New Zealand ABA

The New Zealand ABA (NZABA) chapter consists primarily of staff, students, and recent graduates of the seven universities in New Zealand.  Additionally, our membership includes therapists, business consultants, and some international members.

The most noteworthy event for the year was our 8th annual conference hosted by the Department of Psychology at the University of Waikato in Hamilton (26th– 28th August 2011) and attended by seventy people.  The very full conference programme included 35 paper presentations as well as an expanded poster session with 13 poster presentations. The wide range of topics covered in papers and posters included both applied human and applied animal studies and a broad range of contemporary issues in the experimental analyses of behaviour.  Participants in the studies reported included humans, rats, pigeons, hens and possums. A significant proportion of the papers also provided opportunities for CE credits.

As in our previous conferences many of the papers were presented by postgraduate students.  The standard of all of these was very high but particularly so from the recipients of the annual student awards. John Bai (The University of Auckland) received the award for the best student presentation in the experimental analysis of behaviour for his presentation, “Context Matters: Resistance to Change in a Combined Stimulus Context”.  Victoria Burney (the University of Auckland) received the award for the best student presentation in the applied analysis of behaviour award for her presentation, “Using Brief Functional Analysis to Determine the Functions of Emerging Speech in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder”.

The very full conference programme also included informal opportunities to discuss research and issues relevant to the discipline with a social welcome event on the Friday evening and a conference dinner on Saturday evening.

A notable event at the conference was the presentation by NZABA of a lifetime contributions award to Professor Michael Davison (The University of Auckland) to acknowledge his extraordinary and sustained contribution to the development of behavior analysis in New Zealand.

The 9th annual conference of the NZABA will be hosted by the School of Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand from the 31st of August to the 2nd September 2012.  The call for papers is open until August 1st and those interested should contact Maree Hunt at maree.hunt@vuw.ac.nz for more information.  The conference welcomes international participants and those interested might note that the conference will be held in our beautiful capital city. Of interest also, the dates of our conference are arranged so that anyone interested, particularly those in the behavioural pharmacology field or with an interest in addiction or neuroscience, can also attend the Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research.  That conference is held in the ski town of Queenstown from the 25th to the 29th of August (for more information, please see their website at http://psy.otago.ac.nz/awcbr/index.html)

People interested in joining NZABA should note that there is no formal application process or fee. Active membership is achieved by attending the annual conference and paying any necessary fees (note that there are no fees for student presenters).  Any interested individuals should contact Celia Lie (celia@psy.otago.ac.nz) to register for membership, or complete the online form on the NZABA website (https://nzaba.org/membership/). For up-to-date news and more information about NZABA, please see our website at www.nzaba.org.

Written by Maree Hunt, Chair 2012


NZABA 2010 was held at the University of Canterbury over the weekend of 3-5 September. There were 37 registered for the conference, and 26 presentations scheduled, along with 6 posters presented at the welcome event on Friday 3rd. As usual, nearly half the presentations were given by student researchers.

The welcome event went well. However, there was a massive earthquake at 4.36 am the following morning, setting much of the city in turmoil. Conference participants were all fine, fortunately. One conference participant wrote:

“Personally, I am glad to be back in Auckland. This was the most frightening experience of my life. … It started with a huge bang, and immediately the world started moving violently 8” back and forth—and the lights went out. I shot out of my unit, which was moving and creaking alarmingly, and into the courtyard (meeting others out there). It was almost impossible to stand, and there were fantastic showers of sparks on the horizon as transformers blew. … And then aftershocks, some very large, … The aftershocks were still occurring when I left at 2 pm Sunday – airport was working, and surprisingly the cellphones were working throughout, but started to run out of battery.

Things I learned: Keep your phone battery charged; use your laptop (not booted) as a light source; carry muesli bars just in case; fill something with water when you get to a motel room.”

Good advice for your next conference. We residents of Canterbury would add the following for home:

1) You can buy a “night light” that has a rechargeable battery, plugs into the mains, and turns on when the power goes off. It is cheap. Buy one.

2) Buy a car adaptor for your cellphone.

3) You may be separated from your wallet, keys, cellphone. Life is difficult without them. Keep a stash of cash somewhere easily accessible, and consider doing the same with a spare house key, an old cellphone, …

The conference

We displayed great resistance to disruption in that we salvaged a good bit of the conference. But circumstances were difficult — there was no power in our part of Christchurch until after midday on Saturday 4th, and the conference venue (University of Canterbury) was closed and sealed off. We met for talks in a motel dining room Saturday afternoon (without a data projector), and again from 9 am Sunday. In the end, most of the scheduled presentations were actually delivered. There was also a conference dinner, although the intended venue was closed.

Andrew Hucks was awarded the prize for the best student presentation, and the NZABA spear, awarded for various salient presentation features (originally for ―thrusting anthropomorphism‖), was awarded to Douglas Elliffe for reasons that are now forgotten. The NZABA Hatchet was not awarded this year, and was last awarded to Doug Elliffe (he now holds both). Our congratulations to Andy and Douglas.

Anthony McLean (Chair NZABA 2010)


The Sixth Annual Conference of the New Zealand Association for Behaviour Analysis was hosted by The University of Auckland from 28-30 August.  The conference was the largest yet, with 28 graduate students and 14 faculty members and practitioners presenting a total of 41 papers, including 9 posters.  The six New Zealand universities that carry out behaviour-analytic research were all represented, and we were delighted to hear papers from visitors Steve Provost (Southern Cross University, Australia) and Takayuki Sakagami (Keio University, Japan).

Prizes for the best student papers were won by Nathalie Boutros (EAB: The characterization of conditional reinforcers) and Rebecca Sharp (ABA: Modified incidental teaching with lag schedules of reinforcement to increase variable manding in a child with expressive language deficits), both of The University of Auckland.

NZABA’s Seventh Annual Conference will be hosted by the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, around the end of August 2010. Check this website for details nearer the time. Abstracts of papers from the 2009 conference can be found on the Previous Conferences page.

By Douglas Elliffe



New Zealand ABA

By Katrina Phillips and Nathalie Boutros

Currently the New Zealand ABA chapter (NZABA, formerly NZBAG) has 113 names on its list. Membership primarily consists of staff and students from the seven major universities in New Zealand. The strong academic presence within NZABA is apparent at our annual conference with high numbers of quality student presentations year after year. In 2008 our conference was hosted by The University of Otago in Dunedin with Dr. Louis Leland (The University of Otago) as chair. Thirteen of the 22 presentations were given by student members. A wide variety of research interests were presented including the experimental analysis of choice behavior, stimulus control, conditioned reinforcement, memory research, behavioral pharmacology, timing, the experimental analysis of human operant behavior, behavioral dynamics, applied behavior analysis, teaching adolescent job skills, evidence based practice, and animal welfare. Along with a strong academic representation a number of talks were given by non-academics with interests in behavior analysis. Non-academic members presented on such diverse topics as horse training, behavioral therapy, and business consultation. We hope that this wide variety of topics continues at the 6th Annual conference, which will be hosted by the Department of Psychology at The University of Auckland from the 28th-30th of August 2009. The call for presentations and posters is currently open until mid July. Those interested should contact either Nathalie Boutros (n.boutros@auckland.ac.nz) or Katrina Phillips (kj.phillips@aukland.ac.nz) for more information.

At the 2008 conference Katrina Phillips and Nathalie Boutros (The University of Auckland) were appointed joint-chairs of NZABA for the 2008-2009 period. Douglas Elliffe (The University of Auckland) is now treasurer and Celia Lie (University of Otago) was appointed Secretary.

NZABA would also like to acknowledge recent awards that have been given to its members. We are proud to have the work of a number of our current and former members recognized with The University of Auckland’s Experimental Analysis of Behaviour Research Unit receiving the award for Enduring Programmatic Contributions in Behavior Analysis from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis (SABA) at this year’s ABA convention. In the last 40 years this lab has produced nearly 40 PhDs, a number of Masters and honors dissertations, and nearly 150 well-cited publications. We look forward to more presentations and posters from the staff and students currently in this lab as well as the lab’s many alumni still active within NZABA at our conference in August. We would also like to acknowledge that one of our long-time NZABA members Prof. Geoff White from The University of Otago, was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in the New Year’s honours list.

People interested in joining NZABA should note that there is no formal application process or fee. Active membership is achieved by attending the annual conference and paying any necessary fees (note that there is no fee for student presenters). Once again, any interested individuals should contact Nathalie Boutros or Katrina Phillips to be put on our email list.

NZABA Continuing Education report for 2008

We currently have eight BCBAs in New Zealand. In 2008, in addition to attending conferences, there was one special event organized for BCBAs to receive CEUs. The University of Auckland hosted presentations by Dr. Wayne Fisher and Dr. Cathleen Piazza over two days. These presentations on internationally accepted best practice included talks on ABA, functional analysis, function-based treatment, effective service delivery, early intervention in autism, and feeding. BCBAs were able to earn up to 12 CEU’s from these presentations



Volume 31 | 2008 | Number 3

New Zealand ABA

By Dr. Louis S. Leland, Jr. and Dr. Oliver Mudford

The New Zealand ABA (NZABA) chapter has 73 names on its list, most of whom are staff and students of the seven universities in New Zealand.  Some also have other roles (in addition to being staff or students) including therapists, horse trainers, and business consultants. As you will see below, the branch made a good contribution to the 2007 ABAI conference in Sydney (approximately 1200 ocean miles west of us) and recently held its own (5th) annual (2008) conference at the University of Otago in Dunedin New Zealand.  Prior to being NZABA we were NZBAG (New Zealand Behaviour Analysis Group) and before that, the Behaviour Analysis Division of the New Zealand Psychological Society. The Dunedin conference featured twenty-one papers and one poster. The student prize was won by Mary Armistead for her paper Behavioural Economics: Demand for Different Feeds with Horses. The judges thought that “It was an interesting combination of a behavioural paradigm” (Behavioural Economics) and “an applied problem (food preferences in horses)” (Alsop 2008).  Our official website is www.nzaba.org.

NZABA Continuing Education Report for 2007

There was one special event organised for two BACB CEUs in 2007. This was a presentation by Professor Jeff Sigafoos (University of Tasmania) on “Behavioral Flexibility in Children with Autism”, followed by discussion with all attending BCBAs on: Heward, W. L. (2005). Reasons applied behavior analysis is good for education and why those reasons have been insufficient. In W. L. Heward et al. (Eds.), Focus on behavior analysis in education (pp. 316-348). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Further CEUs were available for New Zealand BCBAs at the Sydney International ABA conference.& New Zealand behaviour analysts contributed presentations at which other BCBAs could earn CEUs at that conference.

From: http://www.abainternational.org/ABA/newsletter/vol313/NZABA.asp



Volume 30| 2007 | Number 2

New Zealand ABA

By Dr. David Harper

The last 12 months have seen a number of significant events for members of the New Zealand chapter of ABA (NZABA). The third annual NZABA conference was co-hosted by members based at the Department of Psychology, University of Waikato and the Animal Behavior and Welfare Research Centre, Ruakura during the 2nd & 3rd September 2006. There were 29 presentations in total and over 50 attendees. As with previous years, a notable feature of the conference was the high participation rate of student presenters and a good cross-sample of the diverse range of areas of interest to NZABA members. The talks covered such topics as: choice, stimulus control, behavioral pharmacology, timing, human operant behavior, applied behavior analysis, and animal welfare. Abstracts from the 2006 program (as well as previous years) are available from www.nzaba.org.

At the 2006 NZABA annual business meeting, David Harper (Victoria University of Wellington) was re-appointed as the Chair of NZABA for another year. Also at the business meeting, the proposal was accepted to hold the NZABA 2007 conference in conjunction with the 4th ABA International Conference held in Sydney between the 14th & 17th of August. This was an exciting opportunity for many New Zealand-based students for whom travel to a major international behavior analytic conference has not previously been possible. It was the ‘‘Kiwi Contingent’’ for those of you who attended ABA International in Sydney this year.

In 2006, a new Web site was developed for NZABA (go to: www.nzaba.org). This Web site was designed to provide recent news from our group, links to individual research and training programs in New Zealand, links to previous NZABA conference details, and online membership registration. Thanks, in part, to the new system for enabling individuals to become members of NZABA, our membership count has risen to 101.

In 2007, NZABA members continued to build on the momentum developing in the applied area following on from the establishment in 2006 of NZABA as an approved Behavior Analyst Certification Board continuing education provider. The NZABA Continuing Education Coordinator, Oliver Mudford (University of Auckland), has ensured the availability of continuing education courses. Dr. Mudford also recently coordinated a major submission on behalf of NZABA members concerning the draft of a significant policy document by the New Zealand Ministry of Health outlining treatment guidelines for autism spectrum disorder. The draft document contained a number of errors and misrepresentations of the evidence concerning behavior analytic-based treatment approaches (including a totally erroneous definition of applied behavior analysis in the first instance). Therefore, the NZABA submission and individual submissions from NZABA members will hopefully help improve the status and acceptability of behavior analytic based treatments for autism in New Zealand.

So, in summary, the well-established research programs headed up by major international leaders in behavior analysis are going strong and continuing to attract post graduate students in to the area. The two applied graduate training programs (at Auckland and Waikato Universities) are up and running and NZABA members have been actively contributing to policy development in New Zealand. People interested in joining NZABA should note that there is no formal application process or fee. New members are welcome to apply via our Web site www.nzaba.org (note our Web address would have been ‘‘nzaba.org.nz’’ except that was already taken by the NZ Abrasive Blasting Association!).

From: http://www.abainternational.org/ABA/newsletter/vol302/NZABA.asp



Volume 29 | 2006 | Number 2

New Zealand ABA

By Dr. David Harper

A major activity for the New Zealand chapter of ABA (NZABA) from 2005-2006 was the hosting of the second annual NZABA conference held from August 26-28th at the School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington. There were around 55 attendees and 33 talks. In addition, the conference included a poster session for the first time, which attracted five further presentations. A notable feature of the conference in the past has been the high number of student presentations, and this year was no exception with around 24 of the presentations being given by students. Another feature of this year’s conference was the wide range of topics covered, including the areas of: choice, stimulus control, behavioral pharmacology, timing, human operant, applied behavior analysis, and animal welfare. The 2006 conference will be hosted by the Department of Psychology, University of Waikato, Hamilton. Although final dates are yet to be confirmed, we are planning for late August or early September.

The other major activity of NZABA over the last year was the establishment of the chapter as an approved education provider by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Oliver Mudford (University of Auckland) was approved as the Acceptable Education Coordinator for NZABA. The first continuing education event was held March 22, 2006 and was attended by five Board Certified Behavior Analysts.

David Harper (Victoria University of Wellington) was re-appointed as the President of NZABA for another year, with Maree Hunt (Victoria University of Wellington) appointed as Treasurer.

People interested in joining NZABA should note that there is no formal application process or fee. Active membership is achieved by attending the annual conference and paying any necessary fees (note that there is no fee for student presenters).

From: http://www.abainternational.org/ABA/newsletter/vol292/NZABA.asp