Previous Years

Previous Years

Award for outstanding Maori and Pacifika year 12 and 13 pupils. $1000 plus 2 weeks lab experience. “I entered this Award wondering whether to do law or pursue a career in science and I leave wondering whether to do Physics, Chemistry or Engineering. The discovery awards programme has shown me the importance of R & D in New Zealand’s future and has shown me that I can make a contribution in the field science.” Shem Harris – Discovery Awards 2013 The Discovery Awards is a programme designed for year 12 or 13 Maori and Pacifika secondary pupils, who have demonstrated their interest in science. It gives them the opportunity to work with one of our six partners in research laboratories with scientists and their post graduate students who will act as day-to-day mentors. This relationship will nurture the pupils’ interest in science, expose them to possible career options and encourage them to enroll in a science degree programme at tertiary level. While academic achievement is an important selection criteria so too are their goals, personal and financial circumstances.


Discovery Awards Compilation

January 2015 compliation of high-speed photography by MacDiarmid Institute DiscoveryCamp students Vaihola Mausa and Andrew Fatiolofa.


Discovery Awards 2013


L-R – Elf Eldridge, helper, Dejealous Palota-Kopa, Shem Harris, Tira Phillipson-Puna, Jamieson Taylor, Mereana Latimer, Kane Welsh, Takirau Schutz-Tala, Sarah Dadley, Danielle Sword, Howard Lukefahr, Ja-dine Tanuvasa-Kamo, Eteroa Lafaele, Hope Henry The Discovery Awards have been run since 2008 to both encourage excellence in Maori and Pasifika secondary school students, and to give them a taste of what it is like to work in a research lab.  “Having a discovery student spend time in our lab was a great experience for all of us in the research group.  The excitement and enthusiasm that a young person can bring is really inspiring and I think we all learnt something in the two weeks.” – Principal Investigator, Dr Natalie Plank. 2013 saw the highest ever number of Discovery Awards winners with 11 students coming from Auckland all the way down to Christchurch and Leeston.  In early December 2012 the students gathered at Victoria University of Wellington for a warm welcome from the MacDiarmid Director, Professor Kate McGrath and Te Rōpū Āwhina whānau.  The following two days were spent meeting each other and getting to grips with lab experiments led by Howard Lukefahr and Elf Eldridge. Early in January 2013 the students spent two weeks at partner labs at the University of Auckland, Massey University, Industrial Research Limited (now Callaghan Innovation), Victoria University and University of Canterbury. Those students based in Wellington also had the chance to tour the MRI unit at Wellington Hospital. “The MacDiarmid Institute was a very educational, enjoyable and worthwhile experience for me.  Throughout my time at Victoria University I felt I had gained numerous skills that I will benefit from my final year at college and also future studies at University.  I felt that the 2 weeks of hard work was absolutely worth it …..I had the most wonderful experience in the labs and have found the inspiration to carry on with science in my tertiary education.” – Danielle Sword “The NMR group (VUW) are great and their work is amazing.  I think that this experience allowed me to see the many opportunities there are in the field of science….this was the best use of my holidays and I will never forget it.” – Hope Henry “I have learned heaps in the two week experience. I think this will be useful for future students because it can show them what available there is for us. And it also shows us a different view of living and non-living things. But the time I spent at Massey has helped with the choices I make and also gave me a taste of what ill expect in University.”  Eteroa Lafaele “This was a great opportunity to work with some leading experts in the field of chemistry, not just in Christchurch, but also in New Zealand and the world. We did some amazing experiments that we would not have been able to do until our 5th or 6th year at university and learnt lots of things that we did not previously know about science.” – Jamieson Taylor “I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience with both The MacDiarmid Institute and the University of Auckland during my Discovery Awards two week lab experience.  I would strongly recommend this programme for any other high school student who is interested in the sciences and wishes to have an unforgettable experience” – Kane Welsh



Discovery Awards 2012

The Discovery Awards Welcome event saw 7 students from around New Zealand including Christchurch, Nelson and the Wellington region attend a 2 day introduction. During the 2 day event they were involved with interactive science sessions with Howard Lukefahr and Elf (James) Eldridge and also met their lab supervisors for the 2 week lab experience.  This year supervisors were seeing double as identical twins Isaiah & Tre Ratahi were joined by Nadine Houia-Ashwell (also a twin!) and Hoani Hotene from the Wellington region along with schoolmates Sophie Barron and Kristie-Lee Thomas from Christchurch and Rere Pope from Nelson. The students spent 2 weeks in laboratories at Victoria University of Wellington, University of Auckland and Otago University exploring Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials.

Discovery Awards 2011

The Institute received 29 applications for 8 positions. 3 pupils were hosted at Victoria by Shaun Hendy, Paul Callaghan & Justin Hodgkiss; 2 pupils were hosted at Auckland by David Williams with 3 pupils hosted at Canterbury by Richard Blaikie & Vladimir Golovko. Pupils came from Lower Hutt, Christchurch, Hastings, Auckland, Greymouth, Nelson & Kawhia. Over two days, 2 and 3 December 2010, pupils were hosted by Victoria University, starting with a “Meet and Greet” reception and lunch for the whole group plus their support person. Three successful Awhina members also shared their experiences of university life and working in science. Lab sessions for that afternoon and the following morning were kindly provided by Howard Lukefahr, Elf Eldridge and Michael Miller. In the evening they participated in the 100 years of Physics event; and after dinner they visited the Gifford Observatory where the pupils were able to observe the night sky. Two weeks from 10-21 January were spent in laboratories at Auckland, Victoria and Canterbury, getting an insight into life as a researcher. Reports from the pupils reflected the positive impact of the programme and the influence it will have on the decisions they make for further education.


Discovery Awards 2010

The 2nd Discovery Awards programme received 28 applications with 12 students selected from Auckland, Tauranga, Gisborne, Taranaki, Wellington and Christchurch. The 2 day Welcome event on 9-10 December 2009 included a waiata from Te Ropu Awhina and a presentation from Professor Sir Paul Callaghan.  This was also an opportunity for the students to meet their host supervisors from Canterbury, Massey and Victoria University of Wellington.  Later that night after pizza on the waterfront there was a visit to the Gifford Observatory.  The following day included visits to our partners at IRL and GNS followed by a trip to Te Papa. “I learnt a lot about what kind of study and research is happening in New Zealand as well as experiencing a small part of it.  In the first few days at school I know I will be telling all my friends and peers about the award and how much fun it was”  April Palmer, 2010 “The sheer amount of knowledge I have obtained over the past three weeks has enlightened me.  The field in which I planned to study before the Discovery Awards was medicine.  I wanted to be a surgeon.  I now have a huge interest in nanotechnology research and see myself progressing within this field” Nicole Franklin, 2010

Discovery Awards 2009

The inaugural Discovery Awards began on 15 December 2008 with 5 students welcomed by Professor Richard Blaikie, Director of the MacDiarmid Institute.  After lunch there was a tour of the campus. The awardees spent their 2 week lab experience in January 2009 at either Victoria University of Wellington or University of Canterbury. They were PJ Campbell from Petone (VUW), Nikita Hunia also from Petone (VUW), Ben Jones from Christchurch (UoC), Jardin Rose from Westport (UoC), and Kate Tarawhiti from Christchurch (UoC).   The students also attended AMN-4 in Dunedin which was the highlight of their MacDiarmid experience.