National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards

35 national awards have been won by our teachers.

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

Up to 10 awards of $20,000 are made annually, under the General and Kaupapa Māori categories. The winner of the Prime Minister's Supreme Award is chosen from among the recipients, and receives an additional $10,000.

2020 national award winners

Three University of Auckland staff have received national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards in the 2020 round:

  • Dr Rhys Jones, Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences
  • Dr Maxine Lewis, Faculty of Arts
  • Mr Anuj Bhargava, Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences

Dr Jones was nominated in the Kaupapa Māori category and Dr Lewis and Mr Bhargava in the General category.

A total of nine awards were made in 2020 across the tertiary education sector. The University of Auckland was the only institution to have more than one awardee. The Prime Minister’s Supreme Award will be selected from among the nine awardees and will be announced later this year.

Anuj Bhargava joined the University in 2005 and teaches physiology to approximately 800 medical and science students each year. Adopting a holistic approach to teaching, Anuj prioritises understanding his students and their backgrounds to support their distinctive needs at different learning stages. Students value Anuj’s approachability, inclusivity and commitment to student wellbeing. A keen innovator, Anuj has been very successful in developing and implementing blended or hybrid learning strategies which respond to students’ diverse learning styles. He has introduced initiatives to promote increased engagement and interaction with students not only in the classroom, but through the provision of career and pastoral support, including the development of a career pathways portal, industry networking events, and an academic support programme for Māori and Pasifika students in MEDSCI courses. As a long-standing contributor to teaching seminars, workshops and other professional development activities, Anuj has influenced the teaching practice of colleagues across the University.

Rhys Jones joined the University in 2002. As Director of Teaching within Te Kupenga Hauora Māori (TKHM), he led the development of Te Ara, a graduate profile in Māori health for all undergraduate programmes within FMHS. In his teaching and across the health education curriculum, Rhys seeks to foster mana and rangatiratanga (the empowerment of learners and communities), whanaungatanga (connection), manaakitanga (respect, kindness and care for others) and inclusion. Students speak warmly of the collective learning environments that Rhys creates, and his consistent modelling of the personal reflexivity and criticality that he invites and encourages among his students. For many, unpacking how social systems impact on health status in Rhys’ classes is a transformative experience. Rhys is also regarded as an enthusiastic and sincere mentor of Māori academics and has contributed to growth in postgraduate supervision capacity within TKHM. His teaching excellence and leadership have been underscored by extensive scholarship in Indigenous health education.

Maxine Lewis joined the University in 2012 and teaches across the full range of subjects offered by the Discipline of Classical Studies and Ancient History. Maxine is known as a teacher who is constantly trialling new technologies, practices and possibilities, and in doing so has helped open the discipline to new ways of thinking and different kinds of students. She has pioneered the teaching of gender and sexuality within the Discipline at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and has played a central role in reworking the Latin curriculum, improving pedagogy with a focus on student equity and access. With the guidance and support of the Ako Arts team, Maxine has redesigned the Discipline’s largest Stage I offering, CLASSICS 110/G, in accordance with Ako principles, resulting in significant increases in the pass rates for Māori students, Pasifika students, and the student cohort as a whole. Reflective of her strong commitment to ongoing professional development, Maxine has been actively engaged in sharing teaching strategies and ideas across the Faculty.


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.

Take a look at our previous national award winners here: 2002-2007, 2008-2011, 2012-2017, 2018-