Five University of Canterbury alumni, among them a former MP and a media law expert, will receive honorary doctorates from their alma mater in April.
Law Commissioner Emeritus Professor John Burrows QC, former MP David Caygill, chemist Dr Richard Garland, former diplomat Simon Murdoch and Malaysian businessman Ngau Boon Keat will be recognised for the significant contribution they have made to their fields during the University’s graduation ceremonies on 24 and 27 April.
The ceremonies will be held in the CBS Canterbury Arena in Addington, Christchurch.
Professor Burrows, who graduated from UC with an LLM in 1964 and gained a PhD from the London School of Economics in 1966, is one of New Zealand’s most respected scholars in the field of law. He is a leading authority on media law, statute law, the law of contract and tort law.
He was appointed a Law Commissioner for a five-year term in February 2007 after retiring from almost 40 years of teaching in UC’s School of Law. While at UC he was head of department and dean of the faculty of law (1980-1986), pro-vice-chancellor (1992-1998), and deputy vice-chancellor from 1999-2000. He also chaired many university committees and has been a member of various national committees on tertiary education.
Professor Burrows, who was appointed Emeritus Professor at UC after his retirement, has been a barrister of the High Court of New Zealand and in 2005 was appointed a Queen’s Counsel, the first time an academic lawyer in New Zealand had been honoured in this way.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, a Trustee for the New Zealand Law Foundation and Co-Chair of the newly established Constitutional Advisory Panel, and was a member of the New Zealand Legislation Advisory Committee from 2001- 2011. He has also been involved in continuing education for the legal and journalism professions.
Mr Caygill graduated from UC in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts and again in 1975 with a Bachelor of Law. His political career began in 1971 when he began a nine-year term as a Christchurch city councillor.
He was first elected to Parliament in 1978, representing the Labour Party as MP for St Albans. He went on to serve six terms as an MP and held the ministerial portfolios of trade and industry, health and finance in the 1984-1990 Labour governments.
In 1996 he retired from Parliament, becoming a partner in the law firm Buddle Findlay. He has also served on a number of government bodies, being appointed deputy chair of the Commerce Commission in 2003, chair of the Electricity Commission in 2007 and was chair of the Accident Compensation Corporation. He is currently Chair of the Education New Zealand Trust and in 2010 was appointed one of six commissioners at Environment Canterbury.
Dr Garland recently retired from the position of Managing Director of New Zealand Pharmaceuticals Ltd (NZP) and is widely respected in industrial and chemical circles, both nationally and internationally.
After graduating from UC with a BSc (Hons) in 1969 and a PhD in organic chemistry in 1971, he joined NZP, which manufactures pharmaceutical intermediates and diagnostic products for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies around the world.
Dr Garland joined NZP at its inception in 1971. After holding technical, operational and commercial positions within NZP he took over the management of the company in 1987, building it into a successful and expanding business that was valued at about $100 million in 2005 and today employs more than 140 staff at its Palmerston North and United Kingdom sites.
As well as maintaining a role as an Executive Director at NZP, Dr Garland is an investor and director of several private companies. He is also a member of an angel investment group in the Manawatu and is a director of two start-up companies. He served on the board of the Manawatu Chamber of Commerce for many years and is a trustee of the Te Manawa Museums Trust and the Palmerston North Public Sculpture Trust.
In 2008 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2009 he received the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Thomson Medal for his “outstanding leadership in the development and application of science and technology to New Zealand business development”.
Mr Murdoch has held many senior diplomatic roles within the New Zealand government since he graduated from UC with a BA in 1971 and an MA in 1972.
He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1972 and, after working in the Information and United Nations divisions for two years, was posted to Canberra where he was based until 1977. He went on to serve in Washington (1983-1987) and returned to Canberra in 1999 as High Commissioner, a position he held until 2002.
Mr Murdoch has also worked in the External Aid, Economic, Asian and Australia divisions of the ministry. He was appointed secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2002 and retired in June 2009. He was made a Companion of the New Zealand of Order of Merit in 2009.
During his career Mr Murdoch also worked on secondment in the Prime Minister’s Advisory Group as foreign policy advisor from 1979-1981 and later returned as the group’s director. He was also chief executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet from 1991 to 1998.
Mr Ngau has made a significant contribution to the development of his country, Malaysia, through his commercial success and his contributions to his community.
Mr Ngau came to Christchurch in 1967, attending Cashmere High School and in 1971 graduated from UC with an honours degree in mechanical engineering. He worked as a refinery engineer for Mobil Oil in Singapore before moving back to Kuala Lumpur in 1975, joining Petronas, the newly formed national oil and gas company. One of the first few staff employed by the company, Mr Ngau is often referred to as one of Petronas’ “pioneers” and while with the company made a strong contribution to its early development.
In 1984 he co-founded Dialog Group, which is now one of Malaysia’s leading public listed companies providing technical services to the oil, gas and petrochemical industries. It has business interests and customers throughout the Asia Pacific region, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, the United States and South America.
Currently Dialog’s Executive Chairman, Mr Ngau helped establish the MyKasih Foundation, designed to improve the lives of people in the poorest communities in Malaysia, and continues to play an active role in UC’s Malaysian alumni group.
Mr Ngau, along with Mr Murdoch, will receive their honorary degrees during the 24 April graduation ceremonies. Mr Caygill, Dr Garland and Professor Burrows will be presented with their degrees during the ceremonies on 27 April.