Upcoming Talks

September 2023
Sep 29
29 September 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Presbyterian Community Centre, 94 Tenby Street
Wanaka, New Zealand

Professor David Wiltshire, University of Canterbury Sixty years ago New Zealander Roy Kerr helped revolutionize physics when he discovered the solution to Einstein's equations defining space around a rotating star […]


Past Talks

August 2023
Aug 18
18 August 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Delwyn Moller (University of Auckland) Imagine if domestic flights crossing our skies each day were not only taking people places but also gathering vast amounts of critical environmental data […]

Aug 11
11 August 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Associate Professor Anna Garden and Dr Emilia Nowak, MacDiarmid Institute. The MacDiarmid Institute is a network of leading researchers from around the country united in a common goal: to create […]

July 2023
Jul 28
28 July 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Dr Shaun Wilkinson, CEO Wilderlab High-throughput DNA sequencing technologies make it possible to survey entire biological communities with as little as a single cup of water. The commercialization of environmental […]

June 2023
Jun 30
30 June 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Angus McIntosh, University of Canterbury In his talk, Angus will traverse the range of issues associated with climate change that confront our freshwater ecosystems. He'll talk about the challenges […]

May 2023
May 26
26 May 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Genomics has promised to transform medicine and medical practice but for the average New Zealander the evidence for this might seem lacking. My talk will address the technologies that have […]

April 2023
Apr 28
28 April 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Murray Thomson, University of Otago Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2022, Professor Murray Thomson is a prolific researcher in dental epidemiology and health […]

March 2023
Mar 24
24 March 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Barbara Barratt, AgResearch and University of Otago Biological control is a natural phenomenon, but pest management using natural enemies has been manipulated by man for over 3000 years, with […]

February 2023
Feb 24
24 February 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Speaker: Dr Nic Rawlence, University of Otago. Aotearoa New Zealand has been described as the closest thing to studying life on another planet. Yet the animals that survived the arrival […]

November 2022
Nov 18
18 November 2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Speaker: Emeritus Professor Colin Townsend, University of Otago

You may not be surprised to learn that if New Zealand’s rivers were to be placed end to end they would total 9,471 km in length. But did you know that the streams that feed those rivers total more than 400,000 km! Did you know that the beds of such streams that have been reached by the introduced brown trout tend to be more slippery than those still occupied by native fish? Or that an ancient whitebait species became ‘landlocked’ into headwater streams of the South Island and evolved into 12 or more new non-migratory species? Or that streams whose beds are disturbed at an intermediate rate have a higher biodiversity than streams turned over by more frequent spates or not disturbed at all? Or which of the human-caused impairments (nitrogen, sediment, water abstraction, increased temperature) is most harmful to stream ecosystems? Well nor did I - until my research team started work three decades ago.

October 2022
Oct 14
14 October 2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Associate Professor Arend Merrie MB ChB, PhD, FRACS, MInstD Arend trained in General Surgery in New Zealand gaining his Fellowship and a PhD on colorectal cancer in 2001. Following this […]


NZ Innovation for Sustainability

Friday 6 September at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Dr Nicola Gaston and Dr Marcus Jones, MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology. Cost – $5 per person. Come and hear MacDiarmid Institute scientists talk about how materials science is offering a greener future for our planet. They will be holding a session of their annual Regional Innovation Showcase in Wanaka on Friday 6th September, 6pm, at the Presbyterian Church Hall (91 Tenby Street, Wanaka). Our speakers, Dr Nicola Gaston and Dr Marcus Jones, will talk about how solar energy materials, new battery technologies, and


Friday 18 October at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Professor Tim Naish, Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington. New Zealand Antarctic Society National Speaker for 2019 Cost – $5 per person. I will present two narratives on the future of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean looking forward 50 and 300 years. In the first, greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked, the climate continues to warm, and the policy response is ineffective; this has large ramifications in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, with worldwide impacts. In the second, ambitious action is taken to limit greenhouse gas

Genetic Tools for Pest Eradication – Looking Back to Go Forward

Friday 11 October at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Professor Neil J. Gemmell, Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand. Cost – $5 per person. New Zealand has set an ambitious goal to eradicate mammalian predators from our shores by 2050. The key targets are possums, rats and stoats; species that cause enormous damage to our flora and fauna and in some cases are an economic burden to our productive sectors. As all of these species were introduced to New Zealand from elsewhere there is little sympathy nationally for

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

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. Cost: $5. 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

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

Cannabis use in the Christchurch Health and Development Study Cohort: Findings and context.

Friday 10 May at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Associate Professor Joe Boden, Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago Christchurch. Cannabis is the most widely-used illicit drug in the world, and New Zealanders are some of the world’s biggest consumers of the drug. The Christchurch Health and Development Study has collected 25 years of data on cannabis use in the cohort, and has contributed significantly to our understanding of the psychosocial harms associated with cannabis use. The presentation will cover a number of these findings, and will examine the implications of these findings for

The Centre for Space Science Technology: What, When, Where, How, Who?

Friday 22 March at 6pm, at the Presbyterian Community centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Dr Duncan Steel, Chief Systems Architect at the Centre for Space Science Technology In this talk I will outline the activities of CSST, which was founded last year in Alexandra as one of the government’s Regional Research Institutes. Fundamentally the role of CSST is to provide expertise in the utilisation of satellite-derived imagery for the good of New Zealand: to plug the gap that exists between the torrent of Earth observation data streaming down from orbit and the potential end-users who are largely unaware of what

New Zealand’s lakes in a changing world: their values, problems, conservation and management

Friday 22 February at 6pm, at the Presbyterian Community centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Emeritus Professor Carolyn Burns, Department of Zoology, University of Otago. Do we understand, appreciate and value our lakes enough? I discuss some of the benefits of lakes, some of the problems we face in New Zealand with respect to water quality and biodiversity, lake conservation and management, and how management might be improved in the face of population expansion and growth, increasing pressures from tourism, effects of climate change and escalating numbers invasive species. Emeritus Professor Carolyn Burns CBE, FRSNZ, of the Department of Zoology at

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

McDiarmid Science – to Industry and Beyond

Friday 14 September 2018, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. Professor Alison Downard, Principal Investigator of The MacDiarmid Institute. Dr Ojas Mahapatra, Alumnus of The MacDiarmid Institute. FREE TALK The Wanaka Branch of the Royal Society of NZ is proud to host the MacDiarmid Institute’s annual Regional Lecture Series. Join us to hear MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator, Professor Alison Downard, and MacDiarmid alumnus Dr Ojas Mahapatra, speak about how science (and hi-tech research in materials science in particular) can grow a high-tech economy and wealth for New Zealand. This talk “MacDiarmid Science – to Industry and Beyond” will

Flexible energy services are key to the transition to a low-carbon, highly-renewable energy system for NZ

Friday 17 August 2018, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. Dr Michael Jack, Director of Energy Management Programme, Physics Department, University of Otago. Variable generation from renewable sources (e.g. wind and solar) and acute peaks in electricity demand are increasingly challenging for electricity systems, especially when combined with ageing and constrained local networks. These issues are likely to intensify due to increasing uptake of grid-connected technologies (e.g. photovoltaics, electric vehicles) and future electrification of transport and heating. NZ is already facing these difficulties due to its current ~80% renewable generation, accelerating uptake of novel technologies and the government’s

The Life and Times of Supervolcanoes

Friday 27 July 2018, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. Professor Professor Colin Wilson, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington. Royal Society Te Apārangi is aflame with excitement to present the 2018 New Zealand Rutherford Lecture with Professor Colin Wilson FRS FRSNZ from the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington. Colin was awarded the Rutherford Medal at last year’s New Zealand Research Honours for his research into understanding large, explosive supervolcanoes and the hazards they pose. The Rutherford Medal is the Society’s highest award, instituted at

Digital breaths: The benefits of bioengineering

Friday 29 June 2018, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. Professor Merryn Tawhai, Auckland Bioengineering Institute, University of Auckland. 2016 MacDiarmid Medal winner and newly appointed Director of MedTech Core, Professor Merryn Tawhai explains how a fascination with mathematics and biology has led her to developing technology for healthcare, and why New Zealand has the capability to become a world leader in this market. For further information, Video of talk:

Myth busting: the obesity epidemic.

Friday 13 April 2018, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. Professor Tony Merriman, Department of Biochemistry, University of Otago. In this talk I will address what we know about the causes of obesity, a risk factor for metabolic diseases (diabetes, kidney and heart disease, gout). I will then consider the long-term approaches required to stop and turn around the impact of metabolic disease. I was born and bred in the South (Grants Braes, Tahuna, Kings High School). I did my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the Biochemistry Department of the University fo Otago (1986-93). After 4 years at

ADInstruments, Making Science Easier.

Saturday 12 May 2018, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. Professor Michael Macknight, Co- founder and Director of ADInstruments, Dunedin. The best universities in the world are using medical technology designed by a Dunedin student nearly 30 years ago. Founded by Michael Macknight in 1988, ADInstruments sells hardware and software products to medical and health researchers, scientists and educators. In 2007 International Space Station astronauts also started using its flagship product – the PowerLab data acquisition (DAQ) device. Researchers used it to measure astronauts’ brain, aortic blood flows, arm vein pressure, arterial blood pressure, breathing rate and the

Update on protection for Maui and Hector’s dolphins, with plans for future improvements

Friday 16 Feb 2018, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. Professor Liz Slooten, Department of Zoology, University of Otago. Professor Liz Slooten has studied New Zealand dolphins (Hector’s and Maui dolphins) since 1984. Her research has been instrumental in achieving dolphin protection. Research by Liz and her colleagues Steve Dawson and William Rayment has shown that the number of dolphin deaths in fishing nets is not sustainable. The Otago University team’s research has led the way to effective dolphin protection in New Zealand. The first protected area was created by Helen Clark in 1988, when she was Minister

Antarctica – Living at the End of the World.

Saturday 2 December 2017, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. Anthony Powell – Filmmaker and Photographer. Anthony Powell has worked in Antarctica for many years, and is the creator of the multi-award winning feature film Antarctica: A Year On Ice. His footage has appeared in numerous films and TV shows, including the BBC series Frozen Planet. This is part of what The New York Times said about the film:- “The extremes of “Antarctica: A Year on Ice” might seem routine to fans of nature documentaries, but the photographer and director Anthony Powell produces some dazzling imagery in his

Home Truths

Friday 10 Nov 2017, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. Prof. Philippa Howden-Chapman. Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago, and director of the New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities. Housing, particularly its quality, availability and affordability, has been one of the main election issues. In this talk I will focus on the scientific evidence from community trials carried out by He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme on the impact of policies such as retrofitting insulation, installing effective heaters, reducing safety hazards and distributing electricity vouchers. We are increasingly using the government’s integrated data infrastructure

Women in Nanoscience: little materials, big stories

Friday 6 Oct 2017, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology. Speakers: Professor Cather Simpson, Dr. Michelle Dickinson and Professor Penny Brothers. The MacDiarmid Institute is delighted to bring its regional lecture series to Wanaka again. In this year’s talk ‘Women in Nanoscience; Little Materials, Big Stories’, Professor Penny Brothers, Professor Cather Simpson and Dr Michelle Dickinson will each tell their personal story about how they came to be a nanoscientist, as well as explain some of their research. MacDiarmid Deputy Director for Engagement, Associate Professor Nicola Gaston, said the talks