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Published 30 January 2020

Passing of Professor Ken Strongman

Royal Society Te Apārangi is deeply saddened by the passing of Councillor Professor Ken Strongman FRSNZ on 29 December 2019.

Ken made a tremendous contribution to the Society, particularly through his championing of the humanities that led to its re-inclusion in the Society.

Ken was Chair of the Humanities Council of New Zealand at a time when its future was uncertain and it was Ken's foresight and careful negotiations that saw the Humanities Council merge with the Society, following the example of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, which also encompasses all of the disciplines.

Whilst Ken served as a Vice-President of the Society, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Humanities Council and the Society in 2009. He then served further on the Council, finishing in 2014. He rejoined the Council in 2016 as the Branch representative, bringing renewed energy and commitment to the relationship with the Society's branches. 

Royal Society Te Apārangi President, Professor Wendy Larner FRSNZ, who spoke at his funeral on 4 January, said that he was a mentor to her and other senior leaders of the Society, always offering sound advice in a calm and considered way. 

"In short, Ken Strongman was a central and influential figure in New Zealand's research landscape. Today it is hard to imagine Te Apārangi without the humanities. The questions humanities scholars ask – how do we avoid the mistakes of the past as we look forward to the future, what does it mean to be human, how do we foster multiple knowledge forms in Aotearoa New Zealand – have never been more imperative. And it is thanks to Ken that Te Apārangi has the right people in the organisation to address today's research challenges.  Ken - thank you so much for your strength, support and care."

He roimata ua, he roimata tangata

Both rain and tears are shed over those who have died

Haere atu rā e te rangatira, e Ken, okioki mai rā.

Farewell Ken, rest in peace.

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi