LEADERSHIP : From rockets to cataracts

Ray Avery modestly says his job is all about applied research – taking existing technologies and applying them to different paradigm.
Although his development work is done in lab, it is his wider, groundbreaking work on improving the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people with Medicine Mondiale, that has won him the prized Blake Medal at this year’s Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards.
Avery calls New Zealand the “clever country” and says our number-eight wire mentality, forced on us by the long wait for parts created by our geographical distance, means that innovation is in our DNA.
The Aucklander told seminar in Auckland earlier this year: “If I was running this country, I would do an audit in technology. No one is as clever as all of us.”
Avery’s own innovations include low-cost intraocular lenses, which have made treating cataracts affordable in developing countries. He joined the other winners in receiving their honours at dinner in Auckland on June 25.

Dr Karen Willcox, 38, has won Sir Peter Blake Award for her work as associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.

Ngarimu Blair, 34, works on behalf of Ngati Whatua o Orakei. Over the past 10 years, Blair has been promoting tangata whenua issues.

Chris Quinn, 43, is the CEO of Gen-i, leader in information and communications technology in New Zealand.

Jamie Tuuta is self-employed consultant, negotiator and communicator, who has worked in many fields.

Catriona Williams, 38, tetraplegic, created thriving charitable trust, the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust for research to enable spinal cord injury sufferers to walk again.

Dr Renee Liang, 38, is specialist in community, child and adolescent health. She leads the study, the Asian Advisory Group for Growing Up in New Zealand.

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