Allan Mere Award for 2014:

Dr Brian P J Molloy (1930–2022)

Left: staff photo of Dr Brian Molloy in 1973, © Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.
Right: Anthony Wright presenting the Allan Mere to Brian Molloy, 7 Nov 2014.

Brian has made outstanding contributions to New Zealand botany over more than six decades. As a mentor, friend, respected colleague, avid field worker and ‘living icon’ he has explored, researched and published widely across plant taxonomy, ecology and conservation. In fact, he is heralded as the founding father of today’s plant conservation movement, which, like Brian, is deeply rooted in scientific research.

The NZBS Committee is pleased to announce that this year’s award of the Allan Mere is to Dr Brian P J Molloy, member of the Canterbury Botanical Society, Royal Society representative on the Riccarton Bush Trust and Director of the QEII National Trust.

Brian was proposed by Peter de Lange, Peter Heenan and Brian’s late son, Michael Molloy, and his nomination seconded by three other botanical societies (Auckland, Nelson and Canterbury), Riccarton Bush Trust, QEII National Trust, National Biodiversity Network Trust (UK), Landcare Research (Christchurch and Dunedin), Department of Conservation, NZ Plant Conservation Network and two individuals (Joshua Salter and Ian St George). The proposers wrote:

Brian has been an important mentor and advisor in our two careers, provided sage advice, insights into conservation and ecology, and helped format our views on the complexities of the biological world. However, we are not the only ones to have benefitted from his wisdom, humour and unequalled company in the field. Brian is, if ever there was a claim for such a title, a ‘living legend’. As a conservationist Brian has settled many a battle by using his favoured weapon, ‘a cuppa’, often brewed haphazardly on the roadside to the amused consternation of an aggrieved landowner or distraught botanist. Few would know that he was the driver behind the late David Given’s switch from taxonomy to plant conservation, and that he provided the impetus within QEII to change covenanting styles from haphazard choices or personal whims to ones setting aside key landscapes, ecosystems and threatened plant and animal habitats. Throughout his career, Brian has followed the safe advice of his colleague and friend, the late Eric Godley, who simply asked that people do ‘Good Botany’. This he has done, and this he has strongly encouraged others to do.

A selection of comments below from his supporters indicate the breadth of admiration for Brian throughout the botanical community of New Zealand:

As a biosystematist Brian has a well practised eye, and has, we have estimated, recognised in the vicinity of 80 potentially new taxa, many discovered after his official retirement in 1995.
Brian has had a long and distinguished career in the botanical sciences and for over 50 years has made important contributions in many areas, including ecology of South Island grasslands, reserve identification and conservation, Riccarton Bush, taxonomy and QEII. His contributions to taxonomy are especially important for New Zealand botany and include describing a new genus of conifer (Manoao), new species of daisies (in the genera Leucogenes, Olearia and Pachystegia), orchids, grasses, and a range of other species (e.g. Melicytus and Chaerophyllum).
Brian is a remarkable and wonderful man and a truly exceptional botanist who has probably done more than anyone alive in New Zealand to support and promote botanical study and plant conservation.

Brian is the fifteenth recipient of the Allan Mere since the NZBS was asked to administer the award in 1999.

The Allan Mere was presented to Brian Molloy at a special award ceremony at the Canterbury Botanical Society meeting held at the Riccarton Library and Community Centre, Christchurch, on 7th November 2014. There was a record turnout of family, colleagues past and present, representatives of bodies Brian has and does serve on and Bot Soc members. Canterbury Botanical Society also presented Brian with a gift of a flowering Leptinella filiformis plant, which Brian saved from extinction.

Anthony Wright, President, New Zealand Botanical Society

Citation reproduced from the New Zealand Botanical Society Newsletter, No. 117, Sept 2014 and No. 118, Dec 2014.