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About Science New Zealand

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e nga karangatanga maha, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Greetings to all people, all voices, all nations, greetings to everyone.

Welcome to New Zealand's world class science enterprises. The Crown Research Institutes are creating economic, environmental and social wealth through science and its application in New Zealand and around the world.

Join us in the adventure, challenge and success of science and innovation! Engines of discovery. Solution finders. Transformers. Innovators. Partners.

Crown Research Institutes

  • Agresearch, ESR, GNS Science, Manaaki Whenua, NIWA, Plant and Food Research as well as Scion.

Crown Agent

  • Callaghan Innovation


Science New Zealand 2017 National Awards

Congratulations to the 21 Awardees recognised for their outstanding science, which is benefiting New Zealand.

Early Career Researcher Awardees:

  • Dr Estelle Dominati - Agresearch
    As an AgResearch PhD student and Rutherford post-doctoral scholar, Estelle developed a concise and elegant framework to describe, quantify and value the natural capital stocks and provision of services that underpin New Zealand’s primary industries and natural environment. The linking of Mātauranga Māori to the Anatural capital ecosystem services framework to create a culturally based natural resource management process is the focus of her current research.

    Her research has been published in international science journals and is regarded as leading edge. Her strong international reputation is reflected in regular invitations to speak at international conferences and contributions to book chapters. In New Zealand, her research has stimulated and attracted an enormous amount of interest and has translated into multiple applications with pastoral farmers, regional councils, primary sector industries, Māori trusts and government agencies.

  • Dr Jo-Anne Bright - ESR
    Dr Jo-Anne Bright has been instrumental in the development of STRmix™ and she has an extensive list of published papers, despite only receiving her PhD within the last three years. She is a Senior Science Leader, based in Auckland, and has 18 years’ experience in forensic casework, quality management and training within the laboratory. In 2015, Jo was awarded her PhD in Forensic Science from the University of Auckland.

    She has over 60 publications in peer reviewed journals in the area of forensic DNA analysis and interpretation and is one of the co-developers of STRmix™ software used internationally for the probabilistic genotyping of forensic DNA profiles. Jo has undertaken over 40 presentations and workshops on DNA profile interpretation in Australasia, the US and Europe.

  • Dr Jerome Leveneur - GNS Science
    Jérôme works in the materials division of GNS Science’s National Isotope Centre in Lower Hutt. He gained his PhD in materials science and nanotechnology from the University of Auckland in 2012 and has shown a flair for setting up innovative scientific projects with industry partners and end-users. He leads several applied research projects and mentors students and young scientists at GNS Science. His teams research and develop surface coatings, sensors, and surface modifications. A good deal of the work is accomplished at the nano-scale. For instance, some of the new-age surface coatings are 1000 times thinner than a human hair. The result of these novel enhancements are properties such as ultra-smoothness, improved electrical conductivity, greater corrosion resistance, super hardness, and greater wear resistance. Applications include industries such as medicine, agriculture, manufacturing, energy production, transport, and construction. Jérôme recently led successful projects for perimeter security systems, manufacturing and dairy processing industries. Jérôme’s work leads directly to value for New Zealand manufacturing and economic growth.

    He has been effective in opening up new external networks and developing new industry linkages. In the past five years he has increased the connectivity of GNS Science within New Zealand and internationally.

  • Dr Nick Cradock-Henry - Manaaki Whenua
    Since starting at Manaaki Whenua six years ago, Nick has demonstrated extraordinary drive and ability to become a Senior Researcher in Social Science.

    He publishes at a very high level internationally, including papers in Nature, Climate Change, Ecology and Society, Political Science and Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.

    Nick was one of 20 global scholars invited to join the UN University of Aspiring Leaders programme. He also won Manaaki Whenua’s sole Marsden Fund grant in social science in 2016, which has contributed significantly to our CRI.

  • Dr Kim Goetz - NIWA
    Kim led a pioneering underwater sound project, deploying seven acoustic moorings in Cook Strait. Preliminary results revealed the sounds of common whale species as well as Antarctic blue whales, Antarctic minke whales and what are likely to be the first recordings of Gray’s and strap-toothed beaked whales in New Zealand waters.

    Kim formed effective working relationships with the oil and gas industry, Department of Conservation and Ministry for Primary Industries as well as the leading cetacean research groups in New Zealand. Her sustained efforts and focus on science excellence across the breadth of planning, execution and communication have resulted in significant advances in our understanding of cetacean species in New Zealand waters.

  • Dr Maren Wellenreuther - Plant & Food Research
    Maren Wellenreuther is passionate about the potential of genomics to revolutionise the fishing industry, breed new species and rebuild fish stocks for the future. She is leading New Zealand’s first native inshore fish breeding programme at Plant & Food Research’s Nelson Research Centre, using genomics tools to identify hardiness and growth potential in snapper. 20,000 snapper have been selected and trialled in a sea cage and Maren believes applying this genomics approach to New Zealand’s other native fish species is the best chance to create a more productive and sustainable seafood industry for the future.

    Maren joined Plant & Food Research full time after leading a successful bid for a Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment research programme into ‘accelerated breeding for enhanced seafood production’. She was previously a senior lecturer in evolutionary ecology at Lund University in Sweden, and coordinator of the faculty’s Women in Great Science network.

    General Manager Seafood Technologies, Helen Mussely, says Maren has achieved a ‘huge amount’ since completing her PhD. “She sets a wonderful example in the way she communicates her science widely and in her support for the recognition of women’s contribution to science.”

  • Dr Nari Williams - Scion
    Dr Nari Williams started at Scion in 2012, after six years’ experience in disease management at Murdoch University. Nari specialises in pathology, in particular the management and biology of Phytophthora diseases. As an early career researcher, Nari initiated and led a Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment bid that resulted in the Healthy Trees, Healthy Future programme. This vision resulted in multi-sector, highly collaborative science that brings together researchers from New Zealand’s primary sector CRI’s, universities and overseas organisations to protect our forests and horticultural crops from present and future Phytophthora diseases. As technical lead, Nari successfully harnessed the talents of pathologists, geneticists, biochemists, molecular biologists and mathematicians among others to achieve this common goal.

    Nari’s achievements were recognised in 2014 by winning the New Zealand Forest Owners Association ‘Science of International Quality’ and ‘Contribution to a Science Team’ awards, and the Scion Customer Engagement award. More recently, Nari has been invited on to the Technical Advisory Group of Te Toa Whenua, a restoration initiative with a vision of restoring the Waipoua Valley, an area degraded with invasive weeds and kauri dieback. This invitation underlines Nari’s standing with tangata whenua after her work with them on kauri dieback, and this growing reputation is mirrored within her science peers.

Individual / Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Dr John McEwan - Agresearch
    John has been a major force behind many initiatives aimed at improving the genetic merit of livestock, particularly sheep, and in other species in New Zealand, Australia and globally. He has been a lead person in several international consortia and is highly respected amongst his colleagues both nationally and internationally and has more than 280 publications.

    John’s many contributions to animal science since the early 1990s, include:
    •   recruiting farmers to record parasite resistance traits, leading to the WormFEC breeding service.
    •   with colleague Neville Jopson, developing a BLUP carcass trait genetic evaluation system in 1996 based on the InnerVision CT facility (a joint venture with Landcorp Farming Ltd), which is still servicing the industry.
    •   helping to establish Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL) in 1999, designing its computational framework, and writing much of the genetic evaluation code, which enables genetic evaluations for the New Zealand sheep industry.
    •   helping establish in 2002 the Central Progeny Test to evaluate industry sires and provide across-breed linkage to underpin Advanced Central Evaluation (ACE). In 2003, he helped to introduce a national across-breed analysis with colleague Sheryl Newman. This involves around 4 million animals.

    John has played a major role in elucidating and mapping genes which led to several commercial tests that are now available to the sheep industry. These include the Inverdale gene, LoinMAX® test, MyoMAX® test, the I-Scan® test and the WormSTAR™ test. He has been instrumental in NIH moving cattle to the top of its livestock sequencing priorities.

    John is part of ongoing research to provide molecular breeding values for meat quality and methane emissions in sheep. Currently, he is part of a project to develop a new genotyping and genomic evaluation technology for use in ryegrass, white clover and a variety of aquaculture species.

  • Dr Murray Close - ESR
    Dr Murray Close is a Principal Scientist at ESR in Christchurch and leads the Groundwater Contamination research team. He has over 38 years’ experience and a wide knowledge of groundwater conditions and processes throughout New Zealand.

    He has led several large multi-year, multi-agency research projects in the area of groundwater research over the past 20 years, including a three year joint NZ-Korea project on groundwater remediation processes.

    Currently Murray leads a multi-year project on Enhancing Mitigations of Nitrate in Shallow Groundwater Systems ($1.5M per year) involving researchers from ESR, Lincoln Agritech, Aqualinc Research and University of Canterbury. He also leads ESR’s ‘Groundwater Modelling of Contaminant Transport’ project, and coordinates the National Survey of Pesticides in Groundwater every four years.

    His current interests include pesticide contamination of groundwater; measurement & modelling of attenuation of contaminants in groundwater; unsaturated (vadose) zone processes; regional and national groundwater quality assessment; remediation of contaminated groundwater, groundwater ecosystems, and land use impacts on groundwater quality. Murray has authored or co-authored 87 articles in peer-reviewed journals and three book chapters.

  • Dr Ken Gledhill - GNS Science
    Ken Gledhill started in the early 1990s by designing and building the first digital seismographs in New Zealand. He was a key player in getting GeoNet started in 2001, and has led Geonet into the new era. He has also managed to get significantly more funding for GeoNet in the last few years. That GeoNet is a household name can be attributed to Ken and his team.

    Ken has consultancy and research experience in New Zealand and overseas. Since 2005 Ken has been involved in the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System and is the immediate past chair of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group of PTWS, and is a current technical working group chair having previously chaired the South-West Pacific working group, and technical task teams. His international consultancy work has included projects in the Pacific and Asia concentrating on technical assistance aimed at improving the infrastructure and capacity of countries to mitigate the impacts of natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunami.

    This year GeoNet was awarded $20 million of new government funding over the next four years, and Ken is leading a range of enhancements to GeoNet that will help to ensure New Zealanders are better equipped with both real-time and long-term information about geological hazards.

  • John Innes - Manaaki Whenua For nearly four decades, John has made a remarkable contribution to science, underpinning current knowledge and restoration of many of New Zealand’s endemic birds and forest ecosystems.

    John has played a key role in pioneering the use of time-lapse video monitoring to identify the cause of decline in New Zealand birds. This has led to numerous groundbreaking discoveries in pest and predator control. A major success is in kokako recovery, where breeding pair numbers have grown dramatically, one of New Zealand’s most successful conservation stories. John has also been at the forefront of research on the risks to, and ecological benefits of, large-scale pest-fenced sanctuaries since their inception.

    John was the winner of a KuDos 2015 Waikato Science Excellence Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to ecological research. He is truly an expert in his field, has been at the forefront of numerous key research projects, leads the Kiwi Rescue programme, is an extensive publisher and a key voice for a number of wildlife recovery groups, boards and committees.

  • Dr Clive Howard-Williams - NIWA
    Clive is New Zealand’s foremost freshwater scientist. He has more than 45 years of research experience that spans the globe, and has produced more than 300 publications and applied science reports. He has been on copious editorial and advisory boards, was the principal science advisor to the Land and Water Forum, and Chairman of the Science Review Panel for the Government’s National Objectives Framework of the recent Freshwater Reforms.

    He is the holder of a New Zealand Science and Technology Medal, holder of the New Zealand Antarctic Medal, a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canterbury. He also has the distinction of having a prominent point in Antarctica named after him.

    Clive was NIWA’s Chief Scientist – Freshwater and Estuaries for 10 years, and he is now NIWA’s Chief Science Advisor – Natural Resources, where he is concentrating on lifting the role of science in water management and water policy. Clive is renowned for his good humour, hard work, his ability to maintain an extensive international science network, and his genuine care and concern for people.

  • Dr Susan Gardiner - Plant & Food Research
    New Zealand is the world leader in apple and kiwifruit horticulture, and one of the first people we should thank is Dr Sue Gardiner. Sue pioneered genetic mapping in apples in the early 1990s and built a lead that our competitors are still trying to close. The techniques and tools her team developed have helped breeders to streamline their process by identifying seedlings known to carry the traits they want, saving space, effort, cost and time.

    Sue’s 37 years in Plant & Food Research embodied its slogan ‘better cultivars faster’ – even before it was invented. Her work in identifying markers for pest and disease resistance has also contributed to dramatic reductions in chemical use in our orchards. That led directly to New Zealand apples gaining access to the greatest number of international markets. She has produced similar work on resistance to PSA in kiwifruit that helped that industry bounce back from a dire situation a few years ago. Sue is an outstanding scientist with more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and other publications to her name. She also mentors scientists applying genomics to other fruit and crops.

    General Manager Science – New Cultivar Innovation Kieran Elborough says: “Sue has made it her mission to develop the people she works with into outstanding teams. She has often stood aside to let them shine – a truly humble team builder.”

  • Dr David Cown - Scion
    Dave Cown’s 40 years at Scion has created a legacy second to none in the forestry industry. Dave played a pivotal role in the development of wood science and the translation of this science into application. His work made industry aware of the sources of wood quality variation and how to control it. This underpinned tree breeding programmes, forest management and wood processing strategies all of which are now embedded in industry norms.

    Dave has over 140 refereed publications and he is most proud of his work in the national wood quality surveys for beech and radiata pine as well as his subsequent work as part of the Radiata Pine Task Force in the 1970s. The task force collated all the science underpinning our knowledge of radiata pine and put New Zealand forestry onto a new platform of a science-based precision industry. Dave set up the Wood Processing Research Group in the 1970s. Famously, it developed the drying schedules now used by most of the softwood industries across the southern hemisphere, such as the Dryspec™ Control system. An independent review showed that it was critical to building a $2.9 billion added-value wood products industry.

    Dave has been on every major forestry journal editorial board and received many awards. These include the Distinguished Service Award from the International Union of Forest Research Organisations for his contribution to forestry science in 2013 and the Bill Thode Award for his outstanding contribution to the New Zealand Wood Processing Industry in 2002.

Team Award

  • AR37 Endophyte Team - Agresearch
    Anouck de Bonth, Sweta Bhattarai, Stuart Card, David Hume, Debbie Hudson, Sarah Finch, Milan Gagic, Natasha Forester, Linda Johnson, Richard Johnson, Leo Liu, Wade Mace, Yulia Morozova, Wayne Simpson, Jaspreet Singh, Jan Sprosen & Lee Sutherland, Christine Voisey, Nikki Webb (Plant-Fungal Interactions); Joanne Jensen & Alison Popay (Biocontrol & Biosecurity); Marty Faville, Jana Schmidt (Forage Genetics); John Caradus, Bruce Belgrave, Joy Lin, Shaun Monk & Dawn Perry (Grasslanz Technology Ltd); Phil Rolston (Honorary Researcher); Syd Easton (Emeritus Professor); Chris Pennell, Brian Tapper, Geoff Lane, Mike Christensen, Garry Latch, Lester Fletcher, Lyn Briggs, Jeff Miller, Tom Lyons, and Doug Ryan.

    This team of scientists discovered a novel endophyte, AR37, that provides ryegrass with better insect protection advantages and plant persistence than that delivered by standard endophytes, but has few adverse effects on animal health.

    Since its first release in 2006, AR37 has been included in 11 ryegrass cultivars and its uptake has been very strong. Actual sales figures are confidential, but indications from publicly available information suggest that 90,000 to 100,000 ha per year are being re-grassed with AR37 ryegrass. With the 12% extra dry matter production, and with the area now sown with AR37, it has been calculated that there is an additional 8.4 million kg of milk solids produced each year that has a cumulative value to date of $125 million.

    The large majority of New Zealand’s $14.2 billion in agricultural exports (adding together meat, wool, dairy, livestock and processed agricultural exports) are derived from animals that consume pasture.

  • Forensic Biology Team - ESR
    Represented by Sue Vintiner, Lisa Melia, Sarah Cockerton, Keshni Rasanayagam and SallyAnn Harbison.

    The Forensic Biology team contributes to solving crime in New Zealand through the management of the DNA databank and the team’s pioneering spirit in DNA profiling.

    The DNA databank is administered by ESR on behalf of the New Zealand Police. New Zealand was the second country in the world to create a DNA Profile Databank (DPD) and this proactive approach to crime has resulted in a high success rate in producing valuable leads for unsolved cases.

    The databank operation involves two databases – the DPD (profiles of individuals) and the Crime Sample Database (profiles from unsolved crimes). By comparing the two, possible suspects can be identified and crimes linked. Since the operational start of the databank in 1996, more than 150,000 individual profiles have been completed in the DPD.

    New Zealand leads the world in DNA matching with nearly 70% of all unsolved cases loaded to the crime sample databases successfully linked to individuals, and 30% linked to another crime.

  • NZ UNCLOS Team - GNS Science
    GNS Science: Vaughan Stagpoole, Ray Wood, Chris Uruski, Bryan Davy, Rob Johnston, Hai Zhu, Dan Barker, Karen Hayes, Eileen McSaveney, Jenny Black, Rick Herzer, Stuart Henrys, Guy Maslen, Josephine Hatton, Biljana Lukovic.

    NIWA: Kevin MacKay, Ian Wright, Phil Barnes, Arne Pallentin, John Mitchell.

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Elana Geddis, Nigel Fyfe, Gerard van Bohemen, Bill Mansfield, Trevor Hughs, Rosemary Paterson.

    Land Information New Zealand: Russell Turner, Jerome Sheppard, Kelly Lafoga, John Hook, Bruce Wallen, Don Grant.

    NZ Defence Force: Ian Lamont.

    This team secured for New Zealand an area of seafloor nearly three times the size of France. This sovereign area is in addition to our EEZ and is called the Extended Continental Shelf. It means New Zealand’s total offshore area is 5.7 million square kilometres - equivalent to 14 times the size of California or 1 percent of the Earth’s surface. New Zealand has sovereign rights to everything on and under the seafloor in this vast area.

    This 12-year long project was a monumental achievement for the dedicated team who piloted it through to its successful conclusion under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The scientists designed the project, undertook the surveying, wrote the submission and defended it at a series of hearings at the United Nations in New York. The New Zealand submission was widely regarded as one of the best and set the benchmark for others to follow.

  • TB Free Team - Manaaki Whenua
    Graham Nugent, Bruce Warburton, Peter Sweetapple, Ivor Yockney, Grant Morriss, Jackie Whitford, Dean Anderson, Mandy Barron, Andrew Gormley, Dave Morgan, Sam Brown.

    Tuberculosis (TB) is an ancient disease of humans and livestock, with the bovine form - introduced by early settlers - creating major human health and agricultural problems. In the 1960s, TB established in possums and other wildlife causing it to spread quickly and reversing previously successful efforts to eradicate the disease. By the 1990s over 1700 farms were infected and by the early 2000s the nation was spending $80 million p.a. in an attempt to bring TB under control.

    For the last two decades, integrated research by a team of applied ecologists from Manaaki Whenua has provided solutions for the eradication of bovine TB from wildlife in New Zealand. Some of our key research has included: development of a nationally standardised monitoring system for indexing possum density; improvements in the application of 1080 such that today’s rates of sowing are ten times lower than that used 2-3 decades ago; research into other TB hosts leading to a detailed understanding of key vectors and implications for pest management; and developing computer-based smart tools in order to prove TB freedom.

    The team’s research achievements have transformed ‘TB-in-wildlife’ from an out-of-control and rapidly worsening situation in the early 1990s, to today’s situation where TB eradication is a realistic goal for New Zealand. We’ve seen a 97% reduction in infected herds from some 1700 in 1994 to now only 50 herds and since 2011 we have been able to formally declare that more than 2.4 million hectares of NZ is free of TB in wildlife.

  • Pacific Hydroclimate Team - NIWA
    Mark Crump, Stuart Escott, Marty Flanagan, Andrew Harper, Jeremy Rutherford, Barry Waugh.

    The hydroclimate instrumentation and deployment team have transformed both the monitoring effort and related human capacity across some of the most climate-vulnerable and economically-vulnerable countries in the world. They provide the foundations for NIWA’s substantial programme of climate services and early warning in the Pacific region, with the result that NIWA is considered the primary partner in this area for Pacific Island Meteorological Services.

    Their work has enabled data and actionable information to be delivered to underpin preparedness and resilience to weather hazards, climate variability and change in virtually every economic sector and the wider communities across the region.

    The team displays absolute commitment and dedication in everything they do – with creativeness to transfer understanding and capability, add value and go beyond what is required, with a “can do” attitude and continuous enthusiasm to work in the Pacific region, despite traveling to demanding and remote locations.

  • Pollination & Apiculture Team - Plant & Food Research
    David Pattemore, Mark Goodwin, Brad Howlett, Michelle Taylor, James Sainsbury, Mateusz Jochym, Lisa Evans, Heather McBrydie, Brian Cutting, Sarah Cross, Samantha Read, Crystal Felman, Milena Janke, Charlotte Hardy, Grant Fale, Tamatea Nathan, Max Buxton, Theo Van Noort.

    The Pollination & Apiculture Team has helped ensure pollination of New Zealand fruit and vegetable crops has stayed ahead of the threats to honey bees from the varroa mite and other causes of hive collapse. As well as developing new lines of ‘varroa sensitive hygiene’ bees that destroy mite-infested pupae, they have developed guides for controlling varroa and American foulbrood in hives.

    The Pollination & Apiculture Team has also successfully shown industry that other insects, including flies, play a big role in pollination and some are even more effective than honeybees. They have carried out world first research quantifying these other pollination methods and impacts. They are also developing insect radio tracking technology which provides detailed pictures of pollination activity; bumble bee and fly rearing methods and a pollen dispenser. The team are regularly published in high impact journals, which enhances the team’s international reputation and builds relationships with other leading researchers in this field.

    General Manager Science - Sustainable Production Roger Williams says Plant & Food Research has grown the team to 18 members in recognition of its value to New Zealand. “The Team is delivering real economic and environmental benefit to the nation by helping to sustain the rapid growth in the honey industry, and in delivering sustainable pollination for key export crops.”

  • Biosecurity Team - Scion
    Represented by Dr Stephen Pawson, Senior Forest Entomologist and Research Leader; Dr Carol Rolando, Senior Pest Management Scientist and Research Leader; Lindsay Bulman, Senior Forest Pathologist and Science Leader.

    Scion’s Biosecurity Team is responsible for many science impacts that have benefited the forest industry, Ministry for Primary Industries and the New Zealand public. The team’s research has resulted in successful management of several new-to-science diseases and development of a forestry biosecurity surveillance system considered by overseas experts to be the best in the world.

    In 2003, the team’s science lead to the discovery of the pitch canker pathogen in plants held under quarantine. Destruction of this material avoided establishment of a disease that was predicted to cause over $400 million damage to the forest industry.

    The team’s entomologists and pest management specialists supported the successful eradication campaigns of three moth species that could damage forestry, horticulture and our native forests.

    The team’s work on the biosecurity risk of Phytophthora spp. on forest product exports showed that there was no risk to trading partners. This eliminated the potential loss of over $2 billion per year through trade bans or restrictions.

Crown Research Institutes

  • AgResearch logo.
  • Plant and Food Research logo.
  • ESR logo. GNS Science logo.
  • Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua logo.
  • NIWA logo.
  • SCION logo.

Crown Agent

  • Callaghan Innovation logo.

Subsidiaries, associates, joint ventures

  • Grasslands Innovation
  • farmax
  • Enviro-Mark Solutions
  • National Land Resource Centre (NLRC)
  • Prevar
  • Virtual Institute of Statistical Genetics
  • Biopolymer Network
  • EnCoate
  • Veritec
  • BioPacific Ventures
  • EcoGene
  • PhytaGro, Inc
  • grasslanz
  • VARNZ Ltd
  • Clone International
  • Atlastech