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Barbara Armitage Award

Barbara Armitage


At the ATVI conference held in Tauranga in 2003 it was proposed that a suitable memorial be established in memory of Barbara Armitage who at the time of her death was a Resource Teacher Vision based in Dunedin.

It was agreed that the award be presented to a person who had made a significant contribution to the blind and low vision education sector, particularly in areas of leadership, innovation or commitment.

Funds were subsequently sought to commission a suitable trophy jointly funded by ATVI and SPEVI.

Wellington artist Matt Gauldie was commissioned to cast a Kotuku for this award. It bears the inscription "He kotuku rerenga tahi” a whakatauki or proverb, which means "a white heron's flight is seen but once".  It is used to indicate a very special and rare event, and in this case refers to the unique contribution of the recipient.

Award Protocols

  1. Nominees for the award must be a SPEVI NZ member and meet the criteria of having made a significant contribution to the New Zealand blind and low vision education sector, particularly in areas of leadership, innovation, or commitment.
  2. Nominations for the award be will be accepted from SPEVI NZ members only.
  3. Nominations may be made by an individual or a group and must be submitted on the nomination form by the advertised due date. A written statement (max 500 words) in support of the nomination must be included and submitted to the award administrator. The nomination form can be found at  All nominations will be treated in confidence.
  4. The recipient of the award will be decided by a committee comprising 3 SPEVI NZ executive members and a nominated representative currently or previously involved in blind and low vision education. Should a member of the committee be nominated they would stand down from the selection process and be replaced. The decision of the committee will be final.
  5. The award will be presented at a suitable occasion when a large group of SPEVI NZ members are present. The recipient of the award will also be recognised at the SPEVI biennial conference.
  6. The award may be made posthumously.
  7. If no nominations are received in any year the trophy will be held on display at BLENNZ Homai campus until the next round of nominations.
  8. SPEVI NZ will take responsibility for engraving the recipient’s name on the award prior to the formal presentation. A photograph of the recipient and their contribution will be included on the SPEVI website and Facebook pages and may also be shared across other sector groups.
  9. The recipient will hold the award for a period of two years and be responsible for insuring the award while in their possession. Should the award be lost or damaged SPEVI NZ will undertake to find a suitable replacement.
  10. In the event of SPEVI NZ being dissolved the Kotuku trophy associated with this award will be held on display at BLENNZ Homai Campus.

Award Recipients

Barbara Armitage Award 2021 - Diane Glynan

Diane Glynan

Diane has made an outstanding contribution to braille, firstly as an active member of the Wellington Braille Club and since 1980 as a respected teacher and mentor at Kelburn Visual Resource Centre. Her knowledge of braille, especially braille maths and her support to others within the blind and low vision sector are highly valued.

Barbara Armitage Award 2018 - Lesley White

Lesley White
Lesley has taught in blind and low vision education for almost 50 years working with children in classes where the emphasis has been on low vision, braille, work experience, assessment, and more recently teaching learners with complex needs. In her long career she has made a significant contribution to the teaching of braille.

Barbara Armitage Award 2016 - Maria Stevens

Maria Stevens

Maria was a member of the Braille Literacy Panel and the Braille Authority of New Zealand and played a key role in the transition to UEB. Currently she is chair of the Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust (BANZAT). She is a member of both the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Inc. and Ngati Kapo Māori.

Barbara Armitage Award 2013 - Jane Wells

Jane Wells

Jane was a teacher, advisor and manager of the Auckland Visual Resource Centre from 1991 to 2005. She was principal of the Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ (BLENNZ), until her retirement in 2013. Jane is a SPEVI life member.

Barbara Armitage Award 2010 - Helen Daisley

Helen Daisley

Helen worked as an Early Childhood Advisor at Homai from 1989 to 2003. She was part of the national assessment team and provided support to families, teachers and early intervention personnel nationally. Helen was a Resource Teacher Vision based in Dunedin serving the Southland region until her retirement.

Barbara Armitage Award 2007 - Mike Offord

Mike Offord
Mike was a Resource Teacher Vision at Elmwood Visual Resource Centre in Christchurch from 1980- 2010. He was instrumental in pioneering adapted computer technology for blind learners and the subsequent professional development and training of Resource Teachers Vision in the new technology, including Duxbury braille transcription.

Barbara Armitage Award 2005 - Gwen Nagel

Gwen Nagel
Gwen was a teacher, national adviser, lecturer and co-ordinator of the vision impairment post-graduate diploma programme, chief executive of the Vision Education Agency and a life member of SPEVI. She was principal of BLENNZ until her retirement in 2008. Gwen received a Queen’s service medal in 2009 for her services to the blind and low vision sector.