Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Sir William Pickering, a great New Zealander

Sir William Pickering, a great New Zealander

Media statement from Pete Hodgson, Minister for Research, Science and Technology

"Sir William Pickering was one of the outstanding scientific talents New Zealand has produced, Research Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson said today. "He stood alongside our Nobel Prize winners as an example of brilliance and achievement in the pursuit of knowledge."

Dr Pickering, the New Zealand-born giant of rocket science and space exploration, has died at his California home, aged 93.

"I extend my sympathy to Sir William's family, friends and scientific colleagues for their loss," Mr Hodgson said. "His life was inspirational and his place in scientific history is assured."

William Pickering was born in Wellington in 1910. He was educated at Havelock Primary, in the Marlborough Sounds, Wellington College and Canterbury College, now the University of Canterbury, before moving to the United States in 1929 to study at the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech), where he gained his PhD in physics in 1936.

Dr Pickering became Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and led the development of US unmanned space exploration, including the first US satellite, Explorer 1, the first successful American around-the-moon probe, Pioneer IV, the Mariner flights to Venus and Mars in the 1960s, the Ranger photographic missions to the moon and the Surveyor lunar landings of 1966-67. He became known as "Mr JPL".

"In 1941 Dr Pickering became an American citizen, but he never forgot New Zealand," Mr Hodgson said. "In a deliberate move to give something back to his country of birth, he established the WH Pickering Fellowship for New Zealand graduates to study engineering or science at Cal Tech."

Dr Pickering returned to Canterbury University last year to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering. More than 1500 people came to hear him speak, and gave him a standing ovation.

Last year the Royal Society of New Zealand established the Pickering Medal to recognise excellence and innovation in the practical applications of technology. The Medal is to be awarded annually to a person who through design, development or invention has performed innovative work in New Zealand with results of national and international significance or significant commercial success. The first nominations are currently being sought.

For further information:

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Werewolf: What Does Winston Peters Want His Legacy To Be?

A lot of people in New Zealand seem to resent Winston Peters and the power that he appears to have. “Appears” being the operative word. In reality, Peters will have power only up to the point that he uses it.

By next week, he’ll have become just another junior player in an MMP governing arrangement, battling to hold onto the gains he was promised. More>>


Rising Toll: Road Safety Needs To Be A Higher Priority

Official advice released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that the previous National Government dismissed an option to make road safety its most important transport priority after being told the road toll was rising. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election