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Tony Ward - Nayland College Alumni 1968-1971
Photo by Supplied

Nayland alumni awarded prestigious Mason Durie Medal

Sarah Luton —

Professor Tony Ward FRSNZ has been presented the Royal Society Te Apārangi Mason Durie Medal for advances in the frontiers of social science, for original research on treating violent individuals that has been hugely influential around the world.

At Nayland College we love hearing what our alumni get up to after they graduate and move on to exciting adventures and careers of all shapes and sizes. When we heard the news that Tony Ward, a past student from 1968-1971 had been awarded the Royal Society’s 2021 Mason Durie Medal for outstanding social science research in the forensic psychology and criminology fields, we got in touch to find out a bit more about his time at Nayland College. 

What did you enjoy most about Nayland College? 

When I started it had only been going for 3 years. It was liberal for the times, (long hair was a thing!) had passionate teachers and there was a palpable sense of excitement at being pioneers. What also impressed me- even so looking back- is that the teachers were interested in our lives.

What was your most memorable experience at Nayland College?

Being captain of the soccer team when we beat Hillmorton for the first time, 3-1 I recall!

How would you describe yourself as a student? 

Fairly diffident. I was creative but inclined to take shortcuts, which I later regretted as I had to learn maths all over again at University! Although I was in 3.1/4.1 my major interests were in the social aspects of school and also sport.

What were your best/favourite subjects? 

History and English. I loved to argue and really enjoyed the dialectic nature of these subjects: analysis, argument, and group discussion.

Who inspired you in your learning journey? 

Ms Bartlet, my English teacher in Form 4. She encouraged (well expected!) me to express my own thoughts and saw that beneath the rebellious and slightly cynical veneer I was interested in learning. She gave me a sense of personal value.

How did you get into the field of forensic psychology and criminology? 

I was working as a clinical psychologist in an eating disorders service and one of my old psychology classmates told me about a new therapeutic unit for men convicted of sexual offending that was being established in Christchurch, Kia Marama. I was curious and applied. I did my PhD there, got interested in research and started publishing academic papers, and become a behavioural scientist (clinical forensic). This experience lead to my first academic job at Victoria University of Wellington, and subsequent positions at the Universities of Canterbury, Melbourne, Deakin, and back to Wellington.

What would you say to current Nayland College students? 

Be curious, take intellectual risks but also learn discipline. In my experience you can only fully develop ideas if you have the tools to capitalise on the 'aha' moments. In my view, being a scientist is a bit like being a poet: inspiration is necessary but you need to know how to put a poem together when the lightening strikes!

Tony Ward — Image by: Supplied

To read about Tony's work and how he came to be the Royal Society's 2021 recipient of the Mason Durie Medal check out the following link: