Construction Set to Start on New Cawthron High Tech Laboratories to Help Boost Export Earnings
Construction is set to start before Christmas on Cawthron Institute's new high technology laboratories
at its Halifax Street campus in Nelson. Cawthron is New Zealand's largest independent research
institute specialising in environmental research and research for the food and aquaculture industries. It
also has substantial testing laboratories and provides seafood safety testing for key sectors of the
The new $5 million facility on its Halifax Street site will provide nearly 400 square metres of high
specification laboratory space, to replace some of its present facilities built in the 1970s. In addition to
laboratories the building will also include office space, meeting rooms and staff facilities.
Cawthron Chairman Ian Kearney, says the new building is a key part of Cawthron's drive and focus on continuing innovation in scientific research and development.
"A lot of New Zealand's economic growth and future direction is reliant on innovative science and
original thinking which Cawthron Institute is renowned for. This building is stage one of a four stage
project to replace the facilities and laboratories in the Rigg building on the Halifax Street campus.
Many of the facilities in the Rigg building are outdated and an orderly programme to replace them is
Cawthron is now setting the stage to build on its contributions to New Zealand's economic
development of the past 90 years. Earlier this year Cawthron sold its environmental testing business
to R. J. Hill Laboratories to refocus on high-value research and development and the new building
underpins this strategy. Cawthron is expanding specialist analytical services in challenging areas of
new method development and health claim validations for foods and nutraceuticals.
Mr Kearney says, "Some great science has come out of our existing laboratories in Halifax Street
which were built in the 1970s. We are now going to be providing 21st century tools and facilities for
our scientists. This can only add to the value of the science we will be progressing."
For example, Cawthron recently announced the development of very high-value algae compounds,
CNCs, which it is selling to overseas laboratories for hundreds of thousands of dollars a gram.
"Cawthron has always focused on using science to provide solutions to problems and these new
facilities will assist", Mr Kearney says.
Cawthron Chief Executive Professor Charles Eason, says Cawthron works hand in hand with many
companies and the new building will provide the means to further strengthen its support of the
aquaculture and food industries with its research in shellfish food safety, adding high-end value to
foods as well as protection.
The companies we work with are asking us to increase our capacity and our capabilities to help them
deliver export growth. The new buildings and laboratories in Nelson will be a significant step forward
and mirror recent growth in laboratories and shellfish breeding capability at the Cawthron Aquaculture
Park at Glenduan, just outside Nelson.
"The new spaces will provide great opportunities for collaboration between Institute colleagues and
our business partners and clients to develop ideas and new projects and products." Cawthron, which
is a not-for-profit organisation, will self-fund the new facility.
Professor Eason says two key requirements of the building’s design are sustainability and a design in
keeping with the character of the neighbourhood.
"During our time here we hope we have been good neighbours, and because its important to us to
continue that relationship we have been careful to create a design that will not only work for us but will
also fit in with the immediate surroundings".
The two-storey building will be set 10 metres back from the street boundary and include significant
landscaping at the front along the Halifax Street frontage.
Professor Eason said it was a big investment for Cawthron but vital if the Institute was to continue to
provide the science required by our partners. "For example, we more than trebled the size of
laboratories and production facilities at the Cawthron Aquaculture Park two years ago and we are
already starting to think of further expansion of these."
Cawthron Institute has been housed in The Wood for more than 90 years. The Institute headquarters
moved in 1970 from Fellworth House where it was originally established in the 1920s through the
almost quarter of a million pound bequest of its founder Thomas Cawthron. The land on the corner of
Halifax and Milton Streets has been the location for other Cawthron and Department of Scientific and
Industrial Research facilities since the 1920s, and Cawthron Museum was located in Harley House on
Milton Street in the 1960s and '70s.
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