Ans Westra receives an honorary doctorate — 29.05.15

Massey News: Celebrated New Zealand photographer Ans Westra received an honorary doctorate from Massey University on Thursday in recognition of her long-standing contribution to the country’s visual culture through her documentary photography.

Image Courtesy of Massey News

Honorary doctorate for documentary photographer

Massey News: 29 May 2015 

Celebrated New Zealand photographer Ans Westra received an honorary doctorate from Massey University on Thursday in recognition of her long-standing contribution to the country's visual culture through her documentary photography.

For more than 50 years Ms Westra, who immigrated to New Zealand from the Netherlands in 1957, has stamped her mark on the country's photographic scene. She is widely recognised as having produced one of the most comprehensive records of Māori over a half century characterised by significant political and cultural change.

In addition, Ms Westra has been a tireless recorder of the country's changing landscape in the face of growing urbanisation and threats arising from industrial practices.

Her work is held in all major public collections and there have been extensive exhibitions and publications dedicated to her.

She was conferred with a Doctor of Fine Arts during graduation ceremonies in Wellington at the Michael Fowler Centre.

"Receiving an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts is a recognition of the artistic merit of my life's work in photography, " Ms Westra says. It is especially satisfying to me personally because of the part my documentary work has played in defining who we are as New Zealanders."

College of Creative Arts Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Claire Robinson says Ms Westra's work is of particular relevance to the College, as the provider of New Zealand's leading photography tertiary education, with a commitment to supporting excellence in the expanded field of documentary photography.

"Ans Westra's work is a central touchstone to the curriculum," Professor Robinson says.

"Ans is one of New Zealand's finest, and most well-known social and documentary photographers and Massey University would be the first tertiary provider to recognise and celebrate her achievements."

Among her numerous awards, Ms Westra has received a Certificate of Excellence from New York's World's Fair for the World and its People in 1964-65, she was awarded the Companion of the Order of New Zealand Merit (CNZM) in 1998 and in 2007 was the recipient of an Arts Foundation Icon Award.

To celebrate her latest honour, an exhibition of Ans Westra's work in black and white images from 1963 to 1998 will be displayed at Suite Gallery, 241 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington from June 9 to July 4.

Massey University has kindly supplied us with a link to view the citation delivered by Stephen Kos, and the presentation of the honorary doctorate by Chancellor Chris Kelly. This link will take you directly to the right point in the video.