Cawthron, Thomas

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Thomas Cawthron

Thomas Cawthron arrived in Nelson from England in 1849.  He prospered in the goldfields of Victoria, Australia, before returning to Nelson in the mid 1850s. Thomas began his 25 year-long association with shipping, operating from a beached ship in Port Nelson, eventually acquiring a monopoly of Nelson shipping agencies by the mid 1870s. He imported coal from Australia and prospered from trade between Nelson and the West Coast.

In 1915 Thomas Cawthron bequeathed £231,000 - the largest single bequest in New Zealand at the time - to set up the Cawthron Institute, which he also endowed with an enduring ethos of pro-active and pragmatic science.

The institute is now New Zealand's largest independent and not-for-profit research organisation, and is a leader in a range of marine and freshwater scientific research and consulting.