Les Kermode, NZ Geological Survey, Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Auckland

Management is a process by which a co-operative group directs actions towards a common end, and in a strictly commercial show cave the objective of management is to maximise profits. The pundits of management stress that such an objective should be definite, measurable, and clear (Massie 1971). However, we here are all well aware that in the context of this conference, parks are "areas ... that contain scenery of such distinctive quality, ecological systems, or natural features, so beautiful, unique, or scientifically important" that their preservation is beneficial to the district, region, or nation (National Parks Act 1980).

Management must therefore preserve parks "in perpetuity ... for their intrinsic worth and for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of the public" yet also "preserve, as far as possible, the park in its natural state" (National Parks Act 1980).

"Awareness of a park's natural resources, and management techniques, adopted to ensure their protection will be promoted and encouraged". So states the National Parks and Reserves Authority Policy (1982), which adds "land management within parks differs markedly from most other lands where effort is directed towards modifying or controlling nature, producing crops or extracting resources". Thus, conservation-style management should be practised in privately owned "parks" and "scenic areas" also.

"The objective of the Waitomo Caves Management Plan is to bring together the most up-to-date information and ideas in order to provide a sound scientific foundation on which to base the management of the caves and reserves and thus ensure their preservation for present and future generations" (THC 1981, my emphasis).


Science, according to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, is a "branch of study which is concerned either, with a connected body of demonstrated truths, or with observed facts, systematically classified and more or less connected by being brought under general laws, and which includes trustworthy methods for the discovery of new truth within its own domain". The so-called scientific method, essential to the accumulation of knowledge, requires:

In the following pages I will frequently quote or paraphrase from an excellent book which I recommend you all to read. It is entitled "Betrayers of the Truth" by William Broad and Nicholas Wade, and published (1982) by Simon and Schuster, New York. These two authors were experienced science journalists inspired by the alarming findings of a US Congress investigation into malpractice in science and technology.

It would seem that the philosophers of science studying logic, the historians of science seeking progress, and the sociologists of science establishing norms of behaviour have, amongst themselves, built a conventional ideology of science with its cognitive structure (that is, scientific method), its verifiability of claims, and a peer review system. However, such an ideology goes seriously astray by focussing on the process of science instead of the motives of scientists whose passions, ambitions, and failings are the same as in any other walk of life.

In the world of science, the published scientific paper is the measure of the scientist, and the scientist must "publish or perish" in the career hierarchy. The system rewards the appearance of success as well as genuine achievement. Quantity is, too often, more important than quality, and even within the upper ranks of scientists there is a naive, uncritical belief that if a statement is published it must be true and above being challenged.

The passion to work and to succeed are human enough - it may be your ambition to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, or to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Park Management. Together with such an ambition there is often also a strong temptation to indulge in dishonesty and deception, both of which press strongly at all levels of scientific research and in all fields - maybe less so for the highly mathematised sciences which have a built in protection against manipulation, but the interpretative and observational sciences are wide open to unscrupulousness, prejudice, and self-deceit. The wholesale inventing of data is not common, although it has been recorded. Scientific fraud usually begins with improving the existing results by trivial manipulation of the data, selecting the best data for publication, and ignoring those data that don't fit the case.

Fraud is always deliberate, self-deception is usually unwitting. There may be some of you who do not include science in your management plan, but how can a cave management, endeavouring "to provide a sound scientific foundation" sort out the authentic from the spurious. It is not the existence of fraud and deceit in science that must be rejected, but our own conventional ideology of science. Misrepresentation of the truth has occurred throughout the history of science - Ptolemy, Galileo, Newton, Bernoulli, Dalton, Peary, Millikan, Burt, to name but a few of the famous.

Sir Isaac Newton lied for the truth and was right; Sir Cyril Burt lied for the truth and was wrong. Each lied to support what he thought he knew to be the truth. The crime rate in science is influenced by the rewards, the perceived chances of getting caught, and the personal ethics of the scientist. Self-deception is most common in the "research mills", that is the universities, or is committed by loners who have no peer review system.

Science has probably replaced religion as a fundamental source of truth and value in the modern world. Science is a social process for without communication research is nothing. Science is historical and always progressing, therefore it must be understood in its context of time and place. Science is cultural, in that it encourages human rationality. Fraud is a small, but not insignificant, endemic feature of the scientific enterprise, and the practices or institutions of science should shoulder some of the blame for fraudulent behaviour. Objectivity is often the first victim when scientists enter battle on social issues.

The social organisation of science that rewards careerism also creates the incentive for fraud and self-deception. The assigning of credit in the authorship of scientific papers is most important. All people named as authors should have made a definably major contribution to the work and all authors should be prepared to take responsibility for its contents in precisely the same measure as they stand to take the credit. This would curtail the inherently dishonest practice of research leaders appropriating the credit for everything that goes well, and disclaiming responsibility when errors are discovered.

A shameful incident reported by Wade (1975) was the "theft" in 1967 of a Nobel Prize from a Cambridge University PhD student Jocelyn Bell, by her supervisor Antony Hewish who walked off with the Prize supposedly "for his decisive role in the discovery of pulsars". In fact Bell really discovered pulsars because she was prepared to search diligently through hundreds of metres of records always maintaining "a willingness to contemplate as a serious possibility a phenomenon that all past experience suggested was impossible". Fred Hoyle, eminent astronomer, described the award as a scandal and accused Hewish of deliberately keeping Bell's findings secret while her supervisors "were busily pinching the discovery from the girl".

Too many scientific articles are published, and many are simply worthless. They prevent good research from receiving the attention it deserves, and protect bad research from scrutiny. Science is not the only cultural expression of rationality. We should regard scientists with less awe and a dash more skepticism.


Waitomo Caves (that is, Glowworm Cave) has been open to paying tourists since 1890 but it was not until 1953, just prior to the first visit to the cave by Her Majesty the Queen that concern over the deterioration of the cave was expressed by the New Zealand Forest and Bird Protection Society. The famous Lascaux cave in France was closed to tourists in 1960 because of lampenflora damage to the celebrated prehistoric paintings. A year later, in Australia, steam cleaning experiments were commenced in Orient Cave, Jenolan. Press criticism of overcrowding at Waitomo was made in 1965.

In 1967 concern over silting of the Glowworm Grotto stream was publicised, while in the international scene the National Speleological Society in the United States published a report entitled "Conservation Through Commercialisation" (Gurnee 1967) in which the problem of lampenflora was not addressed. The following year, in New Zealand, geological field work in the Waitomo catchment was commenced and the National Water and Soil Conservation Organisation wished to establish a representative karst catchment somewhere in the King Country. A brief report on the karrenfield at Waro Scenic Reserve was prepared for Lands and Survey.

In 1969 Lands and Survey, Westland wished to assess the potential of Metro Cave. Lands and Survey, Hamilton was concerned about Waitomo Caves and the deterioration that was probably caused by tourists. Tourist Hotel Corporation was asked to identify problem areas in the caves and to make regular observations of them. Intermittent studies of cave climate were being attempted in a nearby wild cave. During that year I visited 28 commercial show caves in eight different countries.

In January 1971 Lands and Survey, THC, and DSIR suggested "the collection of factual information over a period of time" and the Waitomo Reserves Planning Committee was established. The New Zealand Speleological Society, lacking scientific and management expertise, declined to co-operate in any research programme. Cave guides were improving their knowledge of the obvious problems, and the local press kept the conservation issues alive. However, THC management was still attempting to increase the number of cave visitors.

In 1973 I presented papers on tourism, conservation, and cave development to the International Union of Speleology Congress in Czechoslovakia.

1974 was a milestone year for science at Waitomo. DSIR produced conservation reports for Lands and Survey, conducted cave cleaning experiments, and installed and tested instrumentation for microclimate studies. The Speleological Society, by definition, should have been an authority on cave sciences, and although it still lacked proven cave research expertise, managed to produce a briefly research conservation report. The local newspaper probably would not have survived without its sensational, persistent criticism of THC management of the caves. The general manager of THC countered these attacks by organising a public relations exercise, called Waitomo Day, where it was announced that a generously-funded, scientific research programme would be sponsored. Staff changes at THC Head Office placed Don Evans, a most valued and astute administrator, in the secretariat. I recommended "that Prof. Paul Williams be asked to co-ordinate and synthesise the university contributions", and cautioned THC against placing too much reliance on university research programmes which take the "choice plums" and avoid any important topics because they are less spectacular. The achievements and chronology of the Waitomo Caves Research Committee, under Paul Williams as chairman and Don Evans as secretary, are contained in the Waitomo Day Report 1982. Some additional research projects have been completed since then (David Williams was appointed Caves Manager in January 1978). In cave management this research programme was unique in New Zealand, and probably in the world.


In all management systems money is important, whether it be for profit, or as a perpetual restraint on activities through the inadequate allocation of funds. From such a pecuniary perspective it is easy for management to convince themselves that something that costs nothing is worth nothing, and conversely, something that costs much is worth much.

University theses are individual projects from which the student attempts to gain maximum academic credit, and supportive approval from the supervisor. The supervisor is under pressure of potential promotion to have as many students as possible gain good marks for their theses. It is possible for a thesis to have no editorial review, no refereeing of logic, no checking of observational data, and no expert criticism of the results. Therefore, the scientific community considers theses unpublished until reworked through the conventional system of reviews and editing. It is even possible that the appointed supervisor has no expertise in the field of study being undertaken. This would be unfortunate for the student and would probably not contribute much to the advancement of the knowledge of that topic. Both student and supervisor are free to ignore all previous work by others whether it is good or bad. Post-graduate research often suffers from obfuscation - the art of using many words without communicating any ideas too much jargon, confusing sentence structures, and lack of logical presentation. Dr Scott Armstrong, professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania said, cynically, "The purpose of writing in an incomprehensible way is useful to people who have nothing to say". (Geological Society NZ 1982).

Don't be baffled by science.

If cave management has no means of evaluating the study that has been undertaken, or has no funds to repeat the results, who or what is the loser? Obviously to me it is the cave and its visitors. The local or national speleological society will be enthusiastic about giving advice and making criticism, but cave or park management must be cautious. Before taking any action they must be satisfied that the preferred contribution is from a group of researchers who have proven expertise, that the issue is real and not an emotive storm, that adequate relevant data has been collected, and that there has been an independent evaluation of the project or proposal. The New Zealand Speleological Society has among its members many knowledgeable and well qualified people, but as a society, sadly lacks the necessary scientific attributes. It is predominantly a recreational or exploration club that produces a widely distributed bulletin.

At Waitomo there is an important, new, enthusiastic society that also dabbles in amateur science - the Waitomo Caves Museum Society. The quality of their publications has steadily improved over four years (e.g. Arrell 1984). There has been more good quality scientific information produced about Waitomo Caves by the Museum Society than there has been for any other commercial cave in New Zealand. Cave management, and speleology generally, both require acceptance by the public whose confidence in science must not be shaken.


With such a diverse assortment of persons wishing to contribute to the preservation of a cave and to the well-being of its visitors, the motivation of scientists who participate in research projects must be understood before an accurate evaluation of their results can be made. Again I would like to share with you some statements from Broad and Wade (1982) who I feel clearly reflect some of my own experiences during 17 years of intermittent cave research in the Waitomo district.


I have insufficient time to list all the scientific and management reports and publications of the Waitomo Cave Research Programme, New Zealand Speleological Society, Waitomo Caves Museum Society, Tourist Hotel Corporation, Waitomo Reserves Planning Committee, University of Auckland, University of Waikato, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Department of Lands and Survey, New Zealand Forest Service, Ministry of Works and Development, Waitomo District Council, and Waikato Valley Authority that relate to Waitomo Caves. Among them is some brilliant science, some thorough research, and many thousands of hours of hard work. Unfortunately there are also some documents that deserve nothing better than the rubbish bin.

What I do think is deplorable, especially for the excellent work completed, is that the results have not been disseminated widely enough. Have you in your various organisations and locations access to important discoveries and conclusions from Waitomo?

Others here will tell you how much the results of the research programme have been incorporated into management at Waitomo, and during the week you may see for yourselves problems that have still to be solved.


In conclusion I would suggest that management must understand or at least appreciate:

As a cave or park manager you could ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How do I know that I have asked the right questions about the caves I manage?
  2. How do I know that I have received the best answers to my questions about the caves?
  3. How can I be sure that the appropriate follow-up action will be taken?
  4. How can I be sure that the best course of action for the cave and its visitors is not overruled in the future by an unsympathetic administration?


Arrell, R. 1984: Waitomo Caves : a century of tourism. Waitomo Caves, New Zealand, Waitomo Caves Museum Society 72p

Broad, W.; Wade, N. 1982: Betrayers of the truth. New York, Simon and Schuster. 256pp

Gurnee. J. (Editor) 1967: Conservation through commercialisation. Rio Camuy development proposal. National Speleological Society Bulletin 20(2): 27-69.

Massie, J.L. 1971: Essentials of Management. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall. 257pp

New Zealand National Parks Act 1980.

New Zealand National Parks and Reserves Authority draft general policy 1982. 50pp

Wade, N. 1975: Discovery of Pulsars : A graduate students story. Science 189:358-364.

Waitomo Caves Management Plan 1981: Tourist Hotel Corporation. 49pp

Waitomo Caves Research Programme 1982: Waitomo Day 1982. 40pp