Dark Skies Group

The Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand - RASNZ, The Case for Urban Sustainability at Night

Light Pollution Issues

RASNZ - Dark Sky Vision Statements

  • The RASNZ believes in the importance of the New Zealand nighttime environment in terms of the cultural, historic, educational, scientific and recreational importance of the stars, other nighttime phenomena, and the geographic uniqueness of New Zealand at night.
  • The RASNZ believes that wasteful outdoor lighting is reducing the intrinsic and amenity value of the nighttime environment for urban and rural New Zealanders.

As nearly 87% of all New Zealanders live in towns and cities, the effects of inefficient or ineffective night time outdoor lighting, have a significant impact on our population. While the RASNZ's interest is clearly focussed on the night sky, there are other impacts from poor lighting such as wasted energy, and environmental and social effects which can be addressed.

New Zealand Urban Design Protocol

In February 2005 the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (RASNZ) became a signatory to the Ministry for the Environment's Urban Design Protocol.

The Urban Design Protocol states: "Environmentally responsible towns and cities constantly seek ways to minimise adverse impacts on human health and natural and cultural systems, including air quality and water quality. They minimise waste production, energy and water use, and maximise the efficiency of land use and infrastructure."

The RASNZ believe that these statements are just as valid after sunset as during the day.

Outdoor lighting in New Zealand, as part of Urban Design, is in urgent need of review to ensure minimal wasteage of energy and to minimise impacts on human health and natural and cultural systems.

Who are the RASNZ?

The RASNZ is a New Zealand society of professional, technical and amateur astronomers. Present membership is around 200. The society also has 23 affiliated local societies spread throughout New Zealand. These local societies have a combined membership of around 600. There are a further 4 independent societies, as well as two public commercial observatories.

  • The object of the RASNZ is the promotion and extension of knowledge of astronomy and related branches of science.
  • The RASNZ encourages interest in Astronomy, and is an association of observers and others for mutual help and advancement of science.
  • The RASNZ was founded in 1920 as the New Zealand Astronomical Society and assumed its present title on receiving the Royal Charter in 1946.
  • In 1967 RASNZ became a Member Body of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
  • The RASNZ is a contributing member of the International Dark-Sky Association.

Further details of the RASNZ and its activities are on its website.


The RASNZ does not portray itself as an expert body in the areas of Lighting, Energy, Health, Crime Prevention, and Environmental Effects, among others. However the RASNZ will use this web site to raise issues in all these areas which challenge experts in these areas to respond to, and resolve.

The main aim of this web site is to raise the profile of the night time environment to show it is worthy of protection from the impacts of modern urban design.

email: urbanstars@rasnz.org.nz