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Massey academic wins prestigious Dame Marie Clay Award


Associate Professor Sonja Macfarlane

Associate Professor Sonja Macfarlane.


Associate Professor Sonja Macfarlane, Ngāti Waewae, Ngāi Tahu, from the Institute of Education has been named the 2021 winner of the New Zealand Psychological Society Dame Marie Clay Award.

The Dame Marie Clay Award recognises valuable contributions to educational and developmental psychology in New Zealand made by members of the New Zealand Psychological Society through their original research, dissemination of research and by exemplifying best practice.

“He mihi nūnui ki a koutou katoa. I am very grateful to so many others who have opened doors for me, and who have supported me in this mahi. It is a real privilege to be able to contribute to this collective journey of positive change for our whānau,” Dr Macfarlane says.

“This whakatauki sums it up for me: ‘Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini - Success is not the work of an individual, but the work of many.’”

Associate Professor Alison Kearney, Head of Te Kura o Te Mātauranga - Institute of Education says, “This award recognises the significant contribution that Associate Professor Macfarlane has made, and continues to make to education, particularly in relation to success for Māori learners. Her work is used widely in educational settings, supporting kaiako to reflect on their teaching and engage responsively with tamariki and their whānau.”

When announcing Dr Macfarlane’s award, The New Zealand Psychological Society,which is the largest professional association for psychologists in Aotearoa, made the following comments:

“Sonja’s many contributions to this field are marked by their practicality and academic rigour, her CV includes numerous books and articles in which relevant approaches and pathways within Mātauranga Māori are made accessible to practitioners. In sharing such strength-based practices from Te Ao Māori, Sonja places relationships at the heart of practice with and education of children and young persons. Hers is a strong voice for the Māori understanding that people, their mana, and identity, grow and are nurtured within their network of relationships.

“In her research, teaching, and practice Sonja enriches her discipline, enhances practitioners’ abilities, and benefits those with whom they practice making valuable contributions to decolonising educational practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. In making this award, the New Zealand Psychological Society concurs with those who nominated Sonja for the award, recognising her as an exemplary practitioner, effective teacher and researcher who has and continues to make significant contributions to our discipline.”

Read more about the New Zealand Psychological Society 2021 award winners here.

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