He has recently completed terms as the President of the NZGS (2010-2011), the President of the Commonwealth Geographical Bureau (2008-2012) and has previously served as the President of the Geographical Association in the UK. His disciplinary contribution has been exemplary, helping to promote geography at schools and universities and he played a key role in ensuring that the subject is retained within the secondary school curriculum in the UK. He is an enthusiastic, popular and well liked teacher and has received teaching awards at the Universities of Sussex and Otago. In sum, Tony has made a significant contribution to all facets of the discipline of Geography both in New Zealand and abroad.
Tony holds a BA Hons from Sheffield and a MA and PhD from Birmingham. He spent a year as a school teacher in Doncaster before joining the staff at the University of Sussex in 1975 where he was Reader in Geography from 2000 to 2004. In 2004 he was appointed to the prestigious position of the Ron Lister Chair of Geography at the University of Otago, the second appointment in the University’s “Leading Thinkers Initiative”. His research career has focused on a range of key developmental themes primarily as they relate to Africa, including, desertification, the human-environment interface and community-based development, and another important thread has been in geographical education. Tony has published 14 edited or authored books, including Geographies of Development (1999), Issues in Geography Teaching (2000) and African Diversity and Development (2012). He has also published 36 book chapters, 98 peer reviewed papers, and numerous reports, book reviews and conference proceedings. He currently serves as the editor for the Routledge Perspectives on Development book series, a post which has held for over 10 years and which has generated more than 20 titles. Tony has served as a consultant for tertiary educational organisations, publishers and government departments in this country, Great Britain and across Africa, and is a member of the editorial boards of five academic journals. He was President of the Geographical Association in 1994-95, President of the Commonwealth Geographical Bureau in 2008-12, President of the New Zealand Geographical Society in 2010-11, and was elected to the council of Volunteer Service Abroad in October 2011. In New Zealand he has made a significant contribution to international community development and student advancement through the establishment and promotion of the Univol programme in collaboration with Volunteer Service Abroad and NZAid.
Ian Hay (Flinders University)
Awarded September 2011
Professor Iain Hay is one of New Zealand geography’s most internationally distinguished graduates. His broad contribution to scholarship is infused with a quest to incorporate core human values into geographic research and pedagogy. Iain’s work has vigorously sought to advance an ethical stance in research practice, to introduce a wider range of qualitative methodologies into the implementation of study design and methods, and to promote the adoption of creative and critically aware teaching practice. In sum, he has sought to bring teaching and research into closer relationship through promoting innovation and integrity.
His career evolved to emphasise geographical education. His edited volume, Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography became a main stay of many Australasian and overseas research courses in Human Geography, and the book’s third edition was published in 2010 (Oxford, Toronto).
Iain has been a significant entrepreneur in institution building in geographical education, and he was a member of the original International Network in Learning and Teaching in Geography (INLT) formed in 1999 that is now hosted at Canterbury. He also took an Australasian leadership role in the Journal of Geography in Higher Education.
He is a longstanding member of the NZGS and has maintained strong links with NZ geographers and the NZ geography community, and has been a visitor to all NZ geography departments at various times. He has held visiting positions internationally at the universities of Edinburgh, Kentucky, Manchester and New South Wales (Australian Defence Forces Academy).
He was ALTC Discipline Scholar for the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities – responsible for leading Geography and History discipline communities – as demonstration disciplines for all Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities in Australia – to develop agreed national minimum academic standards for undergraduate majors. The project was completed in late 2010. More details at: http://www.altc.edu.au/standards/disciplines/ASSH
He was awarded a Doctor of Letters (LittD) from Canterbury in 2009 for his work on ‘Geographies of Domination and Oppression’.
Robyn Longhurst (Waikato)
Awarded September 2010
Professor Longhurst’s received her award in recognition of her sustained intellectual and institutional contributions to international and New Zealand feminist geography, which have added enormously to New Zealand geography’s international profile.
Dealing with big questions, she has consistently challenged the canons of mainstream geography. Are there approaches to knowledge production that will offer emancipatory potential for women? Does a focus on categories like bodies, maternities and sexualities alter in any way the ontological, epistemological and methodological practices of geography? What kinds of bodies and spaces are constituted in geographic discourses, and what work is done through different discourses?
Three insightful books, Bodies: exploring fluid boundaries in 2000, Maternities: gender, bodies and space in 2008 and Space, place, and sex: geographies of sexualities (with Lynda Johnston) in 2010, are distinctive interventions in international research and scholarship. These theoretically and empirically grounded re-readings of feminist literature progress a very geographic project that makes visible the richness and potentialities of knowledge production that is situated and performative.
As a co-editor of the New Zealand Geographer (1998-2003), contributor prestigious international journals, a topic reviewer on feminist geography in Progress in Human Geography, and a very active member of the International Geographical Union Commission on Gender, Professor Longhurst, often in collaboration with her Waikato colleagues, has extended the breadth and depth of New Zealand and international geography.
Michael Roche (Massey)
Awarded September 2010
The award of the medal to Professor Roche recognizes his sustained, wide ranging, and exemplary contribution and service to geography. Over the last thirty years, his research and writing have focused on three major strands: historical geography, agri-food studies and geographical thought. The latter interest has seen the recent publication of A Geographer by Declaration (2010) which brings together a selection of George Jobberns’ published and unpublished writing.
His major long term substantive research focus has been on forests and land in New Zealand, including his his definitive works Forest Policy in New Zealand: An Historical Geography 1840-1919 (1984) and History of Forestry in New Zealand (1990). He also published a major book on land and water management: Land and Water. Water and Soil Conservation and Central Government in New Zealand, 1941-1988 (1994).
He was a co-investigator in a Social Science Research Fund project on ‘Food and fibre production’, working on two newly emergent theorisations – ‘pluriactivity’ and ‘subsumption’ in sheep/beef and dairy commodity production systems in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This research strand has been maintained through an interest in the meat industry, currently finding expression in the Biological Economies Marsden-funded project.
His roles in the NZGS go back over three decades. They include, currently, that of human geography editor of the New Zealand Geographer, and chairperson of the Manawatu Branch. He is in his second term as NZGS Nominee on the New Zealand Geographic Board.
Richard Le Heron (Auckland)
Awarded September 2009
Professor Richard Le Heron has made multiple influential contributions to discipline, academy and community during his 40 year geographical career. He is a leader in New Zealand social science, an internationally prominent scholar, a widely respected teacher and a dedicated servant of domestic and international disciplinary bodies. He is a leading scholar in both rural and economic geography, especially at the point where these fields converge in scholarship on rural value chains. As co-editor of the two Changing Places volumes, Richard led arguably the most influential project to emerge from academic geography in New Zealand in the last 25 years.Richard has become a tireless, imaginative and effective supporter of geography driven by a belief in its potential to contribute to better futures at all scales, and by intellectual and political commitments to the notion that the world gets made by how we know it and how we act upon those understandings.
Ray Watters (Wellington)
Awarded September 2009
Ray Watters was one of the pioneers fo the so called "Victoria School of Geography" with its (then new) emphasis on development, culture, colonialism and political economy. He taught at Victoria University of Wellington for 38 years and was editor of Pacific Viewpoint (now Asia Pacific Viewpoint) for about 20 years. Ray is a renowned field-based researcher, and his work has generated eight books, 42 scholarly papers, 10 project reports and 5 monographs. Ray Watters has made a lasting and immense contribution to Geography in New Zealand, in research, teaching and communication of significant development issues relating to the Pacific, Latin America as well as New Zealand.
Peter Holland (Otago)
Awarded September 2008
Professor Peter Holland led the revitalisation and repositioning of the Society as a learned body during his term as 10th President of the New Zealand Geographical Society (2002 - 2006) . His effectiveness in overseeing transition owed much to his stature at every level in the New Zealand geographical community. As a biogeographer he has spent nearly 50 years investigating landscape as a dynamic stage that offers diverse ecological and evoluntionary opportunities for living things. His cumulative insights in this field have enriched and deepened New Zealand's geographic research and scholarship.
Dick Bedford (Waikato)
Awarded September 2007
Professor Richard Bedford is a specialist in migration studies. Since the mid-1960s he has researched processes of population movement in the Asia-Pacific region and is one of the world’s foremost authorities in this field. Professor Bedford is also Aotearoa/New Zealand’s most prominent geographer in public policy networks and at the interface of geographic knowledge and policy making. In both capacities he has made a sustained and influential contribution to New Zealand society and international geographic knowledge.
Two things are particularly striking about Dick - the way he can read changing institutional landscapes, and the way that he has been able to sustain his scholarship as he has navigated through these landscapes to more and more central positions. His understanding of the possibilities of situations is quite extraordinary. New Zealand Geography has benefited immeasurably from the application of his insight and skills.
Eric Pawson (Canterbury)
Awarded September 2007
Eric is best known for his research focus on environmental and economic transformation in the context of New Zealand’s colonial and post-colonial experience. He has been the guiding light behind a succession of geographic research programmes that have shifted the knowledge frontiers about New Zealand. Eric’s work spans the four scholarships of discovery, synthesis, application and pedagogy. This rare combination means he is known for spotting emerging trends and new intellectual currents, asking the next generation of questions and designing theoretical frameworks and systems to implement new research initiatives. His remarkable capacity to align theoretical expertise and energise collective contributions has meant that what has been achieved by him and the New Zealand geographical community is more than the sum of the individual parts. The New Zealand geographical community is much the richer for Eric Pawson’s geographic leadership and intellectual achievements.
Chris Davidson (Wellington)
Awarded September 2006
Chris Davidson has had an exemplary career as a classroom teacher, as an analyst, developer and promoter of educational policy in national agencies, and as an advocate for the study of geography. For many years he was closely involved with curriculum development, and his activities enhanced the teaching and standing of geography in New Zealand secondary schools. His work also strengthened links between schools and the universities. His impact upon geographical education in this country, and his contributions to the teaching of geography in secondary schools, are recognised and appreciated in New Zealand and abroad.
Ann Magee (Auckland)
Awarded in September 2005
Ann worked in geography academia for 20 years, first at Victoria University and then at Waikato. She was a committed teacher and activist for change. In 1987 she shifted focus away from academia to the worlds of business, community and government and by 1989 was working for Waitakere City. She continues to provide leadership towards her vision of the compact city as the way forward and uses her skills to facilitate the connection of the community to the resources of Council.
Graeme Campbell (Auckland)
Awarded September 2005
Graeme Campbell has built a career around science in action. His masterate and doctoral work on family farming, rural landuse and the cultural context of land use decision making laid the foundation for what has become his life's work. As DOC Regional Conservator for Auckland he managed policy implementation and increased the knowledge and technical skill of staff. From 1995 Graeme has taken on a number of advisory roles at government level. In 2003 he took on joint leadership of the Sustainable Development Programme of Action. Graeme's special contribution is his belief in the geography of social responsibility, that New Zealand must show the world some alternative directions.
Euan McQueen (Wellington)
Awarded September 2004
A prominent member of New Zealand's public service, Euan spent 19 years with New Zealand Railways and was a significant "change agent" during the restructuring of the service. He has also contributed as a geography lecturer at Victoria University, on an on going basis, initially on staff and then as an Honorary Lecturer. He has spent 11 years on the Royal Society's National Committee for Geography (1972-1983), and was President of the New Zealand Geographical Society between 1975 and 1981. Euan has been active as a local body representative since 1993. He is one of New Zealand's most skilful practitioners in the application of the geographers' craft to helping define the development options for New Zealand's future.
Brian Lynch (Wellington)
Awarded September 2004
Brian Lynch, a prominent member of New Zealand's public service, joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1964 where he held a number of influential roles. In 1982 he moved to the Ministry of Transport where he was Deputy Secretary until 1992. He then became Chief Executive of the Meat Industry Association during a period of significant restructuring. More recently he holds a number of roles, including Chairman of the Trade Liberalisation Network and Alternate Member on the APEC Business Advisory Council. Brian served as President of the New Zealand Geographical Society between 1982 and 1988. He was made Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in June 2004.
Marion Ward (Australia and South Pacific)
Awarded July 2003
Marion Ward has achieved much as a "transformer of place". Between 1973 and 2002 she has worked on or lead 80 missions to countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, working at community regional and national level, to resolve transport, communication, water supply and sanitation issues. She has published extensively and worked as a consultant since the early 1970's. Since 1990 she has run her own consultancy company. Through her work she has impacted on millions of people.
R. Gerard Ward (Australia and South Pacific)
Awarded July, 2003
Emeritus Professor Ralph Gerard Ward has made an outstanding contribution to Geography in the Pacific. He was Foundation Professor of Geography at University of Papua New Guinea and four years later was appointed Chair in Human Geography of the Research School of Pacific Studies at Australia National University where he served for 31 years. He contributed to the goverance of three Pacific universities, serving on Council for University of Papua New Guinea, National University of Samoa and Universite Francaise du Pacifique. He has also served on the Pacific Science Association and the Australian National Commission for UNESCO.
Roger McLean (Australia and South Pacific)
Awarded July 2003
Roger McLean is widely considered the father of coastal research in New Zealand. He has been highly influential in terms of both his research work and his leadership and mentoring of young researchers. Roger also showed dedication to the work of The Society and has been instrumental in building links with the Royal Society of New Zealand and the International Geographical Union. Since taking up his position as Professor of Geography at Australian Defence Force Academy, University College, University of New South Wales he has worked to foster links between NZGS and IAG, particularly in the holding of joint conferences.
Evelyn Stokes (Waikato)
Awarded September, 2001
Dame Evelyn was a Professor of Geography at the University of Waikato. She served on the New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit and was a member of the Ngai Tahu Tribal Trust from 1980 to 1991. She was a member of the Waitangi Tribunal and the New Zealand Geographic Board. She was also the author of numerous publications on NZ historial geography, Mäori land tenure and Treaty issues. A stalwart of the New Zealand Geographical Society for more than 50 years, Dame Evelyn was a highly effective advocate for geography in New Zealand and a productive researcher in the important domains of Maori and indigenous peoples' geographies.
Sadly Dame Evelyn died in 2005.
Jane Soons (Canterbury)
Awarded September, 2001
Emeritus Professor Jane Soons lectured at the University of Canterbury from 1960 to 1993 on glacial geomorphology and on occasion, the regional geography of Europe. She has served as the President of the International Union for Quarternary Research (1977-1982). When she was appointed as Professor in 1971, she became the University of Canterbury's first woman professor.
Warren Moran (Auckland)
Awarded January, 2001
Professor Warren Moran lectures at University of Auckland and is involved in research on regional processes and policy, rural activity systems, place as intellectual property, and the wine industry. He has served as Senior Vice-President of the International Geographical Union (1996-2000), after serving for nearly 30 years on its various bodies.
John Macaulay (Canterbury)
Awarded January, 2001
John Macaulay has given meritorious service to successive generations of secondary school teachers and pupils in New Zealand. He has been involved in studying, teaching, developing and publishing geography for almost 60 years. He played a pivotal role in the development and operation of the Geography Resource Centre from 1974 through to 2000. He has been an active member of the NZGS as a committee member, journal editor and member of the NZBoGT. He is a life member of the NZGS.