New Zealander of the Year Dame Anne Salmond is an old girl of Solway College in Masterton.
Dame Anne, originally from Gisborne, was named New Zealander of the Year at a prestigious awards ceremony in Auckland on Thursday night.
She attended Solway as a full boarder from 1958 until 1961, says principal Beth Rogerson, joining the school as a third former (today's Year 9) and excelling academically, winning first in class in each of the four years she was at Solway.
Dame Anne was awarded the college's Dux prize as the top academic student overall in her final year at the school and also excelled in public speaking, won essay prizes and represented the college in tennis.
She went on to become an award-winning author and historian and is a former Fulbright Scholar. The anthropologist is a distinguished Professor of Maori Studies at Auckland University and also works as an environmentalist on the East Coast.
Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger, who is the patron of the awards, noted that Dame Anne's work in Maori studies has lifted opportunities for New Zealanders and "made us comfortable with who we are".
Dame Anne was made a CBE for her services to literature and Maori and in 1995 she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire for services to New Zealand history.
She is the second Solway College old girl to be made a Dame Commander. One of New Zealand's best known and loved actresses, the late Dame Patricia Evison, was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1993 for services to theatre, television and the community.