In 2009, the additional category of Distinguished Service was added to recognise those members who make an outstanding contribution to the Society, through their branch activities or to the activities of the Society as a whole.The award recognises contributions to service in activities and roles directly or indirectly under the auspices of the New Zealand Geographical Society by a member of the Society. The award specifically cites the nature of the service contribution.

A copy of the nomination form for the Distinguished New Zealand Geographer Medal can be downloaded here.

Distinguished Service Award 2020



Dr Maria Borovnik in recognition of her long service to the NZGS as National Secretary between 2011-2019. The full citation can be found here.


Distinguished Service Award 2020



Lousie Richards in recognition of her long service to the NZBoGT. The full citation can be found here.




Distinguished Service Award 2019



Jane M Foster in recognition of her long and distinguished leadership and teaching within the geography community. The full citation can be found here.


Distinguished Service Award 2018


Professor Etienne Nel (Otago) in recognition of your role as Managing Editor and Chair of the Editorial Board of the New Zealand Geographer from 2011 until early 2018. During a period of seven years, you oversaw the production of 21 issues of New Zealand Geographer and also managed the transition to an eJournal. We also note that you achieved considerable success in raising the profile of the Society’s flagship journal. Thank you for your impressive record of service to the Society.


Distinguished Service Award 2017

Anna Wilson (NZBoGT) 

Anna's citation can be read here


Distinguished Service Awards 2016


Suzanne Mary Baldwin (NZBoGT)

 Suzanne's citation can be read here


Associate Professor Michael Hilton (University of Otago)

 Michael's citation can be read here


Margaret Leamy (St Peter’s College, Palmerston North)

 Margaret's citation can be read here


Nicholas Page (Otumoetai College and NZBoGT)

 Nicholas' citation can be read here


Distinguished Service Awards 2015


Claire Gibson (Waikato Institute of Technology, Hamilton)


Brian Kendrick (Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Hamilton)


Anne Olsen (Chilton Saint James School, Lower Hutt)


Distinguished Service Awards 2014


Dr David Hayward (The University of Auckland)


Sue Lynch (Otago Girl’s High School)


Lennox Sharp (East Otago High School)



Distinguished Service Awards 2013

Dr Juliana Mansvelt (Massey University)

Dr Juliana Mansvelt, a senior lecturer in geography, has served the discipline and her University well since her employment at Massey University in 1994.  Juliana is passionate about the value and contribution of geography as a discipline. She has contributed to many reference works, textbooks, encyclopaedias aimed at students and involving teachers bringing a geographical perspective to topics as diverse as interviewing older people, writing up research, scenario based learning and aspects of ageing, consumption and consumer culture.

Within Massey University she has presented numerous sessions on writing study guides, curriculum design, and writing up theses, all illustrated via the insights which emanate from her research and teaching on geography. Juliana has also been an active committee member of the Manawatu Branch of the New Zealand Geographical Society since 1995, and has held positions as Review Editor for the New Zealand Geographer from 2003-2007, and as Secretary of the Manawatu Branch 1995-98, and again from 2012.  Over the years she has been employed at Massey University she has actively contributed to the promotion of geography as a discipline, helping with and now running the Maatangi Whenua competition for schools in the region, talking about the subject in secondary schools and at University year 13 days, judging with Professor Michael Roche entries in the Secondary School Planning and Decision Making competition, and presenting at a series variety of teachers days held in the Geography Programme. She has also been on the organising committee for New Zealand Geographical Society conferences hosted by the Manawatu branch and the geography programme in 1997 and 2012, and has conducted interviewing and analysis as part of a New Zealand Geographical Society project on oral histories of New Zealand Geographers.  She is the only New Zealand Geographer on the editorial Board of the International Journal for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and has conducted reviews for more than 20 journals. In recent years she has been asked to give a number of keynote addresses and has used the opportunity to promote her excitement about the discipline including at our 2012 NZGS conference, and at the 2013 Geography Teachers Association of Victoria conference in Melbourne last month.

Despite working half time for the last 16 years, Juliana has an excellent publication record with 52 peer reviewed and 94 research outputs. She is author of Geographies of Consumption,(Sage, 2005), and editor of Green Consumers: An A-Z Guide (Sage, 2010) and was commissioned to write a series of Progress In Human Geography Reports, and an annotated bibliography with over 200 entries for Oxford University Press on ‘Geographies of Consumption’ which was launched at the 2013 AAG. Juliana is a part of the Health and Ageing Research Team, which received the Massey University Research Team Medal in 2012. In addition Juliana has received a number of tertiary teaching awards, including the Society Award of Excellence in teaching, a Massey University Award for Sustained Excellence and A New Zealand Tertiary Teachers Award in 2006.  Juliana is also very much engaged with her family commitments and is liked as a colleague and teacher who is modest and hardworking and highly committed to service to geographical research and teaching, and a real credit to geography.


Norman Austin (NZBoGT)

Norman Austin completed an Honours Degree in Geography from Victoria University of Wellington and then undertook teacher training.  He began his teaching career in 1972 but his skills, interests and commitment have allowed his contribution to extend far beyond the classroom. The text below describes the key details of his teaching appointments, before noting his broader service to Geography and the Geographical Society.

Teaching service in Geography

Norman’s first appointment to teach Geography was at Fairfield College in Hamilton in 1972, and he attended his first New Zealand Geography Conference in Hamilton in that year. In 1977 Norman accepted a position as Head of the Social Sciences Department at Melville High School, and contributed to the education of a generation of geographers over the following 28 years of service.

With Norman’s leadership, the school developed a strong profile in the region and Melville reported consistently good results at Senior Geography level under his leadership.  During his time at Melville Norman was responsible for a number of initiatives; for example, he promoted the idea of Geography courses for years 9 and 10 through classes called Environmental Studies. With the 1974 establishment of the National Geography Curriculum Committee professional development and curriculum development provided opportunities for skilled Geography teachers in the regions throughout the 1980s. Norman was asked to join a number of working parties reviewing and developing the Geography syllabus. The relationship with Social Studies was also important one and Norman was appointed Subject Adviser in 1985.

Since 2006 Norman has been Head of the Social Sciences Faculty at St John’s College where he has developed a new Geography course for the less able at Year 13 and he is actively mentoring another teacher who will take over all geography in 2014.

Beyond the classroom

Between 1986 and 1989 Norman served as the Waikato Region Representative on the New Zealand Board of Geography Teachers. He was responsible for a range of portfolios including a survey on the Movement of Geography Teachers into Senior Positions and monitoring staff vacancies in Geography nationally.

With reference to assessment in secondary Geography, Norman has been on Marking and Assessment panels almost continuously since 1975.  He has worked all three levels of assessment in the senior school, from School Certificate/ Level 1 NCEA, Level 2 to Bursary/Level 3. Most recently he has been responsible for check marking and panel administration for the Level One Resources Achievement Standard, 2008-2011) and as leader of a marking panel for the Skills Achievement Standards paper in 2012.

Norman was a Regional Subject Facilitator for the implementation of NCEA Geography Standards from 2000 to 2003 and ran regional workshops for teachers. Recently, with the alignment of Geography Standards to the National Curriculum, Norman and Brian Kendrick set up well-received workshops for teachers to help with this process of curriculum change that followed.

The final external contribution that Norman made was to the development of teaching resources. As a classroom teacher he was integral to the development of a range of resource packs – Development in 1984, The Coal Kit (with Solid Energy) in 1985/6 and Cyclone Bola as a Natural Hazard in 1988.

Society activities

Norman has been on the Waikato Branch Committee of the Geographical Society almost continuously since 1976 and is currently Vice President of the Branch. Norman has introduced and thanked any number of academic, professional and education contributors to the Branch programme. He has taken important roles in the Local Organising Committees for Geography Conferences at Waikato in 1997 and 2009, and also attended most New Zealand Geography Conferences over the last 40 years.

Norman’s interest in getting students involved in competitions where Geography provides a clear rationale has allowed him to work in several branch and national initiatives. These include the Year 13 Planning and Decision Making Competition, the Year 12 Photo Interpretation Competition and Maatangi  Whenua at Year 11.

Norman’s current commitment is to the SOCCON Conference in July 2013. The Geographical Society is one of the key drivers of the agenda and programme for SOCCON, and Norman has the role of ensuring that the Society’s various investments in the programme deliver a memorable experience for regional, national and international geographers who will attend this meeting.

Wider community activities

While geography is central to the service provided to the Waikato Regional and beyond, Norman has made significant contributions to the wider community. He received a Service Award from the Post Primary Teachers Association, a Regional Administrator Award from Sport Waikato for cricket and Life Memberships for the Hamilton Cricket Association and Waikato Social Studies association.

Norman is passionate about his commitment to his subject; along with the personalised registration plate on the car of DR MAP, Norman’s plate GEOGER is one of the most notable seen in the region.



Distinguished Service Awards 2012

Dr Paul Keown

Paul completed his initial tertiary study in Geography at the University of Canterbury in the 1960s, followed by teaching certification through the Christchurch Training College in 1970. Early postings in 1971-1974 included work in Nelson in environmental education. Paul arrived in Waikato in 1975, with an appointment to lead the teaching of Geography in the prestigious Hillcrest High School. From the outset the quality of his work in the local geographic community was appreciated, and he forged research links with the University through the use of innovative approaches to classroom teaching of Geography. His first published work appeared in the Society’s New Zealand Geographer and was related to his thesis work. In 1979 he first wrote of his teaching work in the Journal of Geography. He has continued to publish in geographical education, social studies, the processes of professional development, environmental education, curriculum and assessment and values education. Paul initially moved to take up a position at the University of Waikato in the Faculty of Education in 1980, returning fulltime in 1988. As a key member of the team working with the training of teachers in Social Studies and Geography, Paul has played a role in developing a strong sense of the relevance and importance of Geography and Social Studies in the classroom. As a representative of the views of Geography teachers, Paul has always contributed. Initially this is recorded in service as the Waikato Regional representative on the Board of Geography Teachers. This was followed by a role in the production of the definitive Syllabus for Schools: Geography Forms 5-7 (Learning Media, 1990) and then significantly with the NZBoGT position paper Possible directions for a New Zealand geography programme for 16 to 19 year-olds for 2001 and beyond : a background paper in 1999. Those of us who worked with this publication recognise the important underpinning it provided for both the processes and outcomes of the curriculum debate as seen in the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum. In 2004 his interest in working with groups of teachers led to his registration in a PhD that produced a highly regarded thesis in 2009. The title of the thesis was A virtual community of practice approach to teacher professional development and learning. The thesis provided a platform for the most significant recent contribution Paul has made. The appointment of a Royal Society Teaching Fellow (Janey Nolan) to work with Paul in 2010 led to the construction of the highly successful virtual community of practice called Isolated to Connected. The community served teachers in isolated schools with ideas and information about the implementation of the new National Curriculum in 2011; the focus was on Level 1 Physical Processes in Geography. Isolated to Connected was so effective, that geography teachers nationally have benefitted from its longer term extension. Paul has been a long-serving member of the Branch Committee, but his value to the national community has also been appreciated. Paul is held in high regard by the Ministry of Education; he has carried out contract research for the Ministry, and since he chose to level the University of Waikato his consultancy has been based on applied educational research in Social Sciences for the Ministry. One of the most distinctive parts of Paul’s commitment to Geography has been his contributions to geographical education in Geographical Society conferences. Conferences at Massey, Canterbury and Waikato have welcomed his presentations with the same enthusiasm that international meetings have registered. From the Waikato Branch perspective, Paul had a significant role in the design and implementation of the two major conferences we have promoted; Geo.Ed.97 in 1997 and Positioning Geography in 2010. The international reach of his work extends to Europe, North America and Australasia, in each of which he has made research presentations about his work in Waikato. Paul’s approachability and commitment to geographical education through the Waikato Branch and NZBoGT has been outstanding over forty years.


Jane Evans

Jane Evans has been a member of the AGTA since 1998 and was Chairperson for 6 years from 2004 to 2010. During that time her contribution to Geography teaching has been profound. She has presented at numerous teacher workshops sharing her incredible expertise selflessly with the members of the A.G.T.A.  She has been a spokesperson for the A.G.T.A. and has worked closely with both the NZQA and the MOE on curriculum matters in the field of Geography. After an absence of 2 years from the Committee she has again, in 2012, given of her time to share with members. Jane’s contributions to Geography comprise longstanding teaching experience (1981-2012), as well as leadership. Jane was HOF of Social Sciences at Takapuna Grammar School from 202-2012. She has been involved in a large range of subject associations, and has been Chair person of AGTA from 2004-2010 and attended NZGS meetings in her representative role during 2009 and 2010. She was pivotal in the initial development of the Rotorua Education Network, co-opted on to NZBoGT to help with the skills list development, developed ideas for AGTA/NZGS and AU scholarship workshops for students, and established monthly newsletters for geography teachers across the country. Jane has been heavily involved in professional development facilitation, by leading workshops for both students and staff, and in advisory roles of different kinds (e.g. new geographers, Northland Geographers), as well as served as representatives in different roles, such as the organising committee for SocCon 2007, and as AGTA representative for IGU in 2006. Jane also served as marker for university bursary and NCEA external examinations, and has been involved in writing and publication tasks for NCEA and other Geography education publications.



Distinguished Service Awards 2011

Dr Garth Cant

Dr Cant has given long and outstanding service to geographical education in this country's high schools, research in rural studies, assiduous promotion of indigenous studies, respect for the Treaty of Waitangi in university teaching and research programmes, and unstinting service at all levels within the New Zealand Geographical Society.


Roger Baldwin

Roger has contributed to geography and geographical education in New Zealand for over forty years.  Since graduating from the University of Canterbury and training at the Christchurch College of Education he has been a geography teacher and Head of Department at a variety of schools, in New Zealand, Niue Island and the United Kingdom. He recently served for ten years as a Geography and Social Sciences advisor to schools, based at the University of Canterbury, until his retirement in 2010.


Murray Fastier

Murray is a geographer who has been involved in geography over a long period of time and has had a close association with the New Zealand geographical community in a number of capacities. These have included his roles in secondary school and tertiary education institutions, voluntary roles in regional and national subject associations, as well as Ministry of Education and New Zealand Qualification Authority initiatives. As a teacher and curriculum leader in schools Murray was responsible for driving the direction of geography at the secondary school level over many years. He has fully participated in a number of curriculum and assessment reforms that have been influential in shaping the nature of geography being taught in schools today.



Distinguished Service Award 2010

Associate Professor Lynda Johnston

Associate Professor Johnston has made major contributions to the life and vitality of New Zealand geography. As Head of the School of Geography, Tourism and Environmental Planning at the University of Waikato in recent years she ensured that feminist geography has remained highly visible in the New Zealand university system. She has been a key contributor to BRCSS (Building Research Capability in the Social Sciences), a major social science initiative to which geographers have been prominent contributors.


Annette Lanigan

Annette has Chaired the Society’s Board of Geography Teachers for several years, providing crucial leadership in the secondary school sector that has ensured Geography as a school subject has retained its strong place. She has managed the Board’s contract with the Ministry of Education over assessment and curriculum development and has been a powerful voice in lobbying on Geography’s behalf in Wellington.


Professor Eric Pawson

Professor Pawson received the Award for his role as Managing Editor of the New Zealand Geographer, his pre-eminence as a geographical educator and his organisational capabilities, for which New Zealand geography has been a primary beneficiary. Most recently his strategic skills and organisational acumen were a major factor in the highly successful joint New Zealand Geographical Society/Institute of Australian Geographers 2010 conference in Christchurch in July. He is also currently a co-Chair of the influential International Network of Learning and Teaching in Geography in Higher Education.


Margaret Williams

Margaret has been a long serving Otago region member of the New Zealand Board of Geography Teachers, like many secondary school geography teachers, making involvement in New Zealand Geography Society branch activities a priority. This led to her taking on national responsibilities within the Board framework. She was for a number of years the Ministry of Education Geography Adviser for the South Island. In recent years this has included the Maatangi Whenua competition for Year 11 geography students.



2009 recipients

Distinguished Service Awards
Mrs June Logie, Executive Manager, New Zealand Geographical Society
Dr Paul Sirota, Department of Geography, Otago University

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