Staff Excellence Awards Policy

Approval Date
29 October 2021
Approved By
Chief Executive
Next Review
29 October 2022
Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety
Baldrige Criteria
Workforce focus

To recognise exemplary performance by staff, either individually or as a team, who consistently excel in their positions and demonstrate a strong commitment to the mission and values of Otago Polytechnic. 

To encourage our staff to be the best that they can be for our learners, communities and colleagues.  


1. Awards will be made in the following categories:

  • Excellence in Teaching - Te Tohu Whakamana i te Whakaako
  • Excellence in Research – Te Tohu i te Rakahau
  • Excellence in Leadership – Te Tohu i te Hautūtaka
  • Excellence in the Implementation of the Māori Strategic Framework – Toi te mana Māori
  • Excellence in Sustainable Practice – Te Tohu Whakamana i kā Ahuataka Toitū
  • Excellence in Health and Safety – Te Tohu Whakamana i te Haumarutaka
  • Excellence in Service – Te Tohu Whakamana i kā Uara
  • Excellence in Learner Experience – Te Tohu Whakamana i kā Wheako Ākonga
  • Our People make a Better World - Te Tohu Hāpai


2. The awards are given in the form of a grant or cash reward.



  • The grant is to be used for professional development activities and/or technology, tools or other equipment that will enhance the performance or productivity of the award winner.
  • This is in addition to any other professional development funding which the staff member is eligible for.
  • The amount is $2,000 for an individual or $5,000 for a team, including GST.
  • Approval for expenditure must be given by the DCE: People, Culture and Safety before any expenditure is committed to.
  • Any technology, tools or equipment purchased with the grant money remain the property of Otago Polytechnic.


Note: As with any use of Polytechnic funds, the way the grant is used must be in accordance with all other Otago Polytechnic Limited policies, documented, and appropriate evidence of use of resources, including any receipts, should be submitted for reimbursement.  Grants and cash must be used/paid within the same calendar year as awarded.



  • The amount is $2,000 for an individual or $5,000 for a team to be divided equally between all staff named on the award nomination.
  • Payment will be made via payroll and subject to income tax.
  • Once paid to the staff member, the award money can be used however the recipient chooses.


3. Recipients of Excellence Awards will have their names recorded on the Otago Polytechnic digital honours board.


4. Eligibility

       All Otago Polytechnic Limited permanent staff (full-time or part-time) and staff who are on fixed-term contracts of greater than twelve (12) months, are eligible for nomination and receipt of staff awards.


5. Criteria

5.1   When reviewing nominations, the Selection Committee will look for examples of outstanding achievement and performance, consistently and substantially exceeding the expectations of the position, contributing at a level above and beyond normal job requirements.  

5.2   Applications should include examples of and be supported by evidence, along with a brief (approx. 300-word) explanation as to why the nominee should win the award.

5.4   The award may be made individually, or to a team of two or more staff who may or may not formally work in the same team at OP. 

5.5   No award will be made if, in the view of the Selection Committee, none is justified. 

5.6   Awards are expected to be used by the end of the year following the year in which the award is given. In exceptional circumstances, the award may be carried over with approval from the Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety.


When reviewing a nomination, the selection panel will look for:




What we’re looking for

Criteria/evidence required

Excellence in Teaching



A teacher or teaching team that has demonstrated excellence in their teaching practice. 






Examples/evidence could include:

·     Learner-centric teaching practice maintained over a significant timeframe.

·     Learner engagement and effective learning.

·     Demonstrated integration of philosophy, pedagogy and, values of the MSF, Sustainability and, H&S into the curriculum.

·     Proactive professional development.

·     Positive influence on the teaching practice of others and sustained excellence, innovation, and a unique contribution.

·     Demonstration of OP’s teaching competencies.

·     Teaching in a kaupapa Māori method

·     Contribution to successful work-based learning

·     Contribution to the teaching profession

·     Contribution to industry/discipline

Excellence in Research


A staff member or research team that has demonstrated excellence in their research practice.  


Examples/evidence could include:

·      Building and leading research teams, especially across disciplines or other institutions

·      Identifying and leading responses to externally funded research opportunities

·      Securing contestable grants or consultancy contracts for research projects

·      Mentoring staff members’ research activity

·      Published lead author and peer-reviewed

·     Liaising actively with iwi/industry/community partners around their research needs and interests.

·     Engaging in research activity that addresses iwi/industry/community priorities

·     Engagement with research that contributes to Vision Mātauranga

·     Innovation in research principles and demonstrated emerging research excellence.

·     Have published work in high-ranking journals.

Excellence in Leadership

A staff member who demonstrates exceptional leadership at any level. 

Examples/evidence could include:

·     Demonstrating clear understanding and commitment to OP’s strategic goals and priorities, thinking strategically and inspiring others to work towards a shared vision.

·     Dedication to learning, delivering, and promoting quality and innovation.

·     Being self-reflective, self-aware, and resilient in the face of challenges.

·     Living the OP values in their work and, behaviours, and leading others in an empowering way.

Excellence in the Implementation of the Māori Strategic Framework



An individual or team who have made an outstanding contribution to achieving and embedding the priorities and outcomes of the MSF.

Examples/evidence could include:

·       Whether tangata whenua or tangata Tiriti, demonstrates what it means to ‘give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi’

·       Practices our values of manaakitaka, māia, whakamanataka and takohaka

·       Contributes to an outstanding learning experience that is conducive to Māori learner participation and success at all levels of their study

·       Kāi Tahu / Māori Leadership

·       Actively and consistently incorporates te reo me ōna tikaka Māori in their practice.

·       100% committed to ensuring the learning or working environment in their area is culturally responsive and inclusive.

·       Development of quality courses or programmes that include mātauraka Māori and integrates Te Ao Māori

·       Identifies and develops mutually beneficial research collaborations with mana whenua and other Māori research partners

·       Makes sustained contributions to the development of a vibrant Māori research culture


Excellence in Sustainable Practice


An individual or a team who has demonstrated change practice in sustainable practice.

Examples/evidence could include:

·      Evidence of impact and of good leadership/championing practice in engaging and inspiring others.

·      Exceptional sustained performance in progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

·      Substantial change or improvement to a systemic sustainability issue.

·      Evidence of embedding sustainable practice within teaching practice and curriculum.


Excellence in Health, Safety and Wellbeing 

An individual or a team who consistently embeds Health, Safety and Wellbeing into their everyday practices.

Examples/evidence could include:

·     Role-modelling best practice in Health, Safety, and Wellbeing within the immediate work area and/or across OP.

·     Proactively seeks to find ways to embed health, safety, and wellbeing practices in teaching, research, or professional practice.

·     Achievement of improvements in Health, Safety, and Wellbeing practices within the work area, or for OP as a whole.

Excellence in Service



A professional/general staff member or team who have made an outstanding contribution to OP.

Examples/evidence could include:

·     Dedication to living OP’s values

·     Successful collaboration that results in a contribution to OP’s strategic goals.

·     Shaping what they do for customer focus (internal and/or external) and delivering exceptional customer service.

·     Working effectively with stakeholders, other teams and individuals across the organisation.

Excellence in Learner Experience

A professional/general staff member or team who have made an outstanding contribution to the learner experience at OP

Examples/evidence could include:

·       Development and implementation of new initiatives, activities, services or projects that enhance the quality of the learner experience beyond the teaching and learning environment.

·       Demonstrated commitment to improving the experience of priority learner group(s) through learner-centric service offerings.

"Our People Make a Better World" award.


Recognised by the Executive Leadership Team as an exceptional all-rounder who embodies the OP values and stands out for the excellence of their performance and their commitment to OP’s mission and vision.

·     Proven sustained excellence in learner support, professional service, administration, leadership, research contribution, or teaching that goes “above and beyond” performance expectations associated with the role. 

·     Truly stands behind what we’re trying to achieve as an organisation, and does their best to work toward these goals within their own day-to-day role.

·     Goes above and beyond what is required of them for the benefit of OP.

·     Truly lives and embodies OP’s values.


7. Panel Decisions

All decisions of the Evaluation Panel and ELT are final.




Download Staff Excellence Award Nomination Form 




Sensitive Expenditure



megan gibbons signature

Approved by:
Dr. Megan Gibbons
Chief Executive


Policy Version: V10 Previously Coded MP0464