Award recipient inspired by home

By Morgan Tait

Hawke's Bay has been credited for inspiring the work behind a prestigious $500,000 science prize awarded to Bay ex-pat Professor Paul Moughan yesterday.

Prof Moughan was brought up in Hastings, and said his education at St Joseph's Primary School and St John's College, teamed with a love for local agriculture, sparked his interest in science.

"I was born and bred in Hawke's Bay," he said. "All the early formative years of my life were lived there and I still hold great affection for Hawke's Bay, it was a wonderful environment to grow up in.

"Even though we lived in Hastings city my father owned a number of farms and as children we used to go and visit them and I think I developed a love of agriculture through my dad."

Prof Moughan and Prof Harjinder Singh yesterday received the supreme Prime Minister's Science Award for their innovative work at the Riddet Institute, a research centre based at Massey University in Palmerston North.

The pair co-founded the institute in 2003 to focus on the science underpinning future foods and human nutrition.

To date, their work has contributed to the health benefits of kiwifruit, which is giving Zespri an edge globally, and a technology that allows high doses of fish oil-derived omega-3 to be added to food products without a fishy smell and after-taste.

"We have done a lot of work on fruit and vegetables and a huge amount in the dairy industry, which is not quite as relevant to the Heretaunga Plains," Mr Moughan said. "But Graeme Avery at Sileni Estate winery is a great friend of ours and does a lot of work with us."

His early education was a large driver in his career, he said.

"Those early days in Hawke's Bay were very formative and I think, with the science in particular, it was St John's College where we had great teachers, inspirational teachers.

"Not only in science, but I also gained a love for arts and writing, and that's really a skill I put back to the nuns at St Joseph's. They really knew how to write."

Prof Moughan lived in Hawke's Bay until he was in his mid-twenties, and now resides in Palmerston North with his wife Meredith and three children, Jane, Stella and Michael.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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