Press Release: University of Canterbury
Date of Release: 15 December 2011
The Hon. Ruth Richardson received an Honorary Doctorate of Social Work for her services to the poor today at the University of Canterbury Graduation Ceremony.
“I am thrilled to receive this Doctorate,” Hon. Dr. Richardson said today. “When I was helping to eradicate benefit dependency as the Minister of Finance, I had no idea that it would lead to this kind of recognition. All the same, it’s a true honour.”
Her citation spoke of an impressive career. It recognized not only her three years as Minister of Finance, but also her services to fashion and her work as the midwife to the Mother of All Budgets.
“I think it’s quite clear from my list of achievements that my personal friendship with Vice-Chancellor Rod Carr and relationship with JADE had nothing to do with receiving this award,” she said. “I had the full and unwavering support of one entire half of the College of Business and Economics. A University wouldn’t risk its reputation by giving an award like this to the Vice-Chancellor’s mates, without adequate oversight or consultation. It simply wouldn’t give it to someone who is manifestly unfit to receive it. ”
The Graduation Ceremony itself was oversubscribed, as beneficiaries from around the country came to celebrate their champion’s achievements. Pauline Higgins said that she’d driven from Timaru just to be there. “She gave me the jumpstart I needed. I truly thank her for slashing my benefit — how else would I have had the impetus to stop being a lazy single mother of three, and take on meaningful work as a temporary cleaning contractor? I’m a changed woman.”
Richardson herself is unfazed by the accolades. “I would like to think that I’ve had some impact on the over 200,000 Kiwi children living in poverty. In the end, that’s what I’ll be remembered for, not for some piece of paper and a silly hat.”