Disarmament activist Thomas Nash is best known for his Nobel Peace Prize, but now he has a new role as New Zealand's first social entrepreneur in residence at Massey University.

Nash won his Nobel Award in 2017 for a joint international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons.

He also led a global campaign to ban cluster bombs resulting in an international treaty in 2008.

Now Nash is bringing all his combat skills to Palmerston North, Wellington and Auckland.


"I see two main purposes for this role," Nash said.

"First of all one is internal looking towards the university working with Massey's Bachelor of Arts programme which has these core citizenship courses.

"Then there's this external role which is thinking up projects and partnerships with people staff and students within the university who can work with other partners outside and do projects that will really make a difference to New Zealand and the world."

His role is about nurturing ideas, planning and ultimately helping execute change.

"There's this whole issue of marine plastic pollution where by 2050 apparently, there's going to be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish. So we're putting eight million tonnes of plastic in the ocean every year, and we need to deal with that.

"I see that [solution] coming organically out of Massey where there was a group of students that are already looking at making Massey a plastic-free university. I want to jump onto things like that and help steer them, and connect them up with with big organisations, government, the United Nations... there's no limit to what we can do."

It might sound like a cliche but Nash is living proof that no problem is too big to solve.

"People told me banning cluster munitions would be impossible," he said.


"People said it would have been impossible to get any sort of treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. But collectively we did that because we had a plan and we presented that plan, and we had the confidence and tenacity to see it through.

"I guess that's what I want to get across to the student here - that if you have a good plan, clear focus, you can pretty much achieve anything that you need to."

Nash wants to take the idea of entrepreneurship and apply it to social activism.

"Organisations and campaigns need to be well-planned and well-thought through. And they need to be well executed. I want to give some of that kind of rigour to the idea of social change and social campaigning."

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