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Life Members


Two of the science community’s strongest supporters of the New Zealand International Science Festival have been rewarded with life memberships at the Festival's AGM held in Dunedin on January 29th, 2014.

L to R: Michele Coleman, Mike Harte, Wai Piggott, Mayor Dave Cull

Former Festival President Mike Harte and Financial Advisor Wai Piggott were each awarded a life membership of the New Zealand International Science Festival for outstanding services and expertise delivered since the Festival was established in 1997.

New Zealand International Science Festival president Michele Coleman says while president, Mr Harte campaigned heavily for the future of the Festival and was vocal about the Festival’s achievements, while Mrs Piggott’s expertise has proved invaluable to the executive, securing the financial viability of the festival long term.

“Under Mike’s leadership the festival was able to move forward, seeking government funding and ensuring the festival’s link with the global community through his IT skills and knowledge. Mike has also played an important part on the development of the festival team throughout the years, assisting with recruitment and festival planning and helping to build our relationship with the University of Otago.

“Wai has played an essential role on the festival executive as financial adviser, managing the festival finances and investments and assisting the festival director and team with sound advice. Wai and her family are avid supporters of the festival, attending many festival events. Without her support we wouldn’t have been able to ensure the financial sustainability of the festival into the future.”



L to R: Prof. Jean Fleming, Dame Elizabeth Hanan

Dame Elizabeth Hanan

Dame Elizabeth Hanan was awarded the first ever Life Membership at the New Zealand International Science Festival Annual General Meeting, which took place in Dunedin on Thursday 21 January 2010.

Dame Elizabeth was nominated for the award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the New Zealand International Science Festival, since its inception as an incorporated society in 1997.

Mike Harte, New Zealand International Science Festival President, believes Dame Elizabeth’s ability to influence, negotiate, and her amazing leadership were the key factors in awarding her as the Society’s very first Life Member.

The initial 1998 festival was a huge success, largely due to Elizabeth being the driving force behind it and the concept of having a biennial New Zealand International Science Festival. With her continued commitment and support, we are now getting ready to celebrate the seventh festival. If anyone should be a Life Member she should!”

Dame Elizabeth said she was absolutely blown away by the award. “I had no idea it was in the pipeline and am thrilled to be the first recipient. The New Zealand International Science Festival showcases science excellence and is successful because of the close relationship we have with the University of Otago and our overseas connections. I’m extremely proud to be a part of it”.

In addition to her Life Membership award, Dame Elizabeth holds a number of prestigious awards. She was awarded Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2003 for her contribution to science communication. Dame Elizabeth is also a longstanding member of the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women (Otago) and was awarded her damehood in 1998 for her services to the community.

Professor Jean Fleming

Prof Jean Fleming was awarded a life membership at the festival's annual general meeting on Thursday 26 January 2012. She was nominated for the award in recognition of her outstanding services to the NZ International Science Festival since it's inception as an incorporated society in 1997, 

Science Festival president Mike Harte said that Prof Fleming's drive and determination to see the festival succeed were key factors in the sociaety's award to her of it's second life membership:

"Jean was the first programme committee chair when the concept was launched in 1998. Jean has remained on the committee ever since and we are now well underway planning our eighth festival. Jean's energy, her constant stream of fresh ideas, outstanding international contacts and her own reputation as a scientist and science communicator has made a huge contribution to the success of the NZ International Science Festival."

In addition to this recognition by the festival, Prof Fleming holds a number of prestigious awards and honours. Her commitment to taking science to the community led to the award of a Suffrage medal in 1993, a siiver Science and Technology medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1998 and an ONZM for services to science in 2002

Prof Fleming convened the first New Zealand conference for women in science in 1993 and developed a mentoring programme for non-academic staff at the Univeristy of Otago which has now been extended to academic staff. In 2000 she was appointed as a commissioner to the NZ Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. In 2011, Jean was elected as a Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand.