Information about past recipients of the University of Auckland Distinguished Alumni Award.
Previous award winners
Here you can find a list of previous Distinguished Alumni Award winners, dating back to 1996. Please note: profile information was gathered at the time the award recipients were first announced.
To view our most recent award winners, visit the recent Distinguished Alumni page.
To browse our Honoured alumni database, which pairs Distinguished Alumni Award winners alongside University alumni who have received New Zealand Royal Honours or other national awards, visit the database homepage.
Past award winners by year
- Jan Beagle (Arts), United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Management.
- Jennifer Gill ONZM (Education and Social Work), CEO of Foundation North.
- Robert McLeod (Law), New Zealand tax expert and former chair of the NZ Business Roundtable.
- William (Bill) Robertson ONZM (Creative Arts and Industries), world-renowned figure in surveying and mapping.
- Young Alumnus: Luke Willis Thompson (Creative Arts and Industries), the youngest artist to have received the Walters Prize.
- Carol Hirschfeld (Arts), Head of Content at Radio New Zealand and broadcaster.
- Professor Ian Hunter (Science), Hatsopoulos Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Dr Lance O’Sullivan (FMHS), medical and community leader.
- Lisa Reihana (NICAI), multi-disciplinary artist.
- Young Alumna: Erna Takazawa (FMHS), Samoa’s first and only optometrist.
- David Mitchell (NICAI), award-winning architect.
- Graeme Wheeler (Business), Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
- Professor Karen Willcox (Engineering), Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- David AR Williams QC (Law), international commercial arbitrator.
- Young Alumna: Dr Divya Dhar (FMHS), doctor and social justice campaigner
- Sir Russell Coutts KNZM CBE (Engineering), Olympic Gold Medal-winning sailor and America’s Cup champion.
- Bruce Plested (Teaching), founder of global logistics provider Mainfreight.
- Bryan Williams CNZM SOM (Law), All Black and President of the New Zealand Rugby Union.
- Professor Christine Winterbourn CNZM, FRSNZ (Science), renowned scientist and first female recipient of the Rutherford Medal.
- Joan Withers (Business), executive director, chairwoman, and business leader.
- Young Alumnus: Fady Mishriki (Engineering), specialist in the deployment of wireless power systems.
- Bruce Aitken (Business), former President and CEO of Methanex Corporation.
- Gareth Farr (NICAI), a leading composer and well-known performance artist.
- Dr Julie Maxton (Law), Executive Director of the Royal Society, former Registrar at the University of Oxford.
- Dr Ana Maui Taufe’ulungaki (Arts), Minister of Education and Training in the Kingdom of Tonga.
- Dr William Tan (Medical and Health Sciences), Neuroscientist, medical doctor, paralympian and international speaker.
- Young Alumna: Roseanne Liang (Arts and Science), Filmmaker, writer and director of the feature film My Wedding and Other Secrets.
- Dr Jillian Evans (Science), scientist, drug development innovator, and founder of PharmAria Therapeutics.
- Norman Godden (Arts), business leader, founding partner of Sheffield Ltd, and Chair of Energy Economics at the University of Auckland Business School.
- Kim Goldwater (Engineering), award-winning winemaker, established Goldwater Estate vineyard and winery on Waiheke Island.
- Honourable Jim McLay CNZM QSO (Law), political leader, New Zealand’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
- Andrew Patterson (NICAI), renowned architect, received New Zealand’s highest architecture award five times.
- Young Alumnus: Simon Denny (NICAI), winner of the Baloise Art Prize, nominated for Germany’s Preis der Nationalgalarie für junge Kunst.
- Professor Charles Alcock (Science), award-winning scientist and Director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
- Don McGlashan (Arts), one of New Zealand’s most celebrated songwriters, singer and main songwriter in the Mutton Birds.Dr Mark Sagar (Science and Engineering), winner of two Scientific and Engineering Academy Awards for filmmaking technology.
- Dame Robin White (NICAI), painter and printmaker, one of New Zealand’s greatest visual artists.
- Emeritus Professor Ranginui Walker DCNZM (Arts), award-winning writer, teacher, researcher, and appointee to the Waitangi Tribunal.
- Young Alumna: Dr Privahini Bradoo (Liggins), founder of e-waste recycling company BlueOak, co-founder of the University of Auckland’s Velocity entrepreneurship program.
- Rt Hon Sir Peter Blanchard KNZM (Law), a judge on New Zealand’s Supreme Court. Partner at law firm Simpson Grierson.
- Dr Greg Brick (Science and Medicine), Senior Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School.
- Tony Falkenstein ONZM (Business), entrepreneur and business advocate, with majority stakes in Just Water International and Bartercard New Zealand.
- Jeanette Fitzsimons CNZM (Arts), co-leader of the New Zealand Green Party from 1995-2009, MP from 1996-2010, and lecturer at the University of Auckland’s Department of Planning.
- Hon Mike Rann CNZM (Arts), South Australia’s 44th State Premier.
- Young Alumna: Dr Claire French (Science), supreme Winner and “Science in our Society” category winner at the MacDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year Awards.
- Judge Andrew Becroft (Law and Arts), Principal Youth Court Judge of New Zealand since 2001 and a strong advocate on youth issues.
- Michael Parmenter MNZM (NICAI), one of New Zealand’s leading and best-known dancers and choreographers.
- Dr Jennifer Plane Te Paa (Theology), first lay, indigenous, and single woman to be appointed as head of an Anglican theological college.
- Richard Sibson (Science), earthquake researcher and Fellow of the Royal Society in London. Helped establish the University of Auckland’s Institute of Earth Science and Engineering.
- Nguyen Van Thanh (Engineering), founder of NVT Technologies, an engineering company spanning 13 states in the United States, and a notable philanthropist.
- Young Alumna: Dr Jessie Jacobsen (Science), Huntington’s Disease researcher, and winner of the MacDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year Award.
- Richard Chandler (Business), founder and chairman of Singapore-based investment group Orient Global.
- Lynley Dodd DCNZM (NICAI), one of New Zealand’s best-known authors, selling over six million children’s books worldwide.
- Rt Hon Sir Douglas Graham KNZM (Law), former politician, Minister of Justice, and Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations.
- Rt Hon Tuilaepa Malielegaoi (Business), Prime Minister of Samoa and first Samoan to receive a Masters degree in Commerce.
- Professor Ngaire Woods (Arts and Law), expert on global economic governance and a professor and director at Oxford University.
- Young Alumnus: Toa Fraser (Arts), award-winning playwright, screenwriter, director and filmmaker.
- Sir Ron Carter (Engineering), respected businessman, engineer, and Distinguished Fellow and former President of the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand.
- Emeritus Professor Carrick Chambers (Science), Australasian botanist who served as Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, and Professor of Botany at the University of Melbourne.
- Dr James Church (Medicine), Chair in Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA. Dr Church was a member of the first graduating class at the University’s School of Medicine.
- Hon Justice Lowell Goddard (Law), the first Maori woman appointed to the High Court bench, and the first New Zealand woman to serve as Police Complaints Authority.
- Emeritus Professor C.K. Stead (Arts), poet, novelist, essayist and literary critic who was a Professor of English at the University of Auckland for 20 years.Lynette Stewart, a distinguished Maori leader recognised for innovative leadership at governance and senior management level.
- Young Alumnus: John Chen (NICAI), internationally recognised pianist who was the youngest-ever winner of the Sydney International Piano Competition in 2004.
- Emeritus Professor Judith Binney (Arts)
- Professor Terry Collins (Science)
- Dr Maris O'Rourke (Arts)
- Dr Peter Watson (Law)
- Ian Wedde (Arts)
- Young Alumnus: Mahé Drysdale (Business)
- Dr Judith Aitken (Arts)
- David Baragwanath (Law)
- Philippa Boyens (Arts)
- Jonathan Hunt (Arts)
- Dr Andrew Thomson (Medicine)
- Mark Weldon (Business)
- Young Alumnus: Dr David Skilling (Business)
- Glenn Colquhoun (Arts)
- Hilton Glavish (Science)
- Susan Glazebrook (Arts, Commerce, Law)
- Marya Martin (NICAI)
- Ian McKinnon (Business and Education)
- Niki Caro (NICAI)
- Len Castle (Science)
- Dame Marie Clay (Science)
- Professor Raoul Franklin (Engineering and Science)
- The Most Reverend John Paterson (Arts and Theology)
- Marie Shroff (Arts)
- Dr Allan Badley (NICAI)
- Pip Cheshire (Architecture)
- John Hagen (Business)
- Chris Liddell (Engineering)
- Rosemary Nalden (Arts)
- Tom Schnackenberg (Science and Engineering)
- Mick Brown (Law)
- Vincent Cheng (Economics)
- Emeritus Professor Sidney “Ben” Gascoine AO (Science)
- Dr Ruth Harley (Arts)
- Rosslyn Noonan (Arts)
- Arthur Young (Law)
- Emeritus Professor Bruce Biggs (Arts)
- Dorothy Butler (Arts and Education)
- Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias (Law)
- Brian Peace (Science and Arts)
- Sir Laurence Stevens (Business)
- Dr James Watson (Science)
- Bruce Harland (Science)
- George E. Smith (Science)
- Gretchen Albrecht (NICAI)
- John La Roche (Engineering)
- Dr Sidney “Hirini” Moko Mead (Arts)
- Alan Smythe (Arts)
- Dame Cheryll Sotheran (Arts)
- Dr Allan Bollard (Arts)
- Dr Penelope Brook Cowan (Arts)
- Cyril Firth (Science)
- Maurice Gee (Arts)
- Emeritus Professor Sir Graham Liggins (Science and Medicine)
- Ian Athfield (Architecture)
- Michael Jones (Arts and Planning)
- Dr Claudia Orange (Arts)
- Justice Judith Potter (Law)
- Wilson Whineray (Business)
- Hugh Fletcher (Business and Science)
- Elsie Locke (Arts)
- Trevor Richards (Arts)
- Mary Schnackenberg (Arts)
- Richard Yan (Arts and Business)