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


Foulden Maar – the most important terrestrial fossil site in New Zealand – What happens when science and mining collide?

Friday 26 July at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka.
Honorary Associate Professor Daphne Lee, Department of Geology, University of Otago.

Foulden Maar near Middlemarch is a small volcanic crater lake filled with 120 m of annually laminated diatomite. It is one of the most valuable fossil sites in the Southern Hemisphere. Formed after a violent eruption 23 million years ago, the sediments deposited on its anoxic lake bed preserve an astonishing array of exquisitely preserved fossils including leaves, flowers, fruits, fish and insects. The sediments also contain the most detailed Miocene climate record for the mid-latitude Southern Hemisphere at a time of much warmer climate.

But there is a proposal to turn the treasures from New Zealand’s most important fossil site into pig food. What happens when scientific values, research and education are in a collision course with the plans of an offshore mining company?​


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.



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


Saving Our Lakes – What Can We Do?