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


Achieving win-win outcomes for native biodiversity and pastoral farming

Friday 4 September at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka.
Prof David Norton, School of Forestry, University of Canterbury.
Cost – $5 per person.

Te Mana O Te Taiao – Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020 has as its vision that “the mauri of nature is vibrant and vigorous” and sees people as part of nature and nature as supporting life and human activities. The single biggest land use in New Zealand today is sheep and beef farming which comprises 40% of the land area and contains 25% of all remaining native vegetation. Most importantly, native vegetation on sheep and beef farms often occurs in those parts of New Zealand with the least remaining native biodiversity and the least amount of public conservation land. In this presentation I will initially outline the key components for managing native biodiversity in pastoral farming systems before I discuss in more detail how integrated or whole farm management planning can help sustain and enhance native biodiversity in farming landscapes.

David Norton is a professor at Te Kura Ngahere | School of Forestry at the University of Canterbury. He has taught and researched the ecology and conservation of New Zealand’s native biodiversity for over 35 years. In the last couple of decades, David’s research has focused on enhancing native biodiversity within farming systems through remnant management, restoration and management planning, including publication of a 2013 book ‘Nature and Farming’ with an Australian colleague. David works closely with sector groups such as Beef+Lamb NZ and has written the biodiversity section for the new Farm Plan template that will replace the current land environment plans later in 2020.



Friday 16 October at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka.
Associate Professor James Scott, University of Otago, Geoscience Society of New Zealand President’s Lecture.
Cost – $5 per person.

Mars, fourth planet from the Sun, will be visited by three missions in February 2021. I will talk about what already known about the planet and we know it, and what is hoped to be found with the latest missions. Furthermore, although there have been no return missions from Mars, we do have Martian rocks on Earth available for study. How is this possible? I will bring some Martian rocks that people are welcome to handle.

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?