Prof Lisa Matisoo-Smith's research asks what it means to be
a New Zealander. Photo by Alan Dove.
A James Cook Research Fellowship will help University of
Otago Prof Lisa Matisoo-Smith trace the vast human journey from
early origins in Africa to Maori settlement in New Zealand
about 750 years ago.
And Otago University geology doctoral student Jamie Howarth
was ''truly delighted'' to receive a Rutherford Foundation
Trust Award ($182,000 over two years) to pursue postdoctoral
work into the history of earthquakes around the Alpine Fault.
He will be hosted by GNS Science.
Patricia Larsen, of Auckland, a former Otago Girls' High
School pupil and ODT Class Act winner in 2008, was excited to
receive a Rutherford Foundation Trust Award to complete a PhD
in cosmology at Cambridge University, England.
Prof Matisoo-Smith, of the Otago anatomy department, was
''thrilled'' to receive the fellowship, which is also
administered by the Royal Society and was among a series of
fellowships and scholarships announced by the Government on
Her funding amounts to about $100,000 plus GST a year for two
years, with an annual expense allowance of up to a further
''I am excited about undertaking the proposed research and
hope that the New Zealand public are as interested in the
project and come out to participate!'' she said. Her research
asked the question: ''What does it mean to be a New
Zealander?''''Genetic studies indicate that we can all
ultimately trace our origins to Africa.
''About 65,000 years ago, modern humans started expanding
across the globe.
''The final landmass settled by humans was Aotearoa/New
Zealand, just 750 years ago.''
She asked if the genetic history of the population of
Dunedin, for example, with its strong Scottish heritage, was
''significantly different from that of Auckland or Wellington
A genetic survey that sampled 1000 people in the five major
urban populations of Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington,
Christchurch and Dunedin, possibly combined with sampling
some smaller centres, would provide a ''very interesting
picture of the social history of a multicultural New
Zealand'', she said.
Other James Cook Fellows: Prof John Montgomery,
Auckland University; Prof Robert McLachlan, Massey
University; Prof Colin Wilson, Victoria University of
Wellington. Other Rutherford Foundation scholarships: Dr Peng
Du, Dr Kimberley Mellor, Dr Renata Kowalczyk, all Auckland
University; Dr Estelle Dominati, Palmerston North,
AgResearch; Jordan McMahon, of Hamilton, Michigan University;
Thomas Wright, Auckland, Oxford University; Scott Thomas,
Christchurch, Cambridge University.