Victoria University of Wellington’s Bachelor of Arts alumni are making their mark in New Zealand and beyond.
These include acclaimed journalists, film directors, diplomats, artists, and humanitarians.
The University offers many opportunities to stay involved and to share your expertise and experience with current students and other members of our alumni community. Visit the University’s Alumni page for more information and to keep your contact details up to date in the University’s alumni database.
Where a BA can take you
John Campbell, BA(Hons) (1988)
John Campbell is one of New Zealand's most respected journalists. Having started his career at Radio New Zealand in 1989, he went on to work in TV3’s press gallery before moving to television on current affairs show 20/20, 3 News and Campbell Live—TV3's nightly current affairs show Campbell Live for over 10 years. Since 2015, he has hosted RNZ’s Checkpoint programme.
Known for his unique and effective communication style, and a determination to seek answers on a wide range of issues, John has won multiple industry awards for investigative journalism. In 2014 he was awarded a Victoria University of Wellington Distinguished Alumni Award.
Photo credit: RNZ
Eleanor Catton MNZM, BA Hons (2009), MA (2008)
Eleanor Catton was catapulted to the forefront of New Zealand literature in 2013 as the youngest-ever recipient of the Man Booker Prize.
She wrote her first novel The Rehearsal as her Master’s thesis at Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters, receiving Victoria University of Wellington’s annual Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing for the best portfolio submitted in the Master’s programme. Her novel was subsequently published, in 2008, by Victoria University Press and won numerous awards.
The same year she won the Man Booker Prize for The Luminaries, Eleanor was awarded the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. She has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours from Victoria University of Wellington. In 2014 she received an Honorary Doctorate in Literature.
Photo credit: Photography by Woolf
James Clad MNZM, BA (1969)
James Clad has a BA in Political Science from Victoria University of Wellington and a Law degree from the University of Auckland. He is a lawyer, war correspondent, academic, former New Zealand diplomat, is fluent in eight languages and has spent the last 25 years based in Washington D.C. predominately as a senior United States defense official.
When he wasn’t working as a New Zealand diplomat in Indonesia, living in Ethiopian villages with the Peace Corps, working as a journalist in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Kashmir, Iran and China, or donning his academic hat at Oxford, Harvard and Georgetown universities, James was serving as a senior Pentagon defense official under the 2004–08 Bush administration. He is currently senior advisor at global intelligence firm, Arcanum Global.
Dr Arapata Hakiwai, PhD (2014)
Highly regarded in the cultural sector, Dr Arapata Hakiwai is the Commissioner for Culture on the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO and kaihautū or Māori co-leader at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
Dr Hakiwai graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a Bachelor of Arts in Māori Studies and Anthropology, before completing his Honours in 1988. In 2003 he completed his Master's and returned again a decade later for PhD research that examines the relationship between museums, taonga, identity and contemporary Māori tribal development.
Hon Georgina Manunui te Heuheu QSO, BA (1966), LLB
Georgina Manunui te Heuheu graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a BA in English and an LLB, as the first Māori woman in New Zealand to graduate in Law. She went on to become the first Māori woman to be admitted to the High Court as a Barrister and Solicitor in 1972.
Of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa and Tuhoe descent, Georgina served five terms as a Member of Parliament from 1996 until 2011, including as a Minister of the Crown in two National Governments. She is Chair of Māori Television, and Deputy Chair of the Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board.
She was awarded a Queen’s Service Order for services to the public in 1993.
Piera McArthur ONZM, BA (1952), MA (1953)
Piera McArthur is a leading New Zealand painter whose original style is characterised by vibrant colour, movement and humour. After graduating with a Master of Arts in Modern Languages with First Class Honours from Victoria University of Wellington, she lived overseas for many years, exhibiting in Paris, London, New York, Sydney and Moscow between 1975 and 1990. This established her career as a painter and also presented opportunities for cultural diplomacy and to enhance New Zealand‘s reputation internationally. In Moscow, Piera was the first New Zealander to have a solo show at the New Tretiakov Gallery.
Over the past 20 years, she has exhibited extensively around New Zealand and undertaken commissions both locally and overseas.
In 2011 she was awarded a Victoria University of Wellington Distinguished Alumni Award and in 2012 was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the arts.
Stephanie McIntyre QSO (BA 1975)
Stephanie McIntyre is an advocate for the most marginalised people in New Zealand, most notably those who are homeless. As Director at Wellington’s Downtown Community Ministry, she leads a team dedicated to working with people others often overlook, seeking new solutions to ending homelessness.
Stephanie champions difficult public issues to raise awareness about critical social issues. She has a long history of active community involvement in numerous national and local initiatives.
In 2016 she was made a companion of the Queen's Service Order for her work with Wellington's homeless and in 2017 was awarded a Victoria University of Wellington Distinguished Alumni Award.
Bernice Mene MNZM, BA (1998)
Best known for her decade-long netball career, captaining the Silver Ferns in 1997, 2000, and 2001, Bernice Mene retired from international netball in 2001. Since then Bernice has involved herself in a range of projects, including sports writing and athlete career education work for the New Zealand Academy of Sport. She is also a qualified languages teacher and has taught English, French, German and Māori in various secondary schools in New Zealand.
She was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2002 for her sporting achievements and in 2007 received a Victoria University of Wellington Distinguished Alumni Award.
Toby Morris, BA (2002)
Toby Morris is a professional illustrator, comic artist, art director and designer.
He graduated with a BA in English Literature and Political Science in 2002, during which he was a cartoonist and designer on Salient. Since then, Toby has worked as a designer and art director in Amsterdam, released two books of illustrations, been an art director and freelance illustrator in Auckland and spent four years in Melbourne pursuing a career with his rock band.
Ross Mountain, BA (1969)
Ross Mountain has spent most of his career in the service of the United Nations working on humanitarian, recovery, development and peacekeeping operations in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and the Pacific as well as assignments based in Geneva, Switzerland promoting non governmental action and managing UN humanitarian operations.
Ross graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a degree in Asian Studies and Political Science. He was awarded Victoria University of Wellington Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007.
Thomas Nash BA Hons (2001)
Thomas Nash served on the board of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and co-founded and directed London-based disarmament group Article 36, having previously led the successful global campaign to ban cluster bombs.
The inaugural Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Massey University, Thomas is also co-founder of New Zealand Alternative, an independent organisation promoting a progressive role for Aotearoa New Zealand in the world, and a director of Shelter, a social enterprise seeking to shape the construction and housing sector with innovative models for construction, development and ownership.
He graduated from Victoria University of Wellington in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and French and the following year was a graduate scholar for Honours in Political Science.
Jo Randerson BA (1995), MTA (2015)
Writer and theatre-maker Jo Randerson is recognised as one of New Zealand’s most original voices. Her writing is dark, funny, poetic and absurd, and frequently peopled with outsiders, subversives and dissenters.
After graduating with a BA in Drama Studies, Jo returned to Victoria University of Wellington to complete a Master of Theatre Arts in Directing, which she passed with Distinction.
Her writing—for both short stories and plays—has won her the Robert Burns Fellowship, an Arts Foundation New Generation Award and the Bruce Mason Award for playwrighting.
Jo is the founder and artistic director of theatre company Barbarian Productions, and is an acclaimed director, performer, stand-up comedian and exhibition curator.
Taika Waititi, BA (1997)
Taika Waititi is a film director, writer, comedian and actor who has gained an international following.
He graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a BA in Theatre and Film and has gone on to write and direct a number of award-winning films. His 2015 film Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the largest grossing Kiwi film at the New Zealand box office, surpassing his earlier feature film Boy. Earlier credits include being nominated Best Actor in the New Zealand Film Awards for his role in the film Scarfies and an Academy Award nomination for Two Cars, One Night.
In 2011 he received a Victoria University of Wellington Distinguished Alumni Award and was New Zealander of the Year in 2017.
Professor Marilyn Waring (BA Hons 1974)
Professor Marilyn Waring is a prominent New Zealand economist, and a leading activist for women’s human rights.
After serving as an MP between 1975 and 1984, Marilyn went on to establish the field of feminist economics. Her most famous work—If Women Counted—argued for the importance of women’s unpaid work and the environment, revealing the serious policy consequences of ignoring these when calculating national economic measures such as GDP.
More recently, Marilyn’s work has focused on the inequities of globalisation. She has received national and international awards for work in economics and human rights.
In 2005, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2017 she received a Victoria University of Wellington Distinguished Alumni Award.