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Three knights, three dames and the top honour for a scientist

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman receives the country's highest honour.

Duncan Bridgeman
Mon, 01 Jun 2015

New Zealand’s most recognised scientist and the government’s chief science adviser – Professor Sir Peter Gluckman – has received the country’s highest honour.

Sir Peter was today made an Ordinary Member of the Order of New Zealand for services to the country, joining the likes of former prime ministers Helen Clark and Jim Bolger, opera diva Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and athlete Sir Murray Halberg in the elite group, which is limited to 20 living persons.

Also recognised in today’s Queen’s Birthday honours were three Dame and three Knight Companions of the NZ Order of Merit.

Dame Bronwen Holdsworth, of Gisborne, was knighted for services to business and the arts, Dame Diane Robertson, of Auckland, for services to the community and Dame Therese Walsh, of Wellington, for services to sports administration.

New knights include New Zealand's former UN ambassador and former deputy prime minister Sir Jim McLay, Maori Party co-founder Sir Pita Sharples and Nelson-based fishing and dairy industry leader Sir Peter Talijancich (Talley).

Sir Peter Gluckman ONZ, KNZM
After his early training in Dunedin and Auckland, Sir Peter Gluckman emerged as a leader in his field and is regarded as New Zealand’s pre-eminent scientist.

He is the only New Zealander to be elected to the Institute of Medicine of the United States National Academies of Science and a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Great Britain.

In 2009 he was appointed as the inaugural chief science adviser to the Prime Minister and has continued to serve in this role. In 2014 he was appointed as co-chairman of the World Health Organisation Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.

Sir Peter’s research focuses have ranged from the hormonal control of growth before and after birth, intrauterine growth restriction and neurological diseases to evolutionary medicine and the interface between human and pastoral animal biology.

“I believe that science has a central role in our future and can help transform New Zealand to a stronger nation – socially, environmentally and economically," Sir Peter says on his blog

“On the other hand, science and technology create challenges – scientific advances can create uncertainty for many people, and there is often also a credibility gap between the claims of science, at least as portrayed in the media, and its actuality.

“One of my most important tasks as chief science adviser is to promote the public understanding of science by explaining, with a focus on young people, the scientific method and its opportunities and limitations.”

Sir Peter was dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland in the 1990s before establishing in 2001 and serving as founding director of the Liggins Institute to encourage New Zealand scientists to undertake world-class research.

In 2004 he helped establish the Gravida National Centre for Growth and Development, one of seven Centres of Research Excellence in New Zealand. Until 2013 he led the Epigen Consortium, comprising six centres in three countries.

Sir Peter has published several books and developed LENScience to encourage experimental involvement of school children in science.

Sir Peter Gluckman – Honours and Awards

  • Redesignated Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, 2009
  • Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, New Year 2008
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of London
  • Rutherford Medal, 2001
  • Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, Queen’s Birthday 1997
Duncan Bridgeman
Mon, 01 Jun 2015
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Three knights, three dames and the top honour for a scientist