Skip to main content

Curtin Vice-Chancellor recognised in New Year’s Honours List

Media release

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne ONZM has been honoured in the 2022 New Zealand New Year’s Honours List – made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in recognition of her outstanding services to health and wellbeing.

Signing of the Sophia Charter (L-R) Otago Property Investors Association President Kathy Seque, NZ Police Inspector Marty Gray, OUSA President Jack Manning, Sophia’s mother Elspeth McMillan, FENZ Assistant Area Manager Craig Geddes, Sophia’s father Bede Crestani, Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins and Professor Harlene Hayne.

One of the country’s highest accolades, the CNZM is given to those who selflessly serve their community. It has been awarded to Professor Hayne in recognition of her pivotal role in launching the Sophia Charter to enhance the safety and wellbeing of students and young people, while serving as Vice-Chancellor at the University of Otago.

The Sophia Charter was created following the tragic death of young student, Sophia Crestani, at a party in North Dunedin in 2019 and brings all facets of the local community together in a “circle of support” and shared responsibility to reduce harm and increase wellbeing for students. Professor Hayne worked closely with the University’s Student Association, Dunedin City Council, Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, and the Otago Property Investors Association to establish the Charter.

Curtin University Chancellor Dr Andrew Crane congratulated Professor Hayne on her work to establish this important initiative.

“This recognition is testament to Professor Hayne’s unwavering commitment to young people and their wellbeing, not just in her academic life as a leading psychology researcher, but as a leader of universities as places where students should be able to both enjoy themselves and stay safe,” Dr Crane said.

“Working alongside Sophia’s courageous parents, community leaders and students, Professor Hayne was able to effect real change and honour their daughter’s memory through positive community action.”

Professor Hayne said she was humbled to receive the award.

“It is an incredible honour to be recognised in this way for simply doing the right thing, in helping Sophia’s parents achieve their goal of making a vibrant student community safer,” Professor Hayne said.

“I admire their incredible grace and bravery in the wake of any parent’s worst nightmare and it was a privilege to walk alongside them in laying the foundations through Sophia’s Charter for a collaborative effort to foster a more supportive, inclusive and safe environment for students.’

Professor Harlene Hayne is a leading academic recognised for her research in memory development and

adolescent risk-taking. This is her second Royal Honour, awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to scientific and medical research in 2009.

Professor Hayne is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and of the Association for Psychological Science. She joined the University of Otago in 1992 and served as Vice-Chancellor from 2011 until joining Curtin University in 2021. (Full biography below)

The New Zealand Royal Honours system, like Australia’s, thanks and congratulates those people who have served their communities and recognises their achievements.