He was both a thinker and a practical inventor, able to develop a scientific theory and then test it in laboratory experiments, which were often innovative and which he designed himself.He was a strong supporter of education and scientific research, but was aware of the misuses to which science could be put.In 1931 Rutherford was made a peer, becoming Ernest, Lord Rutherford.He included in his coat of arms a kiwi and a Māori warrior.Following the death of his wife, Rutherford’s collection of scientific medals was given to the University of Canterbury.In 1992, new banknotes were designed, featuring famous New Zealanders. Craters on both the Moon and Mars have been named after Rutherford and an element was named after Rutherford - Rutherfordium.
Rutherford went to Canterbury College (now University of Canterbury) from 1890 to 1894, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1892, and then with a Masters of Arts in Mathematics, Mathematical Physics and Physical Science the following year.Resuming his work on radioactivity after the war, Rutherford discovered that by bombarding light atoms with alpha rays, and changing nitrogen into oxygen, it would be possible to split the atom.By 1919 Rutherford had become the Director of the Cavendish Laboratory.The house where Rutherford was born in Brightwater was demolished in 1921.
After years of neglect, the Rutherford Birthplace Project committee was formed to transform the site of original house into a national memorial to Lord Rutherford.
The Rutherford Origin, with information displays about Rutherford in a garden setting, was opened on December 6, 1991.