Former parliamentary speaker of the house and education minister Sir Lockwood Smith is the new board chair of the Riddet Institute in Palmerston North.
Sir Lockwood replaces Stuart McCutcheon, who passed away suddenly at the beginning of 2023.
The Riddet Institute is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), hosted by Massey University in Palmerston North, focusing on advanced food research.
Sir Lockwood said the new board role reflects his interest in science and particular enthusiasm for the work of the Riddet Institute in food science.
“Following the Enlightenment when science advanced human wellbeing immensely, what worries me is that science is now being downplayed more and more,” he said.
He said it is particularly important that New Zealand’s food industry is grounded in evidence-based nutritional research.
“People desperately need high standards in food research, to ensure the science of food advances in the best way for the best outcomes for future populations. This is where the Riddet Institute work is so valuable.”
Massey University Vice-Chancellor and Riddet Institute board member Professor Jan Thomas congratulated Sir Lockwood on the appointment.
“Sir Lockwood brings with him a vast range of experience that I know will help the board immensely.
“I would also like to pay tribute to former chair, the late Professor Emeritus Stuart McCutcheon, who played a pivotal role at Massey and the Riddet Institute over many years.”
Sir Lockwood is a former National Party MP and was speaker of the House of Representatives from 2008 to 2013.
During his time in politics, he served as minister of education, as well as taking on agriculture, tourism and trade portfolios, and associate minister roles in finance and immigration.
In 2013 he served as high commissioner of NZ to the United Kingdom, ambassador to Ireland and high commissioner of both Ghana and Nigeria until 2017.
Sir Lockwood was knighted in 2013 for services as an MP and speaker.
Since his work as high commissioner to the UK, Sir Lockwood has continued as a member of the United Kingdom Trade & Agriculture Commission, in international trade advisory roles, in animal health and environmental regulatory work, and on a commission reviewing the UK public service for think tank Policy Exchange, as well as operating a beef farm at Matakohe in Northland.
He will take up the new role on August 1.
The Riddet Institute board consists of four independent members as well as the vice-chancellor of the host organisation. The other board members are Mark Piper (Plant & Food), Professor Jim Metson (University of Auckland), Miriana Stephens (Wakatū Incorporation), and Thomas (Massey University).