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Flora Murray

Flora Murray. Source: Macmillan Brown Library, ref 24054.

Botanist (1897?-?)

CUCbotanyHerriotMurrayFlora Murray was an early woman appointee at Canterbury University College, joining the staff there in 1922. She had grown up in Carterton, just north of Wellington, and attended Christchurch Girls’ High School before graduating from Canterbury University College in 1920 with a B.A.1 She completed an M.A. with first class honours in botany in 1921, looking at indigenous plants in the Port Hills. Murray taught for a short time at Rangi Ruru Girls’ School but was appointed to the staff of Canterbury University College in 1922, as an assistant lecturer in the Department of Biology and a research assistant in forestry.2 She was later awarded a doctorate, which may have been from the University of Edinburgh, and she seems to have worked both there and at Sunderland College in the United Kingdom.

Image: A Canterbury University College botany expedition on 10th April 1918, Heathcote. The group includes Miss Herriott, Flora Murray, [?], Dr Chilton, Rosa Margaret Innes, Alice Bourke, Eileen Jenkins, Bertha Rhodes, Alison Burns. Taken by Maisie Taylor. Source: Macmillan Brown Library, ref 23986.


1. A.D. Thomson, ‘Some Pioneer Women Graduates in Botany from Canterbury University College.’ Centre for Studies on N.Z. Science History. Accessed 24 August 2017, http://bts.nzpcn.org.nz/bts_pdf/Cant_2000_34__54-63.pdf.   

2. 4. Mary R. S. Creese and Thomas M. Creese, Ladies in the Laboratory III: South African, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian Women in Science: Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (Scarecrow Press, 2010), p. 115.

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.