The McKenzie Award honours a current NZARE member’s significant contribution to educational research and to the NZARE over an extended period of time. A significant contribution is interpreted as contributing to new knowledge and being an exemplary researcher in the education community in a chosen discipline. First awarded in 1987, the award consists of a citation folio and a piece of original art or craft by a New Zealand artist or craftsperson chosen by the recipient, up to the value of $2000.

2009 No award made  2008:  John Barrington 2007:  John Codd
2006:  Roy Nash 2005: Margaret Carr 2004: Clive McGee
2003: Sue Middleton 2002: Ted Glynn 2001: Terry Crooks
2000: Graham Nuthall 1999: No award made  1998: No award made 
1997: Anne Smith  1995: Raeside Munro 1994: Ivan Snook
1993: Marie Clay 1992: David McKenzie  1991: No award made
1990: David Mitchell 1989: Richard Benton  1988: Geraldine McDonald
1987: Warwick Elley    

Purpose of the award 

The purpose of the award is to honour a current NZARE member’s significant contribution to educational research over a sustained period of time. A significant contribution is interpreted as contributing to, and generating new knowledge and being an exemplary researcher in the education community in a chosen discipline.

The award consists of a citation folio and a piece of original art or craft by a New Zealand artist or craftsperson chosen by the recipient, up to the value of $2000. The Award will be conferred at the NZARE annual conference and notified in the Association's publication Input (He Pātaka Tuku Kōrero) and on its website. 


Due to the budgetary constraints that have arisen since the Covid19 pandemic and the cancellation of the NZARE 2020 Conference, NZARE Council have made the difficult decision to cancel all awards for 2020. Please note that we will be accepting nominations for those students who would have qualified for all 2020 student award categories to also be eligible for the 2021 round of student awards.

Nominees must be current NZARE members. Any NZARE member may make nominations by supplying details of the nominee’s academic CV (including qualifications, positions held, publications and an outline of research contributions). These should be forwarded electronically to the NZARE Executive Officer at by 1 August 2021. The following must be included:

  • Nominee’s academic CV (including qualifications, positions held, publications and an outline of research contributions);
  • A letter of nomination from the NZARE nominator;
  • Appropriate citations or letters of support;
  • Email, postal, phone details of nominator and nominee;
  • A recent colour photo of nominee;
  • Current NZARE membership can be verified from

Award Selection

In each year a sub-committee appointed by the NZARE Council will receive and consider the nominations and make a recommendation to the Council regarding conferring the award. Council retains the right to make no award in any one year.

Criteria for selection

  • Nominee is a current NZARE member;
  • Nominee has made a significant contribution to educational research over a sustained period;
  • Nominee’s work has contributed to, and generated new knowledge in the chosen discipline;
  • Nominee is an exemplary researcher recognised by the education community in a chosen discipline;
  • Nominee's work has had a significant impact on educational policy and/or practice.

The successful applicant will be informed of the award prior to the annual NZARE conference. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified by email and/or letter after the selection process has been completed and successful applicant has accepted the award. selection process has been completed.

Background to the McKenzie Award

The McKenzie Award is named after the philanthropist, Sir Roy McKenzie ONZ. In 1940 Roy McKenzie's father set up a charitable body, the J.R. McKenzie Trust, with money from the chain of McKenzies Department Stores. This was his second trust, the first being a Youth Education Trust in 1938. Roy gained his first experience of philanthropy when he served on the J.R. McKenzie Trust. In 1966 Roy set up another trust, the McKenzie Education Foundation, and invited John E. Watson, who, in 1968, became the fourth director of NZCER, to serve as a trustee on this body. Roy was also involved with NZCER as a member of its Council and serving as its Treasurer. 

The Roy McKenzie Foundation, the fourth community trust established by the McKenzie family, was set up in 1986. Roy asked John Watson to become its first Chair. With this new trust, Roy wanted to create a flexible organisation which would be able to respond rapidly to need. As part of this approach, he extended the role of the trustees by allocating each $10,000 which, provided their colleagues did not disagree, could be given to a project of their choice. John Watson used his money to found the McKenzie Award and named it in honour of Roy McKenzie. 

In 1986, when John Watson approached the NZARE with the offer of funding to establish the award, he suggested that it recognise "outstanding scholarly achievement or service comparable to the awards... for literature, science, medicine and so forth", and so that the NZARE might "create an occasion each year when public attention would focus on NZARE and the relevance of educational research generally". 

Roy McKenzie had shown "quite remarkable interest in educational research and innovation" including "outstanding service to the governing body of NZCER from 1959 onwards… There can be no doubt that his service to the Council... encouraged him to set up the McKenzie Education Foundation in 1966 as a more direct way of fostering educational innovation and experimentation". 

John Watson cited examples of Roy McKenzie's work through his charitable trusts during the 25 years prior to 1986 in developing "two rather special features of educational research in New Zealand, in our own distinctive way". These are, according to Watson: 

1. "The emphasis since the mid 1960s on improving dissemination and the translation of research knowledge into imaginative practice, innovative teaching and fresh aspirations for youth and parents."
Watson listed a variety of such projects, for which the various McKenzie benefactions provided initiating funds, for example, "VUW's University Teaching and Research Centre, NCAE's Adult Reading Programme, NZCER's Community Profiles on the Māori Language made available to 6500 Māori families in 230 communities, a disability awareness project with 25 secondary schools in Christchurch, a programme for experiments in schools, NZCER's research information kit for teachers known as SET, the setting up of the NZ Institute on Mental Retardation, Outward Bound and so on."

2. "An equally consistent effort from 1965 onwards to ensure that research knowledge contributes to public debate in community forums, through the broadcast media, through specialised films and videos and a flurry of publications. Here the public involvement stimulated by the McKenzie travelling lectureships, invitational travel awards, research fellowships, imaginative conferences and seminars has helped to take the debate on research findings out of academic halls on to maraes, into gatherings of parents, into Parliament, into staff rooms."

Direct quotes are from correspondence from John Watson to the NZARE Council in 1986. 

Sir Roy McKenzie Biographical Notes 

Roy McKenzie was born in 1922. He undertook his schooling in Christchurch and Timaru and completed an accountancy degree at the University of Otago. His studies at Otago were disrupted by World War Two when he saw early service in the New Zealand Army followed by three years in the RNZAF, training in Canada followed by posting to the 103rd RAF Bomber Command in the UK.

As a young man Sir Roy was actively involved in a range of sports - rugby, record-holding triple jump, skiing (including captaining New Zealand's first winter Olympics team to Oslo in 1952), mountaineering, tennis, trotting (as a driver, owner and breeder).

He has told his own story in Footprints: Harnessing an Inheritance into a Legacy, Te Aro Press, 1998, which describes the wide range of organisations, institutions and individuals which have benefited from Roy's efforts. Much of this material was later incorporated in the television documentary produced by Paul Davidson titled, Giving it all away.