All aboard please, photographs by Grant Maiden, Wellington, New Zealand.

Archive for

I recently had the pleasure of capturing portraits for the Royal Society Te Apārangi, showcasing more clever individuals in the field of science—a job I really enjoy. On this occasion, my focus was on photographing the recipients of the MBIE Science Whitinga Fellowships- aimed at assisting early career researchers.

First up I headed to Waikato to photograph two of the recipients, Dr Paul Brown and Dr Mahroni Owen.

Dr. Owen’s research revolves around the development of a mind-controlled machine—an innovative prosthetic hand that has the potential to significantly enhance the lives of individuals grappling with nervous disorders or amputations. Mahroni says that ‘ Māori and Pasifika are overrepresented in nervous system disorders and diabetes, which leads to lower limb amputation, and I specifically look within my own iwi and te ao Māori for opportunities to help.’

Dr Paul Browns research is based around statistical modelling.

“My Whitinga research is a space time model of certain crimes that are related to one another. With residential burglaries, for instance, there’s a lot of literature on what’s called the ‘near repeat victimisation phenomenon’. Basically, if one place gets hit in a burglary, it’s likely that it will soon be hit again, or surrounding houses and neighbourhoods will be.

These kind of models are used overseas, but can lead to problems with over surveillance of certain communities. I hope that the models we’re developing here can avoid the perpetuation of systemic biases, and are used for insights into crime patterns and developing different policing strategies that are more positive in the community”.


Next it was down to the Nelson region to photograph Dr Rebecca Campbell. Her research is about plant disease, particularly European canker in apple, Myrtle rust in Myrtaceae plants, and Xylella fastidiosa.

“My particular focus is the spread of the disease in a spatial area, combining fieldwork, lab work and modelling. You get a lot of understanding from following the process from the ground up – from data collection, to validating and building the models.

And lastly back to Wellington to photograph political scientist Dr Sam Crawley.

Here’s his take on his research project….’My research looks at whether people think climate change is more or less important relative to other things. So, whether issues like health care, education (for people with children), the economy, job security, and the cost of living are more immediate to people than climate change, and what this might mean when it’s time to vote.’

At a big shindig on the Wellington waterfront I photographed a few weeks ago the winners of this prestigious prize were announced. Prior to that evening I photographed three of these winners for the Royal Society ( it was supposed to be 5 but because of Covid I couldn’t shoot the other two-dang!)


The first was Dr Diane-Sika Paotonu who took out the Prime Ministers Science Communication Prize.

She was a leading voice during the Covid-19 pandemic explaining the technical aspects of immunology, vaccines, the SARS-CoV-2 virus and infectious diseases, Dianne contributed to more than 220 broadcast media stories and 1500 online and print media stories.

A Pacific immunology and biomedical scientist, Dianne is an Associate Professor of Biomedical & Health Sciences-Immunology, and Associate Dean, Pacific, at the University of Otago, Wellington.


Any photography assignment where you visit the zoo and see Sunny the one eyed giraffe is a good one in my book!

And it’s obviously a place that has helped inspire students of Doug Walker who won the Prime Ministers Science Teachers Prize. Doug teaches at St Pats college here in Wellington and has collaborated with local partners like the zoo as well as Carter Observatory, NIWA and Te Papa to enhance learning experiences for his students and getting them interested in science.


And finally Benjy Smith won the Future Scientist Prize for research into mathematically modelling the behaviour of twisted elastic bands. This knowledge can be applied to many types of structural engineering.

Benjy was a Year 13 student at Onslow College when he finished his project and is now studying physics and computer science at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington this year and will no doubt go on to great things!