There were warm and tender moments of tears and joy last week as award-winning biotechnologist Dr Max Shepherd received his Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in a private ceremony at his Wanaka home.
Maxwell Gilbert Shepherd was awarded the CNZM in last year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list, for services to biotechnology and business, but because his wife Lane had not been well, he and Mrs Shepherd had not been able to travel to Wellington to receive it in person from the Governor-General.
Last week, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult received confirmation he had been authorised by the Queen to present the CNZM insignia to Dr Shepherd in Wanaka.
The afternoon tea event was attended by the Shepherds’ daughters, Bec and Deb, their husbands, Paul Wenk and Paul Clarke, and three of the Shepherds’ 10 grandchildren, Sophie, Lily and Hugo Wenk.
The Wenk family travelled from Melbourne in December to visit Dr and Mrs Shepherd and were scheduled to return home this week.
Dr Shepherd is an award-winning biotechnologist who has played a leading role in the emergence and success of the New Zealand biotechnology industry.
The 78-year-old was the first professor of oral biology at the University of Otago and held that position from 1981 to 1994.
His pioneering research in the biology and molecular genetics of the human pathogen Candida albicans put New Zealand at the forefront of this research internationally, and the laboratory he established continues to be a leader in this field today.
Dr Shepherd and Mrs Shepherd became tearful as he thanked his family.
“Thank you Lane. What I achieved could not have been achieved without your support,” he told his wife.
They will celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary next week.
Dr Shepherd also acknowledged his extended family living in France, Auckland and Australia.
“And for those 10 beautiful [grand] children we are seeing coming through, maturing into wonderful adults, this is just fantastic,” Dr Shepherd said.
Before starting the ceremony, Mr Boult said it was his first time stepping in for Her Majesty and jokingly apologised for not bringing a crown.