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Our History


Demonstrating scientific excellence since 1865.

Since 1865 we have demonstrated scientific excellence in a country that straddles two tectonic plates, where earthquakes were first associated with geological faulting, and whose first Nobel Laureate, Ernest Rutherford, saw that radioactive isotopes could be used for geological dating.

Alpine fault

Alpine fault

Today, we continue these investigations, from the atomic to the planetary scale. These activities are expressed through our Māori name, Te Pū Ao, which means “the foundation, origin, and source of the world”.

We are proud of our 156-year-old heritage inherited from New Zealand Geological Survey [1865-1990], DSIR Geophysics Division [1951-1990], Institute of Nuclear Sciences [1959-1992], and DSIR Geology and Geophysics [1990-1992].

In 1992, Crown Research Institutes (CRI) were established by the New Zealand Government.

While our registered company name remains the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited, in 2006 we re-branded to become GNS Science.