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Special investiture ceremony for Tom Prebble at Massey


Professor Tom Prebble at his investiture

The long-time head of Massey University’s distance education department, Emeritus Professor Thomas (Tom) Kenneth Prebble, officially received his New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) at the Manawatū campus yesterday.

Appointed to the Faculty of Education in 1974, Professor Prebble was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education in the latest New Year’s Honours.
However, as he was not able to travel to Wellington for investiture at Government House, the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, agreed to him receiving the award from Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith.

Professor Prebble said his health meant he was not able to travel to Wellington to be invested with “this lovely medal”, so he contacted Government House to let them know.
“They said they understood and asked what would I like to do. I suggested they box it up and put it in the post but they said there had to be an investiture…no investiture, no gong.”

He said he explained the issue while at lunch with former Massey colleagues Barrie Macdonald, Russell Poole, Nigel Long and Warwick Slinn and they had made all the arrangements for the ceremony.


Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith with Professor Prebble

Receiving the insignia

At the special ceremony Mr Smith presented the insignia of a New Zealand Order of Merit to Professor Prebble. Surrounded by his wife Bonnie, family and few close friends, Professor Prebble thanked members of the Massey and UCOL communities for their support throughout his career.

Professor Prebble specialised in educational administration, taking a leading role in the development of new postgraduate qualifications. These were of critical importance for school principals during a period of major educational reform and the devolution of responsibility to boards of trustees.  

His contribution in this area was recognised by his peers when he was elected a Fellow of the New Zealand Educational Administration Society in 1994. In the same year he was promoted to full professor.

In 1986, Professor Prebble was appointed Director of Extramural Studies at Massey. In this period of his career he was responsible for both academic leadership and the management of administrative staff and systems supporting educational tuition for some 40,000 students annually whose links with the university were shifting from printed materials, postal correspondence and occasional campus-based activities to on-line, internet delivery combined with communication through email and video calls.
Professor Prebble’s role widened further in 1999 when he was also given overall responsibility for the University’s international student recruitment and services, and the delivery of overseas programmes.  He also became a member of the University’s senior management team at this time. He relinquished formal administrative roles in 2002, reverting to a position of Professor of Higher Education, and retired in 2004.

He made a significant contribution from 2008-15 as a board member and establishment director of Ako Aotearoa, the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence, and served on the councils of both UCOL in Palmerston North and the Otago Polytechnic.

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