Sci­en­tific voice of quakes hon­oured

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KARO­LINE TUCKEY

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.’’

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