On June 1st 2020 it was announced Brian Pauling has been awarded an ONZM (Officer of the New Zealand Order or Merit), in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The award recognises nearly 60 years of service to education and broadcasting in New Zealand, most of it spent at Ara Institute of Canterbury.
Brian Pauling’s working life actually started as a cadet programmer with the New Zealand Broadcasting Service in Auckland in 1958. It is somewhat fitting he would later help to establish his own NZBS (the New Zealand Broadcasting School) some 35 years later.
In 1983, after working as the Director of the Workers Education Association, he was enticed to what was then called Christchurch Polytechnic where he, and colleagues (including long-time lecturer, Dr Ruth Zanker), started offering short community courses in media. One notable course was entitled “How to Watch the Soaps Without Feeling Guilty” and homework was watching TV. A six-week block course in radio was delivered later in the same year then, in 1986, Christchurch Polytechnic formally established the Media Centre adding journalism and television to the curriculum.
In late 1987, Brian and Gay Sharlotte (then Centre Manager) spearheaded the establishment of New Zealand’s first independent access radio station, Plains FM. They hired a Radio New Zealand journalist, (current Head of NZBS, Tony Simons) and the station began broadcasting in February, 1988. The station not only provided the Canterbury region with real community programming it gave Brian’s media students access to a radio station as part of their practical training. While that need diminished when Christchurch Polytechnic obtained its own frequency later, Plains FM continued to thrive and today, managed by NZBS graduate Nicki Reece, it features more than 100 programmes on arts and culture, ethic diversity, health and disability, news and current affairs, children and music.
In 1992 the Media Centre became the New Zealand Broadcasting School and was approved to offer the Bachelor of Broadcasting Communications degree. It was the first degree ever taught at Christchurch Polytechnic and is still being delivered today at Ara. Once again Brian Pauling was a driving force behind it.
Brian’s ability to encourage graduate quality was one of the aspects of his leadership that set him apart. He showed great foresight, wisdom and ability to apply principles and practices in vocational tertiary education.
30 years ago, Brian’s approaches were truly innovative. Today they are well accepted. Immersion Learning was the foundation on which he built the school. He introduced the teaching and assessment of professional behaviour and soft skills into the craft courses. That continues today. And Brian included paid 6-month-long internships in the degree programme. That kind of Work Integrated Learning has now become a cornerstone of vocational education throughout New Zealand.
Recently, in 2019, the Radio Broadcasters Association honoured Brian with a New Zealand Radio Award. It states, ‘he founded the New Zealand Broadcasting School that is today recognised, both nationally and internationally, as the pre-eminent broadcast education programme in the country."
That, alongside his Queens Birthday Honour, indicates a vision fulfilled.