Dilmah Tea founder Merrill J. Fernando, pictured in Napier in 2017. Photo / File NZ Herald
Dilmah Tea Founder Merrill J Fernando is to be awarded an honorary doctorate by Massey University next Friday.
Fernando, known to New Zealanders with his now famous television ad for Dilmah tea: “Do Try It”, will be capped as a Doctor of Science.
He was nominated for the honour by the Pro Vice Chancellor of the College of Sciences, Professor Ray Geor, together with Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan, director of the university’s Riddet Institute.
The doctorate acknowledges Fernando’s commitment to ethical business, the New Zealand food industry and tea.
Dilmah – which has been exporting Ceylon tea to New Zealand for more than 28 years – has organised food and beverage matching competitions and hosted top New Zealand chefs and hospitality staff to Sri Lanka to learn the science and art behind producing the many styles of Dilmah single origin tea.
Dilmah is also heavily involved in conservation in Sri Lanka and the founder’s MJF Charitable Foundation, funded by Dilmah profits, works across the country currently serving 10,000 people each week.
Son Dilhan Fernando, and chief executive of Dilmah Tea, said the doctorate is a fitting tribute to their father on the eve of his 90th year.
“It is outstanding that [Merrill] is recognised for the incredibly positive outcomes of the philosophy of making business a matter of human service and his love for New Zealand.
“Taste, Goodness and Purpose are the three elements that are at the heart of Dilmah. We are formed on a sincere commitment to a humanitarian and environmental purpose and it is our earnest wish that all business leaders will understand that this is an irrevocable commitment. We continue to work towards reducing inequality and mitigating the worst effects of global warming.”