Massey Medal awarded to Dutch couple

The Massey University Medal has been jointly awarded to Professor Martin Verstegen and Mrs Mariet Verstegen-Spiertz of the Netherlands in recognition of their work in support of agriculture and food science and longstanding connections with Massey.

University Chancellor Dr Russ Ballard presented the medal at a ceremony at the New Zealand Embassy in the Hague on Tuesday. It was attended by about 50 people prominent in food and nutrition science in the Netherlands and hosted by Ambassador George Troup and his wife, Hilary.

Along with Dr Ballard, Massey was represented by staff members Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan and Professor Ravi Ravindran.

Professor Verstegen recently retired from Wageningen University, regarded as the world’s leading agri-food university, after a distinguished 45-year academic career. He is widely regarded as a world expert on human and animal energetics and calorimetry. In addition, he and his wife worked together for many years to encourage and assist the development of young scientists.

The Verstegens’ association with Massey began in 1985, when they invited Professor Moughan, now co-director of the Riddet Institute, a national centre of research excellence led by Massey, to take up a residency at Wageningen.

It was the start of an ongoing relationship between the universities. Through the Verstegens’ support, more than 100 Dutch interns and postgraduate students have travelled to study at Massey, where Professor Verstegen has been an honorary professor since 2001.

Professor Moughan read the citation at the ceremony. “I cannot think of two more fitting awardees for the receipt of a Massey University Medal,” he said. “The Verstegens have been superb champions of Massey University and of New Zealand.”

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