2016 Blake Medallist and Blake Leaders named

Sir Peter Gluckman, Rob Waddell, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, Ben Kepes, Stacey Shortall, Dr Nancy Bertler and Frances Valintine. With special feature audio.

Sir Peter Gluckman has been awarded the Blake Medal, the premium award for leadership achievement in New Zealand from the Sir Peter Blake Trust. His stellar career has been built on a commitment to creating a better New Zealand, through science.

The Blake Medal is given to acknowledge and celebrate an extraordinary New Zealand leader who has made an exceptional contribution to the country, in the style of Sir Peter Blake himself.

Six Blake Leader Awards were also announced: Rob Waddell, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, Ben Kepes, Stacey Shortall, Dr Nancy Bertler and Frances Valintine (see profiles below). These were given for outstanding leadership for New Zealanders in their mid-career.

The Governor-General, Lieutenant General The Rt. Hon Sir Jerry Mataparae, presented the medal and awards at a black-tie evening at the Auckland Museum in front of a crowd of over 300 hundred of New Zealand’s leaders. Sarah-Jane Blake attended on behalf of the Blake family.

Sir Peter Gluckman sees himself as an ‘integrator of science’, believing science lies at the core of New Zealand’s future; including economy, environment and society.

In his current role as the Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, he is the driving force in bringing sound scientific advice to New Zealand and policymakers around the world.

Sir Peter Gluckman.

His achievements include:

  • His work in pre-natal development and children’s health is recognised internationally.

  • In 1980 he set up a research group at the University of Auckland and he became world renowned for inventing the cooling cap, worn by newborn babies with suspected brain damage. It is still used today in maternity wards across the world.

  • He has been cited 30,000 times in scientific literature, has founded international scientific societies, and consulted at the highest levels for global organisations.

  • Sir Peter Gluckman established two important medical establishments, the Liggins Institute and the National Centre of Growth and Development, focusing on how conditions in early life impact on a human being’s health throughout a lifetime.

  • Since 2009, he has broken new ground as the first Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, promoting cultural change in attitudes and increasing public understanding of science.

  • He has been co-chair of the World Health Organisation’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, and founded the International Network of Government Science Advice.

The trust's Leadership Week, which began July 1, features more than 1000 leadership events happening around the country, with the theme #believeyoucan. The week finishes with red socks day on Friday 8 July.

From left: Frances Valintine, Nancy Bertler , Stacey Shortall, Ben Kepes Rob Waddell


Ben Kepes spreads his net wide to create a leadership legacy - technology evangelist, entrepreneur, mentor, commentator, business adviser and emergency volunteer. One of the world’s most influential technology thinkers, he’s also recreated a start-up ecosystem in post-quake Christchurch, invested in a diverse range of exciting Kiwi businesses, and mentors young entrepreneurs.

Dr Nancy Bertler founded the field of ice core research in New Zealand, drilling deep into Antarctica’s ice to unlock climate history from over tens of thousands of years. A passionate and compelling science communicator, she is also committed to helping improve New Zealand’s understanding of climate change. 

Frances Valintine is an entrepreneur and education futurist, driven to transform learning from the inside. Through innovative thinking and perseverance, she delivers learning programmes like The Mind Lab, preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s digital world. She also encourages female leaders in developing nations and mentors young Kiwi businesswomen.

An outstanding athlete, Rob Waddell reached the pinnacle of two sporting codes – rowing and sailing. The Olympic gold medallist has become a respected leader off the water, working with charitable organisations to advance sport and enhance the environment, and leads New Zealand’s largest sporting team into battle, as chef de mission at the Rio Olympics.

As well as being a globally respected lawyer, Stacey Shortall is a passionate advocate for the wellbeing of women and children. Her ground-breaking projects include helping mothers in prisons, and a homework club in low-decile schools. Her call to action - “Who did you help today?” – has become a nationwide movement, connecting skilled people with community projects.

Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles is world-famous for making heroes out of tiny organisms that glow in the dark, in the fight to combat the most infectious diseases on the planet. She is also recognised for her professional ethics, her exceptional leadership skills in the science community and beyond, and for encouraging more women and children into science.

Tune into NBR Radio’s Sunday Business with Andrew Patterson on Sunday morning, for analysis and feature-length interviews.