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Biographical entry Falla, Robert Alexander (1901 - 1979)

21 July 1901
Palmerston, New Zealand
23 February 1979


Sir Robert Falla held positions in various museums in New Zealand, including director of the Dominion Museum, Wellington, 1947-1966. His BANZARE report on birds is one of the major source-books on Antarctic ornithology. He was particularly interested in seabirds and conservation.


Born Palmerston, New Zealand, 21 July 1901. Died Eastbourne, New Zealand, 23 February, 1979. CMG 1959, KBE 1973. Educated Auckland University College (BA 1924, MA 1925, DSc). Shipping clerk, Thomas Cook & Son ca 1919-20; student, Auckland Teachers' Training College 1920; Lecturer in nature study, Auckland Teachers' Training College 1925-30; Assistant Zoologist with the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition under Sir Douglas Mawson 1929-31; Ornithologist and Educational Officer, Auckland War Memorial Museum 1931-35, Assistant Director 1936-37; Director, Canterbury Museum, Christchurch 1937-47; wrote weekly 'Museum Notes' for the Christchurch Press; involved in coastwatching, Auckland Islands, during World War II; Director, Dominion Museum, Wellington, 1947-66; Leader, New Zealand delegation to the Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm 1972. Polar Medal in bronze for his Antarctic work; honorary member, American Ornithologists' Union; honorary member, British Ornithologists' Union; Fellow, Royal Society of New Zealand 1941. President, Ornithological Society of New Zealand; president, New Zealand Ecological Society; president, New Zealand Geographical Society; president, New Zealand Ship and Marine Society; President, Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union 1951-52; president, Royal Society of New Zealand 1948-50; president, Pacific Science Congress 1952; Chairman, Nature Conservation Council of New Zealand 1962-75. Joint author of A Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand (1966). The tunny fish, Allothunus fallai, was named after him.

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See also

  • Robin, Libby, The Flight of the Emu: a Hundred Years of Australian Ornithology 1901-2001 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2001), 492 pp. Details

Rosanne Walker