Rugby legend Liam Messam turned down the offer of an honorary degree from Wintec three times before finally saying yes.

Messam and comedian Te Radar were both awarded masters for their contribution and commitment to sport and media respectively at Wintec on Tuesday night.

But the 2017 Chiefs captain didn't think he deserved it when he saw the list of past recipients including Sir Colin Meads.

"Everyone is pretty much a sir on there and I was like 'Nope, I'm not going to get it'. I still feel a little embarrassed coming here today when all I do for a living is smack some blokes around and get smacked around myself. But very humbled and honoured to receive this," Messam said.


The 33-year-old first started studying sport and exercise science at Wintec when he first arrived in Hamilton in 2003 and was playing for the Sevens. About six months into the course he was asked to leave because of poor attendance due to full-time rugby commitments.

But 14 years on he has received the Master of Science (Sport and Exercise Science).

Messam was first offered the honour in March and said it wasn't until he spoke to family and good friends about it that he changed his mind.

"It is nice to get it. It doesn't feel like I earnt it the right way, but as I said friends and family have convinced me there are other ways of getting it than putting your head in books."

Fellow Chiefs team mate Stephen Donald was a "bit bitter" because it took him 15 years to complete his.

"He's very very disappointed - not disappointed - jealous, there's a bit of haterade going on ... I will be sending him a photo right now in my gown with a big smiley face."

Messam is heading back to Japan on Thursday to finish his contract with Toshiba Brave Lupus and will return in January to play the 2018 season for the Chiefs

"Might see what happens after that. Might use my masters to my advantage somehow ...


"I'm very passionate about our youth, our communities and getting our people more healthy and active so this honour is going to help me do that."

However, the ex-All Black's first priority when he finished his rugby career would be his children.

"I'm pretty keen to just be a dad for a bit ... school drop-offs, making lunches and doing your house chores."

Meanwhile comedian Te Radar, also known as Andrew Lumsden, said there was no way he was going to turn down a Master of Arts.

"I might not get it offered it again ... I'm still not convinced they are not pranking us."

The joker missed his first graduation in 1991 for a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Philosophy at Otago University because he did not believe he had passed.

"I wasn't an excellent student ... especially in philosophy and not even in drama."

He said he was excited to finally be wearing a gown, but felt he was missing a sword.

Te Radar said he had given a lot of other people awards at Wintec so thought perhaps this was the one way of stopping him asking again when he was getting his.

"I didn't expect to be here. I didn't know where I expected to be."

He has spent the past 18 months carrying out corporate speaking duties so he could stay closer to home while his daughter was young and was in the process of coming up with his next project.

"There will be some TV ideas, but that's really not up to me, but the things I can make happen are the live shows.

"But it is definitely going to be around history, it's definitely going to be around New Zealand history - I want to do the project on the New Zealand wars and we are looking at doing a project on the history of drugs and alcohol."