A Waikanae Beach man who has had a 45-year public service career in agriculture, science and resource policy has been recognised for his valuable input.
Dr Gerald Rys was one of 10 people to receive a New Zealand Public Service Medal.
The award, from the Public Service Commission, is issued to public servants who have given meritorious service.
His commitment to public service is more commendable as for the last 12 years he has been permanently confined to a wheelchair due to his multiple sclerosis and only has the use of one arm, yet he works daily.
Dr Rys' passion for pastoral agriculture has seen him provide expert science and policy advice in many resource areas for a long time.
He has contributed to more than 250 published papers and reports and is recognised as being in the top 10 per cent of 15 million scientists on the ResearchGate website.
Dr Rys, who is the Ministry of Primary Industries principal science adviser in the science-policy group, said, "I feel very honoured to receive the medal.
"I've put in 45 years of service so getting recognition for that is something I'm proud of.
"I hope I've achieved something in that time that has satisfied both the primary sector and science."
His interest in agriculture started from a young age.
"I was brought on a dairy farm underneath Mount Tarawera in Rotorua."
He studied at Massey University, earning a bachelor of agriculture science, before joining the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries as a district agricultural scientist.
"I went up to Taranaki and did provincial research for about four years specialising in pasture agronomy."
A scholarship led him to a research station in Wales, where he learnt a lot about plant species such as ryegrass and clover.
"I did my PhD looking at nitrogen fixation in white clover."
Back in New Zealand he stayed in Palmerston North and did work mainly looking at establishing grass and clover species in the hill country.
In Hawke's Bay he was involved in setting up the Pokawa Research Station, before heading to Wellington and joining the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, which was "looking at reforming the science system".
"I was involved in setting national priorities including where to put research money into."
He became assistant chief scientist for about five years "where we were making sure the advice that went to Government had good science input into it".
"Covid is a good example now where the Government is relying on a lot of science input into their decision-making."
Then he went back to the ministry and was involved in the resource policy group looking at agriculture and its impact on the environment.
"I did a lot of work around water and climate change."
In more recent years has been in the science-policy group in the Ministry for Primary Industries, "making sure science is funded to the correct level across the country" as well as "making sure the ministry has good science policy advice".
"I've also done a lot of work on sustainable land management."
Asked what he enjoyed about his career, Dr Rys said, "It has been varied, interesting, and seeing new ideas and concepts all the time has been exciting.
"Seeing how these things can be progressed, and encouraging people to think more laterally, and making sure they look at science and evidence when they are thinking of putting policies in place."
Gerald works with an unassuming dedication to New Zealand and its people. He is generous in sharing his knowledge and time, through formally and informally mentoring other staff, acting as a supervisor for masters and PhD students, and providing advice and guidance to others. He has had a significant impact on the way a generation of science and policy experts view New Zealand. He is honest, enthusiastic, and resilient in his work. Gerald has an untiring commitment to addressing climate change and achieving sustainable land management, with what's best for New Zealand and New Zealanders always at the forefront of his mind. Gerald is a worthy recipient of the New Zealand Public Service Medal.