August 2018

To whom it may concern

Initially I was introduced to Mary when I was teaching a postgraduate paper in education for NZ health professionals (1993). At this point, Mary was in Rotorua as a clinician. Mary impressed me on my first meeting with her as an astute, enterprising occupational therapist who was open to ideas and willing to have conversations that would be considered controversial. She was involved in research in the clinical area – which again was relatively unusual in NZ – especially in the 1990s. I was instrumental in ensuring that she applied for the position as a lecturer and was employed. I preface this reference with these reflections because to meet Mary was to be confronted with someone who was perceptive and questioning which are traits that have enabled her to develop new research, enterprising fieldwork placements and generally to provide a voice that is forward thinking and in tune with the issues of the day.

Mary became a member of what was called ‘the Occupation Team’ when she was originally employed by the school. This was a time of innovation in the programme which Mary embraced and contributed by implementing community placements and drew on the Humanities to inform students’ understanding about occupation. She also made contributions to the Occupation Journal which was published and edited from the OT school at Otago Polytechnic.

When Mary returned to teaching in 2012 she set up a research group that was intended to nurture a research culture within the school. This was a great success and met the needs of those interested in research and also the post graduate students who were located in Dunedin. Mary is able to inspire the OT staff and foster their research ideas. She has also developed the Masters programme by teaching a lively research paper and ensuring that a research culture is established with this student group by setting up regular discussion forums. Creating a discussion network at distance is never easy and requires a commitment to the use of technology and flexibility in teaching hours.

When it comes to her research platform. Mary has demonstrated a single minded approach to exploring one topic that has great potential for occupational therapist and their clients – vision rehabilitation. Low vision is a common condition – in particular in the older population. She has initiated a stream of teaching and research to provide information to therapists (a post graduate paper) about assessments and interventions appropriate for those with low vision. Mary has taken many opportunities to promote occupational therapy in this area of practice, developing strong community connections, involving students in projects/placements and facilitating community engagement in these. She developed the post graduate teaching despite some resistance in the school.

Mary has very creative ideas about research possibilities and never misses an opportunity to turn a new development into a research opportunity. Examples include research on Edubits, turning an innovative teaching method into a research opportunity, writing for SCOPE and taking on the editing role. Many of these opportunities include students in the role of researchers as well as staff who are not experienced researchers. She has worked to develop an Ethics B option for the school to develop research opportunities for students and the supervisors who work with them on their community placements.

Ethical reasoning is an area of expertise that she had developed through her time in the School. Her contributions of a chapter in a Clinical Reasoning book for occupational therapists has been well read and is an innovative overview of the issues that are faced by therapists in the ACC environment. She makes a regular contribution to the Clinical Reasoning Post Graduate Paper as a guest lecturer. In this capacity she facilitates discussions with students that stimulates critical thinking.

Mary has aligned her teaching and research with policy both internal and external to the polytechnic. When there is no policy she has been actively engaged in creating it for instance by serving on several think tanks at policy level. For example, she was involved for two years in the initial developments that led to the Enabling Good Lives model for people with disability; and she served for a year on a national reference group for low vision services. Mary is a stimulating colleague, always supportive of new ideas and open for challenge to her thinking. While she has focused her research on a specific area of practice, she is alert to ongoing opportunities for research in the school and readily involves lecturers and students clearly believing that they have the ability to engage at this level. Mary is grounded in both educational and occupational therapy practice. Her research aspirations clearly involve nurturing other lecturers as well as developing her own skills and expertise.


Linda Robertson

Associate Professor

Occupational Therapy


To whom it may concern

Over the past year, Mary Butler has been instrumental is encouraging and inspiring me to develop my research ideas. Initially being encouraging around the research question, she was enthusiastic to assist in formulating a formal research project and methodology. Her enthusiasm and positivity was infectious and with her help and support, we have been successful in not just gaining Ethical Committee approval for this project, but in actually running the project this year. I am confident that without her support and guidance, our project would not have come about. I now have a second project idea in the pipeline and again Mary’s enthusiasm is keeping me motivated to stick with developing the idea into a Pilot Study next year. I look forward to her involvement with this also over the coming months.


Karen Blackwood


Karen Blackwood

Occupational Therapy | Bachelors Team Leader (Dunedin)

Otago Polytechnic | Te Kura Matatini ki Otago

Dunedin Campus

Forth Street, Private Bag 1910, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

| Freephone 0800 762 786 | DDI +64 3 479 6032 | Room G224 |


To whom it may concern,

I am writing on behalf of Mary Butler, who I have been working with for the past couple years. Mary first reached out to the Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT) with an idea to innovate her Occupational Therapy course with mobile technologies, and we have collaborated on a number of projects ever since. As well as continuously seeking ways to incorporate technology in her teaching, Mary has shown a keen interest in breaking down departmental silos and involving students in cross-discipline, collaborative projects. One such example has been a volunteering initiative, which has seen students from the BIT get involved with helping seniors with their IT needs. We piloted this last semester, and had such a positive response (from both students and those receiving the assistance) that we have since embedded it within the BIT. An extremely worthwhile endeavour, and one which we never would have begun without Mary first pushing the idea. Throughout all of our projects, Mary is always available to meet with students and provide guidance, and she has genuine enthusiasm for improving the learning outcomes of both her and our students. I have enjoyed working with her thus far, and hope to continue our relationship into the future.


Adon Moskal

Lecturer & Project Coordinator

Bachelor of Information Technology


To whom it may concern.

August 22nd 2018

Re Mary Butler

I first met Mary over four years ago when she visited a student on placement at my work place.

Mary was genuinely interested in the service and my role, and stayed long after everyone had left as we discussed the philosophy of the service, the meaning of occupation, the realities of individuals lives and of course Occupational Therapy.

As an OT in charge of a community based service and the only OT within the organisation I have often felt isolated and unsure about my practice. Reflecting on our discussion I realised how valuable I had found our discussion and how for the first time in many years someone had affirmed my work as an OT. A few days later, I approached Mary to ask her if she would be my clinical supervisor.

Since then I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had time with Mary each month to explore my practice in great depth. I believe we have a strong positive relationship built on trust and mutual respect. Mary was great at listening, then helping me to explore, question, and analyse my practice. Over time we identified themes and I am now able to make much more sense and meaning of my practice. As a result, I now feel stronger as a leader of my service and confident that I have the skills and literature behind me to articulate as an OT the value and purpose of the role.

In 2017, I completed the research methods paper with Mary, and I am now enrolled for Masters. Reenter­ing education was daunting and a steep learning curve for me, but Mary has always given me the confi­dence and belief in myself as a therapist. Mary set high standards and challenged me to achieve them.

I would never have done any of this if I had not met Mary.

Louise Roberts

Occupational Therapist

Presbyterian Support Otago


To whom it may concern

I have known Mary since 1999, during which time she has developed as a lecturer and as a respected colleague. I particularly appreciated the work that she did in putting together weekly research forums which offered the opportunities for staff and students to explore research ideas together, these ran for two years during which time we had visiting speakers, and ran with several themes that eventually translated into successful applications for funding.

Mary has such a great capacity to bring different ideas and energy into the school of OT. I very much ap-preciate Mary’s clarity when it comes to thinking through ideas, Mary has the verbal skills and depth of thought to be an engaging teacher and a challenging colleague. Mary is both a talented writer who gives insightful commentary in her writing, and an astute questioner during verbal discussions.

Mary advocates most strongly for creating an academic culture for the students, running weekly seminars and organising masters schools. and she has never hesitated to work for the good of the students. I have worked closely with her in her role as a masters supervisor, in which she demonstrates that she is a hard-working, thoughtful, and open-minded individual who has a clear commitment to the development of the highest quality learning experiences for post graduate Masters students. She works closely with community groups and has strong networks across the university and polytechnic Mary has my wholehearted support in all her endeavours. Nga mihi,

Sian E. Griffiths Principal Lecturer / Honours Programme Coordinator School of Occupational Therapy | G221 G Block Otago Polytechnic | Te Kura Matatini ki Otago Forth Street, Private Bag, 1910, Dunedin, 9054, New Zealand DDI +64 3 379 3627

Otago Polytechnic