Oliver Sutherland is a retired scientist who studied first at the University of Canterbury, and then at Cambridge University and the University of California (Berkeley).
He joined DSIR in Nelson in 1969, remaining with the department and then Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research until 2003. On returning from study overseas, he joined the Nelson Māori Committee, established the Nelson Race Relations Action Group and, in 1973, the Auckland Committee on Racism and Discrimination. In the mid-1980s Oliver confronted the mono-culturalism of the science sector and helped conceive and frame the Native Flora and Fauna Claim to the Waitangi Tribunal (Wai 262).
Oliver is a member of the Ngāti Koata Kaumātua Kaunihera, has close links with Ngāti Porou through his father’s longstanding and close friendship with Tā Apirana Ngata (Paikea: The life of I.L.G. Sutherland), and a warm relationship with Ngāti Kuri through his personal friendship over 37 years with Saana Murray and her whānau.