Scientific voice of quakes honoured
Finding better ways to keep New Zealanders safe from natural hazards has earned a Porirua scientist a Queen’s Birthday honour.
Plimmerton resident and geologist Dr Kelvin Berryman has worked for more than 30 years towards understanding natural hazards and reducing their risks, and was named a companion of the Queen’s Service Order.
Dr Berryman is the manager of a national Lower Hutt-based consortium of scientists and experts, the Natural Hazards Research Platform, and has been a science spokesman on the Christchurch earthquakes.
‘‘I’m honoured and pleased that science and scientists have been recognised at this time, especially with the earthquake period in particular, but in principal it’s recognition for the work scientists do, and I’m very honoured on behalf.’’
The earthquakes highlighted the need for greater understanding of natural hazards for engineering, town planning, politics and by the people.
‘‘There’s a lot of uncertainty about what’s happening, and future earthquakes and why they occur and where they are, and that’s a lot to do with public confidence, and that’s so important,’’ Dr Berryman said.
Since the February earthquake, Dr Berryman has spent half his time in Christchurch and been at the forefront of science communicators, informing people about the disaster.
‘‘That was the biggest national hazard event in New Zealand ever, so it has been important to demystify all of this science and tell people what we know and what we don’t.
‘‘There’s an impression that the scientists know more than what they are telling the public, so we have to make sure we communicate it as soon as we know something.’’
Dr Berryman says his career has been satisfying, exciting and challenging.
‘‘It’s been frustrating, sometimes, for politicians and officials they are dealing with really short-term issues and what we are trying to do in hazard mitigation is often a very longterm effort.
‘‘ But it’s . . . good for meeting people and going to places and broadening one’s horizons.’’