The New Zealand Acoustical Society

Prepared for Noise/News International, 2003 December.

The New Zealand Acoustical Society (NZAS) was organized in 1973 during the Third New Zealand Acoustics Symposium held at the University of Auckland on 1973 August 21-23. As early as 1966 during earlier symposia in Wellington (the national capital), there had been discussion concerning the formation of a national society, but it was not until 1973 that the New Zealand Acoustical Society was launched with Harold Marshall as its first president. The NZAS was formally incorporated as a professional society in 1982. It was decided in 1973 that the NZAS Conference would be held biannually and the venue would rotate between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, New Zealand's three principal cities. It was also decided to continue with the numbering system for the conferences. The 16th Biennial Conference was held in 2002.

During its 30 years of existence, the Society has enjoyed a significant growth in membership and stature. Branch meetings of the Society are now held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch bimonthly with invited presentations on topics of current acoustical interest. Since Auckland is the main population centre (one third of all New Zealanders live in this city), most of the Society's activities take place there. The Auckland branch meetings are held at the University, which is also the home of the Acoustics Research Centre. The Centre operates a national testing facility (for building materials' performance, equipment sound power measurements, etc.) and complements the Society's bimonthly meetings with seminars and a weekly "acoustical lunch club" where local acousticians meet to keep in touch and exchange ideas.

From its beginning, the members of the NZAS have been concerned with problems associated with noise and its control. Indeed, at the Third Conference, which witnessed the formation of the Society, all of the papers presented were concerned with some aspect of noise.

Members also have a keen interest in international acoustical events. In 1980, when the Tenth International Congress on Acoustics was held in Sydney, Australia on the other side of the Tasman Sea, a Satellite Conference was arranged in Auckland (1980 July 19-20) on themes dealing with underwater acoustics (Ambient Noise in the Sea) and architectural acoustics (Acoustics of Educational Buildings). In 1998, the Society hosted INTER-NOISE 98 in Christchurch, a congress that was very well attended.

Members of the Society are very active in the development of national and international standards in acoustics. New Zealand is a participating member of IEC/TC29, ISO/TC43 and ISO/TC43/SC1, hosting the IEC/TC29 plenary meeting in Rotorua (1991). New Zealanders are actively participating in IEC working groups on electroacoustic instrumentation and ISO working groups on acoustical measurements. Of particular interest: New Zealand's Airport Noise Management Standard NZS 6805:1992, with its use of the "Airnoise Boundary" concept based on sound exposure in "pasques", has influenced international trends in aircraft noise control. Also of interest are two documents, 6801:1999, Acoustics-Measurement of Environmental Sound and 6802:1999, Acoustics-Measurement of Environmental Noise.

Since 1988, the Society has produced its own quarterly publication, New Zealand Acoustics, which serves as a medium for the exchange of news and views and promotes the sense of being part of the Society, particularly for those members who cannot attend branch meetings. Each issue contains at least one original research paper, together with local news, events and information on people and products.

The New Zealand Acoustical Society is geographically the most remote of the acoustical societies of the world. Through its quarterly publication, bi-monthly branch meetings and biannual conferences, the Society serves as the unifying force for New Zealanders interested in acoustics and noise control. For more information, visit the Society's web site,

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