Max and Catherine Standage


Max and Catherine, 2022

Max Standage and Catherine Norton were both born in the South Island of New Zealand. Max’s ancestors emigrated from Devon in 1865 and Catherine’s in 1880. Their families knew of each other but were not close, although they discovered they actually shared a great aunt, Catherine’s Aunty Eve was Max’s Aunt Pat. This connection lead Max’s mother to invite Catherine to lunch when she enrolled in a Bachelor of Consumer and Applied Science at the University of Otago where Max was studying Physics. When they married in 1973, Catherine had completed a Dip. Ed. and her first year of teaching and Max had completed his PhD in Quantum Physics and had just been awarded a two-year grant for post-doctoral research.

Their honeymoon turned out to be a voyage to Scotland where Max joined a research team conducting scattering experiments in Quantum Physics at Glasgow University. The team was led by a brilliant but controversial scientist in Atomic Physics and its work won international recognition. As a result, Max was thrust into a role of helping organise an international conference. He acted as Conference Secretary and quickly developed the organisational skills necessary to run a successful conference. This experience required extensive negotiations and the skills he developed were to shape his career. Later in his career he brought to Australia, for the first time in 1991, the major international conference in his research field, the International Conference on the Physics of Electronic and Atomic Collisions. He later became the International Chair of this conference series.

The two years at Stirling opened many doors for Max. As well, working in a prestigious research team, he learnt how to manage research laboratories, developed important international contacts and networks and clarified the direction he wanted for an academic career. However, Scotland closed a door for Catherine because she didn’t satisfy its criteria to be able to teach there. She did work as an assistant librarian for a year and in October, 1975 gave birth to their daughter, Sarah. By Christmas, they were on their way to Australia. Max had been interviewed in London for a position at the newly established Griffith University where he expressed his aim of establishing a research facility focusing on Laser Physics if he joined the university, which he did as a Lecturer.

Laser Physicist Max viewing model of CERN Hadron Collider Detector

Max, Emeritus Professor at the Gold Coast Campus Griffith University

Max found the multi-disciplinary science common rooms at Griffith University to be like wide ranging ‘think tanks’ that quickly got behind his proposal for a dedicated research facility. At the same time, his mediation and community consultative skills placed him in a number of emerging key roles as the university began an ambitious period of growth to compete with the long established University of Queensland and the newly formed University of Technology. Throughout the 1980s, Griffith University acquired all the Colleges of Advanced Education south of the Brisbane River down to the New South Wales border. Then, in the 1990s, it developed programs for a number of specialist degrees, launching an Aviation School, a Biomolecular and Biomedical School, a Computing and Information Technology School and a Microelectronic Engineering School. By 1991, Max was Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology and by 1996 Pro-Vice Chancellor Science, Quality.

Max and Catherine had a second baby, Jonathon in 1977 and settled into semi-rural life on the outskirts of Logan. Catherine had always imagined that she would return to teaching once the kids had become more independent but discovered pottery. Pottery became a hobby, then a business and finally a passion when she enrolled in a Graduate Diploma of Fine Arts at the Queensland College of Art. Taking inspiration from the environmental writing of Rachel Carson, Catherine focused on a poem The Sea, which concludes with the metaphor “like an ever-flowing stream of time, the beginning and the end”. Catherine’s later work explores the forces of formation and deformation her later work explores the forces of formation and deformation and the influence of the sea is evident in the art works displayed in their home.

Catherine in her pottery studio

Catherine. The excitement of opening the kiln

As Pro-Vice Chancellor Science, Quality, Max took a leading role in a major academic restructuring of the university and was given overall responsibility for the development of the Logan Campus. Then, in 1998, he assumed responsibility for both the Science and Health Groups across all campuses and was appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Gold Coast Campus and in that position oversaw the establishment the Dental and Oral Health School and the Griffith Medical School in 2003. This process required close engagement with government agencies, local government and the Gold Coast Community and subsequently led to his appointment as Pro-Vice Chancellor (Community Partnerships). It was therefore a logical extension of this role for Max to be appointed Chair of the Logan and Redland Zone of the Commonwealth Regional Development Committee.

For Catherine, pottery took a back seat as their children had children of their own. Catherine became an enthusiastic grandmother and as retirement approached for Max, began exploring options for the next stage of their life. Max and Catherine had already determined that they preferred living on small acreage on the edge of a community and after looking at a number of communities in South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales settled on Mapleton where they purchased land in 2009. The position of Chair of the Sunshine Coast Regional Development Committee was vacant and Max was approached to take this before they had completed building their new home.

Max and Catherine with Family

While in this role Max was guest speaker at a Montville Village Association (MVA) meeting outlining the role of the Regional Development Program and the possibility of applying for grants within it in 2013. At the time, the MVA, responsible for the management of the Montville Sports and Recreation Ground, was struggling to resolve conflicting user interests and cover the financial costs to keep this community asset open and viable. The MVA decided to create a Management Committee to investigate how to resurrect this facility to better serve the Montville Community and invited Max to Chair this new Committee. From 2014 to 2022, Max has been Chair of the Management Committee of the Montville Sports and Recreation Grounds and under his leadership the amenity of this facility has improved remarkedly.

Max enjoys retirement even though it involves plenty of meetings and working with the local community

At the same time, Max was elected to the Management Committee of the MVA and took on the responsibility for future planning. His experience in regional development and in working with local government has enabled the MVA to take on a more research based, balanced and proactive role in the development of a new Sunshine Coast Council Development Plan. Max resigned from both management committees in the October, 2022 AGM of the MVA to take up the position of President of Mapleton and District Community Association (MADCA). His contribution to the growth of the MVA as a strong representative voice in local planning forums will be missed, but Montville’s loss will be Mapleton’s gain.

Doug Patterson