Lawyer, refugee advocate and alumna Rez Gardi (BA/LLB) was named University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year at the New Zealander of the Year awards.
The University of Auckland has sponsored the category of Young New Zealander of the Year for three years. This is the first time a University of Auckland alum has won.
Rez, who was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan was the first in her family to finish secondary school and to attend university, and she is passionate about supporting young refugees and addressing the underrepresentation of refugee students in tertiary education.
Rez is now New Zealand’s first Kurdish female lawyer and works in corporate litigation at law firm, Chapman Tripp, and has previously worked at the United Nations Office in Nairobi as a human rights intern. She also represented New Zealand at the Global Refugee Youth Consultations and annual UNHCR – NGO (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – Non-Government Organisation) consultation in Geneva last June.
Alumnus Ivan Pivac was a top-three finalist in Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year and alumna Dr Angela Lim was a finalist alongside Rez in the Young New Zealander of the Year category.
Staff member Professor Ed Gane was also honoured for his innovative contributions to the development of a cure for Hepatitis C – taking out the Sanitarium New Zealand Innovator of the Year award.