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New Zealand Marine Studies Centre

Facilitating Discovery of the Marine Environment

The New Zealand Marine Studies Centre is the public face of Marine Science at the University of Otago. We explain and explore marine science, current research and conservation issues. We offer hands-on marine education programmes for all ages and are responsible for  inspiring many future marine scientists! Our mission is to foster understanding and appreciation of New Zealand's unique marine environment and responsibility towards its conservation.

The facility, based at Portobello, offers a fully equipped laboratory, a seminar room, marine aquarium tanks, marine displays, computers, and catering facilities.

The New Zealand Marine Studies Centre offers marine education programmes for Primary, Intermediate and High School students ranging from two hours to several days in duration. Programmes include practical investigations in the field and laboratory. Some programmes, such as Marine Chemistry and our extension programmes feature data collections and observations carried out from our research vessels. Our programmes all support the NZ School Curriculum.

Our Gifted & Talented programmes aim to give a challenging hands-on experience based on the theme “Making sense of the marine world aids survival and enriches lives”. The senses of the participants and the senses (and science) of the marine animals are the focus for extending and enriching student learning. After a day of activities and enquiries which challenge student ideas, develop skills in instrument use and experimental design, participants are introduced to a range of possible projects by postgraduate research students in the Marine Science Department. Over the subsequent days practical investigations are designed, carried out and reported on by small research teams under the guidance of post-graduate marine science students who encourage students to be practical with problem solving, and creative with science analysis and presentation.

Information about the education programmes can be found at, or contact our Educators:
Steve Cutler ( for high school programmes
Shelley Dixon ( for primary school programmes


Sally Carson, NZ Marine Studies Centre Director

Tessa Mills, NZ Marine Studies Centre Manager

Shantelle Jackson, NZ Marine Studies Centre Receptionist

Steve Cutler, NZ Marine Studies Centre Educator (Secondary)

Shelley Dixon, NZ Marine Studies Centre Educator (Primary)

Richard de Hamel, NZ Marine Studies Centre Educator (Nelson & Marlborough region)

Brendan Flack, NZ Marine Studies Centre Community Support / Kaitautoko

Adelle O’Neill, NZ Marine Studies Centre Curator

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There are opportunities to join a citizen science project or volunteer for us - see for details.