Arthur William Baden Powell

Dr Arthur William Baden Powell CBE (4 April 1901 - 1 July 1987) was a New Zealand malacologist, naturalist and palaeontologist, a major influence in the study and classification of New Zealand molluscs through much of the twentieth century. He was known to his friends and family by his third name, "Baden".

Powell was born at Wellington, New Zealand, on 4 April 1901. His schooling was in Auckland, and he trained in printing at the Elam School of Fine Arts. This training, and his interest in conchology, set him on his life's work. He published his first scientific paper on mollusca in 1921, and quickly rose to become one of the few experts in New Zealand shellfish.

Powell married Isabel Essie Gittos on 19 December 1928, at Devonport in Auckland. They had one son.

He was appointed to the Auckland War Memorial Museum as conchologist and palaeontologist in 1929, working with some of the lesser-known mollusc families. He also studied New Zealand’s large land snails, the "Paryphanta", and the "Placostylus" flax snails. From 1932 Powell participated in dredging expeditions on the British research ship "Discovery II" around the Northland coast, discovering large numbers of new species. Other field trips from the 1930s to 1960 took him to Stewart Island, the Chatham Islands, the Kermadec Islands, Antarctica, and the sub-Antarctic region resulting in many important papers.

As well as producing more than 100 scientific papers, Powell wrote three notable books, of which his 500-page "New Zealand Mollusca" in 1979 was a mammoth and important contribution, the result of 50 years’ single-handed work.

Powell became a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1940 and was awarded the Hector Memorial Medal and Prize in 1947. In 1956 the University of New Zealand conferred on him an honorary DSc. He was made a CBE in 1981.

His wife died in 1976, and on 2 December 1978 he was married at Whangarei to Ida Madoline Worthy (née Hayes). Baden Powell died at Auckland on 1 July 1987 survived by his second wife and his son from his first marriage.


* "The shellfish of New Zealand" 1937
* "Native animals of New Zealand" 1947
* "New Zealand Mollusca" 1979


* Powell A W B, "New Zealand Mollusca", William Collins Publishers Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand 1979 ISBN 0-00-216906-1
* [ Biography]

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