The development of research capability in New Zealand nursing can be seen particularly from the 1970s onwards. However, by analysing past issues of Kai Tiaki - the country's longstanding nursing journal - over the five decades following its establishment in 1908, the present authors identified two precursors to this later stage. The journal fostered nurses' awareness of research and consistently promoted nursing scholarship. Successive editors developed nurses' capability in writing about their practice by publishing case studies, the winning essays in competitions run jointly with the professional association and nursing schools, and nurses' articles on practice or professional issues. Although promotion of research awareness and nursing scholarship were not deliberate strategies to develop nursing research capability, they were necessary forerunners to it.