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Oliver, Walter Reginald Brook (1883 - 1957)

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Botanist, Museum director and Ornithologist
Born: 7 September 1883  Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.  Died: 16 May 1957  Seatoun, Wellington, New Zealand.
Walter Reginald B. Oliver was one of New Zealandís most prolific collectors of flora and fauna. He also wrote numerous classic texts in the fields of botany and ornithology, including the book New Zealand Birds and made significant contributions to the study of mollusca and whales. He was a long-term member, councilor, one-time President and a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute / Royal Society of New Zealand and was heavily involved in other national and international scientific organizations. His first job was as an officer with the New Zealand Customs Department and that saw him help plan an expedition to the Kermadec Islands (1907-1908). This trip resulted in the publication of seven major scientific articles on the islandís geology, flora and fauna. When he returned to Christchurch, he continued his own private collection trips. After serving in World War I, Oliver made a short return to the Customs Department, then went on to become Senior Scientific Assistant (1920-1927) and later Director at the Dominion Museum in Wellington (1928-1947). After his retirement in 1947, Oliver continued his own private research and collections.

Career Highlights

1896Migrated to New Zealand with his parents
1900 - 1914Officer in the New Zealand Customs Department
1907 - 1908Expedition to Sunday Island in the Kermadec Group
1909Collection expedition to Chatham Islands (one month)
1910Collection expedition to Stewart Island (two month)
1913Collection expedition to Lord Howe Island (fifteen days)
1914 - 1918War service with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force
1919Collection of plants from Tahiti
1919 - 1920Senior Officer in the New Zealand Customs Department
1920 - 1927Senior Scientific Assistant at the Dominion Museum in Wellington
1924 - 1927Bachelor of Science (BSc) completed at Victoria University College
1927 - Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (later renamed the Royal Society of New Zealand)
1928 - 1947Director of the Dominion Museum
1929 - 1933Member of the Board of Governors of the New Zealand Institute / Royal Society of New Zealand
1930New Zealand Birds published
c. 1931Master of Science (MSc) completed at Victoria University College
1934Doctor of Science (DSc) received from the University of New Zealand
1934 - 1956Council member of the New Zealand Institute / Royal Society of New Zealand
1936Hector Memorial Medal and Prize received
1937 - 1938Carnegie Corporation travel grant received to study developments in museums overseas
1939British Empire member of the British Ornithologists' Union
1943 - 1944President of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union
1948Relieving Director of the Canterbury Museum
1949Collection expedition to Fiordland
1950Hutton Memorial Medal received
1952 - 1954President of the Royal Society of New Zealand
1956Collection expedition to Norfolk Island

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See Also

Structure based on ISAAR(CPF) - click here for an explanation of the fields.Prepared by: Rosanne Walker
Created: 23 March 2001
Modified: 4 October 2005

Published by The University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre on ASAPWeb, 1994 - 2007
Originally published 1994-1999 by Australian Science Archives Project, 1999-2006 by the Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre
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Updated: 26 February 2007

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