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Ella Orr Campbell

Botanist (1910-2003)

Ella Orr Campbell used to be taken for the matron when she became the first woman faculty member at Massey Agricultural College in 1945.1 No other women were appointed for years, and Campbell found the situation academically isolating as other faculty didn’t know how to treat a female academic. Campbell, who had moved from Otago University, felt women were more accepted there.

Campbell was a specialist in liverworts, ferns and orchids, had wide-ranging research interests and published 130 scientific papers. She co-authored the textbook Agricultural Botany, made many contributions to other books, and travelled to study vegetation all around the world.2 She retired from teaching in 1976, but continued to publish research right up until the age of 90. In 1997 she was named a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2003 the herbarium at Massey University was named the Dame Ella Orr Campbell Herbarium in her honour.3


1. Paula Martin, ‘Profiles of Senior New Zealand Women in Science’, Lives with Science, 1993, p. 4.

2. ‘NZBotSoc No 22 Dec 1990 - NZBotSoc-1990-22.Pdf’, accessed 19 September 2017, http://www.nzbotanicalsociety.org.nz/newsletter/NZBotSoc-1990-22.pdf.

3. ‘Ella Orr Campbell’, Wikipedia, 5 May 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ella_Orr_Campbell&oldid=778882943.

This profile is part of the series 150 Women in 150 Words that celebrates women’s contributions to expanding knowledge in New Zealand, running as part of our 150th Anniversary.