Academic articles

Michael Crozier and Rebecca Priestley, Charles Cotton: New Zealand’s most influential geomorphologist, New Zealand Geographic, August 2011
Abstract: Charles Cotton was New Zealand’s foremost advocate for geomorphology. His publications were recognised nationally and internationally, informing educational curricula and captivating the wider public. His approach to landform study was strongly influenced by The Geographical Cycle espoused by William Morris Davis of Harvard University. For the first half of the 20th century, The Cycle constituted the dominant paradigm of landform studies, but it was ultimately severely criticised and abandoned as unrealistic. While Cotton lost credence among some academics for his reluctance to abandon The Cycle, his elegantly illustrated written work made a lasting contribution to many branches of earth science.

Rebecca Priestley, A survey of the history of science in New Zealand, 1769-1992, History Compass, June 2010
Abstract: This article provides an overview of the history of science in New Zealand over the period 1769–1992. General histories of New Zealand often overlook science and scientists and their contribution to shaping the country. This broad overview of New Zealand’s science history is not so much a re-interpretation of events through a history of science lens, but rather an introduction to the contribution of science to New Zealand’s history, and follows a narrative showing the progression of science from Enlightenment and colonial science through the emergence of state science and the recent commercialisation of science. Along the way some key scientific institutions, including the New Zealand Institute and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, are introduced, along with some of the individuals who have made a contribution to science in New Zealand and its history in general.

Rebecca Priestley, Ernest Marsden’s nuclear New Zealand: from nuclear reactors to nuclear disarmament, Journal of the Royal Society of New South Wales, August 2006
Abstract: Ernest Marsden was secretary of New Zealand’s Department of Scientific and Industrial Research from 1926 to 1947 and the Department’s scientific adviser in London from 1947 to 1954. Inspired by his early career in nuclear physics, Marsden had a post-war vision for a nuclear New Zealand, where scientists would create radioisotopes and conduct research on a local nuclear reactor, and industry would provide heavy water and uranium for use in the British nuclear energy and weapons programmes, with all these ventures powered by energy from nuclear power stations. During his retirement, however, Marsden conducted research into environmental radioactivity and the impact of radioactive bomb fallout and began to oppose the continued development and testing of nuclear weapons. It is ironic, given his early enthusiasm for all aspects of nuclear development, that through his later work and influence Marsden may have actually contributed to what we now call a ‘nuclear-free’ New Zealand.

Rebecca Priestley, The search for uranium in ‘nuclear-free’ New Zealand: Prospecting on the West Coast, 1940s to 1970s, New Zealand Geographer, August 2006
Abstract: In a government search for uranium in 1944–1946, uneconomic deposits of radioactive minerals were found concentrated in dredge tailings on the West Coast. In 1954 a new search was initiated, leading to the 1955 discovery of uranium in the Buller Gorge. In the 25-year investigation programme that followed, prospectors were assisted by staff from the Mines Department and the Geological Survey and were funded by grants from the New Zealand and UK governments. The prospecting continued unchallenged by the media or peace or environmental movements until 1979 when it ended for economic rather than philosophical reasons.

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