The Queen’s Birthday Honours list further attests to our having a government that has a greater regard for sport than for science. Or does this reflect a societal indifference to science and scientists?
One measure of this is a press statement released by Megan Woods, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation.
She has congratulated Professor Charles Eason on his appointment to the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
There are no other scientists to congratulate.
Professor Eason is an accomplished scientist, currently the Chief Executive of the Cawthron Institute.
“In 2017 he was awarded the Thomson Medal by Royal Society Te Apārangi for outstanding leadership in his research career and for his achievements as head of the Cawthron Institute,” Megan Woods said.
“Professor Eason’s science speciality is toxicology, particularly in relation to drugs and natural compounds. He has recently been involved in the development of new drugs derived from marine algae with European pharmaceutical companies.
“Under Professor Eason’s leadership as Chief Executive of Cawthron, new funding has been secured, including to support building the world’s largest mussel hatchery, funded by Sanford, which opened in the Cawthron Aquaculture and Research Park in 2015. These new facilities are allowing Cawthron to build on its expertise in aquaculture breeding, seafood safety, nutraceuticals, and coastal and freshwater ecology,” Megan Woods said.
But she could congratulate no other scientists on the list because – at least, according to our quick Google search – there were none.
Mind you, there may be plenty of worthy candidates. The government may simply be waiting for them to die and for public campaigns to be mounted to denounce those who bestow knighthoods, damehoods and so on for their oversight.
This has spectacularly happened in the case of the late Yvette Corlett.
Among the articles triggered by her recent death were:
Her brother, Roy Williams, said she had a trailing legacy of titles in athletics, but her quiet wish would have been to become a Dame.
“She should have been made a Dame,” said Williams, who himself won the decathlon at the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Jamaica. “There are many other New Zealanders who have become Sirs and Dames and they did far less than her.
“She not only won gold in Helsinki, but she taught for 14 years. She taught many people like Barbara Kendall, who became an Olympic gold medallist, and she became an important figure in sport.”
Yvette never admitted she would have liked the title, however, Roy said she was modest and always understated herself.
“She used to say she didn’t want to be a Dame, but I know deep down that it would have been a great honour.”
It’s a bit late for her to express her gratitude for the honour, as others are doing this morning. But she has made it on to the list at last.
The names listed under The New Zealand Order of Merit – DNZM Dames Companion – include:
Yvette Winifred Corlett (deceased), Te Aroha, (services to athletics).
Nine others have been honoured for services to sport.
Scott Ronald Dixon, United States, (services to motorsport).
Yvonne Margaret Loader, Christchurch, (services to sport of gliding).
Bryan Alexander Waddle, Porirua, (services as a sports broadcaster).
QSM The Queen’s Service Medal
Adrienne Elizabeth Begg, Darfield, (services to sport and community).
Peter Antony Cox, Christchurch, (services to sport, particularly hockey).
Edward Colban Fawcett, Masterton, (services to sport of woodchopping).
Elizabeth Barbara Thomas, Oxford, (services to equestrian sports and community).
Allan Leonardie Francis Va’a, Auckland, (services to youth and sport).
Grant Albert Windsor, Christchurch, (services to broadcasting and sport).
There is only the one award winner for Woods to congratulate for services to science.