CFP: Finding New Zealand’s Scientific Heritage

November 23-24, 2015, Victoria University of Wellington

2015 is a significant year for New Zealand science history. It is 150 years since James Hector arrived in Wellington to set up many of our national science organisations and 100 years since Ernest Marsden arrived in Wellington.

In 1865 Hector was appointed head of the New Zealand Geological Survey, with his responsibilities eventually including the Colonial Museum, Colonial Observatory, Meteorological Service, Colonial Botanic Gardens, and the New Zealand Institute. In 1915, Marsden arrived in New Zealand to be professor of physics at Victoria University. He stayed in this position for seven years then, in 1926, was appointed head of New Zealand’s Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, a position he held until 1946.

In 1983, The Royal Society of New Zealand and the Alexander Turnbull Library ran a conference In Search of New Zealand’s Scientific Heritage. In the more than 30 years since this date there have been significant research and publications into New Zealand’s science history but there is still much to explore. The 2015 anniversaries invite a renewed focus on New Zealand’s science history and provide momentum leading up to the Royal Society of New Zealand’s 150th anniversary in 2017 and the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the first European scientists in 2019.

Call for papers

We are interested in receiving proposals for papers, full sessions/panels, and posters on any topic around the history of New Zealand science, including but not limited to:

Scientists and their disciplines, such as

  • James Hector and his life in science
  • Ernest Marsden and his life in science
  • Hector’s scientific mentors and contemporaries, eg, Colenso, Hochstetter, Haast, others
  • Marsden’s scientific mentors and contemporaries, eg, Rutherford, Fleming, Cotton, others
  • Histories of the natural, physical and social sciences in New Zealand
  • Hector’s and Marsden’s legacy in New Zealand today
  • New Zealand scientists working overseas
  • Matauranga Maori in 19th and 20th century Aotearoa New Zealand

Scientific institutions and networks

  • Histories of the New Zealand Geological Survey, Colonial Museum, Meteorological Service, Colonial Observatory, Colonial Botanic Gardens
  • Histories of the DSIR and its constituent agencies
  • Other histories of New Zealand science, scientists, science organisations and museums
  • The mobility of scientists during wartime, changing networks and connections
  • Indigenous knowledge meets European science

History of science as a discipline

  • Books, blogs, and tweets: popularising the history of science in New Zealand
  • Sources and records of science: challenges and opportunities for the 21st century scholar
  • Painting the scientist: portrayals of scientists in New Zealand art, literature and film

Science in Society

  • Historical perspectives on contemporary issues in science and society
  • Histories of science education
  • New Zealand: “more than any other country made by science”?
  • Future challenges for history of science

For more information, please visit

Deadline: June 30, 2015

Posted: May 06, 2015