2022 Harold Wellman Prize:
Thomas Stolberger and Nathan Collins
This is awarded for the discovery of several new species, including two new species of bulimoid land snail discovered during the construction on Watercare’s Central Interceptor wastewater tunnel in Māngere, Auckland.
Between July 2021 and February 2022, Thomas and Nathan spent several days a week sifting through an enormous pile of sand and shells excavated from Pliocene Kaawa Formation. By the end of their field work they had collected around 3,500 fossil specimens and had identified over 200 species in conjunction with Bruce Hayward and Alan Beu, including as many as 10 new species records.
The fossils are incredibly important. After the Kaawa Creek beds, the Māngere deposit is the second most diverse Pliocene fauna ever found in northern New Zealand and the discovery of the two bulimulids extends the first appearance of Placostylinae in New Zealand from about 100,000 years to 3.7-3.0 Ma.
Past Harold Wellman Prize winners
|2020||Jonathan Dale||Canterbury||For a decade collecting specimens of penguin, whale, dolphin and fish bones from the Hakataramea Limestone Quarry which have been generously donated to the University of Otago collections.|
|2019||Peter Shaw||Hawkes Bay||For his work on fossils in the Maungataniwha Native Forest, including the largest mosasaur tooth on record in New Zealand.|
|2018||Helen Bint||Chatham Island||Chatham Island Palaeocene fossil sponges.|
|2017||Ian Geary||Otago University||Rich Pliocene plant fossil beds Beachlands, Auckland.|
|2016||Sue Maxwell||Otago Museum||Discovery of fossil material which was identified as the holotype of the extinct leatherback turtle Psephophorus terrypratchetti.|
|2014||Leigh Love||Discovery of a new species of Paleocene bird (Australornis lovei) in the Waipara greensand deposits of North Canterbury.|
|Adrian & Thomas King||Discovery of a very well preserved flatfish fossil from the shallow marine-deposited Titiokura Fm, Te Pohue, western Hawke's Bay.|
|2013||Julian Thomson||Otago||Fossil partial lower jaw of a large baleen whale.|
|2012||Barry Douglas & Jon Lundqvist||Otago University||1978-79 discovery of the "St Bathans fauna" in the Manuherikia Group.|
|2011||Leonard Bloksberg||Auckland||Late Cretaceous mosasaur coprolite.|
|2010||Greg Browne||GNS||Late Cretaceous dinosaur footprints NW Nelson.|
|2009||Uwe Kaulfus||Otago University||New fossil insects in New Zealand.|
|2008||Dave Allen||New Plymouth||Marine bird skulls in Pliocene sediments near Hawera.|
|2007||Robert Holmes||Chatham Island||A Mid Pleistocene marine fauna raised 200m above sea level on the Chatham Is|
|2006||Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club||Hamilton||Paleogene fossil penguin, Kawhia Harbour|
|2005||Jane Hill||Whangarei||Fossil marine turtle|
|2004||Richard Kohler||Otago||Late Cretaceous fossil fish, Pitt Island|
|2003||Jennifer Bannister||Otago||Tertiary fungi and flowers|
|2002||Bill Lee||Oamaru||North Otago Miocene mollusca, dolphin, whale locality|
|2001||Don Haw||-||Initial discovery of reptile bones in Mangahouanga Stream|
|2000||Liz Kennedy||Wellington||Oldest NZ fossil flowers (Late Cretaceous)|
|1999||Brendan Hayes||Auckland||First Jurassic dinosaur bone in NZ|
|1998||Malcolm Simpson||Auckland||First Cambrian fossils in New Zealand|
|1997||Al Mannering||Canterbury Museum||Paleocene penguin fossils from Waipara area|
|1996||Bruce Dix||Wellington||Fossil intertidal invertebrates, Cape Turakirae|
|1995||Phil Ford||Otago||First NZ Permian conodonts|
|1994||Rodney Grapes||Wellington||Late Triassic radiolaria in Torlesse rocks, Orongorongo River|
|1993||Graeme Dodd||Southland||Dactylioceras cf anquinum, first Ururoan indicator in South Island|
|1992||Chris Carey||Nelson||First fossil sulphur-reducing black smoker-type fauna in NZ waters|
|1991||Stuart Owen||Otago||Amrnonoids in the top of the Maitai Group|
|1990||Phil Moore||Wellington||Fossil discoveries on offshore islands and in eastern North Island|
|1989||Richard Cotton||Otago||Mid Permian fusulinid foraminifera, Canterbury|
Harold Wellman (1909-1999) was a scientist unrivalled in the remarkable contribution he made to our understanding of New Zealand earth science. He had a varied and colourful early career as a gold miner, surveyor and geophysical survey assistant. In 1937 he joined New Zealand Geological Survey's coal resources survey in Greymouth, which began his most productive period of research. His intense geological debates with colleagues at the bar of the Albion Hotel in Greymouth are now legendary.
Harold is best known for his recognition of the Alpine Fault, but his major contributions to advancing New Zealand earth science are many. They included establishment of the New Zealand Fossil Record File, recognition of major displacements of rock in Northland, development of biostratigraphic stages for subdividing the New Zealand marine Cretaceous based on field observations and collections of fossil Inoceramus.
In the mid-1950s Harold had a short stint with British Petroleum in Gisborne before taking a position in the Geology Department at Victoria University of Wellington in 1958, an attachment he maintained even after his retirement in 1974. Harold's international reputation in pioneering structural and tectil tonic geology was highlighted in a 1992 BBC Horizon documentary on him, titled "The Man that moved the Mountains."
Harold and his wife Joan provided the funds for the first Harold Wellman Prize for an important fossil find, because in the 1980s he felt that the role of paleontology in geology was losing its former significance. In 1998 they established the Wellman Research Awards to assist young geology researchers.