The University of Waikato’s Martin Thrupp won an award for protecting and promoting academic freedom at TEU’s inaugural Awards of Excellence this week.
TEU honoured Martin Thrupp for speaking out against National Standards being introduced into New Zealand schools. Since 2009 Professor Martin Thrupp had to defend his own right to research and speak out on a matter of public concern. Having criticised the government’s flagship school policy of National Standards, Martin found his research and university teaching under attack by the then minister of education Anne Tolley, print media and right-wing bloggers. Undeterred, Professor Thrupp has continued to build a well-respected research programme on the National Standards. He has also continued his academic activism as a public speaker and in the media, and has provided academic leadership speaking out publicly.
TEU national president Sandra Grey, who presented Martin Thrupp with his award on Monday night, said the new awards recognise the intrinsic values that make tertiary education a public good that benefits all New Zealanders.
“At the moment government policy values tertiary education’s economic outputs and labour market productivity. We wanted to take the time to recognise some of the less tangible but equally crucial things tertiary education and tertiary educators give to New Zealand,” said Sandra Grey.
Among the other Award of Excellence recipients were Margaret Taurere for her work encouraging young Māori and Pacific students into tertiary study, Sheeanda Field for her work helping Māori iwi, hāpu and whanau take part in research at Massey University, and Ryan Reynolds of the University of Canterbury for his work bringing art and creativity into the broken public spaces of post-earthquake Christchurch.
Ryan Reynolds spoke on behalf of the recipients by providing a fascinating insight into how the work he led opened up invitations and opportunities for Christchurch residents to re-imagine their city. You can view his speech here, and you can see a Te Karere interview with Margaret Taurere here.