Two honorary doctorates to be awarded in May
Two Otago Alumni will be conferred with honorary doctorates at May graduation ceremonies next month.
Hon Justice Forrest Miller
Honourable Justice Forrest (Forrie) Miller’s contribution to the modernisation of New Zealand’s court systems will be recognised when he receives an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Otago at its 18 May graduation ceremony.
Born in South Otago in 1956, Justice Miller gained a Bachelor of Arts (History) from Otago in 1978 and an LLB with honours in 1981.
After his studies he worked in Alexandra for Bodkins Solicitors and in the mid-1980s moved to Wellington to join Chapman Tripp, where he worked in a range of general practice areas, including commercial and public law litigation (specialising in securities) and regulatory and competition law. He became a partner at the firm in 1987.
He was appointed to the High Court of New Zealand in 2004, and to the Court of Appeal in 2013.
In 2013 he also became one of the first New Zealanders to receive the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration Award for Excellence.
The award jury recognised his efforts establishing the Earthquake Commission list, created in 2011, which was aimed at reducing the burden on the courts system by dealing with cases efficiently in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes. All case-managed conferences – where judges and lawyers meet before the litigation process to resolve differences – were managed by Justice Miller until his appointment to the Court of Appeal in 2013.
Before his appointment to the Court of Appeal the Judge was heavily involved in reforms which reducing waiting lists for civil hearings in the High Court.
Justice Miller has been instrumental in developing electronic casebooks, which are now routinely used for hearings in the Court of Appeal. He chairs the Judicial Reference Group, which is a cross-bench committee working with the Ministry of Justice to modernise the court system by, among other things, developing an electronic filing and case management system for all New Zealand courts.
He also chairs the Judicial Libraries Management Board, which exercises governance responsibilities over the quality of judicial libraries. The Board’s current focus is on improving judges' access to electronic resources, to ensure they have access to important works from the judicial library.
Justice Miller has maintained strong links with the University’s Faculty of Law and has often returns to Otago to judge student competitions. He has also engaged with research in the Faculty, including a 2018 Legal Issues Centre report on delays in the High Court to which he contributed feedback and expertise.
He has also served as chairman of Unison Networks Ltd, the electricity distributor for the Hawke’s Bay, Rotorua and Taupo regions, and as a Wellington Girls’ College Board of Trustees member.
• Sat 18 May graduation ceremony at 4 pm (Commerce and Law) Justice Forrest Miller, Court of Appeal, Hon LLD
Bridget Williams, the founder of New Zealand’s leading specialist non-fiction press and alumna of the University of Otago, will receive an honorary Doctorate of Literature on 18 May.
Bridget Williams (ONZM MBE) is considered a hugely influential figure in New Zealand letters and publishing, and an outstanding graduate of the University of Otago, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts.
Her initial foray into intellectual life was in Oxford as a research assistant to literary scholars Dame Helen Gardner and Richard Ellmann. After a stint at Oxford University Press in the United Kingdom, Ms Williams returned to New Zealand in 1976. She worked initially for the New Zealand branch of Oxford University Press, where she helped shape what would become the Oxford History of New Zealand, a volume that marked the coming of age of New Zealand historical scholarship.
In 1981, she struck out into independent publishing, founding Port Nicholson Press in Wellington. Taking this small New Zealand firm into multi-national ownership with Allen & Unwin Australia in the mid-1980s, Ms Williams became the managing director of Allen & Unwin New Zealand. In that capacity, she established a publishing partnership with the multi-volume Dictionary of New Zealand Biography as well as important scholarly works such as Claudia Orange’s The Treaty of Waitangi. In these years too, her publishing reflected the new engagement with feminist writing, and she had a key role in establishing the nationwide Listener Women’s Book Festival.
In 1990 she established Bridget Williams Books, a press that has risen to become New Zealand’s leading specialist non-fiction press. She has worked with New Zealand’s leading social scientists and humanities scholars, producing a large number of award-winning volumes. Significant amongst these has been a commitment to works on Maori history, with the landmark Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History by Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney and Aroha Harris published to acclaim in 2014. In recent years the BWB Texts Series – short, moderately-priced volumes – have catalysed public debate over a range of pressing cultural and political issues.
Hugely respected in the world of publishing, Bridget Williams has played an integral role in facilitating public conversations in New Zealand, its history, identity and politics, she has been extremely influential in shaping New Zealand intellectual life and cultural debate.
Sat 18 May graduation ceremony at 1 pm (Humanities) Bridget Williams, Publisher, Hon LittD