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The early history of foraminiferal studies in New Zealand is an example of the vagaries that beset science in a small community significantly isolated from the centre of research in Europe. As in many other countries, hydrocarbon exploration provided the eventual impetus for sustained research on the application of foraminiferal microfossils to biostratigraphy. The ‘father’ of NZ foraminiferal micropalaeontology, Harold Finlay (1901–1951), was the first NZ-based professional micropalaeontologist. He developed an NZ-specific foraminifera-based Cenozoic timescale of local stages which, although refined by his successor Norcott Hornibrook and others, has remained remarkably stable for the last 60 years. It still...

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