Robert Falla

Sir Robert Alexander Falla, KBE CMG (21 July 1901 – 23 February 1979) was a New Zealand museum administrator and ornithologist.

Assistant zoologist on Douglas Mawson's Antarctic Expedition Mr R.A. Falla, New South Wales, 1930 (cropped)
Robert Falla in 1930

Early life

Falla was born in Palmerston North in 1901 to George Falla and his wife, Elizabeth Kirk. As his father was working for the railways, the family shifted frequently, and he lived in Hawera, Masterton, and Invercargill. At his primary school in Invercargill, he developed an interest in natural history due to the influence of Alfred Philpott. Falla gained a junior national scholarship and studied at Auckland Grammar School, from where he graduated in 1918. He pursued his dream of going to sea for a few years in various jobs, but then started to follow his interest in ornithology, first through part-time study at Auckland University College, and then at Auckland Training College, a training institution for teachers. He transferred to the university in Auckland, from where he graduated in 1924 with a Bachelor of Arts, in after some teaching at primary schools, with a Master of Arts in 1927.[1]

Professional career

He was assistant zoologist with the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) under Sir Douglas Mawson 1929–1931.[2] He was the founding president of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand. He was involved in the organisation of the wartime subantarctic Cape Expedition coastwatching program of 1941–1945.

He held positions in various New Zealand museums including director of Canterbury Museum from 1 March 1937[3] to 1947,[1] and director of the Dominion Museum, Wellington, 1947–1966. He was a member of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (RAOU), president 1951–1952, and made a fellow of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union in 1973.[4]

He described Pycroft's petrel (Pterodroma pycrofti ). Falla's skink (Oligosoma fallai ) is named for him,[5] as is the Ornithological Society of New Zealand's Robert Falla Memorial Award.[6]

Family and death

On 18 May 1928, Falla married Elayne Mary Burton, known as Molly, at Te Aroha; they were to have two daughters and one son. His wife died in May 1978. Falla was found dead at his home in the Lower Hutt suburb of Eastbourne on 24 February 1979.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Dell, R. K. "Falla, Robert Alexander". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Papers Past — Evening Post — 7 August 1930 — ANTARCTIC RESEARCH". 1930.
  3. ^ "Canterbury Museum". The Evening Post. CXXII (132). 1 December 1936. p. 7. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  4. ^ Robin, Libby. (2001). The Flight of the Emu: a hundred years of Australian ornithology 1901-2001. Carlton, Vic. Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-84987-3
  5. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Falla", p. 88).
  6. ^ Medway, David (June 2002). "Robert Falla Memorial Award" (PDF). Southern Bird (10): 2–3. ISSN 1175-1916.

External links

2004 South Cambridgeshire District Council election

Elections to South Cambridgeshire District Council took place on Thursday 10 June 2004, as part of the United Kingdom local elections, 2004 and at the same time as the European Parliament election, 2004. Due to new ward boundaries, all 57 seats on the council were up for election, increasing the number of councillors by two. Seats up for election in 2004 were subsequently contested by thirds at the 2006, 2007 and 2008 elections.

Auckland Islands

The Auckland Islands (Māori: Motu Maha or Maungahuka) are an archipelago of New Zealand, lying 465 kilometres (290 mi) south of the South Island. The main Auckland Island, occupying 510 km2 (200 sq mi), is surrounded by smaller Adams Island, Enderby Island, Disappointment Island, Ewing Island, Rose Island, Dundas Island, and Green Island, with a combined area of 625 km2 (240 sq mi). The islands have no permanent human inhabitants.

The islands are listed with the New Zealand Outlying Islands. The islands are an immediate part of New Zealand, but not part of any region or district, but instead Area Outside Territorial Authority, like all the other outlying islands except the Solander Islands.

Ecologically, the Auckland Islands form part of the Antipodes Subantarctic Islands tundra ecoregion. Along with other New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands, they were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.

Brian Bell (ornithologist)

Brian Douglas Bell (5 March 1930 – 1 October 2016) was a New Zealand environmental consultant and ornithologist.

Born in 1930, Bell grew up in Marlborough and Canterbury. Surrounded by hills, braided riverbeds, islands and rocky coasts, he soon became deeply interested in natural history.He worked for the New Zealand Wildlife Service between 1957 and 1987 on the management and conservation of threatened species. Bell, along with Don Merton, was part of the ultimately unsuccessful attempt in 1964 to save the South Island snipe, the greater short-tailed bat, and the New Zealand bush wren from extinction after the invasion of Big South Cape Island by rats.Bell was awarded the Queens Service Medal, for public services in the 1984 Queen's Birthday Honours. He was a member of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (RAOU), and was elected a Fellow of the RAOU in 1990. He was president of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand (OSNZ) from 1972 to 1979, and again from 1989 to 1995. He was awarded the OSNZ Robert Falla Memorial Award in 1987, and elected a Fellow of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand in 1998.Bell died in Marlborough on 1 October 2016.

British Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition

The British Australian (and) New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) was a research expedition into Antarctica between 1929 and 1931, involving two voyages over consecutive Austral summers. It was a British Commonwealth initiative, driven more by geopolitics than science, and funded by the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

The leader of the BANZARE was Sir Douglas Mawson and there were several subcommanders (Captain K.N. MacKenzie, who replaced Captain John King Davis for the second summer) on board the RRS Discovery, the ship previously used by Robert Falcon Scott. The BANZARE, which also made several short flights in a small plane, mapped the coastline of Antarctica and discovered Mac. Robertson Land and Princess Elizabeth Land (which later was claimed as part of the Australian Antarctic Territory).

The voyages primarily comprised an "acquisitive exploratory expedition", with Mawson making proclamations of British sovereignty over Antarctic lands at each of their five landfalls—on the understanding that the territory would later be handed to Australia (as it was in 1933). One such proclamation was made on 5 January 1931 at Cape Denison, the site which Mawson's Australasian Antarctic Expedition had occupied in 1912–13. A hand-written copy of the proclamation was left at the site, enclosed in a container made of food tins and buried beneath a cairn. The letter was retrieved in 1977 by an Australian Antarctic expedition, and is part of the Mawson collection at the National Museum of Australia.The BANZARE was also a scientific quest, producing 13 volumes of reports, on geology, oceanography, meteorology, terrestrial magnetism, zoology and botany, between 1937 and 1975. Robert Falla was the assistant zoologist.

Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

The Canterbury Museum is a museum located in the central city of Christchurch, New Zealand, in the city's Cultural Precinct. The museum was established in 1867 with Julius von Haast - whose collection formed its core - as its first director. The building is registered as a "Historic Place - Category I " by Heritage New Zealand.

Channel Islands Witch Trials

The Channel Islands Witch Trials were a series of witch trials in the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey between 1562 and 1661.


The Coastwatchers, also known as the Coast Watch Organisation, Combined Field Intelligence Service or Section C, Allied Intelligence Bureau, were Allied military intelligence operatives stationed on remote Pacific islands during World War II to observe enemy movements and rescue stranded Allied personnel. They played a significant role in the Pacific Ocean theatre and South West Pacific theatre, particularly as an early warning network during the Guadalcanal campaign.

Falla's skink

Falla's skink or the Three Kings skink (Oligosoma fallai ) is a species of lizard in the family Scincidae.

Graham Turbott

Evan Graham Turbott (27 May 1914 – 12 December 2014), generally known as Graham Turbott, was a New Zealand ornithologist, zoologist, and museum administrator. He served as director of the Auckland Institute and Museum from 1964 to 1979.

Kerry-Jayne Wilson

Kerry-Jayne Wilson is a New Zealand biologist and retired lecturer in Ecology at Lincoln University, in the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

List of ornithologists

This is a list of ornithologists who have articles, in alphabetical order by surname. See also Category:Ornithologists.

Marie Darby

Marion Marie Stringer Darby (née Buchler) was a New Zealand marine biologist and teacher. She was the first New Zealand woman to visit the Antarctic mainland. In January 1968, she travelled on the Magga Dan, the first tourist vessel to the Ross Sea, and visited Scott Base with other staff and tourists. She prepared a checklist of sub-Antarctic birds for the information of tourists on board and later wrote an article on summer seabirds to be seen between New Zealand and McMurdo Sound. Mt Darby in Antarctica is named after her.

Ornithological Society of New Zealand

The Ornithological Society of New Zealand (OSNZ), also known as Birds New Zealand, is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the study of birds and their habitats in the New Zealand region. Founded in 1940, it caters to a wide variety of people interested in the birds of the region, from professional ornithologists to casual birdwatchers.

The Society publishes a peer-reviewed quarterly scientific journal, Notornis, as well as a quarterly news magazine, Birds New Zealand (formerly Southern Bird). It also organises membership-based scientific projects, such as the Atlas of Bird Distribution in New Zealand.

Pycroft's petrel

The Pycroft's petrel (Pterodroma pycrofti) is a species of seabird in the petrel and shearwater family Procellariidae.

Pyramid Valley

Pyramid Valley is a limestone rock formation near Waikari in the North Canterbury region of New Zealand. It lies 80 km north-west of Christchurch. On the foot of the valley is a swamp which became notable in 1939 as New Zealand's largest paleontological site for moa fossils. In 1938 the landowners Joseph and Rob Hodgen found three large bones of Dinornis giganteus while they buried a dead horse in the swamp. They opened this area for excavations and in the early 1940s fossil hunters like Robert Falla, Roger Duff, Robert Cushman Murphy, Jim Eyles, Ron Scarlett and many others began their research work at this site and unearthed the remains of long extinct birds including more than 183 complete moa skeletons and tens of thousands of fossil bone fragments from about 46 species of Modern birds. The swamp was formed around 18,000 BC and became drained c. 2,000 years ago. It provided a lush vegetation which attracted five different moa species.

Pyramid Valley is also well known for its vineyards where Riesling is produced.

Robert Falla Memorial Award

The Robert Falla Memorial Award (sometimes referred to as the Falla Award) is granted by the Ornithological Society of New Zealand to people "who have made a significant contribution to both the Ornithological Society of New Zealand and to New Zealand ornithology".It was set up in memory of Robert Falla after his death in 1979, using contributions from a public appeal. The first award was made in 1981, but for the first few years awards were made for the preceding year. In some years no award is made.

Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Fellows

The Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (RAOU) may elect somebody to the position of Fellow, the highest grade of membership, for service to the RAOU and to ornithology. Fellows of the RAOU are entitled to use the letters FRAOU after their name. There is a limit to the number of Fellows that may exist at any time and new Fellows are generally only elected when an existing one dies. In the following list those elected to the similar positions of Corresponding Members or Corresponding Fellows (CM) are included, although this does not appear to have occurred since the 1930s. Some past and present Fellows, following the years of their election, are:

1939 - Wilfred Backhouse Alexander (1885-1965)

1939 - Gregory Macalister Mathews CBE (1876-1949)

1939 - Ernst Walter Mayr (CM) (USA) (1904-2005)

1939 - Frank Alexander Wetmore (CM) (USA) (1886-1978)

1939 - Robert Cushman Murphy (CM) (USA) (1887-1973)

1939 - Percy Roycroft Lowe (CM) (UK) (1870-1948)

1941 - Archibald George Campbell (1880-1954)

1941 - Alexander Hugh Chisholm OBE (1890-1977)

1949 - Sir Charles Frederic Belcher OBE (1876-1970)

1951 - Keith Alfred Hindwood (1904-1971)

1951 - Dominic Louis Serventy (1904-1988)

1958 - Alan John (Jock) Marshall (1911-1967)

1963 - Arnold Robert McGill OAM (1905-1988)

1965 - James Allen Keast (1922-2009)

1970 - Angus Hargreaves Robinson (1907-1973)

1970 - Wilson Roy Wheeler MBE (1905-1988)

1973 - Herbert Thomas Condon (1912-1978)

1973 - Sir Robert Falla CMG, KBE (1901-1979)

1974 - Sir Charles Alexander Fleming OBE, KBE (1916-1987)

1974 - Harold James Frith AO, FAA, FTSE (1921-1982)

1975 - Stephen Marchant AM (1912-1903)

1980 - Stephen John James Frank Davies

1980 - Allan Reginald McEvey (1919-1996)

1981 - Pauline Reilly OAM (1918-2011)

1983 - Selwyn George (Bill) Lane (1922-2000)

1989 - Ian Cecil Robert Rowley (1926-2009)

1989 - Henry Norman Burgess Wettenhall AM (1915-2000)

1990 - Brian Douglas Bell (1930-2016)

1991 - Norman Chaffer OAM (1899-1992)

1992 - John Warham (1919-2010)

1993 - Margaret Alison Cameron AM (1937- )

1998 - Clive Dudley Thomas Minton AM (1934- )

2003 - Oliver Michael Griffiths Newman

2004 - Stuart Leslie AM ( -2005)

Vanuatu petrel

The Vanuatu petrel or Falla's petrel (Pterodroma occulta) is a species of gadfly petrel. This little-known seabird was first scientifically described in 2001 based on six specimens taken in 1927 off Merelava, Vanuatu, and a single bird found ashore in 1983 in New South Wales, Australia. The first confirmed breeding locality was only discovered in 2009 on the island of Vanua Lava, Vanuatu, but based on reports by locals it is supposed to also breed on Merelava. The IUCN has not recognized the Vanuatu petrel as a species, but maintain that it as a subspecies of the very similar white-necked petrel, P. cervicalis, with the "combined" species considered vulnerable.

The alternate name commemorates Robert Falla, a New Zealand ornithologist.

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