Dame Marie Clay, developmental scientist. Died aged 81.
Over some 60 years Professor Marie Clay was dedicated to changing the lives of children and teachers.
The simplest description of her internationally recognised work is probably that she found out why some children have more difficulty reading than others - and developed a system which allowed the problems, in many cases, to be fixed.
It was a formidable scientific task, now often simply referred to as "reading recovery". Tens of thousands of children in many countries around the world have learned to read with specialised help, despite showing signs of marked reading difficulties and risking failure.
Clay said in 1988 that of the 50,000 New Zealand children then starting to read each year "80 to 90 per cent of them learn how to read no matter how you teach them".
But the problem was that "but it also seems that, no matter how good your programme is, you are going to have children who for different reasons will have difficulties".
Twelve years before, she had started designing a reading recovery programme to help. First she had to find how children read "normally" so she could use this knowledge.
Learning to read was, she told the Herald, a highly patterned and highly complex process. She described it as a mixture of word knowledge and general comprehension.
The reading recovery programme she developed picks up 6-year-old children struggling with reading after their first year in the classroom. Left any later, it was much harder to fix.
Clay was the author of 32 books still in use worldwide.
Wellington-born, Marie Clay (nee Irwin) was the first woman to gain a full professorship at the University of Auckland in 1975, having begun lecturing in 1962.
She was made a Dame in 1987, named a New Zealander of the Year in 1994 and received a host of overseas awards and honours.
But her major legacy is summed up in a 1988 assessment that her system meant only about 1 per cent of all New Zealand's young readers then needed more special help. The figure overseas at the time was about 15 per cent.
She is survived by her children Alan and Jenny.