Carol Hirschfeld honoured as distinguished alumna

03 March 2017
Carol Hirschfeld

Broadcaster Carol Hirschfeld (Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata) loved completing a Bachelor of Arts with us so much she would do another one "in a heartbeat".

Now she is to be recognised by the University with a Distinguished Alumni Award. The awards are issued every year to selected graduates for their outstanding contributions to their professions, their communities, New Zealand and internationally.

The University will recognise this year's four recipients of Distinguished Alumni Awards and a Young Alumna of the Year at a dinner to be attended by over 400 guests in a marquee on the lawn of Old Government House on Friday 10 March.

The recipients will also take part in a panel discussion event, Bright Lights, at the Grand Millennium Auckland the evening before.

Carol graduated from the University in 1984 with a BA in English Literature and Indonesian.

She says her study helped her build a career in journalism and broadcasting.

"University was an essential bridge to adulthood for me. It helped me learn to set goals, develop the capacity for critical thought and gave me insights into many different worlds," she says.

"As far as I’m concerned a liberal arts degree is unquestionably the best of all courses of study. The subject range for a BA is wildly diverse and that for me is what makes it thrilling."

"I would do a BA again in a heartbeat, and choose a whole bunch of topics completely different from what I studied first time around."

Carol followed her older brother into the University, and took some good advice from him when she did.

"He gave me the best advice, which I have subsequently passed onto my children: 'choose subjects that really engage you, not a course you think you should be doing'."

"English Lit was fantastic, though not always the case with my marks! I covered a great range of topics: Chaucer, the twentieth-century novel, Australian literature, Renaissance poets. I had spent a year living in Indonesia as a teenager and had some rudimentary knowledge of the language so I really enjoyed learning Bahasa in a more formal way."

She still has fond memories of her time on campus.

"Even now when I visit the University I am drawn to the student café opposite the old Maidment Theatre — it was a real dive but that's where my sister and I and various friends spent hours drinking too much coffee, smoking furiously (we didn't know the dangers back then) and dreaming of what our lives might become."

Carol is now Head of Content at Radio New Zealand and one of the nation's best-known broadcasters.

She worked for TVNZ for 12 years as a reporter, director, presenter and producer on a broad range of programmes: Frontline, Assignment, One News, Holmes, Fair Go and Crimewatch. In 1998 she moved to TV3 where she read the nightly news with John Campbell for seven years and in 2005 helped launch Campbell Live. This was followed by five years as Head of Production at Māori TV, during which time the network won the free-to-air broadcast rights for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Two years ago she circled all the way back to the beginning by re-joining RNZ, this time as Head of Content. In 2016 she oversaw the introduction of RNZ's first daily multi-media news programme, Checkpoint with John Campbell.

Carol is an experienced MC and speaker, her audiences including new University of Auckland alumni at Graduation. She is a former trustee of Teach First NZ, the Hone Tuwhare Charitable Trust, and the New Zealand LAM Charitable Trust, and is an ambassador for Breast Cancer Cure.

University to honour distinguished alumni