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


Avoiding conservation by numbers: how genetics can help save threatened species

Friday 2 November at 6pm, at the Presbyterian Community centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka.
Dr Helen Taylor, Department of Anatomy, University of Otago.

Research fellow Dr Taylor’s science communication about conservation genetics and threatened species resulted in her last night being awarded the 2018 Callaghan Medal for an outstanding contribution to science communication and raising public awareness of science.

Conservation is often a numbers game – if we increase the size of a threatened species’ population, we consider this a conservation success. Unfortunately, population growth is not always the full story; factors such as genetics have a big part to play in whether or not a species will survive. In this talk, Dr Helen Taylor will explain what happens to the genetics of populations when they get very small, why this is a problem, and what we can do about it. Using examples from her own research, Dr Taylor will take us on a journey that encompasses inbred kiwi in Marlborough Sounds, collecting bird sperm on remote islands, and gene editing technologies that could revolutionize conservation in New Zealand and globally. Think genetics is just about big words and family trees? Think again!

Dr.Helen Taylor is a research fellow in conservation genetics at the University of Otago. Originally from the UK, she conducted her PhD research on inbreeding depression in little spotted kiwi at Victoria University of Wellington. Helen’s current research focuses on how inbreeding affects male fertility in birds. She is also interested in the effective integration of genetics into conservation management and is part of the IUCN Conservation Genetics Specialist Group. A passionate science communicator, Helen has travelled the South Island with the lab in a box schools project and was the 2016 winner of the 180 seconds of science video competition, and the 2018 winner of the RSNZ Callaghan medal for science communication. Helen blogs at http://sciblogs.co.nz/wild-science/, is on twitter @helentaylorcg and you can find out more about her research at http://www.helentaylorscience.com



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


Saving Our Lakes – What Can We Do?