Recognition for Innovation

Innovative research is at the heart of the University of Auckland’s mission, with the work of our 2,000+ researchers making major contributions to the wellbeing of the national community.

This month six of our leading researchers have been honoured by the Royal Society Te Apārangi and the Health Research Council of New Zealand. These awards recognise men and women who work at the cutting edge of their disciplines, producing research that has a significant impact on the world in which we live.

Their brilliant achievements are really something to be proud of.

Research Honours from the Royal Society Te Apārangi

Mason Durie Medal

Photograph of Cris Shore
Cris Shore

Award for advances in the frontiers of social science, awarded annually.

Awarded to:

  • Professor Cris Shore

Professor Shore’s research is internationally recognised and he has made significant contributions to the social sciences through his political anthropology work and the study of organisations, governance and power. He has applied social anthropology methodologies to study organisations and policy as a way of understanding modern society and culture.

Professor Shore pioneered the research approach of using concepts and perspectives from social anthropology and ethnographic approaches to study contemporary institutions and transnational organisations in complex Western societies.

In recent years, Professor Shore has theorised about ‘audit culture’, studying the growing trend of using accountancy techniques as instruments of management and relying on metrics to evaluate performance in numerous institutions, including universities, health services and funding institutions.  He is also leading a multidisciplinary Marsden funded project called ‘Crown and Constitutional Reform in New Zealand’.


Callaghan Medal

Photograph of Peter Shepherd.
Peter Shepherd

Award for outstanding contribution to science communication and raising public awareness of the value of science to human progress.

Awarded to:

  • Professor Peter Shepherd

Professor Shepherd has been recognised for his pioneering work in transferring scientific knowledge to the community, including developing new mechanisms for communicating science to secondary school biology teachers and students, and his role in developing major events connecting leading scientists with the public.

After realising how little the public understood about his own field, how obesity and type-2 diabetes develop, he set out to improve public understanding about science.  He has worked closely with science teachers and schools across New Zealand to deliver high quality scientific information to secondary schools, through presentations, teaching resources, books and events.


Te Rangi Hiroa Medal

Photograph of Tracey McIntosh.
Tracey McIntosh

Award for excellence in social history, cultural diversity, socioeconomics or medical anthropology.

Awarded to:

  • Professor Tracey McIntosh

Professor McIntosh has been recognised for significantly advancing our understanding of the enduring social injustices that undermine Māori wellbeing and inhibit social cohesion and meaningful cultural diversity in Aotearoa.

Professor McIntosh’s research focuses on how to correct the intergenerational transmission of social inequalities, particularly how they pertain to Māori and to inform and influence new indigenous knowledge production and policies that work for Māori and the nation.

Her social inequalities research focuses on the incarceration of Māori women and on male ex-prisoners with gang affiliations. It highlights the relationship between imprisonment, which socially excludes Māori, and the reproduction of ethnic and class disparities and intergenerational inequality.  Professor McIntosh bridges the academic and socio-political divide in her various roles that have opened up debates about social inequality in Aotearoa.



Royal Society Te Apārangi Early Career Researcher Award in Humanities

Photo of Aroha Harris
Aroha Harris

Award for emerging researchers in humanities research in New Zealand.

Awarded to:

  • Dr Aroha Harris

Dr Aroha Harris has been recognised for her significant contribution to the award-winning Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History, which spans the entirety of Māori history.

Dr Harris co-wrote the book with the late Dame Judith Binney FRSNZ and Atholl Anderson FRSNZ. It draws on archaeology, anthropology, ethnography, paleoecology, genetics and climate science, as well as history, to tell the stories of the Māori people, their origins, their journeys to find this country and their stories in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dr Harris was lead author of the book’s final 135-page section, “Te Ao Hurihuri: The Changing World,” which explores the sociocultural history of twentieth-century Māori. These four chapters reveal the significant economic and sociocultural challenges that Māori experienced by telling local stories that illustrate and emphasise Māori resilience and creativity.

Royal Society Te Apārangi Early Career Researcher Award in Social Sciences

Photo of Danny Osborne
Danny Osborne

Award for emerging researchers in social sciences research in New Zealand.

Awarded to:

  • Dr Danny Osborne

Dr Danny Osborne has been recognised for his prolific research programme which has advanced understanding of the psychological barriers to collective action.

Rates of inequality are rising in New Zealand and around the world and, although inequality undermines the wellbeing of both the poor and wealthy, collective action to redress inequities is rare. Dr Osborne’s pioneering research increases understanding of the infrequency of protests by identifying the psychological barriers to collective action.

His research examines New Zealanders’ socio-political attitudes and reveals the importance of fundamental psychological processes that undermine collective action, including: basic needs for stability; beliefs about the ability to change social policies; and culture-specific beliefs about the relevance of past injustices to contemporary inequities.

Health Research Council of New Zealand Medals

Beaven Medal

Photo of Alistair Gunn
Alistair Gunn

Award for excellence in translational health research.

Awarded to:

  • Professor Alistair Gunn

Professor Alistair Gunn has been recognised for pioneering the use of therapeutic hypothermia (mild cooling) to treat babies with brain injuries at birth.

His world-first ‘CoolCap’ study and subsequent clinical trial have meant that mild cooling is now the standard of care for treating babies with brain injury due to low oxygen levels in New Zealand and around the world.

Current head cooling treatment protocols increase survival of babies without disability and significantly reduce the rate of the most severe complications, such as cerebral palsy, by about 12 percent.