Sometimes when I see contests like New Zealander of the Year I have my doubts about the ability to judge such diversity of achievement against one another. But the choice of Paul Callaghan is one that I am so delighted about.
Paul is a remarkable person and remarkable New Zealander. Many people will have come to know him from his slot on Kim Hill’s show that demystified science and related it to important everyday issues. His work on nanotechnology and the establishment of the MacDiarmid Centre at Victoria University are enough alone to justify the praise that Paul is receiving.
But for me, more than that he is someone of vision. Paul was the guest speaker at the first Peter Fraser Memorial Dinner that we held in Wellington in 2009. His vision for a New Zealand where we use science, research and development to create new economic and social opportunities is exciting. (You can read about it in Wool to Weta.) More than that he links to the importance of reducing inequality, something I understand he talked about when receiving the award the other night.
And Paul is also a man of courage. His public battle with cancer over the last couple of years has shown all his characteristics- never giving up, always looking for a new angle or solution and doing it all with good humour and humility.
A highly deserving winner, congratulations Paul.