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


Seeing more using x-ray colour

Friday 16 August at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka.
Dr Hannah Prebble, Clinical Application Researcher at MARS Bioimaging Ltd.

MARS is a new 3D x-ray imaging modality that enables the assessment of biochemical and physiological processes within the body. This advances imaging science by revealing insights at the cellular and molecular level. Currently, x-rays are used to provide basic anatomical information such as the shape, size, and location of organs inside the body. Using the colour (energy) information of the x-rays
enables the study of the chemical composition of tissues. It can be used in conjunction with contrast agents and functionally targeted metallic nanoparticles. This extra information allows researchers and clinicians to make informed decisions for better prognosis and
diagnosis of a wide range of diseases.

The key enabling technologies in MARS are Medipix3RX detectors, advanced proprietary iterative reconstruction and material recovery algorithms, and visualisation software (MARS Vision). Medipix3RX detectors are advanced energy-resolving photon-counting detectors developed at CERN. When bonded to a layer of a high-Z crystal (chosen to absorb x-rays), they can measure the colour (energy) of individual x-ray photons that pass through the body. An advanced iterative reconstruction algorithm generates 3D attenuation maps over energy, and a material recovery algorithm uses this data to identify and quantify the materials present in each voxel. MARS Vision is used to visualise and analyse the volumetric attenuation and material data interactively. MARS technology has been applied successfully to generate promising results in a number of pre-clinical scenarios, including using non-functionalised gold nanoparticles for measuring angiogenesis; functionalised metallic nanoparticles for drug delivery in ovarian and breast cancer; the imaging of excised carotid plaque tissue to identify the lipid core, areas of calcification and ulceration; the visualisation of titanium scaffolds in bone; quantifying biomarkers of cartilage and joint health; and also for the validation of novel pharmaceuticals.

An ankle and wrist have been scanned using MARS and a human clinical trial is underway. This non-destructive imaging modality is set to make a mark globally by significantly improving the diagnostic information in a number of diseases including cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, joint replacement, and cancer.

Hannah has a PhD in Biochemistry focusing on the inflammatory properties of atherosclerotic plaque and imaging the key hallmarks of the disease. She currently works for MARS Bioimaging Ltd as a Clinical Applications Researcher providing support to existing and prospective customers.


New Zealand’s Intelligence Reforms, the Five Eyes Alliance, and the Huawei Controversy

Friday 7 June at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka.
Professor Robert G. Patman, Department of Politics, University of Otago.

Professor Patman has served as Head of the Department of Politics during the period 2013-2016, and he is the author of 12 books, the most recent being New Zealand and the World, Past, Present, and Future (World Scientific Publishers 2018). He is currently writing a volume called Rethinking the Global Impact of 9/11 (Palgrave Macmillan 2020). He is a Fulbright Senior Scholar, an Honorary Professor of the New Zealand Defence Command and Staff College, and provides regular contributions to the national and international media on global issues and events.

Professor Patman has spoken in Wanaka before and his return visit is welcome.

Abstact of presentation: Though it has a long history, New Zealand’s membership of the Five Eyes intelligence network only came to wider public attention on a sustained basis after the revelations made by Edward Snowden in 2013. Revelations about the extraordinary surveillance capabilities of the US National Security Agency intersected with growing public concern about the activities of New Zealand’s
intelligence agencies at home. On the one hand, legislation was passed to extend the powers of the Government Communications Security Bureau, the country’s external intelligence organisation, to include internal surveillance. On the other hand, the new post of Deputy Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security was instituted in 2014 to monitor the various intelligence agencies, and an independent inquiry was conducted into their activities. This led in 2016 to further legislative reforms, which more clearly defined the responsibilities of the agencies and enhanced their accountability. This presentation looks at the results of these changes with regard to New Zealand’s role as a member of the Five Eyes. It then focuses on Chinese influence in New Zealand and the South Pacific in the past decade, and in particular the example of the recent controversy over the alleged links between the technology company Huawei and the Chinese intelligence services.



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


Saving Our Lakes – What Can We Do?