Murray Dawson

Team Profile

Murray Dawson has worked as a botanist for the former DSIR Botany Division from 1981 and then the successor organisation Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research since its inception in 1991 to the present time.

In 1995 Murray took study leave to complete a MSc at the University of Reading in the UK.  His thesis was on ornamental cultivars of Leptospermum (mānuka) for which he received the DD Baker Award through the RNZIH.

With the introduction of the RNZIH website Murray saw the potential uses and benefits of this platform to the Institute.  He approached National Executive expressing interest in expanding and redeveloping the site.  Because of these contributions, Murray was appointed Webmaster in 2001 and also co-opted onto the National Executive where he still serves.  The RNZIH website could be described as one of the major horticultural resources in New Zealand, and is currently undergoing a third redevelopment.

From 2005, he took on the role of principal editor of the New Zealand Garden Journal (Journal of the RNZIH) and the RNZIH Newsletter.

Murray has been successful with several funding applications, one that helped establish the Notable Trees Trust database and website, and several successful grants for documenting cultivated plant names.


  • MSc Plant & Fungal Taxonomy, Reading University (1995)
  • NZCS Christchurch Polytechnic (1980–1983)

Associations & Society Memberships

  • Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture (Executive Member, 2001–present)
  • iNaturalist NZ – Mataki Taiao (Trustee, New Zealand Bio-diversity Recording Network, 2022–present)
  • Hebe Society (Vice-President, 2017–present)
  • New Zealand Plant Protection Society Inc
  • New Zealand Native Orchid Group
  • Friends of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens (Webmaster, 2012–2021)
  • New Zealand Botanical Society (Webmaster, 2009–present)

Awards & Recognition

  • Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to horticulture (Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2020)
  • John Taylor Award of Leadership in Horticulture – Canterbury Horticultural Society (2018)
  • Associate of Honour – RNZIH (2016)
  • Peter Ingram Award – NZ Biosecurity Institute (2015)
  • Registrar of New Zealand native genera for the International Cultivar Registration Authority (ICRA) (2013–present)
  • Fellow – RNZIH (2002)