Te Tohu Taiao - Award for Ecological Excellence

Nominations for the Te Tohu Taiao Award (formerly NZES award) for 2023 have closed.

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 invited to give a plenary talk at the next annual NZ Ecological Society Conference and at the next annual conference of the Ecological Society of Australia. The Society awards recipients complimentary registration for the next NZ Ecological Society conference, and support towards associated travel and accommodation costs to attend - normally up to $1000 at the discretion of the council.

NB. This award used to be presented to members only, but since 2006, non-members are also eligible. Awardees can only obtain the award once.


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. Nominations will be held for three years from submission for consideration, and may be updated annually by way of re-submission.

Statement of outstanding contributions to ecology

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 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, changing the way we do things, publication in scientific journals, publication of landmark books, key awards, appointments or other distinctions, and recognition from within New Zealand or overseas.

This statement is limited to two pages.

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 New Zealand ecosystems, critical review or synthesis of a research area, or research resulting in paradigm-shifts for 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 (measures both productivity and impact of publications; a scholar with an index of h has published h papers each of which has been cited in other papers at least h times)
  • Key appointments
  • Distinctions/awards
  • Professional positions held (years, position, institution, activity)
  • List of peer-reviewed publications
  • List of books or book chapters
  • Mentoring and supervision


    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