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


Exploring the “dark matter” in cancer – towards a new therapeutic approach

Friday 24 April 6.00pm – 7pm. Online webinar (including question time) via Zoom. Connection details will be emailed to our branch members and posted here.
Dr Sarah Diermeier, Department of Biochemistry, University of Otago.
No cost.

The past decades have seen striking progress in cancer diagnostics and treatment. Due to early detection and targeted treatments, cancer survival rates have increased significantly. However, the most aggressive types of cancer remain hard to tackle. The main cause of death in many cancer patients is due to the spread of tumours to distant organs, a process called metastasis. It is critical to identify and investigate new molecular targets that are able to stop tumour progression and metastasis. To date, most anti-cancer drug development has focused on a small percentage of the faulty genes that drive cancer. New technology now allows us to study the remaining 80% of genes that thus far remained hidden. Our research focuses on this “dark matter” of the human genome, a recently discovered class of molecules called non-coding RNAs. We investigate the role these molecules play in metastatic breast and colorectal cancer, two major health concerns in New Zealand. Our results indicate that non-coding RNAs are exciting new therapeutic targets in metastatic cancer. We propose an innovative therapeutic strategy that has potential to stop tumours from spreading, and comes with reduced side effects compared to the current standard of treatment. Ultimately, we aim to increase both survival rates and patient wellbeing for the most aggressive types of cancer.

Dr Sarah Diermeier is a Lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Otago. Dr Diermeier received her PhD in 2013 from the University of Regensburg, Germany. From 2013-2017 she conducted research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the US. She received several prestigious international awards, the latest being a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship in 2018. Dr Diermeier’s current research investigates novel therapeutic targets in breast and colorectal cancer.


Thank you to the fine folks at Maori Point Wines, who generously donate award-winning central otago wine for our speakers.


Saving Our Lakes – What Can We Do?