In 1968, a few enthusiastic freshwater scientists got together and founded the New Zealand Limnological Society, nowadays known as the New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society. What started off as a small group 50 years ago, has grown to a 430 members strong society, leading freshwater science in New Zealand as well as worldwide. 

At this year’s NZFSS conference we will celebrate the Society’s past, present and future. We start with the past – portraying previous presidents and other interesting snippets from newsletters, press-releases, etc.

Delve into the past of New Zealand’s Freshwater Science Society, some 50 years back where you could become a member of the NZ Limnological Society for 50 cents per annum…

Snippets of the first Newsletter of the newly formed “NZ Limnological Society” in 1968


Vida Mary Stout
First President 1968-1973 and founder

Vida was a member of a highly distinguished family. Her father was a surgeon and vice chancellor of Victoria University of Wellington and her grandfather was the 13th premier of New Zealand and later chief justice. Vida was dux at Woodford House before going to Victoria University where she did her BSc and MSc in Zoology. Her thesis was on the two large red water mites found in ponds. She wrote two long papers on mites from her thesis and another on the rhabdocoel flatworm Mesostoma – all were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand. She then went to Bedford College, University of London where she did her PhD on Daphnia. This was followed by post-doctoral work in Sweden before returning to New Zealand. Vida was appointed to the Zoology Department at the University of Canterbury in 1958, where she remained until her retirement in 1996
In 1968 she and Ann Chapman founded the New Zealand Limnological Society (now the NZ Freshwater Sciences Society) as a forum where freshwater workers could meet at an annual conference and contribute to a newsletter. Vida was the first president of the Society and Ann was the first newsletter editor. After retiring in 1996, she continued to go to her office almost every day until the university forbid her access, citing fears for her safety. Vida died in 2012 aged 82.

Below Left: Vida instructing students at a tarn in Arthur’s Pass about 1995.
Below Right: Exhausted members of the Lake Blackwater expedition, Cass (1979). From left, John Stark, Richard Rowe, Lynley Pearce, John Hayes, Brian Timms, Vida, Malcolm Forster, Mike Winterbourn.

Margaret Ann Chapman
President 1973-1975  

Ann was born in Dunedin and began her university training at Otago, completing her MSc in 1959. She worked in Australia for the Sydney Water Board before heading to Scotland in 1962 to complete her PhD (1965) from the University of Glasgow. Ann was appointed Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences at the University of Waikato in 1970 and promoted to Reader in 1975.
Ann was always a tremendous amount of fun on the many field trips she was part of. Her enthusiastic knowledge of New Zealand history, natural history and literature was extensive, and numerous students and colleagues benefitted from her experience. An added bonus on her field trips was the requisite visits to some of New Zealand’s finest wineries and breweries.
Ann retired in 1996, although she remained very active maintaining an office and lab space at the University of Waikato. She continued to supervise graduate students as well as undertake her own research on the taxonomy of amphipod crustaceans. She was always receptive to new ideas and embraced emerging genetic techniques as a useful tool for providing insights into taxonomic anomalies. Ann’s final years were plagued with ill health, but she converted her nursing home room into an office and continued to write, including working on a draft of an updated version of the freshwater Crustacea guide. She died in 2009 aged 72.

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