Former Whanganui District Council chief executive Kevin Ross and Whanganui architect Bruce Dickson are among the recipients of this year's UCOL honours awards.
The awards recognise people who act as role models and inspiration to UCOL students, and reflect UCOL's community connections. UCOL Council chairman Malcolm Inglis says Mr Dickson has been very involved with the Whanganui District Council in creating the heritage look and feel of Whanganui's central business area.
"He has become a reference point for the council on architectural heritage matters, and is a trustee of the Whanganui Regional Heritage Trust which advocates for heritage conservation locally and regionally.
"As a founder member of Mainstreet Whanganui, he has acted as chair of the Design Heritage Committee for most of Mainstreet's 25 years of operation. He is also a staunch champion of preserving Whanganui's tree-filled avenues."
Mr Inglis said Mr Dickson's continuing role in advising private citizens and groups on conserving heritage have been identified by the Whanganui District Council as one of the most distinctive and important factors in Whanganui's future as a city to attract new residents and tourists.
Mr Dickson will receive an honorary associate award.
Kevin Ross will be awarded an institutional medal for his ongoing support of local education providers, believing that tertiary education is a cornerstone of any significant community.
"He was the chief executive of the Whanganui District Council for seven years, served on the council for 30 years in a variety of positions, and is currently on the World Masters Games board," says Mr Inglis.
"During his time as WDC chief executive, Kevin has overseen the management of the council during a number of difficult times, including the ongoing debate over the spelling of the city's name, problems with the city's wastewater treatment plant, and the June 2015 floods. Kevin was also a trustee of the Whanganui River Enhancement Trust, and has been involved in creating relationships with local iwi and enhancing digital experiences in the community."
The highest honour for the Whanganui, Manawatu and Wairarapa regions will be awarded to emeritus professor Sir Mason Durie FRANZCP, FRSNZ, who is to be made an honorary fellow for outstanding and distinguished contributions to UCOL, the wider community and society in general.
"Sir Mason is most well-known for his contributions to Maori health and the concept of whare tapa wha - a key framework that underpins UCOL's current Maori education strategy; Rourou Aronui," says Mr Inglis. "He provides invaluable national and global academic leadership for Maori and indigenous development; champions higher education for Maori, and believes in strong Maori leadership."
Mr Inglis says the UCOL Council awards are a way of publicly recognising those who "contribute to the life and vibrancy of our communities."
The awards will be conferred at UCOL's graduation ceremony on March 24.