1 Apr 2021

History of the Week - The Cawthron Institute

The Cawthron Institute


It was a love of science and the foresight of a Nelson philanthropist, Thomas Cawthron, that led to the establishment of an institute that is now a world leader in aquaculture and freshwater and marine ecosystems.  When Thomas Cawthron died in 1915 he left the residue of his estate for the establishment of an "industrial, technical school institute and museum", to be named Cawthron Institute. Its focus was to be research in the primary industries of New Zealand, particularly in Nelson. was officially opened one hundred years ago in April 1921, becoming the first organisation of its kind in New Zealand. It was initially based in Fellworth House on the hill above Milton Street, in The Wood, with research gardens and glasshouses on adjoining and adjacent land.


Institute showing Milton Street entomology building, The Nelson Provincial Museum, Ellis Dudgeon collection, 211652/7

is now New Zealand's largest independent community-owned research centre.  It is a leader in the development of New Zealand's seafood industry and recognised internationally as a leader in the protection and restoration of coastal and freshwater ecosystems.  The South Island's only commercial aquaculture park at The Glen is owned by the institute.

The Cawthron Trust Board annually commemorates Thomas Cawthron with a public lecture  given near his birthdate and continues his philanthropy by giving money to a variety of science-related projects undertaken by individuals, organisations and the community.


For further reading see The Prow article