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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 is a vital facility that enables New Zealand to communicate technically and scientifically with the rest of the industrialised world.

    MSL evolved from the Physical Testing Laboratory, which was established in 1939. A major reorganisation of the government science sector in 1992 resulted in MSL’s formation (as part of Industrial Research Ltd) under the authority of the Measurement Standards Act. MSL now operates within Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand’s innovation agency.

    MSL’s key functions are to:

    • realise traceable physical standards for New Zealand
    • provide the most accurate calibration service in the country for a wide range of instruments and artefacts
    • solve measurement problems in industry and government
    • 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 ongoing international trade
    • maintain official New Zealand time
    • carry out research to improve the SI.

    Measurement underpins scientific and technological innovation, enhances competitiveness in business and strengthens regulation of health, safety and the environment. MSL scientists have worked on challenges as diverse as defining the glossiness of automotive paint and characterising the world’s most precise telescope lenses. Their work supports much of New Zealand’s critical infrastructure, including our electricity grid and the aviation sector.

    Some of MSL’s fundamental metrology research projects are supporting major changes in the way the SI units are defined and realised. For example, MSL scientists have been involved in developing a new mass measurement system that links the kilogram to Planck’s constant.
    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) – the home of the SI.

    Useful links

    The Measurement Standards Laboratory (MSL) is New Zealand’s national metrology institute. Watch this video to find out about their work.

    Read more about MSL’s unique Kiwi Kibble balance.

    Use MSL's interactive map to view how we use measurement in daily life.

    See examples of MSL’s work in industry in the case studies section of their website.

    Read the Measurement Standards Act 1992.


    This resource has been updated with the assistance of the Measurement Standards Laboratory of New Zealand.

      Published 17 August 2011, Updated 19 August 2019 Referencing Hub articles
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