Who do we trust?


The top three places in the Readers Digest Most Trusted people in 2011 go to scientists:

1. Sir Ray Avery, scientist, inventor, New Zealander of the Year 2010
2. Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister
3. Sir Paul Callaghan, physicist and New Zealander of the Year 2011

That is good publicity for scientists and science, although it is important to keep in mind the survey is biased from the start because participants are asked to rank people already selected not choose them themselves.

The others in the top 10 are:

4. The Hon. Justice Helen Winkelmann, Chief High Court Judge 
5. Roger Hall, film, TV and theatre actor, playwright
6. Bret McKenzie, comedian, actor, and musician 
7. Denise L’Estrange-Corbet, fashion designer
8. Jemaine Clement, comedian, actor, and musician
9. Simon Salt Gault, celebrity chef and MasterChef judge
10. Tony Kokshoorn, Grey District Mayor

Is this the first time a politician has appeared this high?

Certainly other politicians don’t score well:

The Rt. Hon. John Key, current Prime Minister (90);  Paul Holmes, broadcaster (91);  Paul Henry, journalist, radio and TV presenter (92);  Jim Anderton, Progressive Party leader (93);  The Hon. Bill English, Deputy Prime Minister (94); The Hon. Pita Sharples, Minister of Maori Affairs (95);  The Hon. Phil Goff, Labour Party leader (96);  The Hon. Tariana Turia, Maori Party co-leader (97); The Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, New Zealand First leader (98); The Hon. Rodney Hide, Minister of Local Government (99); The Hon. Hone Harawira, activist, and Member for Te Tai Tokerau (100).

Politician isn’t the least trusted profession though, that honour goes to journalists (sigh) and real estate agents. 

Fire fighters, rescue volunteers and paramedics are the most trusted professions (passing quickly over the point that volunteers aren’t professionals).

Participants weren’t asked if they trust this type of survey.

Rebel With A Cause


If you read only one book this year, make it Rebel With A Cause by Ray Avery.

If many of the anecdotes and incidents described in this autobiography were in a work of fiction they’d be dismissed as too unrealistic.

That an abandoned and abused child could go on to achieve so much in science, business, philanthropy and life is almost unbelievable but Sir Ray did. For doing so earned the award of New Zealander of the Year, the Sir Peter Blake Medal for Leadership and was knighted in the New Year Honours.

Awful as his early life was, he not only writes without bitterness or recriminations but also manages to show how the lemons thrown at him enabled him to make lemonade.

In writing about his part in the development of Douglas Pharmaceuticals, he reinforces his guiding pinciple of doing everything to the highest possible standard. He applied that principle when he went on to work for the Fred Hollows Foundation in Eritrea and Nepal, working with local people to help them help themselves.

In showing how to do things well in third world countries he also exposes the wasteful, incompetent and even dangerous practices of some supposedly reputable aid agencies which do more harm than good, sometimes killing more people than they save.

It is an inspirational book which shows you can overcome awful circumstances and not just survive but thrive; that violence doesn’t have to begat violence and that you can choose to reply to evil with goodness.

Rebel With A Cause by Ray Avery, published by Random House. $39.99.

For more on Ray Avery:

An interview with Ray Avery by Renee Liang at the Big Idea

Medicine Mondiale

Poor Fortune by Lauren Bartlett in Idealog

Q&A interview by Paul Holmes

The Amazing Adventures of Mr Ray

The Rebel Who Found His Cause by DIana Witchel in The Listener


Impossible is the starting point


Quote of the year for 2010:

“Impossible  for Kiwis is the starting point.”

New Zealander of the Year and new knight, Sir Ray Avery, in discussion with Noelle McCarthy.

He also said:

If Australia is the lucky country then New Zealand is the clever country.

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