Honorary doctorates for arts patron and former MP

15 July 2011

A former Minister of Finance, and a philanthropist and patron of the arts will receive honorary doctorates from the University of Canterbury in December.

A former Minister of Finance, and a philanthropist and patron of the arts will receive honorary doctorates from the University of Canterbury in December.

Former Minister of Finance Ruth Richardson will receive an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree while an honorary Doctor of Letters degree will be conferred on Adrienne, Lady Stewart.

The doctorates will be conferred during the University’s December graduation ceremonies, which will be held on 14 and 16 December at the CBS Canterbury Arena in Addington. Lady Stewart will receive her degree during the morning ceremony of 14 December and Ms Richardson’s degree will be conferred during the 14 December afternoon ceremony.

UC alumna Ruth Richardson has made significant contributions to the political and business communities both nationally and internationally.

After graduating from the University of Canterbury in 1972 with an LLB(Hons), Ms Richardson worked for the Department of Justice and Federated Farmers before embarking on a political career with the National Party.  

Her 14-year career in Parliament began in 1981 when she was elected to the Selwyn seat. As a supporter of free market economics, privatisation and trade liberalisation, Ms Richardson established a reputation for reform. After the 1990 elections, when National returned to power, Ms Richardson became New Zealand’s 37th Minister of Finance, a position she held until 1993. In this role she was the principal architect of New Zealand’s second wave of fiscal and economic reform. Her institutional framework for the conduct of fiscal policy, the Fiscal Responsibility Act 1994, is widely regarded as setting international best practice and is a cornerstone of New Zealand’s economic framework.

In 1994 Ms Richardson left Parliament and, since then, has developed an extensive international practice as a public policy consultant. Her clients have included governments, international agencies, private sector business agencies and “think tanks”.

Parallel to this, Ms Richardson has also developed a private sector profile in corporate governance. Her directorships have involved her in a wide spectrum of business activity in the fields of information technology, agri-business, biotechnology, the financial sector, public policy and sports apparel. She is Chair of the boards of Syft Technologies Ltd, Jade Software Corporation, the Kula Fund Advisory Committee and Kiwinet, and is a Director of Synlait Ltd and Synlait Milk Ltd. She is also a former director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, LECG, Canterbury International, Oyster Bay Malborough Vineyards, Wrightson Ltd and New Zealand Merino.

Lady Stewart has, for decades, been quietly supporting individuals and organisations throughout the country.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, and schooled at Presbyterian Ladies’ College in Melbourne, she moved to New Zealand at age 19 and later married electrical/plastics manufacturing pioneer Sir Robertson Stewart. Lady Stewart was involved in industry and commerce for 40 years and was one of the country’s first women to be a public company director. She was a major shareholder and a former director of PDL Holdings Ltd and its associated group of companies.

During her years in the industry Lady Stewart held a number of important positions in both the Canterbury region and nationally, and was honoured as both a Distinguished Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Directors and Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management.

Her long history of philanthropic activity includes being a regional adviser for the New Zealand Charitable Foundation, an executive member of the Cancer Society of New Zealand Canterbury and Westland Division, past-president and member of the Zonta Club of Christchurch (since 1974) and University of Canterbury Foundation trustee (2000 – 2009) and now patron. She was awarded the QSM in 1995 for Services to the Community and the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2006. 

Lady Stewart was named New Zealand Arts Foundation Patron of the Year in 2009 and has been a generous and long-standing supporter, promoter, fundraiser and patron of many arts organisations in Christchurch, plus nationally and across the Tasman. She is currently Governing Patron of the Art & Industry Biennial Trust (responsible for promoting SCAPE – a biennial contemporary art exhibition in Christchurch), Chair of the Christchurch Symphony Foundation, Court Theatre Supporters patron and a member of the UC College of Arts External Advisory Panel.


For more information please contact:
Stacey Doornenbal
Communications Officer
Communications and External Relations
University of Canterbury
Ph: 027 284 2408

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