Accreditation milestones continue as International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2022. Complementing NATA’s celebration of 75 years in operation, the New Zealand accreditation body is also recognising its 50th year since inception and a history inextricably entwined with NATA.
During the late 1960’s in New Zealand, the then Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR, the New Zealand equivalent of the CSIRO, handled the bulk of testing and calibration work. Industry was becoming increasingly aware of the need for accurate and reliable testing facilities, resulting in an ever-increasing amount of testing work carried out by the DSIR; an unsustainable model relying on a centralised governmental service.
A number of studies by several government departments looked at the various support and assistance measures that might have been required by New Zealand to streamline and progress this body of work. One study carried out by DSIR in 1967 stated that the manufacture of high-quality goods with a high content of skill required accuracy in production and quality control. One of the functions of DSIR therefore, would be in helping the manufacturing industry obtain better measurement control and standardisation. The study looked at NATA, and a similar service, the British Calibration Service in the UK, with the DSIR study endorsing the principle of establishing a national calibration service in New Zealand.
In 1968, NATA Registrar, Mr Frank Monaghan, was invited by the New Zealand Government to explain the concept of laboratory accreditation and the operations of NATA. NATA had demonstrated a coordinated and structured approach to the quality of testing performed by laboratories across Australia. To encourage and maintain the greater use of testing facilities within industry and commerce, NATA determined the conditions to be complied with by industry testing laboratories before registration. The argument went that if a system like NATA was introduced in New Zealand, we too could expect all the benefits already demonstrated, with future planning and discussions on how this equivalence accreditation programme could support international trade.
So, in October 1972, the New Zealand Parliament passed the Testing Laboratory Registration Act 1972, to make provision for the registration of testing laboratories within industry and commerce, and for that purpose, to provide for the establishment of a Testing Laboratory Registration Council – later to trade as Telarc New Zealand. The Council met for the first time on Thursday 8 February 1973, and in September of that year Mr John Gilmour of NATA was invited to New Zealand and accepted the appointment as the first Director of Telarc New Zealand. Following his time in establishing the new accreditation body in New Zealand, John returned to NATA in Australia and went on to become its Chief Executive for over 20 years.
The influence of NATA, and particularly Frank Monaghan and John Gilmour, on Telarc New Zealand (later to become IANZ in 1997) cannot be understated. Telarc New Zealand was established as a clone of the NATA structure and operation, and many of the synergies still exist today. NATA and Telarc New Zealand signed the world’s first Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) between accreditation bodies in 1981; a precursor to the global ILAC MRA in place today and establishing Australasia’s on-going place as a centre of excellence in the global accreditation community.
IANZ extends its warmest congratulations to NATA on its 75th anniversary, and while not the same grand number, IANZ are very proud to be celebrating five decades of accreditation in New Zealand. We thank our Australian colleagues for their significant contribution to our success – in particular, the NATA field and sector managers past and present, and the many, many Technical Assessors who have crossed the Tasman (and continue to do so) to assist us and share their knowledge and experience with our accreditation community.