The Waikato Students’ Union and the entire University of Waikato community were saddened to hear that former Registrar, assistant to the Vice-Chancellor and WSU Life Member Dr Norman Kingsbury passed away yesterday surrounded by friends and family.
Kingsbury (87) had been a lifelong champion of education rights and a believer in enhancing the quality and access to tertiary education for all starting with his time as Student President of Canterbury University. He was appointed the University’s first registrar in 1964 by Sir Don Llewellyn and would be instrumental in a number of key social and academic developments on campus including the creation of Bryant Hall, the development of a school of Maori and Pacific studies and the founding and growth of the Students’ Association (later the Students’ Union)
However, it was on the national stage where Kingsbury achieved real wins for students. Serving in successive governments as a key academic advisor for tertiary and education Kingsbury was recognised as “The architect of the student loan scheme” and student welfare systems. Kingsbury believed that if successive governments were set on leveraging students to pay for their own education then it was equally important that a mechanism is provided so that access to academic success was available to all regardless of social or economic impediments.
In 2000 Norman resigned his position as the Chairman of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission and Head of the Qualifications Authority. Then 67, Kingsbury stated, "I have been working very long hours, about 70 hours a week, I can't go on doing that." The following year he was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Those of us who were lucky enough to spend time with Norman are better for the experience. Norman regularly gave interviews to Nexus Editors and student media across the country about the state of education. He had a voracious appetite for knowledge and an infectious dry sense of humour. He gave his time generously and delighted in telling stories about how far the University and tertiary education in New Zealand had progressed in his time.
Norman is survived by his five children including Derek, our colleague and friend at the WSU. Our thoughts are with the family at this time as they celebrate the life of one of the pioneers and advocates for students in New Zealand.