• Posted on: 15/12/2021
  • 2 minutes to read
  • Tagged with: Public Service Network Deaf and Disability

A wheelchair has proved no barrier to Dr Gerald Rys continuing a distinguished career in agriculture and science that’s been recognised with a Public Service Medal.

A principal science advisor at the Ministry for Primary Industries, he has kept working, addressing climate change and supporting sustainable land management.

Gerald is a PSA member and strong advocate for ensuring the needs of those with disabilities in the public service are met.

“I’m proud that I’ve been able to continue with my career for the past twelve years since multiple sclerosis left me in a wheelchair,” he says. “In fact, I’m grateful that my wheelchair has enabled me to continue my career”.

Gerald’s medal commendation states he has had a significant impact on the way a generation of science and policy experts view New Zealand.

Throughout his 45-year public service career in science and agriculture, he has been committed to supporting effective decision making at a policy and farm level.

He has been a New Zealand negotiator to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and delivered climate change science, from programme development, to implementing mitigation and adaptation solutions, and addressing how to apply them to practical farm situations. 

MPI Science Policy manager, Dr Naomi Parker says Gerald has been generous in sharing his knowledge to develop the next generation of farmers, advisors and leaders who will be our environmental stewards. 

“His professionalism, remarkable knowledge and commitment have, and will help New Zealand accomplish its long-term goals,” she says.


Dr Rys has received a string of science awards and contributed to over 250 published papers and reports. He is recognised as being within the top 10 percent of the 15 million scientists on the ResearchGate web site.

His spirit of service also extends to mentoring other staff and supervising graduate students. Many have been helped along in their careers through Gerald’s generosity. 

Dr Parker says being confined to a wheelchair has not impacted Gerald’s work ethic, his contribution, or his sense of humour. 

“This medal is ridiculously well deserved. Gerald absolutely exemplifies public service.”