It is a pleasure for AgScience to kick off the new year with a post which records the naming of two NZIAHS members in the 2022 New Year Honours.
The CNZM (Companion New Zealand Order of Merit) was awarded to Dr Michael Dunbier, a fellow of the NZIAHS and member of the Canterbury Section, for services to agricultural science
The ONZM (Officer New Zealand Order of Merit) was awarded to Dr Peter Fennessy, a member of the Otago Section, for services to agricultural science and business.
Dr Michael Dunbier has been a leading figure in plant breeding and agricultural science in New Zealand.
He was Director of DSIR Crop Research from 1983 to 1992 before being appointed as the foundation CEO of the New Zealand Institute for Crop and Food Research Ltd until 2001.
He has had a lead role in shaping much of the development of research in New Zealand’s arable vegetable, floriculture and food industries. His contributions have led the scientific community to develop a range of new crops and improved varieties with desirable traits such as improved disease resistance and requiring fewer external inputs.
He was the first overseas Board member of the Australian Grain Research Development Corporation and played a key role in major joint Australasian research projects with Crop and Food such as Quality Wheat Cooperative Research Centre, ‘Vital Veges’ and ‘HRZ Wheat’.
He was an initial Board member of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology and Chairman of the Arable Food Industry Council.
Since 2001 Dr Dunbier has continued involvement in research through governance roles including with Dairy InSight, AgResearch, SunPrime Seeds, Pastoral Genomics, the Foundation for Arable Research, the Centre of Research Excellence in Bio-Protection at Lincoln University, and Food Standards New Zealand.
Dr Peter Fennessy has had a broad and distinguished career as a scientist, mentor, consultant, and entrepreneur over 45 years.
Dr Fennessy has had a key focus on bridging science and business in the New Zealand agricultural and biotechnology sectors to provide better outcomes for the public, enterprise, and the environment. His work has been undertaken in sheep, deer, horses, and bees, and significantly underpinned growth in deer and sheep farming and associated industry groups.
He was General Manager of AgResearch Invermay from 1992 to 1997. He then entered the private sector, founding AbacusBio in 2001. He has led a commitment to training and education, with AbacusBio spending five times the industry average on training.
He instigated an internship programme at AbacusBio for 10 students annually.
He has held governance and management roles across numerous small-to-medium agri-and biotechnology start-ups and enterprises in New Zealand.
He has worked with Māori enterprises to add commercial value through science. His contributions to agricultural science are recognised internationally and he has been retained by governmental and industry research organisations in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and Brunei.
Dr Fennessy is well regarded as a consulting scientist and has delivered numerous presentations, workshops, journal publications and press releases.
David Farrar, writing on Kiwiblog, did a simple word search of the Honours list to see which areas of service were most commonly cited for recipients. His count is:
- Community 61
- Education 25
- Health 18
- Māori 16
- Sport 12
- Pacific 8
- Music 6
- Arts 5
- Disabilities 6
- Agriculture 5
- Theatre 4
- Science 4
- Journalism 3
- Business 3
The other scientists honoured were –
- Professor Philip Howard Butler, of Christchurch. CNZM for services to science, education and health.
- Emeritus Professor Ralph Paul Cooney, of Auckland. ONZM for services to science and innovation.