Today my very good friend, colleague and co-founder of CORE, Dr Vince Ham died after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was at home with his wife and family.
Vince was one of New Zealand education's rare gems – both in terms his personal integrity as a researcher and educator, and in terms of his immense contribution to the educational knowledge base, nationally and internationally, around ICTs and learning.
Vince and I were introduced more than 20 years ago when I began work as a lecturer in educational technology at the Christchurch College of Education, and Vince was already there in a senior lecturer role. He must have wondered abut me when I arrived, full of raw enthusiasm and completely naive in terms of working in a tertiary context. But he never criticised or made fun of me – instead he did what I've seen him do with dozens of other educators in the intervening years, he simply got alongside and gently channelled my enthusiasm by asking questions, making suggestions and effectively modelling the behaviours of a reflective practitioner.
Over time Vince and I began working closely on a number of projects, collaborating to write papers and present at conferences and generally 'feed' off each others respective strengths. I did my apprenticeship as a researcher under his tutelage, benefitting enormously from the depth of his knowledge and skill across all dimensions of research endeavour – particularly action research.
The connection with Stephen Heppell in the late 1990s fuelled our vision for a NZ-based educational research and development organisation, and with Nick Billowes, led to the establishment of Ultralab South (now CORE). In this venture, Vince became known as the 'consience' of the organisation, the 'keeper of the values' on which the organisation was based. He continued to defend this passionately, including in the more recent years when he was appointed as one of the founding trustees on the CORE Charitable Trust.
Vince was indeed a man who 'walked the talk' when it came to living out his personal philosophy and beliefs as an educator. He will be missed by a great number of people. He will be missed by me because in him I had an 'anchor' for my thinking, someone I could pass my ideas before and expect an honest critique, and someone I could turn to when I felt out of my depth academically and intellectually to help make sense of things.
My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Ronnie and his family as they mourn his passing.
Me te aroha tino nui atu.
3 thoughts on “Tribute to a friend”
I still remember when I saw Vice for the first time. He was very encouraging, helpful and full of joy. It was one of the most memorable times of my life. We will miss him and he will remain in our hearts forever.
Vince was there the April my friend died. I'll never forget laughing with him during class (he did the Educational Research Methodology course here at Oxford) and after, but most of all, his support when I stopped breathing out of grief and couldn't start again. The evening we went out to dinner, before he left to go home to NZ to suffer his third winter in a row, as he said goodbye, he took my head in his hands and made me promise I would laugh before the summer was out; he made me promise to live. And that was what Vince did best – lived and loved his peops to the full – meeting up with him when he was back in the UK was always a day on the move, doing something I hadn't done before. We'd been out of touch for too long, I kept meaning to fix that – there was always a corner of my heart for you. And it wasn't just a box room. Gone too soon, I'm so sorry I was too late. Requiescat in pace, hon. My love and prayers are with Ronnie and his family and friends as they mourn his loss – he touched my life briefly and made such a big difference; I can only extrapolate (sorry, Vince!) and imagine how much of a difference he made to those who knew him so well. Requiescat in pace, my friend. xx
Vince, bar no-one, was the smartest person I ever knew and wore not only his intellect but his deep decency lightly. I studied alongside himself and Irim at Oxford Uni and we both held Vince in great esteem and respect. He always had different, richer insights in conversations academic or otherwise, and you always left feeling a bit more intelligent just having spent time with him – I'd tell him we gained knowledge by osmosis just by sitting beside him! Catching up with himself and his beloved Ronnie in Christchurch always meant a warm welcome of love, friendship and kindness and all of us were truly blessed to know this mighty totara of a man. In great honour, in Ireland we would say, 'truly, his likes will not pass this way again'.
Slán go fóill mo chara (goodbye, for now, my friend).