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Royal Society of New Zealand

Royal Society of New Zealand

Dame Anne Salmond's book, The Trial of the Cannibal Dog, winner of the Montana Book Awards non-fiction prize, was the inspiration for many students who entered the Royal Society competition to go on the Transit of Venus Expedition. Her account of Cook's "dangerous, demanding and wonderful" voyages (to use Dame Anne's own words) and the amazing first encounters between the European and Pacific peoples, showed us just how exciting our history can be. It made our young people think also of the epic early voyages of the Polynesians, who managed to navigate their way to this far corner of the Pacific.

Dame Anne's book was supported by a grant from the government's Marsden Fund, administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand. She has received a further grant from the Society for the study of the early European voyages to the Pacific in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Also supported by the Marsden Fund was Vincent O'Sullivan's biography of John Mulgan, "Long Journey to the Border: A Life of John Mulgan", which was shortlisted for a Montana biography prize.

Other notable biographies completed with Marsden backing include that of Robin Hyde by her son, Derek Challis, and Gloria Rawlinson. A biography of Allen Curnow by Terry Sturm (The University of Auckland) is also in the offing.

The Marsden Fund not only supports science and mathematics, but also the social sciences and the humanities. In fact, it is the only source of external funding for researchers in the humanities.

The Marsden Fund was named after Ernest Marsden, a protégé of Ernest Rutherford's, who later came to New Zealand and was founding secretary of the DSIR. The $34 million per annum Fund is always fiercely contested. The next grants will be announced in early September.

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