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2018 Mason Durie Medal awarded to Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith

Wednesday 14 November 2018 4:10pm

Lisa Matisoo-Smith imageProfessor Lisa Matisoo-Smith has been awarded the Mason Durie Medal for her ground-breaking work that has, through strong relationships with New Zealand’s indigenous people, reshaped our understanding of the last great human migration into the Pacific.

Professor of Biological Anthropology in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Otago, she is an internationally renowned biological anthropologist. She has used leading-edge technologies for interrogating both ancient and modern DNA to address fundamental anthropological questions, particularly those concerning the origins of Pacific people.

As part of a collaboration with Rangitāne o Wairau, the Canterbury Museum and the University of Otago, she worked closely with the Rangitāne o Wairau iwi to genetically examine the remains of their tupuna from the Wairau Bar – the first New Zealanders. In addition to understanding the migration and settlement history of New Zealand, her current work addresses numerous questions that have remained unanswered, particularly regarding the health of ancestral New Zealanders and how that has shaped the modern landscape of both health and disease.

In awarding this medal, the selection committee noted Professor Matisoo-Smith’s prominence in her research sphere internationally and says her deep commitment to work with indigenous people in such a way that deep mutual respect is built is exemplary.

On being awarded this medal, she says: “While I feel honoured to receive this award, my work is really only possible through collaborations with communities and colleagues – it has been a privilege to work with them all.”

Read about other awards in the full media release:
Six Otago researchers recognised in NZ research honours