Welcome to The Wanaka Branch of the
Royal Society of New Zealand.

The Wanaka group was formed in February 2013, becoming the 9th Regional branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand which is based in Wellington. Consistent with the aims of the central organisation, the main objective of the Wanaka Branch is to advance and promote science, technology and humanities in Wanaka and the Wanaka region.

The Branch seeks to achieve this by offering a series of 6 to 10 lectures each year. It aims to bring speakers who are highly regarded in their field of knowledge and expertise, as well as good communicators. Each year a number of eminent national and international speakers, who tour New Zealand under the umbrella of the Royal Society Wellington are included in the programme.

The Wanaka Branch is constituted as an unincorporated society and comprises a membership who appoint an executive committee at an AGM held in May each year. Members receive advance notices of lectures and other communications by email. Lectures are open to the public, and usually held at 6pm on a Friday in the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka.

Becoming a Member

Anyone is welcome to become a member of the Wanaka Branch. For information about types of memberships, subscriptions/fees, how to apply, and Rules of the Society, please click on the link below.

Upcoming Talks


Genetic Tools for Pest Eradication – Looking Back to Go Forward

Friday 11 October at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka.
Professor Neil J. Gemmell, Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand.
Cost – $5 per person.

New Zealand has set an ambitious goal to eradicate mammalian predators from our shores by 2050. The key targets are possums, rats and stoats; species that cause enormous damage to our flora and fauna and in some cases are an economic burden to our productive sectors. As all of these species were introduced to New Zealand from elsewhere there is little sympathy nationally for any of them and their control and eradication has been a key component of conservation and animal health management in this country for decades. Thanks to the work of many, over many decades of incremental gain, we can control and even eradicate many of these species at increasingly large scales. The success of these programs has seen a variety of “pest-free” sanctuaries formed where many native species, including kiwi, kokako, and kaka now have a realistic chance for population persistence and recovery. Pest control with current technologies over significant spatial scales is definitely possible, but its time-consuming and expensive. Thus if we want to reach a goal of a pest free New Zealand by 2050 we need to come up with smart ways to control our pest problem – new gene technologies are one possible solution to our pest problem. In this talk I will explore some of the genetic solutions currently being considered, including gene drives. I will explore the opportunity and challenges associated with these technologies, the lessons we can apply from past efforts to control pest species in New Zealand and elsewhere, and some possible points of focus for future research.

Professor Neil Gemmell is the AgResearch Chair in Reproduction and Genomics at the University of Otago. A strong focus of his work is in synthesising genomics, population genetics and evolutionary theory to provide new tools and research services to key end users in the conservation and biosecurity arenas.




Friday 18 October at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka.
Professor Tim Naish, Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington.
New Zealand Antarctic Society National Speaker for 2019
Cost – $5 per person.

I will present two narratives on the future of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean looking forward 50 and 300 years. In the first, greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked, the climate continues to warm, and the policy response is ineffective; this has large ramifications in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, with worldwide impacts. In the second, ambitious action is taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to establish policies that reduce anthropogenic pressure on the environment, slowing the rate of change in Antarctica. Choices we make in the next few years determine Antarctica’s long term future.

Biographical note: Tim Naish is a Professor in Earth Sciences and was Director, Antarctic Research Centre, at Victoria University of Wellington until 2017, when he took up a RSNZ James Cook Fellowship. His research focuses on past, present and future climate change with specific emphasis on Antarctic ice sheets and global sea-level. He has participated in 14 expeditions to Antarctica and helped found ANDRILL, an international Antarctic Geological Drilling Program. He was Lead Author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report. He developed and co-leads the MBIE-funded NZ SeaRise Programme, which is improving location-specific sea-level projections for New Zealand, by taking into account latest polar ice sheet contributions and vertical land movements. He has received the New Zealand Antarctic Medal, the Martha Muse Prize for Antarctic Science and Policy, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.



Follow the “Grebes of Wanaka” with committee member John Darby


Saving Our Lakes – What Can We Do?