Critic and conscience award for 'fearless crusader'

Dr Mike Joy. 

Massey University’s Dr Mike Joy has been presented with the inaugural Critic and Conscience Award for the difference he has made to the issue of New Zealand’s declining freshwater state.

The award, sponsored by the Gama Foundation, acknowledges university academics who act as the critic and conscience of society by providing independent, expert commentary on issues that affect the New Zealand community and future generations. As the first winner, Dr Joy receives a $50,000 grant to further his research.

Dr Joy is a senior lecturer in ecology and environmental science within Massey’s Institute of Agriculture and Environment. He researches and teaches freshwater ecology and has studied the declining health of New Zealand rivers for decades. In particular, he focuses on freshwater fish ecology and distribution, ecological modelling and environmental science, producing reports for councils and organisations around New Zealand.

However, his impact has been felt in more places than the classroom and in his research. Dr Joy is a well-known campaigner on the declining state of freshwater in New Zealand and the poor record of regulators in arresting or reversing this decline.

Dr Joy accepting the award from Grant and Marilyn Nelson.

Support for work

Speaking about Dr Joy’s achievements, judge Steve Weaver said, “Mike’s work has successfully placed a complex and difficult environmental issue on the public agenda. He’s single-handedly raised awareness of an issue that’s at the heart of our country’s primary economy and environment.

“While some of his messages are unpalatable to some, Mike has been a fearless crusader to ensure this issue remains a top of the agenda for central and local government, as well as the agricultural industry.”

Upon receiving the award, Dr Joy said, “I’m extremely honoured to receive this. I’m thankful for the support I have from Massey University and especially hope that the existence of this award will motivate other academics to take up the unique but threatened privilege of being the critic and conscience of our society.”

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