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Royal Society of New Zealand

The Royal Society of New Zealand
Formation 1867
Headquarters Wellington
387 Fellows
Sir David Skegg

The Royal Society of New Zealand is an independent government body in New Zealand providing funding and policy advice in the fields of sciences and the humanities.


  • History 1
  • Goals 2
  • Activities 3
  • Statement on climate change 4
  • Presidents 5
  • Fellows 6
  • Constituent organisations 7
  • Regional Constituent Organisations 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


The Society was founded in 1867 by Sir Auckland Institute, the Wellington Philosophical Society, the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, and the Otago Institute as constituents. Publishing transactions and proceedings was its main early function.[2] The name as changed to Royal Society of New Zealand in 1933, a reference to the London-based Royal Society,[1][3] a move requiring royal assent and subsequent act of parliament.[4] In 2010, the remit was expanded to include the social sciences and the humanities.[5]


Currently constituted under the Royal Society of New Zealand Act 1997 (as amended in 2012), the RSNZ exists:

  1. To foster in the New Zealand community a culture that supports science and technology, including (without limitation)
(i) The promotion of public awareness, knowledge, and understanding of science and technology; and
(ii) The advancement of science and technology education,
  1. To encourage, promote, and recognise excellence in science and technology,
  2. To provide an infrastructure and other support for the professional needs and development of scientists and technologists,
  3. To provide expert advice on important public issues to the Government and the community,
  4. To do all other lawful things which the Council considers conducive to the advancement and promotion of science and technology in New Zealand.

It is a federation of 49 constituent scientific and technological organisations, and also several affiliate organisations, and it has individual members.


The RSNZ's activities encompass:

  • Science funding – as a non-political funding distribution agency for government funding, particularly in science research and science education
  • Publishingpeer-reviewed journals such as NZ Journal of Botany and NZ Journal of Zoology
  • Meetings and seminars – most local branches and constituent scientific and technological organisations run seminar series of some descriptions, and the RSNZ promotes these and coordinates touring international lecturers.
  • Awards and medals – including:
    • Rutherford Medal (formerly the Gold Medal) - awarded annually for exceptional contributions to the advancement and promotion of public awareness, knowledge and understanding in addition to eminent research or technological practice by a person or group in any field of science, mathematics, social science, or technology
    • Pickering Medal – awarded annually to recognise people who have made outstanding contributions to New Zealand society and culture in science, mathematics, social science, and technology. Silver and Bronze medals are also awarded
    • Fleming Award for Environmental Achievement[6]
    • Hector Medal - awarded annually for outstanding work in chemical, physical or mathematical and information sciences by a researcher in New Zealand.
  • Science education – promotes quality science education and plays a role in setting the national science curriculum.

The New Zealand Association of Scientists also works in similar fields, but is constituted as an independent non-profit incorporated society and registered charity,[7][8] rather than being constituted by an Act of Parliament.

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology also works in similar fields, but as a crown entity is not independent from politics.

Statement on climate change

On 10 July 2008, the Society released a statement on climate change that said in summary:

The globe is warming because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Measurements show that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are well above levels seen for many thousands of years. Further global climate changes are predicted, with impacts expected to become more costly as time progresses. Reducing future impacts of climate change will require substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.[9]


Past presidents include:


The Academy Council of the society from time to time elects as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand any person who in its opinion "has achieved distinction in research or the advancement of science or technology". The number of Fellows is limited to such number as is agreed from time to time between the Academy Council and the Council of the society. A Fellow is entitled to use, in connection with his or her name, either the letters FRSNZ, which stand for Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, or such other letters or title as is agreed from time to time between the Academy Council and the Council.[10]

Constituent organisations

The society has relatively few direct members, with most membership being via constituent organisations. The constituent organisations of RSNZ are:

  • Agronomy Society of New Zealand
  • Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association (ANZEA)
  • Association of Social Science Researchers
  • Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists (NZ Section)(ASCEPT)
  • Geological Society of New Zealand
  • Meteorological Society of New Zealand
  • New Zealand Institute of Surveyors
  • The Nutrition Society of New Zealand
  • New Zealand Archaeological Association
  • New Zealand Association for Research in Education
  • New Zealand Association of Clinical Research
  • NZ Association of Mathematics Teachers
  • New Zealand Association of Science Educators
  • New Zealand Association of Scientists
  • New Zealand Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • New Zealand Dietetic Association
  • New Zealand Ecological Society
  • New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society
  • New Zealand Geographical Society
  • New Zealand Geophysical Society
  • NZ Geothermal Association
  • New Zealand Grassland Association
  • New Zealand Hydrological Society
  • NZ Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science
  • The New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology
  • New Zealand Institute of Economic Research
  • The New Zealand Institute of Chemistry
  • New Zealand Institute of Forestry
  • New Zealand Institute of Physics
  • New Zealand Marine Sciences Society
  • New Zealand Mathematical Society Inc.
  • New Zealand Microbiological Society
  • New Zealand Plant Protection Society
  • New Zealand Psychological Society Incorporated
  • New Zealand Society of Animal Production
  • New Zealand Society of Endocrinology
  • New Zealand Society for Oncology
  • The New Zealand Society for Parasitology
  • New Zealand Society of Plant Biologists (NZSPB)
  • New Zealand Society of Soil Science
  • New Zealand Statistical Association
  • New Zealand Veterinary Association
  • Operational Research Society of New Zealand
  • The Physiological Society of New Zealand Incorporated
  • Population Association of New Zealand
  • Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand
  • Association of Social Anthropologists of Aotearoa/New Zealand
  • Sociological Association of Aotearoa NZ
  • Technology Education New Zealand (TENZ)

Regional Constituent Organisations

Regional Constituent Organisations ('branches') are geographical constituents and include:[11]

  • Auckland Museum Institute (formerly the 'Auckland Institute'[12])
  • Hawkes Bay Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand
  • Nelson Science Society[13]
  • Otago Institute for the Arts and Sciences[14]
  • Royal Society of New Zealand Canterbury Branch
  • Royal Society of New Zealand Manawatu Branch Incorporated (formerly the 'Manawatu Philosophical Society'[15])
  • Royal Society of New Zealand Rotorua Branch
  • Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch (formerly the 'Wellington Philosophical Society'[16])
  • The Waikato Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand
  • Wanaka Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand


  1. ^ a b "Papers Past — Evening Post — 26 May 1933 — A LEAD WANTED". 1933-05-26. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  2. ^ A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966., ed. (23 April 2009). "Royal Society: Foundation". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatu- Taonga.  
  3. ^ "Papers Past — Evening Post — 2 June 1933 — WHAT'S IN A NAME?". 1933-06-02. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  4. ^ """Papers Past — Evening Post — 18 May 1933 — PREFIX "ROYAL. 1933-05-18. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  5. ^ "Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill 210-2 (2010), Private Bill – New Zealand Legislation". Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  6. ^ "Charles Fleming Award for Environmental Achievement". Royal Society of New Zealand. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "About |". 2011. Retrieved 27 July 2011. New Zealand Association of Scientists 
  8. ^ "New Zealand Association Of Scientists Incorporated". 2011. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  9. ^ "Climate change statement from the Royal Society of New Zealand". The Royal Society of New Zealand. 1 July 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2009. 
  10. ^ Royal Society of New Zealand Act 1997, Section 10.
  11. ^ "Regional Constituent Organisations « Membership « Royal Society of New Zealand". Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  12. ^ "About the Institute - Auckland Museum New Zealand". 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  13. ^ "Nelson Science Society". Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  14. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  15. ^ "Royal Society of New Zealand (Manawatu Branch)". The Community Archive. 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  16. ^ "Wellington Philosophical Society". The Community Archive. 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 

External links

  • Home page
  • Royal Society of New Zealand Act 1997
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