Top researchers honoured
Exceptional New Zealand researchers were acknowledged at Research Honours Aotearoa in Wellington on Wednesday.
Royal Society Te Apārangi, which hosted the event, handed out 21 medals and awards and the Health Research Council presented three awards.
The top award, the Rutherford Medal, was awarded to Professor Rod Downey of Victoria University of Wellington for his revolutionary research into mathematical logic and computer science.
His work has been applied to efforts as varied as studying aboriginal children in Australia, reconstructing the "tree of life", understanding the evolution of European languages, and even designing better ways to distribute donated food to charities, the NZ Herald reported.
"There's this wondrous wholeness of mathematics, that as soon as you understand something well enough, it leads into other things and that's what good science is about," he told 1 News.
In addition to the medal, he received a $100,000 prize from the Government.
The Callaghan Medal for science communication was awarded to Dr Helen Taylor from the University of Otago for her work around conservation genetics and threatened species.
One of her initiatives, ‘The Great Hihi Sperm Race’, raised more than $11,000 for hihi conservation and drew supporters from 17 countries, spreading the message about potential fertility problems for inbred birds.
For the first time, the Society issued an award for contribution to Te Ao Māori and indigenous knowledge – named the Te Puāwaitanga Award, given to Professor Linda Tuhiwai-Smith of the University of Waikato.
The Health Research Council of New Zealand also introduced a new award, Te Tohu Rapuora, for Māori health excellence and leadership, which was given to the Te Kotahi Research Institute of the University of Waikato.
Associate Professor Pitama, of Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Whare, was awarded the Metge Medal for her influence on indigenous health education and Lisa Matisoo-Smith has been awarded the Mason Durie Medal for her research on human migration into the Pacific. Both women are from the University of Otago.
The full list of winners is on the society's website.