Remembering Ken Beckman

The HIT Lab NZ lost one of its main rudders recently.

HIT Lab Director Ken Beckman passed away suddenly on 12 November 2018 after a brief battle with cancer.

Originally from Minnesota in the United States, Ken lived for 11 years in the Pacific Islands of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji working in development assistance, before settling in New Zealand. He worked in educational administration in Aotearoa New Zealand for 15 years before joining the HIT Lab NZ.

Ken joined the Lab in 2007 as Lab Manager, and assumed the Directorship in 2015. He ably and humbly guided the Lab, working to make the lives of others as smooth as possible. Ken was a very student-focused leader, helping numerous students find their way through to joining the Lab.

Founding HIT Lab NZ Director Professor Mark Billinghurst recalls Ken fondly. “Ken tirelessly served the HIT Lab NZ for many years and is one of the main reasons that it is the success that it is today. I will be forever grateful for the help that he gave me in running the Lab in the early days and for the work he’s done since then. He was always willing to cheerfully help with complicated issues and provide students with the support that they needed. To have him passing so quickly is sad and shocking, I had always imagined him having a long and happy retirement, enjoying his mountain biking.”

Lab Research Leader Professor Rob Lindeman reflects “Ken was a modest individual. But he did so much ‘behind the scenes’ as it were to make people feel genuinely welcome, and to enable them to succeed in the Lab. He lived his life in a very balanced way, showing up early for work, working efficiently, then knocking off after a full day to enjoy his time outside of work. While at work, he was always humming something or other, and always had a cheerful word to share with people. Outside of work, he took great joy in spending time with his family and friends. I count myself lucky to have spent many hours in the mountain bike saddle following his lead along various tracks in the Port Hills and beyond. And also the well-earned pints of craft beer that followed, and that he so enjoyed.”

Ken is survived by his wife, two daughters, and numerous others whose lives he touched in profound ways.

He will be very much missed.

Messages to the family can be made online at Donations to the Nelson Tasman Hospice in Ken’s memory would be greatly appreciated.


Tribute re-posted from

Maintenance and relocation over summer break

A number of campus maintenance and decanting projects are scheduled during the quieter summer months:

  • Work on improving pedestrian access from Kirkwood Avenue through to the Law Car Park will continue to the end of January.
  • Work in the Ernest Rutherford building atrium is under way now and will continue for most of the summer break.
  • Occupation of Rehua will be mostly completed in December. Some landscaping will take place around the building.
  • Communications Disorders’ relocation is under way and will be complete in February.
  • In the courtyard between the Civil and Natural Resources Engineering and Mechanical Engineering buildings borehole replacement, including resealing trench lids, will continue to the end of January.

Please be careful in these areas and if you see anything hazardous report it to UC Security immediately.

Any pedestrian or vehicle restrictions will be shared on the blog.

Have you signed up to support International Enrolment in Person?

A couple of weeks ago we shared our plan for the 2019 International Enrolment in Person, and called for volunteers to help us support our International students as they arrive at UC.

2019 International Enrolment in Person is going to be bigger and better than ever and with your help, will see a reduction in queuing time. We anticipate welcoming and enrolling 1600 international students so we’re going to need some help to make it as efficient and as welcoming as possible.

Our staff volunteers will be a friendly first point of contact, greeting them with a smile and a cheery ‘Kia ora’ before taking a copy of their passport and then sending them on to the next stage of their enrolment journey.

Since our initial call for help, we’ve managed to fill 55 of the 63 possible volunteer slots. You’ve done an amazing job at putting your hand up to help, so much so that we only need a few more people to volunteer for the 8 remaining sessions, they are:

  • Friday 8 Feb: x1 morning slot
  • Monday 11 Feb: x2 morning slot
  • Thursday 14 Feb: x1 morning slot
  • Friday 15 Feb: x2 morning and x2 afternoon slot

Enrolment in Person will be held on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 of February, and again from Monday 11 to Friday 15 February; it’s broken into morning (8.30am – 12pm) and afternoon (1pm – 4.30pm) sessions to give your smile a chance to recharge.  

If you can help with one or more of the remaining slots, please email Freddie Jefferd before 21 December.

If you would like to be involved but this doesn’t quite sound like you, get in touch anyway – chances are we’ll still be able to find something for you to do.

Ngā mihi,

The International Enrolment Working Party