Queenstowner Dr Jim Salinger CRSNZ was last night named the 2024 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Te Pou Whakarae o Aotearoa.

Salinger, 76, a distinguished international climate scientist, has dedicated almost 50 years to advancing climate science and is recognised as one of the first scientists to address global warming.

Born in Dunedin in 1947, he completed a Bachelor of Science from the University Otago in 1971, a Doctor of Philosophy from Victoria University of Wellington in 1981 and a Master of Philosophy in Environmental Law from the University of Auckland in 1999.

His pioneering work in 1975 marked the inception of a remarkable career — his contributions include ground-breaking research on southern hemisphere climate change, earning him the prestigious NZ Science and Technology Medal in 1994.

The Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand is also an author, and an inexhaustible publisher in academic journals — he has 190 publications to his name, and counting, making him an influential communicator on climate change who addresses audiences nationwide.

He’s been an Honorary Research Fellow at Otago University, a visiting professor at Stanford University, in the United States, a Research Fellow at CNR in Rome, Italy, and a CSIRO Fellow in Hobart, Tasmania.

His studies investigate climate extremes, including drought, and documents the shrinking ice volumes in NZ’s Southern Alps.

Salinger was also a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which earned the Nobel Peace Price in 2007, while more recently he’s garnered accolades such as the 2018 World Meteorological Organisation Award and the 2019 Jubilee Medal, in recognition of his lifetime achievements in climate and agricultural science.

Presented at an awards dinner in Auckland, other finalists for the award were Dame Sarai Bareman, who delivered the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup, and Kiri Nathan, an award-winning fashion designer, both of Auckland.

Previous winners of the NZer of the Year include Tā Tipene O’Regan, Dr Siouxsie Wiles MNZM, Dr Lance O’Sullivan, Sir Richard Taylor and Sir Paul Callaghan.

Finalist: Senior NZer of the Year finalist Neill Simpson

Meantime, fellow Queenstowner Neill Simpson, one of the country’s foremost botanists and ecologists, who, along with wife Barb, formed the Whakatipu Reforestation Trust, was a finalist in the Senior NZer of the Year — that category was won by former top-ranked rugby referee Bob Francis NZM QSO MBE JP, of Wellington, a seven-term Masterton mayor, chairman of Masterton Medical, former chair of the Pukaha National Wildlife Centre and co-founder of the Wairarapa Development Group.

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