Raymond Robert Forster

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Raymond Robert Forster, QSO (19 June 1922 – 1 July 2000), was an arachnologist and museum director from New Zealand.


Forster was born in Hastings, New Zealand in 1922,[1] and was educated at Victoria University of Wellington, gaining BSc, MSc(Hons) and DSc degrees.[2]

Forster was an entomologist at the National Museum in Wellington from 1940 to 1947, with an interruption for military service during World War II.[2] Between 1942 and 1945 he served first in the army and then as a naval radar mechanic.[3] He was appointed zoologist and assistant director at Canterbury Museum in 1948, and in 1957 he moved to Otago Museum to take up the position of director. He retired from that role in 1987.[1]

Forster wrote his first paper on spiders at the age of 17. Over the course of his career, more than 100 scientific papers and volumes were published bearing his name, including the definitive six-volume Spiders of New Zealand, in co-authorship with international colleagues. He also published Small Land Animals and co-authored NZ Spiders, An Introduction.[2]

He researched and classified many of New Zealand's thousands of native spiders, and was responsible for establishing Otago Museum's spider collection.[2]

Forster died in Dunedin in 2000.[3]


In 1961, Forster was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and received two of that society's honours: the Hutton Medal in 1971; and the Hector Medal in 1983.[1]

The University of Otago honoured Forster with the award of the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, in 1978.[1]

He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977,[2] and was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services in the 1984 New Year Honours.[4]

Honorific eponym[edit]

A small valley in Fiordland, Forster Burn, is named after him.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Raven, Robert J. (2000). "Raymond Robert Forster QSO DSc NZ Otago FRSNZ FESNZ FMANZ 1922-2000: Are you there?". Royal Society of New Zealand. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "World-rated zoologist classified many native NZ spiders". Otago Daily Times. 2000-07-08. 
  3. ^ a b Ray Forster obituary. International Society of Arachnology. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  4. ^ London Gazette (supplement), No. 49584, 30 December 1983. Retrieved 10 February 2013.