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Guest lecture

Investing in Basic Research

Event series: 

Professor Paul T Callaghan

Victoria University of Wellington

Paul Callaghan was born in Wanganui, New Zealand and took his first degree in Physics at Victoria University of Wellington. He then did a DPhil degree at Oxford University, working in low temperature physics. On his return to New Zealand in 1974 he took up a lecturing position at Massey University where he began researching the applications of magnetic resonance to the study of soft matter. He was made Professor of Physics in 1984, and in 2001 was appointed Alan MacDiarmid Professor of Physical Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington. He also heads the multi-university MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology. Paul is Past President of the Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He has published around 220 articles in scientific journals as well as a book on magnetic resonance. He is a founding director of “magritek”, a small spin-off company based in Wellington, which sells NMR instruments. He is a regular public speaker on science matters and talks with Kim Hill every month on her Saturday Morning radio show.

In 2001 Paul became the 36th New Zealander to be made a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. He was awarded the Rutherford medal in 2005 and in 2006 was appointed a Principal Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.


New Zealand, having converted most of its forest into greenhouse gas, is thereby blessed with an abundance of grass, and yet, notwithstanding attempts to subdue it, sufficient residual natural environment to claim the label “clean and green”. While previous prosperity derived from the farm, tourism is now our dominant foreign exchange earner. Meanwhile our per capita income, while growing, remains in the doldrums relative to OECD averages, despite occasional up-cycles of commodity prices and terms of trade. This lecture will consider a prosperous New Zealand future beyond the farm and theme-park, through globally-connected businesses whose incomes range between $200,000 and $1 million per employee per annum. Such a future will require culture change, assisted by the right investment instruments. The second part is the easy bit.

Last updated: 
Friday, 26 October 2007