New Zealand Marine Science Society

Bill Ballantine at the Cape Rodney – Okakari Point Marine Reserve, Leigh, Northland, NZ.  This is New Zealand’s first marine reserve, established in 1975.  Photo: Kennedy Warne. 

Bill Ballantine (15 April 1937 – 1 November 2015)

It is with great sadness that NZMSS recognises the passing of Dr Bill Ballantine. Bill was the pioneer of marine reserve protection in New Zealand and worldwide. As the first Director of the University of Auckland’s Leigh Marine Laboratory, Bill contributed significantly to the creation of New Zealand’s first marine reserve at Leigh in 1975. These efforts ultimately led to the creation of more marine reserves throughout New Zealand and spawned an enormous body of scientific literature in New Zealand and worldwide based on research in marine reserves. Bill’s own research focused on the rocky intertidal where he collected one of the longest existing time-series on intertidal reef communities. He also had the foresight to establish daily monitoring of sea surface temperature at Leigh, which continues nearly 50 years later and is providing important insights into climate change in our coastal oceans.

Bill became world famous for championing marine reserves, and continued to do so vigorously in his ‘retirement’. His 1991 book “Marine Reserves for New Zealand” grabbed the attention of policy makers and local communities alike, both in New Zealand and overseas. In 1996 he was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for work on marine conservation, and in 2002, Bill was awarded the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society Award for his continued outstanding contribution to marine science in New Zealand. Bill traveled to many countries, giving public lectures and running workshops, all focused on the key message that no-take marine reserves are a crucial tool for protecting marine biodiversity. Within New Zealand, he inspired NGO’s, local communities and schools to put forward proposals for marine reserves.

He was a great mentor and a dear friend for many students and colleagues who will miss him greatly. 

More information on Bill’s research and contribution is available on his website:

www.marine-reserves.org.nz/index.html

Some tributes to Bill

 Professor Howard Choat, JCU: “For all the Golden Years at Leigh in which we produced both a once and future body of work that led to an extraordinary range of appointments to the Leigh mob around the world, Bill played a crucial and at the time unrecognized, part in all of this. While he would lecture me for hours on stolen quires of paper, the mistreatment of lab chairs and the atrocity of hanging wet suits off the veranda railings he was at the same time heading off a lot of unpleasant accusations and problems from Auckland. Although he was greatly stressed about some of our diving practices (he was ultimately responsible) if we needed boats dive gear and seemingly simple things like showers and gear storage and complex things like speed boats they were provided. He understood the need for detailed field work and ahead of his time the necessity of spatial analysis achieved through multi-scale mapping and detailed monitoring of temperature and wave forces. The benefits are now being realized. Although some of the later years may have been difficult he would have passed with a sense of having fulfilled an important part of his life's work.”

Dr Mark Costello, University of Auckland: “Bill remained totally dedicated and engaged with marine conservation throughout his life.  He was the first and longest serving Director of Leigh Marine Laboratory. He contributed significantly to the creation of the (New Zealand) Marine Reserves Act and establishment of New Zealand’s first marine reserve at Leigh. He became world famous for championing marine reserves, and continued to do so vigorously in his ‘retirement’. He was a great mentor and a dear friend for many students and colleagues who will miss him greatly. He was delighted at the recent announcement that New Zealand’s Kermadec Islands EEZ would become a marine reserve. It is 15% of the New Zealand EEZ.”

Hon. Dr Nick Smith, Minister for the Environment: “Bill was the father of marine conservation in New Zealand. He remained a forceful advocate for the protection of our marine environment and leaves behind a proud legacy.  It was therefore particularly special that Bill was able to attend the event last month marking the announcement of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.  The event also provided an opportunity to recognise Bill’s invaluable contribution.” 

Tribute from Kennedy Warne, New Zealand Geographic:

www.nzgeographic.co.nz/atlarge/bill-ballantine-a-voice-for-the-sea

Biography: Bill Ballantine

Born in Leicester, England, in 1937, he completed his PhD from Queen Mary College, University of London before emigrating to New Zealand in 1964.

1964 - Appointed first Director of the University of Auckland’s Leigh Marine Laboratory.

2003 - Retired from University of Auckland.

Honours and awards

Bill received numerous New Zealand and international awards for his work on marine conservation, some being:

  • 1989 – Forest and Bird Protection Society Old Blue Award (also a Distinguished Life Member)
  • 1994 – Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to marine biology and conservation.
  • 1996 – Goldman Environmental Prize for work on marine conservation.
  • 2002 – Recipient of the NZMSS (New Zealand Marine Sciences Society) Award for continued outstanding contribution to marine science in New Zealand.
  • 2004 – Recipient of the Wyland - Foundation Dive New Zealand Magazine Recognition Award for being “the visionary for marine reserves”.
  • 2006 – Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for public services.

Other links and media

This interview in 2008 featured in a local New Zealand newspaper contains information about Bill’s life and his vision for marine reserves.

http://www.localmatters.co.nz/Mahurangi+Matters/Local+Folk/Cr+Bill+Ballantine+marine+biologist.html

The link below is of a recent radio interview with Bill (5 October 2015) on the recently announced Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday/audio/201773183/bill-ballantine-kermadec-marine-sanctury

Listen to Bill on 5th October 2015 at http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday/audio/201773183/bill-ballantine-kermadec-marine-sanctury

And in 2009 at 30 min into this interview http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/1889898

More links below

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Ballantine_%28biologist%29

http://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/bill-ballantine/

http://www.localmatters.co.nz/Mahurangi+Matters/Local+Folk/Cr+Bill+Ballantine+marine+biologist.html

http://www.kamohigh.school.nz/school-info/marine-reserves/

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/04/new-zealand-coast/warne-text

http://www.nzgeographic.co.nz/archives/issue-90/no-take-zone

http://nzmss.org/nzmss-award/

http://divenewzealand.co.nz/magazine/awards/

http://www.wwf.org.hk/en/news/press_release/?1339/New-Zealands-Marine-Biologist-Dr-Bill-Ballantine-Visits-Hong-Kongs-Only-Marine-Reserve-at-Cape-dAguilar

http://www.scilogs.com/mola_mola/mixed-messages-on-marine-protected-areas/

http://oneocean.cbc.ca/series/experts/bill-ballantine