A scientist praised for his work with community groups has been awarded the Dr Margaret Lawton Award for Science in Communities.

Ned Norton, director of resource management consultancy company Land, Water, People was presented with the ESR sponsored award by Elaine Moriarty at the NZ Hydrological Society conference .

Dr Moriarty says Ned Norton is well known throughout New Zealand for his work as a science “broker” or “interpreter”, particularly in implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. 

“Ned works at the coal face with communities and also carries out research looking at both the theory and the practical implementation of collaborative processes. “

Mr Norton has a particular interest in water quality and ecology. His focus is integrating available science knowledge to help communities to make better decisions about managing their environment. 

He has worked as nationally for the Ministry for the Environment as well as with regional councils, and communities in a number of regions. Dr Moriarty says his strength is in explaining biophysical science and taking community groups through complex policy options and explaining how these policies will affect them. 

“If there is one attribute that Ned Norton displays it is a willingness to listen - which is a key attribute for a scientist involved in communities.”

The award commemorates the work of Maggie Lawton, who died in 2017.  In her career in New Zealand Dr Lawton worked at ESR, Manaaki Whenua, as an independent consultant and latterly as a Councillor on the Otago Regional Council. She had a strong passion for environmental sustainability and for science and scientists to work with local communities to ensure good resource management decisions for our country.

This is the second time the award in her name has been given to recognise scientists who show excellence in working with local communities.

The inaugural winner was Dr Tim Davie, Chief Scientist at Environment Canterbury.

Mr Norton says he is very humbled to receive the award and motivated to continue to do the kind of work Maggie Lawton did.  “When I look at what people say about Maggie they called her a galvanising force, energetic, inspiring action and an integrator of knowledge. They are all things that are important and inspirational for me to follow. “

Photo shows Ned with his award along with Elaine and last year's winner Tim Davie.

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Gael Woods