Abstract Station data from the Subtropical Front ni the southern Tasman Sea obtained during the summer of 1988/89 were used to determine formation regions and formation history of Western South Pacific Central Water (WSPCW). At densities of gs t = 26.6 and higher WSPCW found in the southern Tasman Sea is formed east of Tasmania near 150°E, from where it is advected eastward by the general oceanic circulation. No indication for equatorward movement after subduction was observed. At densities less than σ t = 26.6 the water is characterized by multiple layers, intrusions and inversions. It is argued that they result from variability in Ekman transport direction and Ekman pumping. An atmospheric boundary layer model is used to estimate Ekman pumping velocities from the observed wind field. Ekman pumping velocities and hydrographic properties indicate that the less dense water moves equatorward and is subjected to winter mixing north of the investigation region, before it obtains its final temperature-salinity properties and becomes part of WSPCW through subduction.