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Govt pays tribute to Sir Paul Callaghan

24 March 2012

Media Statement

Govt pays tribute to Sir Paul Callaghan

Acting Prime Minister Bill English and Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce say they are deeply saddened by the news that Sir Paul Callaghan has died in Wellington.

“Sir Paul Callaghan was an outstanding New Zealander who made his mark as a world-leading scientist. He fought a valiant battle with cancer, and has been taken from us far too early,” Mr English says. “Our thoughts are with Sir Paul’s family at this time.

“His knowledge and willingness to teach others was an inspiration to not only the science community, but New Zealand as a whole. He bought a unique combination of brilliance, integrity and courage to public debate. Sir Paul was a true public intellectual who earned the respect of everyone, including those who disagreed with him.”

After completing his physics degree at Victoria University in the early 1970s, Sir Paul then embarked on an unparalleled science career spanning nearly 40 years.

He was knighted in 2009, and received honours almost too numerous to mention through his career, including several prestigious European awards, academic recognition from both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the Rutherford Medal, a fellowship to the Royal Society of London, a Prime Minister’s Science Prize, and the New Zealander of the Year award in 2011.

Besides this stellar academic career, Mr Joyce said Sir Paul also strongly believed in the commercialisation of science, which led to him founding Magritek, a Wellington-based company at the cutting edge of MRI and NMR technology.

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“He believed science was not only about great ideas, but getting value from those ideas. Magritek leads the world in portable MRI technology, and wouldn’t exist without Sir Paul’s drive and innovation.” Mr Joyce says

“His legacy to New Zealand will be a strengthened commitment to the power of scientific endeavour in leading innovation.”

“A scientist of his calibre comes along very rarely. Sir Paul Callaghan stands alongside Maurice Wilkins, Alan MacDiarmid, Ernest Rutherford and William Pickering as one of New Zealand’s greatest scientists,” Mr English says.


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