Who we are

The New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society (NZFSS) began as the New Zealand Limnological Society (Limsoc) founded in 1968. It adopted a new trading name in 2005 to reflect the broad interests of current and new members whose interests span freshwater science, education, conservation and management. We formally changed our name to the New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society in 2021.

The society aims:

“To establish effective liaison between all persons interested in any aspect of fresh and brackish water research and management in Aotearoa New Zealand, and to encourage and promote these interests, new knowledge and research.

To embrace the rich heritage of Māori culture in Aotearoa New Zealand acknowledge the rights of Māori under the Treaty of Waitangi and the principles of partnership, participation, and protection.

To be fair and inclusive and committed to equity and diversity in all aspects of the Society’s operations.”

The society achieves this by:

  • holding workshops and annual conferences
  • co-operating with other scientific bodies (see links to related sites)
  • producing one newsletter per year
  • maintaining a membership register
  • communication through emailing list and public forum for members
  • listing members’ interests
  • listing relevant publications

NZFSS & freshwater history


  • Increasing public interest in the management of freshwaters with lake weed and eutrophication issues in several areas
  • Water and Soil Conservation Act passed in 1967
  • First national environmental campaign to ‘Save Manapouri’ questioning further hydroelectric power development
  • 1968: New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society is founded by a group of freshwater scientists interested in maintaining links in their field.


  • Annual conferences held throughout the country attended by about 30 members to discuss research and provide opportunities to visit areas and collect samples
  • ‘Think big’ era leads to an increase in freshwater investigations, reviews of freshwater policy and research opportunities.


  • Development of the MCI and national debates about ‘wild and scenic’ rivers
  • 1988: Society holds highly successful SIL conference in Hamilton, the first of these to be held in the southern hemisphere.


  • Resource Management Act is passed in 1991
  • Ministry for the Environment, NIWA, and Department of Conservation are created along with regional councils and fish and game councils
  • Freshwater management is decentralised; Society grows with membership from local and central government officers and policy makers and expanding university programmes
  • 1999: First joint meeting of NZFSS and Australian Society of Limnology in Wairekei.

2000s to present

  • Economic value of water increases in proportion with its perceived scarcity along with concerns about maintenance of water quality and intensification of land use
  • Society numbers steadily grow, with more emphasis on liaison, education and policy and better links with other societies.

Download our full 40th Anniversary presentation on NZFSS and its history.