The New Year Honours List that was announced by the government on December 31, 2019, has seen three Kiwi Indians included in the list for their achievements and services to the country.

One of the three Kiwi-Indians named is Dr Humaira 'Azra' Moeed from Victoria University of Wellington, who has dedicated nearly five decades of her life to the betterment of students- in India and in New Zealand. 

Dr Moeed was honoured with the 'Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM)' at the New Year Honours List by New Zealand government. 

Dr Moeed is a proud Indian, born in Uttar Pradesh, India, and has lived in New Zealand for 44 years. Her husband Dr Abdul Moeed has lived in the country for 50 years, is a scientist working for Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Research Science and Technology (MORST) as a senior policy analyst. The couple’s daughter is a medical specialist in New Zealand.

Currently serving as Senior Lecturer for School of Education at Victoria University of Wellington, Dr Humaira, better known as Azra Moeed, is a renowned and multiple award-winning teacher who has been involved in science education for most of her life.

Dr Moeed started her Kiwi journey as a primary school teacher in Lower Hutt and Play Centre Supervisor given her experience as a teacher educator back from India. After a few years, she became a full-time teacher of science and biology at Upper Hutt College later serving as Head of Department of science and then senior lecturer position at Wellington College of Education in 2000.

She gained her PhD in science education in 2010, and during the same period, she was transferred over as a Senior Lecturer in Faculty of Education at Victoria University of Wellington.

In this 45-year career as a teacher, she received numerous accolades both from her students, their parents and her peers. She considers her passion to also be a constant learner the key behind her success and recognitions in her teacher’s journey.

“A highlight of my teaching career is summed up by a 14- year old student who said, ‘Miss I have never not wanted to come to your class,’ Dr Moeed told The Indian Weekender.

Dr Azra has been involved in the organisation of national conferences, has been a member of the Wellington region Science Fair judging panel and contributes to the educational programmes at the Wellington Zoo and the Allan Wilson Centre of Molecular Evolution.

She has organised a Festival of Science, Science Challenges for Year 10 students, supported BP Technology challenge and established an environmental group for forest restoration. Dr Moeed was awarded an Excellence in Teaching award in 1996 and the Royal Society Science Teacher Fellowship in 1999., the Victoria University Excellence in Teaching Award in 2014, Ako Aotearoa National Tertiary Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016 and she was one of the judges at the inaugural insTED conference in 2017.

“As a university lecturer, I do research that matters because it deals with current issues in science education. My research is embedded in the classroom and provides a link between teacher education and science teaching in schools. One of the inspirations for my research has been the students I teach and the classrooms where I conduct my research.

“I have had the privilege to work with some of the best science teachers in New Zealand and one of the important aspects of my job is that my research informs my teaching and it is good to see my ideas and research findings being implemented in the classrooms by the student teachers I have had the opportunity to educate,” Dr Moeed added.

Dr Moeed regards her success as a teacher because she cares about the learner and their learning.

“Caring about the learner means having strong, respectful and professional relationships with the students, which includes caring about their physical, social, emotional and mental wellbeing. Caring about their learning means we plan well, teach well, assess well, and challenge the students to think,” Dr Moeed added.

Speaking about the honour by NZ government, MNZM, Dr Moeed says this recognition makes her feel humble.

“This one makes me feel very humble as it is a recognition that I have made a contribution to education in this very lovely country that has been my home for twice as long as India where I was born. I feel the country has given me opportunities to learn and grow and very rewarding to think I have given something back,” Dr Moeed said.