Inspirational New Zealander remembered


It is with much sadness, the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards Programme acknowledges the loss of 2011 New Zealander of the Year, Sir Paul Callaghan. Sir Paul was one of New Zealand’s most high profile and respected scientists and a truly passionate New Zealander.

“Kiwibank was proud to be associated with Sir Paul Callaghan as the 2011 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year. His passing is a sad loss for all New Zealanders, and our thoughts are with his wife Miang and two children at this time” says Paul Brock, CEO of Kiwibank.

Sir Paul was a world leading scientist in the fields of nanotechnology* and magnetic resonance. His work put him and New Zealand on the international stage and his mantelpiece features an array of honours for his endeavours, including a Knighthood for services to science and NZ’s highest scientific honour, the Rutherford Medal.

As a proponent of bringing science to the people of New Zealand Sir Paul has left no stone unturned to achieve this. He has appeared in radio, print, television, guest lecturers and other personal appearances simply trying to put forth science in a way that everyone can relate to.

Sir Paul has been a passionate and vocal advocate for addressing and finding ways to reverse the overseas ‘brain drain’. In his view, widening New Zealand’s economic growth engines can be achieved by using science and technology to create industry that is ‘world class and home grown’.

In recent years, he has been at the forefront of connecting science and business. His 2009 book Wool to Weta challenges traditional economic thinking and advocates for the potential of science and technology entrepreneurship to diversify our economic success. He put forward his vision of a future New Zealand where the use of science, technology and intellectual property can provide economic prosperity for the entire country and free New Zealand from simply being a producer of biological commodities.

Sir Paul believed that if we are to attain economic diversification through these avenues New Zealand can reverse the brain drain and make our country the place young people choose to build their careers and raise their families while preserving our natural environment and enriching our communities and culture.

Most recently Sir Paul showed great courage in publicly sharing his battle with cancer and his experience of treatments have been followed with great interest around the world.

He was unable due to ill health attend the most recent Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards ceremony held in Auckland last month however recorded an exclusive interview which was shared with the 500 guests on the evening.

In this Sir Paul shares what winning the New Zealander of the Year Award meant to him and also his future vision for New Zealand and how much potential the country has literally become “the most beautiful, stimulating and exciting place to live and work in the world.”

* Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. It may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials and energy production.


For further information, images and a copy of the interview with Sir Paul Callaghan recorded on the 12th February 2012 exclusively for the New Zealander of the Year Awards by media partner, TV3 please contact:

Emma Mcdonald

National Manager

Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards

Phone (09) 377 1794 or mobile 021643475