Wellingtonian of the Year supreme award taken out by epidemiologist Michael Baker

One of the countrys top epidemiologists, Professor Michael Baker, who became a household name amid the Covid-19 pandemic has taken home the supreme award at the annual Wellingtonian of the Year Awards.
The Professor of Public Health at Otago University, based in Wellington, was awarded the accolade at The Dominion Post Welly Awards on Wednesday night, along with winning the science and technology category.

Created by The Dominion Post, the Wellingtonian of the Year Awards were started in 1989 to celebrate achievements and contributions across all sectors of the greater Wellington community, awarding those who make the region exciting and vibrant.

Finalists were selected from nine categories: arts, business, community service, education, public service, science and technology, sport and youth.

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Baker became a trusted household figure from the moment the pandemic took hold in New Zealand and helped inform the Governments Covid-19 response. He also won the science and technology category.

The award is just another to add to the trophy cabinet for the public health physician, who was previously awarded the Prime Ministers Science Prize as a anggota of HHRP and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

In accepting the award, Baker said given the competition he had thought an epidemiologist winning was a low probability event

Baker said we had seen strong recognition of the importance of science and evidence in the past year, and he was accepting the award for all scientists across the country.

To all the young people I want you to know its fine to be a science geek, the world needs more of us.

Another popular Covid-19 household name, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, also took home an award, in the public service category.

Bloomfield wasnt present to take the award as, following his own Ministrys advice, he was at home with a cold.

Covid-19 recovery minister Chris Hipkins, who was also a finalist, accepted the award on Bloomfields behalf, joking it was typical that public servants do all the work while ministers take the credit.

Senior Economist and Director at Infometrics, Brad Olsen, who has become one of the countrys more prominent and youngest economic commentators, won the youth category,

Chief Executive Officer of Te Omanga Hospice, Biddy Harford, won the community service category.

Harford has been Chairwoman of Hospice New Zealand, where, according to Te Omanga, she has successfully advocated for hospices to receive a greater percentage of their funding from the government.

She has worked at Te Omanga Hospice since 1988, starting out in a role as part of the administration team.

Devoting over 50 years of service to education, primarily at Wadestown School, saw Sally Barrett win the education category.

Dominion Post editor Anna Fifield said Baker was chosen because he went far and beyond what was required in his job and had a big impact both in NZ and internationally.

He made a difference to us in 2020.

The 2020 Dominion Post Wellingtonian Of The Year winners:

Arts Victor Rodger

Business Malcolm Gillies

Community Service Biddy Harford

Education Sally Barrett

Environment Dave Lowe

Public Service Ashley Bloomfield

Science & Technology Michael Baker

Sport Ameliaranne Ekenasio

Youth Brad Olsen


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