The Nobel Prize Medal 1908, UC/RMED/405, Erik Linberg.
Ernest Rutherford: New Zealand icon. He was born in Nelson in 1871 before attending Canterbury University. Rutherford was both the creator of modern atomic physics, and one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century. The first discoveries made by Rutherford included: that elements can change their structure and that the atom was made up of a nucleus surrounded by electrons. However, Rutherford’s most important contribution to modern science was the splitting of the atom which secured his title as the world’s first successful alchemist. In 1890 as a young man Rutherford started at UC, which used to be called Canterbury College. Then in 1908 Rutherford was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his discovery that elements can change their form from heavy, to slightly lighter. In 1914 Rutherford was knighted for his contribution to science. Rutherford died in 1937 as Ernest, Lord Rutherford of Nelson.
The University is closely connected to Rutherford. In 1971 the University honoured the legacy of Rutherford by naming the chemistry/physics building the Ernest Rutherford building. UC holds the Rutherford Medal Collection which was placed in the University’s care in 1938, following Rutherford’s death. The collection contains 36 medals, insignias and plaques. You can find more information about Ernest Rutherford in the Macmillan Brown Library collection and see replicas of the original medal collection on level 1 of the Rutherford building.
View of Puaka-James Hight from Matariki, 2014
James Hight, home of the famous Central Library has a new identity; it is now known as Puaka-James Hight. The “star” themed Puaka-James Hight building has been named after the brightest star in the constellation Orion and is associated with the start of the New Year.
The new name marks a new chapter in the history of the University and has been generously gifted by Ngāi Tahu to the University of Canterbury to reflect the growing strength of UC’s relationship with Ngāi Tahu and the mana of Te Ao Māori at the heart of the University’s campus.
Other than the name, the library and services within the building remain the same. For more information on Central Library business hours, services and current events please refer to the Library website at http://library.canterbury.ac.nz.