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Grebe project creator receives prestigious award


John Darby has been made Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand for a lifetime of work dedicated to research, conservation and communicating science.

John Darby, a retired zoologist with a lifelong passion for conservation, has received the prestigious Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand (CRSNZ) award, of which only three are being given out across the country this year.

John’s latest project, part-funded through the Participatory Science Platform, focuses on encouraging local children in Wanaka to build nesting platforms for grebes, an endangered bird that lives on Lake Wanaka. John also writes a regular column in the Wanaka Sun on what he and his young co-workers see while monitoring the grebes.

Other career highlights include setting up the world’s first yellow-eyed penguin reserve, being a founding trustee for the Otago Natural History Trust, and setting up Discovery World as an interactive science centre at Otago Museum.

John officially accepted his CRSNZ certificate and lapel pin at Wanaka's Royal Society Te Apārangi 150th anniversary lecture earlier this month.

“I am humbled, proud and honoured to be receiving this award,” John says. 

“This is also a tribute to all the wonderful people who have supported me in both my working and personal life.”

The honour of Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand recognises outstanding leadership in science, technology or the humanities; and/or eminent or sustained contributions to the promotion and advancement of science, technology or humanities in New Zealand.

Read the story about John's grebe conservation project

John with Toby

Scientists and locals collaborating around a table

Participatory Science Platform

The Participatory Science Platform supports collaborative projects that bring together communities and scientists or technologists on research investigating a locally-important question or problem.

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