Ray’s a top Kiwi hero

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Scott Mor­gan

EN­TRE­PRE­NEUR Ray Avery’s ded­i­ca­tion to im­prov­ing the lives of peo­ple in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries has earned him an un­ex­pected hon­our.

The Mt Eden res­i­dent, who heads health­care char­ity Medicine Mon­di­ale, is a fi­nal­ist in the in­au­gu­ral New Zealan­der of the Year awards along­side Ware­house founder Sir Stephen Tin­dall and Olympic gold medal­list Va­lerie Vili.

The 62-year-old, who was raised in or­phan­ages around Bri­tain, says winning the top award would be one of the big­gest achieve­ments in his life.

“If I was suc­cess­ful in winning the award, it would be quite emo­tional for me – when you’re brought up in or­phan­ages all your life, there’s a sense of not be­long­ing,” he says.

“When I came to New Zealand 40 years ago, I found an in­tel­li­gent, car­ing coun­try. To be recog­nised by the New Zealand com­mu­nity would give a real sense of com­ing home and be­long­ing.”

Be­ing nom­i­nated is also likely to raise the pro­file of Medicine Mon­di­ale, his or­gan­i­sa­tion which helps in­tro­duce med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy into de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

Mr Avery’s in­ven­tions in­clude the de­vel­op­ment of af­ford­able in­te­roc­u­lar lenses, which it’s es­ti­mated will re­store the sight of 30 mil­lion cataract suf­fer­ers in poor coun­tries by 2020.

He’s also de­vel­oped a flow con­troller that pre­vents drugs in an IV drip be­ing over-ad­min­is­tered and a nu­tri­tional sup­ple­ment to treat mal­nour­ished chil­dren.

While all th­ese prod­ucts are avail­able to the world’s poor­est peo­ple, Mr Avery says they’re also eco­nom­i­cally vi­able in de­vel­oped coun­tries.

In a strange twist, one of the peo­ple who nom­i­nated Mr Avery for the award was his good friend and fel­low fi­nal­ist, Sir Stephen, along with mu­si­cian Neil Finn.

“It’s very hum­bling to be nom­i­nated in such aus­pi­cious com­pany,” he says.

Be­fore set­ting up Medicine Mon­di­ale seven years ago, Mr Avery was in­volved in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try for 30 years.

Mr Avery says he aims to pro­mote his adopted coun­try in what he does.

“I’ve been putting New Zealand on the world stage in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries rather than do­ing com­mu­nity-based work here.”

Mr Avery’s wife Anna Kiousis says the nom­i­na­tion is a fan­tas­tic ac­knowl­edge­ment of her hus­band’s ac­com­plish­ments.

“He’s do­ing great stuff – it’s pretty much a way of life for him.”

Awards pa­tron and one of the judges, for­mer prime min­is­ter Jim Bol­ger says they had an out­stand­ing list of Ki­wis to choose from.

“I am amazed by the over­whelm­ing con­tri­bu­tion made by peo­ple of all ages to their com­mu­ni­ties, New Zealand and the world at large.”

The other cat­e­gories are Young New Zealan­der of the Year, Se­nior New Zealan­der of the Year and the Lo­cal Hero Award.

Win­ners in each cat­e­gory re­ceive $5000 to­wards their work from prin­ci­pal spon­sor Ki­wibank.

Win­ners will be an­nounced at a gala din­ner on Fe­bru­ary 3.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Smart sci­ence: En­tre­pre­neur and sci­en­tist Ray Avery has been nom­i­nated for the New Zealan­der of the Year Award along­side Sir Stephen Tin­dall and Va­lerie Vili.

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