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Kenneth (Radway) Allen


MSc DSc Cambridge FRSNZ


 radway allen

Radway Allen. Photograph source: NIWA


KENNETH RADWAY ALLEN was born in England on 12 February 1911, and studied for bachelor and masters degrees at Cambridge University, and in 1973 was awarded DSc by the university, a recognition of his contribution to fisheries science. He was at first employed by the Freshwater Biological Association at their noted freshwater laboratory at Windermere in the English lakes district, where he undertook studies of the ecology and life histories of freshwater fishes, including "classic" British sporting fishes such as Atlantic salmon, brown trout, perch and pike. While there he met and married Rosa Bullen, daughter of the Director of the Windermere laboratory. They came to New Zealand in 1938, where Allen was employed by the Marine Department, which was, in those days, responsible for management of fisheries in New Zealand, apart from the actual management of angling in fresh waters (by the acclimatisation societies). So, there were some distinct complexities in the research and management protocols and processes into which Allen had to fit, and it would not have been easy. The Marine Department had long had a rather turbulent relationship with the acclimatisation societies, something about which Allen would have had little or no knowledge before coming to New Zealand, though he would have found out, and rapidly. At the time of his arrival in New Zealand, Derisely Hobbs was the senior researcher working on salmonid fishes, and Allen would have had to develop an association with Hobbs who, though essentially untrained, had developed substantial knowledge of New Zealand's trout and salmon fisheries. Allen, it seems, almost immediately set to work to attempt to understand the trout populations in the Horokiwi (now Horokiri) Stream, a small stream that flows into the Pauatahanui Inlet, a little north of Wellington. In essence, Allen was trying to understand energy flow through the trout population, from production of insects that fed on the stream's algae, to the carnivorous insects that fed on these algivorous insects, and so, eventually into the trout populations, for which these insects were prey. The equipment that was available to do this sort of work was, of course, then much more limited than it is now (there were no electric fishing machines) and there are stories of Allen and his wife, wader-clad, dragging seine nets through the pools in the Horokiwi Stream, to provide data on age, growth, and size of the trout stocks there. Also, of course, immense effort was expended in trying to measure the insect stocks in the stream, and their production, and so the source of the food that drove trout growth - essentially an energy balance sheet. It was a large, intensive, demanding and ambitious project, with none of the modern calculators or computers to manage the data (but also few of the sophisticated data analysis techniques that are now commonplace).

Allen's involvement in this work was interrupted during the Second World War. He served in the New Zealand army from 1942 to 1946, before returning to complete his Horokiwi study. This was eventually published, in 1951, and probably for the first time, globally, Allen had managed to provide an explanation for what produced such abundant, large trout in New Zealand's rivers. He found, actually, that there was scarcely enough energy flowing through the food web in the Horokiwi to support the stream's trout population, a question that would later become known as "Allen's paradox" (Huryn 1996). This study certainly placed New Zealand's introduced trout populations on the world map! From there, Allen began to pursue interests in how fish populations are managed, and in this work his statistical/mathematical aptitudes came into play and, in a way, that is what he became known for. He was soon the senior and best trained scientist in the Marine Department's "Fisheries Laboratory" as it was generally known, and became its research director.

I first met Allen when looking for a job, having completed my degree, and recall knocking on Allen's door in the old "converted morgue" at the end of Wingfield St in Thorndon, Wellington, in early 1963. Allen was always a genial, almost jolly man, easy to approach, and I can still see him leaning back in his large chair and can imagine him chuckling to himself "Some young fellow wants a job here!" He had a position available as, not long before, scientist Roger Watson had drowned while on an amphibious plane at Cascade in South Westland. Watson's job was to work on whitebait, and soon his job became mine.

I found that life in the Fisheries Laboratory had its difficulties, especially because so much pressure was exerted on the staff to provide immediate solutions to any problem raised variously by the Minister, his bureaucrats in Marine Department Head Office, various of the acclimatisation societies, as well as those in the Wildlife Service responsible for important trout fisheries in the central North Island and southern lakes. Allen was the conduit for all these often erratic, highly urgent and almost always demanding instructions or requests, and he was struggling to isolate his staff from those pressures, so that we could get on with our agreed research projects. But he had only limited success partly because he was probably too nice. He had plans to divide the research staff into two groups, one of which was responsible for pursuing long-term research goals, and another to deal with these seemingly endless requests for instant simple answers to often major and complex questions. In essence, this would have isolated the more skilled research staff from such influences. Allen had, it seems, limited success in creating this division, or, in fact, Divisions, for he had hopes for a Fisheries Research Division that he would manage, and a Fisheries Management Division that would be responsible more directly to the Head Office bureaucrats.

In the end, the frustrations became more than he could bear, and when an opportunity arose to pursue some research interests on trout and salmon in Canada, Allen left for St Andrews, New Brunswick, in eastern Canada in mid 1964. As so often happens, his career in New Zealand had been sacrificed to provoke changes in the organisation he had left as, before long, the structures he had planned for were instituted, without him.

One of the problems Allen had been examining in the years just before his departure, was the choice of a game fish species suitable for our northern, warm-water lakes that had no sports fish. After overseas travel and consultation, he recommended the introduction of largemouth bass from North America. We can be thankful that it never happened as the likelihood of serious adverse impacts in New Zealand ecosystems, especially on native fish species, was higher than Allen credited, though the largemouth bass was preferred to the smallmouth bass because the later was thought likely to compete with our introduced brown and rainbow trout stocks. He had little interest in the native fish fauna, and the implications of bass for the native species was given little thought by government. With Allen's departure, the highly controversial bass proposal was, thankfully, abandoned.

Allen spent just a few years at St Andrews before shifting west to work at the large and important research station of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada, in Nanaimo, British Columbia, becoming Director. A job of this size left Allen little opportunity for individual research, though he continued to have an interest in fisheries management, and developed a significant reputation as a biometrician skilled in handling the big datasets involved.

In mid 1972 Allen shifted to Cronulla, south of Sydney, New South Wales, where he became Director of the Australian CSIRO Division of Fisheries and Oceanography, a position he held until retirement in 1977. He also became involved in the management of international whale fisheries and was Chairman of the International Whaling Commission's Scientific Committee from 1974 to 1979. After retirement he retained a connection with CSIRO as an honorary research fellow, continuing an active involvement in fisheries management issues well through his 80s, working as a consultant for the International Whaling Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, as well as for Australian fisheries agencies. Through all these years and involvements, it was in particular his skills as a fisheries biometrician and eventually (when computers provided the power that old calculators lacked), fisheries modelling that are significant.

Allen's New Zealand connections following his departure to Canada in the mid 1960s were relatively slight. However, he became internationally famous for the study of the Horokiwi Stream. A few years before he left for Canada, he had employed a young British biologist to undertake a "repeat study" of the stream's trout population. This individual insisted that to do the work effectively, he needed a small field station close to the stream. This reasonable demand was something that Allen was never able to persuade the Marine Department to agree to, and as a result the work was never initiated. It was not until the late 1990s that any kind of replicate study was initiated, and a repeat survey of the Horokiri was done. By this time the stream was defunct as a trout population and there was no opportunity to re-examine the place of invertebrate production in the stream's trout fishery. Biologists involved in this last Horokiri study corresponded with Allen about the stream and he visited it during a trip to New Zealand in 1998. He is co-author of the resulting report, almost certainly his last scientific paper (Jellyman et al. 2000).

Allen was involved in the foundation of the New Zealand Ecological Society, was inaugural President in 1962-63, and presented many papers at Society conferences. He was a Golden member of the American Fisheries Society (meaning that he had been a member for 50 years) and an Honorary Life Member of the Australian Marine Sciences Association and the Australian Society for Fish Biology; the latter society named an award for research excellence after him.

Allen died in Rockdale, New South Wales on 16 February 2008, aged 97 years. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1961, and so had been a Fellow for 47 years, until his death one of the earliest elected surviving Fellows. His wife Rosa predeceased him in 1995; they had no children.


  • Huryn, A. D. 1996: An appraisal of the Allen paradox in a New Zealand trout stream. Limnology and Oceanography 41: 243-252.


  • Allen, K. R. n.d.: Introduction of a new game fish. New Zealand Marine Department Special Fisheries Report. 12 p.
  • Allen, K. R. n.d.: Official tour to Rome, U.K. and U.S.A., 20 April-1 July 1961. New Zealand Marine Department Special Fisheries Report. 8 p.
  • Allen, K. R.; Maynard, K. F.; Murphy, J. K. n.d.: Effects of electric fishing on fertility and development of trout eggs. New Zealand Marine Department Fisheries Report. 2 p.
  • Allen, K. R. n.d.: Fiducial limits in marking experiments with small populations. New Zealand Marine Department Special Fisheries Report. 3 p.
  • Allen, K. R. 1935: The food and migrations of the perch in Windermere. Journal of Animal Ecology 4: 264-273.
  • Allen, K. R. 1938a: Some observations on the biology of the trout (Salmo trutta) in Windermere. Journal of Animal Ecology 7: 333-349.
  • Allen, K. R. 1938b: Deterioration of Windermere trout. Salmon and Trout Magazine: 1-7.
  • Allen, K. R. 1939: A note on the food of pike (Esox lucius L.) in Windermere. Journal of Animal Ecology 8: 72-75.
  • Allen, K. R. 1940: Studies on the early stages of the salmon (Salmo salar). I. Growth in the River Eden. Journal of Animal Ecology 9: 1-23.
  • Allen, K. R. 1941a: Studies on the biology of the early stages of the salmon (Salmo salar). II. Feeding habits. Journal of Animal Ecology 10: 47-76.
  • Allen, K. R. 1941b: Studies on the biology of the early stages of the salmon (Salmo salar). III. Growth in the Thurso River system, Caithness. Journal of Animal Ecology 10: 273-295.
  • Allen, K. R. 1942: Comparison of bottom faunas as sources of available fish food. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 71: 275-283.
  • Allen, K. R. 1944: Studies on the biology of the early stages of the salmon (Salmo salar). 4. The smolt migrations in the Thurso River in 1938. Journal of Animal Ecology 13: 63-68.
  • Allen, K. R. 1946: The trout population of the Horokiwi River, New Zealand Marine Department Annual Report on Fisheries, 1945, Appendix: 33-40.
  • Allen, K. R. 1947: Some aspects of the production and cropping of fresh waters. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand: 222-228.
  • Allen, K. R. 1948: The engineer and the angler. New Zealand: 767-769.
  • Allen, K. R. 1949: The New Zealand grayling - a vanishing species. Tuatara 2: 22-27.
  • Allen, K. R.: Cassie, R. M. 1949: Problems of marine and freshwater fisheries biology in New Zealand. Tuatara 2: 53-57.
  • Allen, K. R. 1950: The computation of production in fish populations. New Zealand: 89-91.
  • Allen, K. R. 1951: The Horokiwi Stream: a study of a trout population. New Zealand Marine Department Fisheries Bulletin 10: 1-238.
  • Allen, K. R. 1952: A New Zealand trout stream: some facts and figures. New Zealand Marine Department Fisheries Bulletin 10A: 1-70.
  • Allen, K. R. 1953a: A method for computing the optimum size-limit for a fishery. Nature 172: 210.
  • Allen, K. R. 1953b: The objects of freshwater fisheries research. Proceedings of the Seventh Pacific Science Congress 4: 556-562.
  • Allen, K. R. 1953c: Freshwater fisheries research in New Zealand. Proceedings of the Seventh Pacific Science Congress 4: 575-580.
  • Allen, K. R. 1954: Factors affecting the efficiency of restrictive regulations for fisheries management. I. Size limits. New Zealand: 489-529.
  • Allen, K. R. 1955a: Factors affecting the efficiency of restrictive regulations in fisheries management. II. Bag limits. New Zealand: 305-334.
  • Allen, K. R. 1955b: The wildlife problem: a question of values. New Zealand: 30-35.
  • Allen, K. R. 1955c: The growth of accuracy in ecology. Proceedings of the New Zealand: 1-7.
  • Allen, K. R. 1955d: Fisheries research: its aims and achievements. Annual Report of the North Canterbury: 18-20.
  • Allen, K. R. 1956a: Freshwater fish, New Zealand: 46.
  • Allen, K. R. 1956b: The classification of freshwater habitats. Proceedings of the New Zealand3: 24-25.
  • Allen, K. R. 1956c: The geography of New Zealand's freshwater fish. New Zealand Science Review 14: 3-9.
  • Allen, K. R. 1957a: Freshwater fish. Pp. 78-87 in: Callaghan, F. R. ed., Science in New Zealand. Reed, Wellington.
  • Allen, K. R. 1957b: Natural areas in the distribution of freshwater fish. Proceedings of the New Zealand: 6-7.
  • Allen, K. R.; Cunningham, B. T. 1957: New Zealand angling 1947-1952: results of the diary scheme. New Zealand Marine Department Fisheries Bulletin 12: 1-153.
  • Allen, K. R. 1958a: Are our regulations up-to-date? Ammohouse Bulletin 1(4): 11.
  • Allen, K. R. 1958b: Distribution of trout in the North Island. Ammohouse Bulletin 1(5): 8-9.
  • Allen, K. R. 1959a: Trees and trout. Ammohouse Bulletin 1(6): 9.
  • Allen, K. R. 1959b: The sampling problem in benthic ecology. Proceedings of the New Zealand: 5-8.
  • Allen, K. R. 1960: Effects of land development on stream bottom faunas. Proceedings of the New Zealand: 20-21.
  • Allen, K. R. 1961a: Rotorua lakes investigation. New Zealand: 34-35.
  • Allen, K. R. 1961b: Freshwater fauna of Wellington. Pp. 23-24 in: O'Connor, M. ed., Science in Wellington. Royal Society of New Zealand, Wellington.
  • Allen, K. R. 1961c: Relations between Salmonidae and the native freshwater fauna in New Zealand. Proceedings of the New Zealand: 66-70.
  • Allen, K. R. 1962a: New game fish for barren waters. New Zealand: 31-33.
  • Allen, K. R. 1962b: The natural regulation of population in the Salmonidae. New Zealand: 58-82.
  • Allen, K. R. 1962c: The bad new days. New Zealand: 19-21.
  • Allen, K. R. 1962d: Exploitation of fish populations. Proceedings of the New Zealand: 39-43.
  • Allen, K. R. 1963a: The influence of behaviour on the capture of fishes with baits. International Commission for Northwest Atlantic: 5-7.
  • Allen, K. R. 1963b: A review of tagging experiments in New Zealand. International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic: 140-141.
  • Allen, K. R. 1966a: A method of fitting growth curves of the von Bertalanffy type to observed data. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada: 163-179.
  • Allen, K. R.; Forrester, C. P. 1966: Appropriate limits for lemon sole (Parophrys vetulus) in the Strait of Georgia. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada: 511-520.
  • Allen, K. R. 1966b: Some methods for estimating exploited populations. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada: 1553-1574.
  • Allen, K. R. 1967: Some quick methods for estimating the effect on catch of changes to the size limit. ICES Journal of Marine Science 31: 111-126.
  • Saunders, R. L.; Allen, K. R. 1967: Effects of tagging and of fin-clipping on the survival and growth of salmon between smolt and adult stages. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada: 2595-2611.
  • Allen, K. R. 1968: Simplification of a method of computing recruitment rates. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada: 2701-2702.
  • Allen, K. R. 1969a: An application of computers to the estimation of exploited populations. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada: 179-189.
  • Allen, K. R. 1969b: Distinctive aspects of the ecology of stream fishes: a review. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada: 1429-1438.
  • Allen, K. R. 1969c: Application of the Bertalanffy growth equation to problems of fisheries management: a review. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada: 2267-2281.
  • Allen, K. R. 1971: Relation between production and biomass. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada: 1573-1581.
  • Allen, K. R.; Saunders, R. L.; Elson, P. F. 1972: Marine growth of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in the northwest Atlantic. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada: 1373-1380.
  • Allen, K. R. 1975: Little likelihood of seas solving world food problem. Australian Fisheries 34(4): 5-8.
  • Allen, K. R. 1976a: The optimization of management strategy for marine mammals. FAO Rome, 12 p.
  • Allen, K. R. 1976b: Energy inputs and outputs in an Australian coastal whaling operation. FAO, Rome. 2 p.
  • Allen, K. R. 1980a: The influence of schooling behaviour on CPUE as an index of abundance. Report of the International Whaling Commission 2: 141-146.
  • Allen, K. R. 1980b: Relation between catch per CDW and indices of abundance allowing for nonsearching time and operation on schools. Report of the International Whaling Commission 2: 251-254.
  • Allen, K. R. 1980c: Size distribution of male sperm whales in the pelagic catches. Report of the International Whaling Commission 2: 51-56.
  • Allen, K. R. 1980d: Conservation and management of whales. Butterworth/Heinemann. 140 p.
  • Kirkwood, G.P.; Allen, K. R.; Bannister, J. L. 1980: An assessment of the sperm what stock subject to Western Australian catching. Report of the International Whaling Commission 2: 147-149.
  • Allen, K. R. 1981a: Estimation of the r sub(II) recruitment rate and age at recruitment from Southern Hemisphere Division 5 catch data. Report of the International Whaling Commission 31: 839-842.
  • Allen, K. R. 1981b: A modified DeLury method of estimating populations. Report of the International Whaling Commission 31: 683.
  • Allen, K. R. 1981c: Further notes on the calculation of r sub(II) recruitment rates. Report of the International Whaling Commission 31: 597-599.
  • Allen, K. R. 1981d: A note on catch limits for previously unexploited stocks. Report of the International Whaling Commission 31: 593-595.
  • Allen, K. R. 1981e: Energy inputs and outputs in an Australian coastal whaling operation. FAO Fisheries Series 5(3): 375-377.
  • Allen, K. R. 1981f: The optimization of management strategy for marine mammals. FAO Fisheries Series 5(3): 77-91.
  • Allen, K. R. 1981g: Head starting: the problems of imprinting and tagging. Marine Turtle Newsletter 19: 2.
  • Allen, K. R. 1983a: Development and application of cetacean population models. Advances in Applied Biology 7: 333-408.
  • Allen, K. R. 1983b: A note on the calculation of average replacement yields. Report of the International Whaling Commission 33: 309-310.
  • Allen, K. R. 1985: Comparison of the growth rate of brown trout (Salmo trutta) in a New Zealand stream with experimental fish in Britain. Journal of Animal Ecology 54: 487-495.
  • Allen, K. R.; Hearn, W. S. 1989: Some procedures for use in cohort analysis and other population simulations. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 46: 483-488.
  • Allen, K. R. 1989: The use of tagging in population assessment. Department of Primary Industries Bureau of Rural Resources Proceedings.
  • Allen, K. R. 1992a: Tracing recruitment by cohort analysis: process and problems. Department of Primary Industries Bureau of Rural Resources Proceedings 16: 46-49.
  • Allen, K. R. 1992b: Gemfish recruitment: a cohort analysis approach. Department of Primary Industries Bureau of Rural Resources Proceedings 16: 139-141.
  • Allen, K. R. 1992c: Problems in cohort analysis: the gemfish example. Department of Primary Industries Bureau of Rural Resources Proceedings 12: 212-218.
  • Allen, K. R. 1992d: Measurement of age and growth: what is it for? Department of Primary Industries Bureau of Rural Resources Proceedings 12: 232-240.
  • Allen, K. R. 1994: A personal retrospect of the history of fisheries modelling. In: Population dynamics for fisheries management. Australian Society for Fish Biology Workshop Proceedings, Perth, 24-25 August 1993. Government Printing Service, Canberra.
  • Jellyman, D. J.; Glova, G. J.; Bonnett, M. L.; McKerchar, A. I.; Allen, K. R. 2000: The Horokiwi Stream 50 years on: a study of the loss of a productive trout fishery. NIWA Technical Report 83: 1-50.


Dr Robert McDowall FRSNZ
Scientist, NIWA
Christchurch, New Zealand