Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash

By Anne Macaskill

The New Zealand Association for Behaviour Analysis (NZABA) is a community of people working, teaching, and researching in behavior analysis in, or with a connection to, Aotearoa New Zealand. About half of the registered members of NZABA are students, with the remainder working in research, teaching, and practice.

Our main event each year is the NZABA conference held in late August. In 2020, this was scheduled to be hosted at the University of Waikato in Hamilton. We hoped to convene in person, but a lockdown in Auckland—where many members live—meant we held the conference online. The conference organizers did a fantastic job of moving the conference to Zoom, and it ran extremely smoothly.

Student presenters were particularly to be commended for their excellent talks and poster presentations under the difficult circumstances. A panel of judges gave out prizes to two excellent paper presentations, both by Ph.D. students. The first was delivered by Geraldine Smieszhala, of Victoria University of Wellington, and entitled “Negative reinforcement in decisions from description and decisions from experience.” The second was delivered by Tegan Andrews, of the University of Waikato and entitled “Socially influenced risk-taking in a socially distant world.” The prize for an outstanding poster presentation was given to Annabelle Hammond for her poster entitled “”Equivalence-based instruction: An effective option for distance learning?” The latter two presentations both described projects developed to explore unique issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

NZABA has been an approved continuing education provider for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) since 2006. This allows NZABA to support the professional development of practicing applied behavior analysts by offering continuing education units at our conference.

During 2020, NZABA continued our work responding to the 2019 Behavior Analyst Certification Board decision to no longer offer the BCBA certification outside North America. NZABA has formed a subcommittee, titled the Professional Practice Group. The group is currently exploring approaches for promoting high-quality applied behavior analytic practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Professional Practice Group hosted a symposium at our 2020 conference to begin discussions with the behavior community to consider the past, present, and future of behavior analytic practice in New Zealand. We plan to hold another symposium in 2021 to continue this conversation and update the community on the group’s on-going work.

In 2021, our conference was held at UNITEC in Auckland. Our website ( provides up-to-date information about event registrations, conference programs, and more. You can join NZABA via a form on our website; we do not charge a membership fee. Members automatically join our emailing list and will receive occasional updates and announcements. Our Facebook group at for hosts more informal discussion and shares links to items of general interest to those working in the field of behavior analysis.

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