Celebrating 100 years
We’re proud of the positive difference our research has made to New Zealand’s environment and economy since our establishment in 1921. Here’s to delivering world-class science for the next 100 years.
This year Cawthron will host a range of community and educational initiatives that you can take part in to celebrate our centenary year. Make sure you follow us on our Facebook page to keep up to date with our confirmed event dates and centenary announcements, or read more below.
If you have any questions about our centenary plans, please email [email protected]
Cawthron Open Day is back!
We’re opening our doors once again for the Cawthron Open Day as part of Tuku21 Whakatū Heritage Month on Saturday 10 April, 10am – 2pm at 98 Halifax Street East.
This year’s Open Day will provide an opportunity for the public to get a behind-the-scenes look at New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation dedicated to supporting the sustainable development of primary industries and protecting our environment.
Open Day visitors can expect interactive displays showcasing all aspects of our world-class science. There will be lab tours and science presentations. Plus, this year Cawthron is teaming up with the Ministry of Inspiration to bring you a life-size whale where you can hear real-life marine mammal song, and there will be craft stations for the kids.
Please note that lab tours are for visitors aged 10 years or older, closed toe shoes are a must, and spaces are limited, so please sign up for a tour on arrival at the Open Day.
Upcoming Centenary events
- Cawthron Open Day (10 April 2021)
- Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards (23 April 2021)
- Year 13 Mussel Biology workshops at Cawthron Aquaculture Park (3-28 May 2021)
- 100 years of science exhibition at Nelson Provincial Museum (27 May – 03 October 2021)
- Thomas Cawthron Annual Memorial Lecture (date TBC)
- Cawthron Scitec Expo (20-24 September 2021)
- Cawthron New Zealand River Awards (26 November 2021)
A science vision for New Zealand
More than 100 years ago, a retired Nelson businessman and philanthropist Thomas Cawthron made a will that would have a lasting impact on New Zealand science from the early 1920s to today.
Cawthron Institute was officially established in April 1921 with a bequest from Thomas Cawthron, who had a vision to conduct practical and independent scientific research for the benefit of Te Tau Ihu (top of the south) and New Zealand. This continues to be the ethos that drives our research programmes today.
Our past remains a big part of who we are. Thomas Cawthron’s legacy is realised everyday by our nearly-300 highly qualified scientists, technicians, researchers and specialist support staff from all over the world. Every day our people come to work to explore and challenge the boundaries of new science, and make ground-breaking discoveries that support sustainable development of New Zealand’s primary industries and protect and enhance our unique environment.
Thomas Cawthron Legacy Tour
Numerous Nelson landmarks and institutions stand testament to the outstanding contribution of philanthropist Thomas Cawthron who built a considerable fortune in trade, shipping and investment dealings.
Before his death in 1915, Cawthron lent and gifted money to the Nelson Institute Library and Museum, Nelson Hospital and the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts. He also paid for the continuation of the posts and chains on Rocks Road, gifted 1000ha on Dun Mountain to Nelson City Council, and funded the Cathedral Church Steps.
When Cawthron died he bequeathed £231,000 (equivalent of more than $100m today) to purchase land and develop an industrial and technical school to be known as Cawthron Institute.
Download the Thomas Cawthron Legacy Tour street map to discover his many enduring legacies in Nelson City.
Cawthron’s most visible gift to the city, the granite church steps.
Photograph by FN Jones, Ken Wright Post Card Collection.
Explore our history
Find out more about our people and science as we celebrate our centenary year.