Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (New Zealand)

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Department of Scientific and Industrial Research
Agency overview
Formed1926 (1926)
Preceding agencies
Dissolved1 April 1992 (1992-04-01)
Superseding agency
Employees2,000 in 1976 [1]

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) is a now-defunct government science agency in New Zealand, founded in 1926 and broken into Crown Research Institutes in 1992.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. It has a total land area of 268,000 square kilometres (103,500 sq mi). New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

In New Zealand, Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) are corporatised Crown entities charged with conducting scientific research.



DSIR was founded in 1926 by Ernest Marsden [1] after calls from Ernest Rutherford for government to support education and research [2] and on the back of the Imperial Economic Conference in London in October and November 1923, when various colonies discussed setting up such departments. [3] It initially received funding from sources such as the Empire Marketing Board. [4] The initial plans also included a new agricultural college, to be jointly founded by Auckland and Victoria University Colleges, Palmerston North was chosen as the site for this and it grew to become Massey University. [5]

Ernest Marsden British physicist

Sir Ernest Marsden was an English-New Zealand physicist. He is recognised internationally for his contributions to science while working under Ernest Rutherford, which led to the discovery of new theories on the structure of the atom. In Marsden's later work in New Zealand, he became a significant member of the scientific community, while maintaining close links to the United Kingdom.

Ernest Rutherford New Zealand-born British chemist and physicist

Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson,, HFRSE, was a New Zealand-born British physicist who came to be known as the father of nuclear physics. Encyclopædia Britannica considers him to be the greatest experimentalist since Michael Faraday (1791–1867).

1923 Imperial Conference

The Imperial Conference of 1923 met in London in the autumn of 1923, the first attended by the new Irish Free State. While named the Imperial Economic Conference, the principal activity concerned the rights of the Dominions in regards to determining their own foreign policy.


DSIR initially had five divisions: [6]

Palmerston North City in North Island, New Zealand

Palmerston North is a city in the North Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Manawatu-Wanganui region. Located in the eastern Manawatu Plains, the city is near the north bank of the Manawatu River, 35 km (22 mi) from the river's mouth, and 12 km (7 mi) from the end of the Manawatu Gorge, about 140 km (87 mi) north of the capital, Wellington. Palmerston North is the country's seventh-largest city and eighth-largest urban area, with an urban population of 86,600.

Auckland Metropolitan area in North Island, New Zealand

Auckland is a city in the North Island of New Zealand. The most populous urban area in the country, Auckland has an urban population of around 1,628,900. It is located in the Auckland Region—the area governed by Auckland Council—which includes outlying rural areas and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, resulting in a total population of 1,695,900. Auckland is a diverse, multicultural and cosmopolitan city, home to the largest Polynesian population in the world. A Māori-language name for Auckland is Tāmaki or Tāmaki Makaurau, meaning "Tāmaki with a hundred lovers", in reference to the desirability of its fertile land at the hub of waterways in all directions.

The Cawthron Institute is New Zealand's largest independent science organisation, specialising in science that supports the environment and development within primary industries. According to Sir Theodore Rigg, a former Cawthron director, "Its establishment was not only of great value to agriculture but it also stimulated scientific research throughout the whole of New Zealand."

The later Antarctic Division became Antarctica New Zealand in 1996. [8]

Antarctica New Zealand

Antarctica New Zealand is an Institute set up by the New Zealand Government in 1996 to manage its interests in Antarctica and the Ross Sea. As well as providing logistics support to a large scientific programme, it also runs bases such as Scott Base. It has run other bases in the past, such as Vanda Station.


Reconstituted into initially 10 semi-independent entities called Crown Research Institutes by the Crown Research Institutes Act 1992, with some further consolidation since. [9]

See also

Further reading

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