New honour for Dr Diane Menzies

Former president of the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects, Dr Diane Menzies, has a new honour to add to her name, and she says it’s the one that means the most. Nga Aho has recognised her with its Kahui Whetu award in recognition of her contribution both nationally and internationally,  of understanding the unique cultural values of the heritage of Maori and Pasifika design.

“I was very chuffed, it never occurred to me that I would get it,” Dr Menzies told Landscape Architecture Aotearoa. “It may sound insulting but I would put that much higher than getting a gong (she’s an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit) or Ph D or anything else."

“To me it shows you can be respected in both Maori and New Zealand culture, so it’s a cultural affirmation.”

 Dr Menzies during her acceptance korero.  Photo credit: Mapihi Martin-Paul, Nga Aho.

Dr Menzies during her acceptance korero.  Photo credit: Mapihi Martin-Paul, Nga Aho.

Kahui Whetu means “cluster of stars”. It’s the only award Nga Aho - a network of Maori design professionals serving the design aspirations of Maori communities - gives. She’s the first woman to receive it and only the fifth recipient.

In honouring her Nga Aho said Dr Menzies was totally committed to the kaupapa. “No mountain too high, no river too wide or deep to deter her. Much of the work that Diane does goes unseen, yet without it, the world would be a poorer place. This whaea's energy, perseverance, determination and indefatigability thoroughly deserve recognition.

“Diane's capacity for work is legendary. When she believes that something needs to be done, it's not enough for her to say ’Something needs to be done’. She sets about and does what needs to happen to make sure it gets done.

“She has mastered the art of delegation. In the time-honoured tradition of empowering others she instinctively looks to find ways to involve others to share the load, join the journey, and gain the satisfaction and comfort from achieving worthwhile results.”

 The Kahui Whetu presented to Dr Menzies.  Photo credit: Mapihi Martin-Paul, Nga Aho.

The Kahui Whetu presented to Dr Menzies.  Photo credit: Mapihi Martin-Paul, Nga Aho.

In Dr Menzies words she “doesn’t like to blow her own trumpet.” But her list of achievements is impressive. She’s the only person to have served more than two terms as President of the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects, culminating in her election as a Life Member of the NZILA in 2005. She’s a trustee of the Landscape Foundation, an NZILA Delegate to the International Federation of Landscape Architects, was Secretary General of the IFLA, then President, elected in 2015 as Honorary Member of IFLA, an Environment Court Commissioner, has a PHD in Resource Management and at various times had input at all three Landscape Architecture programmes in Aotearoa as a tutor, lecturer or Adjunct Professor. She’s presented numerous papers to conferences both at home and overseas;  served as Deputy-Chair of Ngā Aho and Co-Chair of Te Tau-a-Nuku; is an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to the Environment; a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas of the World Conservation Union; and a councillor for the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand. Whew! And now of course she’s Dr Diane Menzies (Kahui Whetu).