Distinguished Alumni Awards

Master of Ceremonies Stacey Morrison addresses guests at the Defining Excellence Awards in the Banquet Hall of Parliament Buildings.

The annual Defining Excellence Awards were held at the Banquet Hall of the Beehive Executive Wing at Parliament Buildings at Wellington on 21 March 2018. It was the ninth year for the awards, which celebrate the achievements of Massey’s alumni and staff in research, teaching, professional achievement and community service.

It also included the presentation of Partnership Excellence Awards that recognise businesses and other organisations that work closely with Massey and exceed expectations in the relationships.


Ivan Pivac

Ivan Pivac playing the guitar.

Distinguished Service Award winner

Much of Ivan Pivac’s professional life has been dedicated to supporting the needs of others. Having practiced acupuncture for more than 40 years, he has more recently imported and designed technology to support those with disabilities. Pivac’s commitment to supporting others is even more astonishing given he has been blind since the age of 12.

While studying for a Bachelor of Business at Massey University (1991), Pivac realised the limitations of acupuncture for treating those with severe disabilities, leading to his decision to import technology to support those with disabilities. Since then he has imported items such as augmentative devices to assist sufferers with neurological disorders to communicate and feeding products to assist infants born with cleft pallet deformities.

Most notably however, he personally designed several products. A voice amplifier designed to aid Parkinson’s sufferers to speak louder is exported to Australia and the United States. He has also developed an inexpensive talking computer keyboard interface that is used in developing countries to teach blind students computer skills.

In recognition of his achievements he has received the Health Industry Lifetime Achievement Award, a New Zealand Post Business Award and a Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind ( now the Blind Foundation) Achievers’ Award.

Chloé Julian

Chloé Julian

Distinguished Young Alumni Award winner

It is sheer talent and hard work that has resulted in Chloé Julian’s success in the incredibly competitive world of fashion design. And it was sheer determination that saw her start – against the advice of others – a Diploma in Fashion Design and Technology at Massey University, following the completion of a Bachelor of Biomedical Science.

While only in her 30s, Julian has established an international reputation for her lingerie, swimwear, loungewear and nightwear designs. Upon graduating from Massey in 2005, she took up a role at iconic New Zealand lingerie manufacturer Bendon, designing for the Hey Sister brand. Just two years later, at the age of 26, she was thrown in at the deep-end when she was appointed lead designer for Bendon’s Stella McCartney brand. Based in London and answering directly to Stella McCartney, she produced six collections in three years.

In 2011 Julian was appointed head designer for David Beckham Bodywear, a collection  sold exclusively by multinational retail chain H&M and worn by the football player himself and, reportedly, Michele and Barack Obama. She then became head designer for cult lingerie brand Agent Provocateur, producing designs featured on magazine covers and in feature films. Fashion shoots and videos have involved working with actor Penelope Cruz. Last year she returned to New Zealand and took up a new role as head designer for Los Angeles-based fashion house, TechStyle Fashion Group, having accepted the role on the condition she could work from her homeland.

Patrick Hesp

Professor Patrick Hesp

Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award winner

Recognised as the leading world expert in coastal dune geomorphology, dynamics and management, Professor Hesp has published more papers in this field than anyone.

His passion for coastal dunes began as a child during summers at his grandfather’s beach house at Waitarere Beach and expanded while he was studying at Massey.

Born in Hawera and raised in Palmerston North, he has a Bachelor of Arts (1974) and Master of Arts (1976) from Massey and PhD (1982) from the University of Sydney. He holds the title of strategic professor at Flinders University in Adelaide. He has made multiple discoveries in his career, held many visiting fellowships and has been instrumental in advancing coastal dune science and geomorphology on the world stage. His surfzone-beach-dune interactions model is the most widely cited model of its type in coastal literature and an integral part of United States Army Core of Engineers doctrine.

He has received numerous awards including the Richard J Russell award by the American Association of Geographers – the first non-North American recipient.

Jane Wrightson

Jane Wrightson

Sir Geoffrey Peren Medal winner

As a champion for diversity in local content and public media for New Zealand audiences, Jane Wrightson has been a significant leader in the New Zealand media industry for more than 30 years. She became New Zealand’s first woman chief film censor in 1991 and the youngest to hold the position. In 1994 she graduated from Massey University with a Master of Business Administration with Distinction. She has also held chief executive positions with the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Screen Production and Development Association. Since 2007 she has been chief executive of the Crown broadcasting funding entity NZ on Air.

She is passionate about increased media access for those with disabilities, and during her time at NZ On Air there has been the introduction of audio descriptions for the vision-impaired. In mainstream media she has been a tireless advocate for diversity in major drama production.

In 2016 she was presented with the Women in Film and Television Award for Outstanding Contribution to the New Zealand Screen Industry and in 2015 the National Foundation for the Deaf Captioning Awards’ Supreme Award.

She has also been a board member on national swimming and netball organisations and is a trustee of the Digital Media Trust.

Defining Excellence Awards night

It was a celebration of the best and brightest at the Massey University Defining Excellence Awards held at Parliament Buildings in Wellington in March. The achievements of Massey’s alumni and staff in research, teaching and professional service were all acknowledged, as were the ongoing connections with partner organisations and former students.

Chloé Julian, flanked by her former lecturers Sue Prescott, left, and Mary-Ellen Imlach.

Professor Giselle Byrnes with individual research award winner Professor Ravi Ravindran.

Jane Wrightson, winner of the Sir Geoffrey Peren Medal.

Members of the Ministry of Health, Health Workforce New Zealand with their Partnership Excellence Award.

Distinguished Alumni Award winners from left, Jane Wrightson, Patrick Hesp, Chloé Julian and Ivan Pivac.

Distinguished Professor Gaven Martin, left, with Research Excellence Award winners, Dr Alexander Melnikov and Professor Dianne Brunton.

Zespri International Ltd staff with their Partnership Excellence Award.

Senior Massey staff celebrate with Partnership Excellence Award winners Wuhan University.