Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy

Frances Rutherford Lecture: Transforming Views of Learning: Connecting Professional Conversations

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy

Frances Rutherford Lecture: Transforming Views of Learning: Connecting Professional Conversations

Article excerpt


The Frances Rutherford Award is presented at the New Zealand Association Biennial Conference. Drawing on her experience as an educator and occupational therapist, the 2006 Frances Rutherford Lecturer Awardee Merrolee Penman gave a presentation that was highly interactive using a range of media including audio and video clips along with actors performing, small paired discussions, larger group discussions, quiet reflective times, and general whole auditorium buzz. Her goal was to engage the audience in the ideas being presented. This article cannot begin to capture the experience of the participants on that day, but where possible the interactivity has been included and additional weblinks provided. The reader will be challenged to define, list, describe and reflect. For this reason, the article is presented in a conversational format, just as in the presentation of the Frances Rutherford Lecture.

   Ki a koutou to mana whenua o konei
   To you the locals, greetings
   Ki a koutou e whakaroko ki
   To you who are listening to this I greet you
   He mild mahana ki a koutou katoa

   Warm greetings to you all

Introduction and acknowledgements

Clare Hocking in her Frances Rutherford Lecture in 2004 described receiving the New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapist's highest award as "a weighty responsibility" (Hocking, 2005, p.5). In receiving the award, I feel a little as I did at my graduation in 1982. Being just 20, I realised that in receiving my degree, I had accepted the responsibility of providing a service for others with what I thought, said and did having far reaching consequences for those people with whom I worked. The Frances Rutherford Award is an acknowledgement of my contribution to the profession, but there is also the responsibility to share something in return. In doing so, I am reminded yet again that what I share may also have consequences. I am both humbled by this notion, challenged by the possibilities, and indeed grateful for the privilege bestowed by my peers.

I begin by honouring Miss Rutherford (as she was always known to her students) who was born and educated in the Wairarapa. Miss Rutherford's initial education included studying for a Diploma of Fine Arts (Painting) at the Canterbury College of Fine Arts, followed by two years of teaching with further study at the Central London School of Arts and Crafts (Botting, 1984).

Denied a place at the New Zealand Occupational Therapy Training School on the grounds of physical disability, it was a chance meeting with an occupational therapist in England that led to Miss Rutherford achieving her goal of studying occupational therapy in Liverpool. Miss Rutherford's experience was a little different, being employed in the position of student-staff, while teaching art to the occupational therapy students. In 1953, Miss Rutherford returned to Masterton Hospital to establish the occupational therapy department.

In 1955, Miss Rutherford was recruited by Hazel Skilton to be Vice Principal and Assistant Supervisor of Occupational Therapy. Miss Rutherford thought this was a 'high-falutin' title but she was soon bought down to earth when she discovered there were just two staff, herself and Hazel Skilton (Rutherford, 1990). Continuing with study, Miss Rutherford undertook an English Teacher's Diploma in Occupational Therapy in 1958, returning to be the third and last principal of the occupational therapy school in Auckland.

Miss Rutherford not only fostered students' enthusiasm for their study (Christie, 1999; Shooter, 1987), she also had high aspirations for the profession. While principal, she produced detailed plans of an advanced programme for the leaders and teachers of the profession using resources from the New Zealand School of Occupational Therapy, the University of Auckland, and the Auckland Teachers College (Boyd, 19845). Unfortunately Miss Rutherford's vision was not realised as the school transferred to Wellington with the first students commencing there in 1971 (Harding, 1973) as the last class graduated from the Auckland school in 1972 (Rutherford, 1972). …

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