Old Girl Honours have been awarded annually since 2003 to Old Girls who have made an outstanding contribution in their chosen field.
The award’s criteria is: an Old Girl who has made an outstanding contribution, nationally or internationally, in any field, including (but not limited to) the arts, commerce, education, military, the professions, public service, research, science and technology and sport.
Nominations close 1 May.
2018 – Margaret Merrilees (Willoughby)
Margaret graduated with a BSc from the University of Otago in 1968.
She has had a stellar career. Working with the late Professor John Scott, she was the first person in New Zealand to grow blood vessel wall cells in culture; a significant advance in studying disease processes. She followed this up with work in the IVF field for 29 years, including years in clinics in Canada and the USA. She pioneered several embryology techniques in New Zealand including early embryo freezing, ICSI and Assisted Hatching. ICSI was a major advance and revolutionised treatment for male infertility.
Margaret has been the Scientific Director at Fertility PLUS at Greenlane since 1999; her expertise has been sought at all levels, including governance, consulting and teaching.
Without doubt she is one of the gifted individuals who lead real advances in science.
2017 – The Honourable Justice Gordon
Justice Gordon graduated with a BA in History from Otago University in 1974 and completed an LLB from Auckland University in 1983. She joined Russell McVeagh in 1984 and worked primarily in the area of resource management law. In 1986, Justice Gordon joined the Auckland Crown Solicitor’s office, Meredith Connell, where she specialised in criminal law. She became a partner in October 1987 and remained at the firm until 2015.
Justice Gordon was appointed a Senior Counsel (now Queen’s Counsel) in 2008. She held the office of Deputy Prosecutor for the Pitcairn Islands from 2001 until 2014 when she was appointed Public Prosecutor for the Pitcairn islands.
In 2015 Justice Gordon joined the independent bar and later that year was made Special Counsel at the Manukau Crown Solicitor’s office Kayes Fletcher Walker.
Justice Gordon was appointed a High Court Judge on 8 December 2016 and is based in Auckland.
2016 – Diane Levy (Hift)
Diane Levy is a bestselling author of parenting books, is a highly successful family therapist, counsellor, parenting coach and speaker.
Diane’s bestselling books include: Of Course I Love You . . . Now Go To Your Room!;They Look So Lovely When They’re Asleep; and Time Out for Tots, Teens and Everyone in Between. She had her own television series, Demons to Darlings, had a regular parenting slot on Radio Rhema, and was a key contributor to Littlies‘ The Book of Answers.
Her modern approach to parenting encourages parents to use emotional support and limit-setting to help their children experience and handle their emotions and learn self-discipline. Most importantly, she teaches a philosophy whose aim is to produce children who are pleasant to be with and whose parents enjoy their company.
2015 – Susan Paterson (Taylor) ONZM
Susan is a professional director and was appointed by the Queen as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to corporate governance in the 2015 New Year’s Honours.
She has a broad range of Board and executive experience, with 19 years of Board/Chair experience, including the Boards of the Electricity Authority, Goodman Property, Ports of Auckland, Transpower, Abano Healthcare Ltd, Tower Health and Life, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, St Cuthbert’s College, Auckland Hockey and Home of Cycling (Avantidrome). She has been awarded Chartered Fellow status by the Council of the Institute of Directors.
Her experience includes a pharmaceutical and management background, MBA (London Business School) and a range of consulting and management positions throughout New Zealand and internationally.
2014 – Polly Olivia Powrie MNZM
Polly is part of Team Jolly, together with Jo Aleh, she sails a 470 dinghy. They held the following titles in 2014: Olympic Champions, World Champions and ISAF World Sailors of the Year. Polly has been awarded an MNZM.
The team is exceptional as they are responsible for all their own planning and organization. Their planning is meticulous and their attention to detail legendary; nothing is left to chance.
They are recognized as leaders and role models for their structured, highly organized approach which has been instrumental in helping them achieve their goals.Managing a sailing campaign, includes everything from boat handling, sail development, boat maintenance to fitness, nutrition, budgeting, accounts, logistics, team building, media and publicity.
2013 – Professor Margaret Bedggood QSO
Professor Bedggood was head of New Zealand’s Human Rights Comission from 1989 to 1994 and she oversaw the passage of the Human Rights Act in 1993.
She was Dean of Law at Waikato University from 1994 to 1999 and holds an honorary doctorate from Waikato University. She helped shape a global understanding of international human rights through her work as one of nine members of Amnesty’s International executive.
In her “retirement” she now teaches a Masters programme for Oxford University in Britain, teaching students from countries as far afield as Malaysia, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, Canada and USA.
In her words: “Human rights provide a structure, not only in law, but also in the way the community can work together to see that people do have a decent chance.”
2012 – Eleitino Paddy Walker (Halliday)
Paddy Walker is a remarkable woman, she has touched so many people’s lives in the different spheres in which she has worked and lived, through music, drama, teaching, mentoring and establishing organisations to help women and children of the Pacific. In her words: “My journey has been one of unifying the arts and the senses through the medium of music. And my music is of the Pacific: inspired by the sounds of my childhood in Samoa. Music soothes my soul and takes me back to my island beginnings of making melodies under the palm trees with my family and my ukulele.”
She arrived at St Cuthbert’s College from Rarotonga in 1927 when she was 10 years old. She thrived at the College and continued her association both as a teacher of music and later the President of the Old Girls’ Association. An extremely elegant woman, she coached young women for the Graduation Ball as well as on the catwalk in the art of presentation and created a new perspective for fashion shows to include music and mime.
Her long career has spanned many different changes of role and responsibilities, from Auckland City Councillor, long time member and president of the council of Samoan women in Auckland (she holds the chiefly Samoan title of Eleitino) to founder of Pacifica New Zealand. She has founded youth leadership trusts, worked on “The Awakening” and started children’s reading programmes. She has also written four children’s books about children’s ability to inspire peace and is an international ambassador for Peace.
She has received many honours including the Order of the British Empire and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as one of the Thousand Women of Peace in 2009. She has been a leader in UNICEF and on the organising committee for the International Year of the Child.
2011 – Dr Gillian Greer CBE
Old Girl, teacher, mother, writer and business woman, Dr Gillian Greer (1949-1960) was awarded the 2011 Old Girls’ Honours Board Award. The former College Prefect went on to achieve a BA at the University of Auckland and then years later completed a PhD in Women’s Literature at the University of Victoria. With a passionate and extensive background in teaching, management and advocacy, Dr Greer was appointed as the Chief Executive Director of NZ Family Planning Association (FPA) in 1998.
Before this, Dr Greer was the Chair of the NZ NGO Ministry of Health Forum, Chair of Asia Pacific Alliance and member of the International Development Advisory Committee for the NZ Minister of Foreign Affairs Trade. In 2005 she was awarded the NZ order of Merit for services to FPA and in 2011, on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, Dr Greer was named as one of the 100 stand-out people who have delivered for women globally. She currently runs International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), one of the world’s largest organisations which has 58,000 service centres (more than McDonalds) and is second only to the International Red Cross in its health work.
2010 – Bridget Liddell (Coates) MNZM
Bridget Liddell, who attended St Cuthbert’s from 1958-1968, receives this year’s award for her services to the business community. Considered one of New Zealand’s most accomplished businesswomen, she has held directorships of many companies and organisations including Industry New Zealand, Sky City Ltd, Uniservices Ltd, Fisher & Paykel Appliances Ltd and CS First Boston NZ Ltd. In 2003 she moved to New York, where she is the managing principal of Fahrenheit Ventures, a company that specialises in strategic innovation, branding and marketing.
Bridget also finds time for a number of economic development leadership roles, including chair of the New Zealand/United States ‘Beachhead’ Board, director of the Knowledge Wave Trust, board member of the US/NZ Council Kiwi Expatriate Association, and trustee for NZ Global Women. Bridget has done invaluable work in connecting many businesses nationally and internationally in order to encourage trade and economic success.
2009 – Gillian Mellsop
A recognition of inspired leadership has gone to Gillian Mellsop – the seventh name to be added to the St Cuthbert’s College Old Girls’ honours board, for her service to the international community. Gillian is currently the UNICEF Representative in Nepal and holds a degree in anthropology and history, a post graduate community counciling qualification and an MA in development management.
She has worked for the New Zealand Foreign Ministry, the Australian Government Overseas Programme with numerous overseas postings including Bangladesh, Laos and India, and as UNICEF’s Pacific Representative in Fiji. Gillian shared what she has learnt about being a woman leader over the years. She says there is no right or wrong way of being a leader, that it is important to know and use one’s strengths to one’s advantage, emotional intelligence is vital, and that leaders exist only through the support of their team members.
2008 – Judith Trotter CNZM
Judith Trotter was a College Prefect and Head Boarder in 1952 and Head Prefect in 1953. Her distinguished 34-year career with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs included being Assistant Secretary of Foreign Affairs; New Zealand High Commissioner to Singapore and Canada; New Zealand Ambassador to France and Permanent Representative to the OECD; as well as diplomatic postings in Athens, Bangkok, New York and Rome.
She was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in the 1996 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Since her retirement in 1999, Mrs Trotter has remained active in groups and in 2004 completed a Graduate Diploma in Art History at Victoria University.
2007 – Rosemary Nalden
In 1997, Rosemary Nalden established the Buskaid Soweto String Project. Based in a tiny run-down church office, the little project was soon overwhelmed with requests from local youngsters eager to join. With rapidly increasing numbers, these facilities were woefully inadequate; and in 1999, assisted by generous grants from South African companies and trusts, Buskaid built its own dedicated Music School in Diepkloof.
The Buskaid Music School now offers specialised string tuition to approximately 110 youngsters aged between four and 30. Over the years the school has had to turn away hundreds of students through lack of resources. In 2002 Buskaid implemented a very successful teacher-training scheme and currently employs nine senior students as assistant teachers to Rosemary and Sonja Bass.
In fifteen years the school has produced an outstanding string orchestra that, through numerous performances and CD releases, has generated significant revenue for the Buskaid Trust. The Ensemble has toured internationally and in 2007 became the first South African orchestra to play the Proms.
Whilst providing a first-class training ground for the exceptional musical talent to be found throughout the townships, Buskaid also challenges its members to attain to high standards in all aspects of their lives, giving them confidence and a great sense of optimism about their future.
2015: Susan Paterson (Taylor) ONZM – for services to corporate governance
2014: Polly Olivia Powrie MNZM – for services to sailing
2013: Professor Margaret Bedggood QSO – for services to human rights
2012: Eleitino Paddy Walker (Halliday) – for services to music and the women and children of the Pacific
2011: Dr Gillian Greer – for services to women’s health
2010: Bridget Liddell (Coates) MNZM – for services to business
2009: Gillian Mellsop – for services to Unicef
2008: Judith Trotter CNZM – for services to diplomacy
2007: Rosemary Nalden – for services to music
2006: Dr Roma Mere Roberts (Middleton) ONZM – for services to science and Maori education
2005: Heather Robson (Redwood) – services to badminton as NZ representative and administrator
2004: Pamela Allen (Griffiths) MNZM – children’s book author and illustrator
2003: Christine Fletcher (Lees) QSO – politician, Mayor of Auckland