Norman Alexander

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sir Norman Stanley Alexander CBE (7 October 1907 – 26 March 1997) was a New Zealand physicist instrumental in the establishment of many Commonwealth universities, including Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, and the Universities of the West Indies, the South Pacific and Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.[1]


Alexander was born in Mangapiko, Te Awamutu, New Zealand. He was married to a fellow PhD student and noted meteorologist Elizabeth Caldwell. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1959 Birthday Honours,[2] and was knighted in March 1966.[3]



  • BSc
  • MSc
  • PhD Canterbury
  • Hon DSc
  • Hon LLD
  • Hon DLit



He was imprisoned in Changi Prison in 1942, and word had made its way to New Zealand that he had died, only later to be told that he was actually still alive. Using his academic knowledge, Alexander helped to build a salt evaporation plant at Changi and a small industrial plant that fermented surgical spirit and other products for prison hospital. Upon release, he eventually headed a New Zealand commission of investigation into abuses at Sime Road Internment Camp.


  1. ^ Harris, Mary (4 April 1997). "Obituary: Sir Norman Alexander". The Independent. 
  2. ^ "No. 41727". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 June 1959. p. 3720. 
  3. ^ "No. 43928". The London Gazette. 18 March 1966. p. 3065. 
  4. ^ Taylor, Alister, ed. (1998). The New Zealand Roll of Honour 1945–1995. Auckland, NZ: Roll of Honour Publications. ISBN 978-0-90857-858-0.