Ernest Rutherford - celebrating his Nobel Prize

1A century ago - on 10 December 1908 - New Zealand celebrated its first Nobel laureate. Ernest Rutherford received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on radioactivity, or in the official wording "for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances".

Veronika Meduna retraces his childhood and student years in New Zealand, his research that led to the Nobel Prize and many other honours, his role as a mentor to generations of outstanding physicists and his efforts to save hundreds of scientists during Hitler's reign in Germany.



Rutherford Den educator Merrin Buchan with a primary school class in the old lecture theatre where Rutherford attended lectures as a student during the 1890s. Image courtesy of the Rutherford's Den Trust.

In this programme, you will meet Rutherford's biographer, University of Canterbury physicist John Campbell, visit Rutherford's Den with physicist Peter Cottrell, and hear from some of Rutherford's students, including Sir Mark Oliphant and Sir Ernest Marsden, who later became eminent scientists themselves. The following links will take you to a summary of John Campbell's biography and Ernest Rutherford's Nobel Prize biography and lecture, and a rare documentary.

This programme would not have been possible without the rich collection of recordings of the Radio New Zealand Sound Archives - Nga Taonga Korero.

North Island robin research on Tiritiri Matangi Island


Barbara Egli, holding a container of meal worms and being watched by a hungry robin, sitting on top of a stick just to right of centre.

North Island robins are one of the species which has been successfully translocated to Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf. In the third part of a series about the island, Massey University researcher Barbara Egli introduces Alison Ballance to the long-term robin monitoring programme.



Chatham Island book

1Twelve years after its first publication Canterbury University Press has published a substantially revised edition of the multi-authored book Chatham Islands: heritage and conservation. The book describes the geology and biota of these isolated islands, looking at terrestrial, marine and freshwater environments, and also provides an introduction to the islands' human history, and a guide to reserves and covenants. Ecologist Colin Miskelly, of the Department of Conservation, and marine biologist David Schiel from the University of Canterbury are among the book's many contributors.