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    The Measurement Standards Laboratory (MSL) is New Zealand’s national metrology institute. Its role is to ensure that New Zealand’s units of measurement are consistent with the International System of Units, the SI.

    MSL evolved from the Physical Testing Laboratory established in 1939. A major reorganisation of the government science sector resulted in MSL’s formation in 1992 as part of Industrial Research Limited. MSL operates within Callaghan Innovation, one of the government-owned research companies. It is a vital facility that enables New Zealand to communicate technically and scientifically with the rest of the industrialised world.

    MSL’s key functions are to:

    • carry out research to improve the SI
    • solve measurement problems in industry and government
    • provide a calibration service for a wide range of instruments and artefacts
    • give advice and training in the effective use of measurement equipment
    • ensure international recognition of New Zealand’s National Measurement System, which is essential for New Zealand’s on-going international trade.

    Amongst the staff working at MSL are internationally recognised scientists. Some serve on international committees linked to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM).

    Some of MSL’s fundamental metrology research projects have the potential to underpin major changes in the way the SI units are defined and realised. For example, research is being conducted into developing a new mass standard, which links the kilogram to the Planck constant.

    Measurement underpins scientific and technological innovation, enhances competitiveness in business and strengthens regulation of health, safety and the environment. MSL has primary responsibility for the provision of physical measurement standards.

    Dr Laurie Christian and Dr Chris Sutton have developed a novel research approach to the international development of a new mass standard.

    This article is based on information current in 2011 and updated in 2019.

    Useful links

    Find out more about the Measurement Standards Laboratory on their website or watch this YouTube video.


      Published 17 August 2011, Updated 30 January 2019 Referencing Hub articles