Story: Awards and prizes

Page 5. Science awards

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Royal Society of New Zealand awards

The Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ) was founded in 1867 as the New Zealand Institute. It was modelled on the British Royal Society, the world’s oldest continuously existing scientific academy. The society aims to advance and promote science, technology and (since 2010) the humanities in New Zealand, and administers a range of funds, medals and awards. These include the Marsden Fund, established with government funding in 1994 to support leading-edge research in science, engineering, mathematics, social sciences and the humanities.

In 2014 the RSNZ awarded 20 medals and prizes for excellence in specific fields. The most distinguished of these was the Rutherford Medal, named after physicist Ernest Rutherford. This medal was awarded annually, together with $100,000 of prize money, for ‘exceptional contributions to the advancement and promotion of public awareness, knowledge and understanding … in any field of science, mathematics, social science, or technology’.1 The RSNZ also sponsored prizes for creative science writing and for science books.

Marsden Medal

The Royal Society of New Zealand includes a large number of constituent organisations which offer science awards and medals. For example, the New Zealand Association of Scientists has awarded the Marsden Medal annually since 1997 for ‘a lifetime of outstanding service to the cause or profession of science’.2 The medal is named for physicist Ernest Marsden.

Prime Minister’s Science Prizes

The Prime Minister’s Science Prizes were introduced in 2009 to raise the profile and prestige of science among New Zealanders. The five annual prizes, with a combined value of $1 million, are:

  • the Science Prize, for an individual or team who has made a transformative discovery or achievement in science
  • the MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize
  • the Science Teacher Prize
  • the Future Scientist Prize, for a secondary school student
  • the Science Media Communication Prize.

Sir Paul Callaghan EUREKA! Awards

Since 2012 the Rotary Club of Wellington has held annual Sir Paul Callaghan EUREKA! Awards to enable promising secondary- and tertiary-level science students to demonstrate their knowledge to an audience of national leaders. The competitive awards were held first at regional and then at national level. The 12 national finalists received cash prizes and trophies. Rotary formed the EUREKA! Trust in 2013 to ‘take the legacy of Sir Paul [Callaghan] forward into future years’.3

  1. ‘Rutherford Medal.’ Royal Society of New Zealand, (last accessed 16 April 2014). Back
  2. ‘Marsden Medal.’ NZ Association of Scientists, (last accessed 16 April 2014). Back
  3. ‘Establishment of the EUREKA! Trust.’ EUREKA!, (last accessed 28 April 2014). Back
How to cite this page:

Mark Derby, 'Awards and prizes - Science awards', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 23 June 2024)

Story by Mark Derby, published 22 Oct 2014, updated 1 Apr 2020