National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards

These awards recognise and reward excellence in tertiary teaching and are designed to encourage and promote excellence in academic practices.

There are up to 12 awards of $20,000 each, two of which recognise sustained excellence in teaching in a kaupapa Māori context. The winner of the Prime Minister's Supreme Award is chosen from among the 12 recipients, and receives an additional $10,000.

Introduced by the government in 2001, the Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards are nationally contested annual awards, giving recognition to outstanding tertiary teachers.

2016 award-winners

Martin East joined the Faculty of Education and Social Work in 2008 where he has taught, developed and refined language teaching courses and programmes.

Grounding his teaching in a ‘reflective practitioner’ philosophy, Martin’s courses support students to undertake reflective inquiries into their own practice as current and future teachers of languages in schools. Martin’s students value the accessible way in which he connects theory and research to classroom practice. They also speak favourably of the clarity of the structure and content of Martin’s courses, as well as the comfortable environment he creates for questions, comments and debates. Drawing on his research, Martin promotes use of a Task-based Language Teaching (TBLT) approach which language learners find highly motivating due to its student-centred and experiential focus.

A fluent speaker of French and German, Martin has contributed his expertise in language teaching theory and pedagogy to a range of contexts, including the learning and teaching of te reo Māori and the assessment of speaking skills for NCEA. Martin’s service and leadership roles in the New Zealand Association of Language Teachers are illustrative of his commitment to practice and the high regard with which teachers hold him.

Tracey McIntosh first started teaching at the University of Auckland as a graduate student in 1992, leading Māori tutorials for Stage I courses in Sociology. Today Tracey teaches popular courses aligned with her research in the sociology of death and dying, incarceration, state crime, and Indigenous peoples and the criminal justice system.

By presenting evidence-informed Indigenous perspectives, Tracey’s courses assist students to unpack mainstream assumptions and develop the critical perspectives necessary to contribute to innovative solution making. Mindful that the subjects she teaches can be personally and/or intellectually confronting for students, Tracey works to create a safe learning environment for all by upholding Māori values of whakaute (respect), whanaugatanga, (belonging), mohiotanga (sharing of information) and māramatanga (understanding). Students respond favourably to Tracey’s use of personal experiences and self-deprecating humour to illustrate a point and establish connections in large class settings.

The impact of Tracey’s teaching extends beyond the University to a corrections facility where she supports women in their formal education and runs a successful creative writing programme on a voluntary basis. In addition to her teaching activities, Tracey has contributed to the advancement of Māori educational aspirations through her role in the development of the University’s Targeted Admission Scheme and the Tuākana Arts programme, as well as her service as Associate Dean (Equity) in the Faculty of Arts (2003-2007) and Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor Equity (2005-2008).

Teaching Excellence at the University of Auckland

Find out what makes an excellent teacher from Director of Teaching and Learning Dr Kevin Morris and our 2013 national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award winners.

Award winners 2016

Associate Professor Martin East
School of Curriculum and Pedagogy.


Associate Professor Tracey McIntosh
Disciplinary Area of Sociology, School of Social Sciences.

Award winners 2015

Dr Elana Curtis
Te Kupenga Hauora Māori.


Dr Eleanor Hawe
School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice.


Ms Marie McEntee
School of Environment.

Award winner 2014

Ms Khylee Quince
Faculty of Law.

Award winners 2013

Associate Professor Bryony James
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering.


Professor Alison Jones
School of Te Puna Wānanga.


Associate Professor Cather Simpson
School of Chemical Sciences and Department of Physics.