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Sunny Perry flanked by Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Hon Judith Collins (MP for Science, Innovation and Technology)

The Far North with Kerikeri High School is celebrating Sunny Perry's incredible achievement! Her research on a type of aggressive soil in Northland has earned her the prestigious Prime Minister's Future Scientist Prize 2023, making her the first student from the region to win this national honour.

Sunny's journey began at the Top Energy Far North Science and Technology Fair, where a spark of curiosity ignited a passion for scientific exploration. What started as a local science fair project transformed into comprehensive research endeavour. Sunny's dedication drove her to collect over 480 soil samples across Northland, from Te Kao to Mangawhai.

Her analysis indicated the presence of potential acid sulfate soils (PASS) - soils that generate sulfuric acid when exposed to air. Sunny's research culminated in a map of these soils across Northland, a valuable tool for the community.

This research is important because sulfuric acid in soils can damage infrastructure and harm the environment. Sunny’s map can inform land use and building decisions, helping identify where PASS management might be necessary, such as adding lime to neutralise the acidity.

The Royal Society Te Apārangi judging panel was highly impressed by the depth and quality of Sunny's work. They commended her adaptability and perseverance in the field, along with her rigorous approach to data collection and analysis – a remarkable feat for a Year 12 student.

This national recognition holds particular significance for the Far North. Sunny's achievement not only showcases her exceptional talent but also underscores the vital role of science fairs in igniting a passion for scientific exploration in young minds. These regional events provide a platform for students to develop critical research skills, perseverance, and a thirst for knowledge – qualities that can propel them to national recognition, just like Sunny.

“Sunny's win is a testament to her hard work, dedication, and passion for science. She is a shining example of the talent that exists in the Far North.” says Russell Shaw, Top Energy Chief Executive. Mr Shaw described Sunny’s achievement as an inspiration to other burgeoning Far North science students.

Julie Harrisson, Chief Judge of the Top Energy Far North Science and Technology Fair, remarked "Top Energy's longstanding support of the Far North Science Fair has played a pivotal role in fostering a culture of excellence among students."

As Sunny joins the ranks of scientists recognised by the Prime Minister's Science Awards, her story serves as an inspiration for aspiring scientists across New Zealand. Local science fairs like the Top Energy Far North Science & Technology Fair play a vital role in nurturing this scientific curiosity and providing a springboard for future success.

Top Energy applauds Sunny's achievement and remains committed to fostering a culture of scientific exploration in the Far North.

For more information contact:

Philippa White

021 2418740