Wednesday, 02 August 2023 08:55

Dr Smith goes to Palmerston

Written by  Peter Burke
Lockwood Smith is the new board chair of the Riddet Institute. Lockwood Smith is the new board chair of the Riddet Institute.

Sir Lockwood Smith, who has had a long career in politics, diplomacy, agricultural science and farming, is the new chair of the Riddet Institute.

The institute is a CoRE - or Centre for Research Excellence - and is based at the Massey University campus at Palmerston North. It is the country's premier national centre for fundamental and strategic scientific research in food science and novel food processing. It employs leading scientists from a number of research institutes within NZ and overseas.

Smith replaces former board chair Stuart McCutcheon, who passed away suddenly at the beginning of 2023.

Smith has a PhD in Animal Science from the University of Adelaide having earlier completed his BAgrSc and MAgrSc (Hons) as Massey University. Prior to entering politics in 1984, he lectured at Massey University where he was deeply involved in the development of maize silage. He also worked as the marketing manager for the NZ Dairy Board.

In his long political career, Smith served in a number of ministerial roles including Education, Agriculture, Tourism and Trade portfolio and Associate Minister roles in Finance and Immigration. In 2008 he became speaker of the House of Representatives, a post he held until 2013. He was then appointed NZ High Commissioner to the UK and Ambassador to Ireland until 2017.

Smith has always retained a strong interest in the farming sector and to this day is a removed breeder of Belgium Blue cattle at his Woodleigh farm at Matakohe in Northland.

He says the new board role reflects his interest in science in his particular enthusiasm for the work of the Riddet Institute in food science. Smith says science is particularly important as our food industry is grounded in evidence-based nutritional research.

"What worries me today is that science is now being downplayed more and more," he told Rural News.

"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."

Smith says the institute has an international reputation and a high profile that is well deserved, and he is looking forward to supporting its work through his role as chair.

Since he finished as the High Commissioner to the UK, Smith has continued as a member of the United Kingdom Trade & Agriculture Commission. This has seen him work  in international trade advisory roles in animal health and environmental regulatory work.

He takes up his new role later this month.

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