The alumni network in UK are making remarkable contributions to the country and the world by founding organisations, developing new ideas and products and delivering beyond what was thought possible as public servants, educators, artists, scientists, engineers, and lawyers. They share a deep commitment to improving society and are transforming their communities locally and globally every day.

The UK Friends of the University of Auckland – Special Recognition Award (SRA) recognises the impact and contribution that alumni in UK are having here and around the world.  



The UK Friends SRAs were in launched in 2021 with inaugural awards presented to Mark Baldwin OBE and Melanie Smith CBE at the RAF Club in London in July, by Julie Maxton CBE, Executive Director of the Royal Society, and Eric Tracey, Chair of the UK Friends.


(Bachelor of Fine Art, 1978)

Mark was recognised for his many achievements as a choreographer, artist, teacher and curator and Ballet Company director, including  the creation of over 40 works for both his own and other major dance companies, including The Royal Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Scottish Ballet, London City Ballet and Rambert. Mark was awarded an OBE in the 2015 for his services to dance.



(Accounting, Finance and Law, 1997)

Melanie was recognised for her experience advising on strategy and transformation to consumer and retail clients worldwide. She has held positions as: Strategy Director for Marks & Spencer, Global Strategy and Marketing Director at Bupa and Chief Operating Officer at TalkTalk. She is now CEO of Ocado Retail, and is taking this exceptional organisation to new levels, whilst navigating the pandemic. Her  commitment and care for vulnerable customers and frontline staff over the last year was recognised in the 2021 New Year’s Honours list.



The SRA is intended to recognise alumni who have attained distinction in professional achievements or have made significant contributions to society or the University in the UK. The recipients should exhibit integrity, leadership, enthusiasm, and professionalism. The award is a reflection of the University of Auckland and should provide inspiration to fellow alumni and current students. A graduate of the University of Auckland who has been based in the UK for two years or more is eligible.

Nominations are welcome at all times. To do so, please contact Sue Sargent, Executive Director, UK Friends