Fifteen alumni were among the Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington community members recognised for their achievements in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Elizabeth Knox, previously an Officer of the Order of New Zealand Merit, has become a Companion of the Order of New Zealand Merit for her services to literature.

Elizabeth, who studied at the University and now teaches a workshop for the International Institute of Modern Letters, has published 13 novels, three novellas, and a collection of essays. Her most recent book is The Absolute Book, published by Victoria University Press, and she was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction in 2019.

Alumni Taika Cohen (Waititi) and Mary Holm have each been awarded an Order of New Zealand Merit in this year’s honours.

Taika, who received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University in 2011, was given the honour for his services to film, with his latest work Jojo Rabbit earning him a Best Director award at the 2020 Academy Awards.

Mary received the honour for her services to financial literacy education, thanks to her work in media and as a director of the Financial Markets Authority and the Banking Ombudsman’s Scheme.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford congratulated all members of the University community who have been recognised for achievements in their fields.

Alumni who received Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2020 include:

Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit 

Elizabeth Knox ONZM, for services to literature

Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Taika Cohen (Waititi), for services to film

Mary Holm, for services to financial literacy education

James (Jim) Tomlin, for services to art education

David Zwartz, for services to the Jewish and interfaith communities

Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit 

Donna Tusiata Avia MNZM, for services to poetry and the arts

Jacqueline Edmond, for services to sexual and reproductive health

Elizabeth (Liz) Hird, for services to health

Dr Sarah Leberman, for services to women, sport, and tertiary education

Dr Janet Turnbull, for services to health

Queen’s Service Order 

Clare Wells, for services to early childhood education

Queen’s Service Medal 

Gillian Bishop, for services to conservation

Kay Brereton, for services to the welfare of beneficiaries

John Kennedy-Good, for services to the community

Gwenyth Wright, for services to women and the community

The University also offers its congratulations to stakeholder Dr Karen Poutasi CNZM, who has been made Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.