Te Tohu Taiao - Award for Ecological Excellence

We now invite nominations for the Te Tohu Taiao Award for Ecological Excellence.  Please email your nomination to the awards convenor, Margaret Stanley (mc.stanley@auckland.ac.nz) by 31 July 2024.


Aims of the award

This award is presented annually to recognise individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the study and application of ecological science with a focus on New Zealand ecology. The award is made to the person(s) who have published the best original research regarding the ecology of New Zealand or its dependencies (including the Ross Dependency), or to the person(s) who have made a sustained and outstanding contribution to applied ecology, particularly conservation and management.


Recipients of the award are:

  • awarded complimentary registration for the next New Zealand Ecological Society conference, and support towards associated travel and accommodation costs to attend - normally up to $1000 at the discretion of the council;
  • invited to give a plenary talk at the next annual New Zealand Ecological Society conference and at the next annual conference of the Ecological Society of Australia (costs of attending the Australian conference are not included);
  • invited to contribute a forum or review article to the New Zealand Journal of Ecology without page charges;
  • highlighted in the New Zealand Ecological Society newsletter and given profile via a media release announcing the award.


Open to members and non-members. Awardees can only obtain the award once. Nominations may be held for three years from submission for consideration or may be updated annually by way of re-submission.


Please email nomination materials to the awards convenor (Margaret Stanley, mc.stanley@auckland.ac.nz) by Wednesday 31 July 2024.

Nominations can be made by the nominee or an independent nominator and must include a detailed statement of support summarising the nominee’s contribution to ecological science in New Zealand systems. Additional supporting information such as letters of support from others may also be provided.

Statement of outstanding contributions to ecology in Aotearoa New Zealand (weighting 70%; 2 page max.)

Nominations for the Te Tohu Taiao – Award for Ecological Excellence should summarise in two pages or less the nominee’s outstanding achievements in advancing the field of ecology that merit this award. Please provide an overview of the nominee’s contributions to the ecology of Aotearoa New Zealand or its dependencies, including a brief summary of field(s) of study and how the nominee has achieved ecological excellence.

Nominations should provide specific evidence for each achievement. Evidence for outstanding ecological contributions may include, but is not limited to, scientific breakthroughs, significant advances in our understanding of particular fields of ecology, novelty of ideas, development of innovative new techniques, significant uptake or application of knowledge or new techniques by others, engaging with mātauranga, changing the way we do things, publication in scientific journals, publication of landmark books, key awards, appointments or other distinctions, and recognition from within Aotearoa New Zealand or overseas.

Additional supporting information

In addition to the statement above, any relevant information that supports the nomination may also be included. Examples of relevant supporting information include: 

  • A list of key publications or activities that demonstrate outstanding ecological contributions. These may include, but are not limited to, examples of scientific breakthroughs, pioneering techniques or tools, first application of a new technique to Aotearoa New Zealand ecosystems, critical review or synthesis of a research area, or research resulting in paradigm-shifts for Aotearoa New Zealand or global ecology. For publications, include the full citation. A 1-2 sentence summary of the publication or activity and its importance may also be included. 
  • Years of professional service as an ecologist, and h-index
  • Key appointments
  • Distinctions/awards
  • Professional positions held (years, position, institution, activity)
  • List of peer-reviewed publications
  • List of books or book chapters

Demonstration of service to Aotearoa New Zealand ecology and the Society (weighting 30%; 1 page max.)

Nominations should also provide a statement of the nominee’s service to Aotearoa New Zealand ecology and NZES. Examples include (but are not limited to):

  • Education
  • Mentoring and supervision
  • Outreach and public liaison
  • Service to the NZ Ecological Society, including the New Zealand Journal of Ecology


The selection panel shall consist of current elected council members of the New Zealand Ecological Society. Where deemed appropriate the council may co-opt ex-officio members of the council on to the selection panel, and/or delegate a sub-committee to oversee selection. At the discretion of the nominated committee no award may be made in any given year.


Past Recipients: Te Tohu Taiao - Award for Ecological Excellence. 

Cameos of past recipients can be viewed here.

2023. Susan Wiser, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research

2022. Philip Hulme, Lincoln University

2021. Doug Armstrong, Massey University

2020. Phil Lyver, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research

2019. Sarah Richardson, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research

2018. George Perry, University of Auckland

2017. Graeme Elliott, Department of Conservation

2016. Peter Bellingham, Landcare Research

2015. Jacqueline Beggs, University of Auckland

2014. Jason Tylianakis, University of Canterbury

2013. Janet Wilmshurst, Landcare Research

2012. Ian Jamieson, University of Otago

2011. Richard Duncan, Lincoln University

2010. George Gibbs, Victoria University, Wellington

2009. Kath Dickinson, University of Otago

2008. John Ogden, University of Auckland

2007. Mick Clout, University of Auckland

2006. Matt McGlone, Landcare Research, Lincoln

2005. David Given, Lincoln University

2004. Mike Winterbourn, University of Canterbury

2003. Not presented

2002. Phil Cowan, Landcare Research, Palmerston North

2001. David Wardle, University of Sheffield, England

2000. Dave Kelly, University of Canterbury

1999. Carolyn King, University of Waikato

1998. John Innes, Landcare Research, Hamilton

1997. John McLennan, Landcare Research, Palmerston North

1996. Nigel Barlow, AgResearch, Lincoln

1995. Bill Lee, Landcare Research, Dunedin

1994. Not presented

1993. Not presented

1992. Edwin Graeme White, Lincoln University, Canterbury

1991. Colin Burrows, University of Canterbury

1990. Henrik Moller, Otago University, Dunedin