Upcoming Talks

There is no Event

Past Talks

June 2024
Jun 07
07 June 2024 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Dr Samuel Mehr (University of Auckland) Music - what is it, how does it work, and why does it exist? Henry Wadsworth Longfellow famously described music as "the universal language […]

May 2024
May 31
31 May 2024 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Dr Tim Payn, SCION Everything that can be made with fossil-based materials today can be made from a tree tomorrow. Forests are wonderful things, providing a huge range of products […]

April 2024
Apr 26
26 April 2024 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Stephen Henry, Kode Biotech Ltd Steve’s early studies were of glycolipids (which can hop into cells and label them) before he switched to creating synthetic analogues. The work evolved […]

March 2024
Mar 22
22 March 2024 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

DO YOU HAVE A HEALTHY MIND? The philosophy of mental health Professor Simon Keller, Victoria University of Wellington Mental health is an increasingly prominent consideration in society but what is […]

February 2024
Feb 23
23 February 2024 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Cliff Abraham, University of Otago Alzheimer’s disease treatment is one of neurology’s greatest challenges. Although drug therapies have been available for over 30 years, they’ve only been able to […]

December 2023
Dec 01
01 December 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Associate Professor Karen Pollard, University of Canterbury and Director of Mount John Observatory Stars are key components of galaxies: they are hosts for families of planets; they create the chemical […]

November 2023
Nov 24
24 November 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor James Higham, Griffith University, Brisbane, and University of Otago There has been much said about the impact of COVID-19 on tourism in New Zealand, and the need for a ‘new’ […]

October 2023
Oct 27
27 October 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

All cellular organisms in the world are vulnerable to infection by viruses. We have seen this impact our lives in the past few years with the coronavirus pandemic. Bacteria are […]

September 2023
Sep 29
29 September 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

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 […]

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 […]


How should society prepare for advances in Artificial Intelligence?

Friday 4 Aug 2017, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. Assoc. Prof. Alistair Knott, Department of Computer Science, University of Otago. Alistair Knott is an Associate Professor in the Computer Science department at the University of Otago. He studied Psychology and Philosophy at Oxford University, then took a MSc and PhD in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh. He is an expert on human language modelling, and has published over 90 papers in this area. His book ‘Sensorimotor Cognition and Natural Language Syntax’ (MIT Press, 2012) was called ‘a ground-breaking and foundation-building look at the underpinnings of

Stem cells today: new ventures in science and potential for medical treatments

Friday 30 June 2017, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. Dr Jim Faed, Senior Lecturer, Department of Pathology (DSM), University of Otago. Stem cells are present in all living tissues. They are small populations of cells, specific to each tissue, that continue to provide replacements throughout life for injured or senescent cells. Identification of these cells and characterising their behaviour has been a major challenge. They are not always easy to identify or collect, and in some cases, it is still not possible to prepare purified stem cell populations. Apart from the fundamental challenge of understanding the biology

Urban ecological restoration: the new frontier?

Friday 12 May 2017, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka Professor Bruce Clarkson, University of Waikato, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Charles Fleming Lecture New Zealand has a long and enviable record in conservation biology, which began with Wildlife Service efforts to save endemic birds from extinction by protecting them on offshore islands. This progressed to ecosystem restoration in mainland sanctuaries across the country but mostly on lands administered by the Department of Conservation. In the last two decades the research and practice of ecological restoration has expanded into degraded urban environments, which present a different set of constraints and

The Magnitude 7.8 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake: What we saw and what we learned

Friday 31 March 2017, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka Professor Mark Stirling, Inaugural Professor of Earthquake Science, Otago University Abstract I will provide an overview of the seismology, surface ruptures and landslides produced by the Mw7.8, 14 November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, and discuss the earthquake in the context of the current version of the national seismic hazard model (NSHM) for New Zealand.  A total of 13 faults or fault zones ruptured along a c. 180km long zone during the earthquake, including some that were unknown prior to the event. The earthquake was a remarkable event, both for the complexity of


Friday 24 February at 7.30 pm in the Lake Wanaka Centre. VIDEOS OF MEETING Video1: Video2: Video3: Video4: Video5: The meeting will seek to provide an overview of all the research, actions and activities that are or need to be directed at guarding the health of the lakes and catchments. It will bring together those organisations which are vital to developing appropriate research questions supported by proper monitoring, and effective preventive or remedial actions if and where required. The meeting will include presentations by Professor David Hamilton, Waikato University and Dr Marc Schallenberg, University of Otago. They will describe the present

Enabling the Solar Revolution

Monday 13 February, 2017, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka. By Henry Snaith FRS, University of Oxford, and Professor Justin Hodgkiss, Deputy Director, MacDiarmid Institute. This year will see us capture more of our energy needs from sunlight than ever before. The phenomenal growth in global photovoltaic capacity has taken even the most optimistic observers by surprise, yet its consistent doubling every two years is a hallmark of how technologies scale. The impact we are beginning to see today is built on silicon photovoltaic technology that is over twenty years old. Since then, scientists have been searching for

The Science and politics of alcohol restrictions to reduce assault: three Australian case studies

Thursday 20 October 6 pm Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St. $5 admission. Professor Kypros Kypri, School of Medicine & Public Health, The University of Newcastle, Australia Regulating pub trading hours has long been viewed as effective violence prevention. Until recently, however, the evidence base was limited to studies showing increased harm when trading hours were liberalised, and of restrictions applied in unusual conditions, e.g., remote communities. In response to complaints from the police and the community, pubs were required to close at 3am (rather than 5am) in the NSW city of Newcastle from 2008. The nature of the intervention created

Rutherford Lecture

Friday 30 September 6 pm Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St. $5 admission. Professor Ian Reid, Department of Medicine, University of Auckland. Ian is the RSNZ Rutherford Medal recipient and winner of the Prime Minister’s Science Prize for 2015. He will present his research into the role of calcium and vitamin D metabolism in bone disease.


Friday 26 August 6 pm Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St. $5 admission. MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced materials and Nanotechnology – Regional Lecture Series. Dr. Duncan McGillivray, School of Chemical Sciences, University of Auckland. Dr. Natalie Plank, School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington. For over 200,000 years humans used stone hand adzes, and the design hardly changed. It seems homo sapiens sapiens is by nature conservative. But eventually, some stone age entrepreneur attached a wooden shaft to the adze, multiplying its power, and no doubt vastly reducing mortality rates among hunters. We define the periods of civilisation

Ten things you need to know about climate change

Friday 5 August 2016. 6 pm Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St. $5 admission. Professors James Renwick and Tim Naish, Victoria University, Wellington. Their talk will be based on the two recent climate change reports issued by RSNZ but it will be pitched at a very general audience and will be suitable for all members of the public including senior school students. They will frame their talk around 10 powerpoint slides allowing plenty of time for questions and where appropriate, will be making some aspects of the talk relevant to your region. They briefly describe themselves: Tim Naish is a Professor

Gravitational waves: black holes & the ‘Big Bang’

Friday 8 July 6 pm Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St. $5 admission. Professor Richard Easther, Department of Physics, University of Auckland. Gravitational waves: Black Holes and the ‘Big Bang’. Professor Easther is a Kiwi from Hamilton who studied at the University at Canterbury and has worked at universities in Japan and the United States. Richard and his family moved home to New Zealand in 2011, where he is now Professor and Head of the Department of Physics at the University of Auckland. Richard is a cosmologist who works on understanding how the universe evolved from the Big Bang through to

Stories of Innovation – a Dunedin based company’s successes in researching, designing and manufacturing industrial robots.

Friday 24th June 6 pm Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St Wanaka. Admission $5. Andrew Arnold, General Manager, Scott Technology Ltd, Dunedin. Title: Stories of Innovation – a Dunedin based company’s successes in researching, designing and manufacturing industrial robots. Scott Technology Ltd researches, designs and manufactures automated production and process machinery. They are widely recognised as a world-class builder of advanced automation systems (robots), particularly for customers in the appliance manufacturing, meat processing and superconductor sectors.

The conservation, ecology and breeding strategy of a rare and threatened species (the Southern Crested Grebe) in Lakes Wanaka and Hayes

Friday 6th May 6pm Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby Street, Wanaka Admission $5 John Darby, Retired zoologist, Guardian of Lake Wanaka, Committee member of Wanaka Branch RSNZ. Records indicate that grebes (a rare and threatened species in NZ) first attempted to breed in the Roys Bay area in 2011-12 without success. Surveys of grebes beginning in 2013 on Lake Hayes, Dunstan and Wanaka were carried out with a view to gaining an understanding of the behaviour and breeding ecology of this species. Management of the species involved the design, building and management of artificial nest sites. The first of these was

NASA Balloon Project

Friday 18th March 6 pm Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St Wanaka. Admission $5. Debora Fairbrother, Chief of the NASA Balloon Program Office (BPO) and Project Manager, NASA Balloon Project, Wanaka. Title: NASA’s Scientific Balloon Programme Debora will present an overview of NASA’s Scientific Balloon Program covering topics such as the capabilities of the program, the type of science NASA conducts on these balloons, as well as the unique aspects of the Super Pressure Balloon, which is the type of balloon we launch from Wanaka. These balloons are enormous launch vehicles—fully inflated, they are the size of a football stadium! They

Contemporary international migration to the regions: it is not just an Auckland story

Friday 11th March 6 pm, Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St. Contemporary international migration to the regions: it is not just an Auckland story. Professor Richard Bedford QSO, FRSNZ, President of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Richard is Emeritus Professor at the University of Waikato and Professor of Migration at the Auckland University of Technology. He is a specialist in migration research and since the mid 1960s he has been researching processes of population movement in the Asia-Pacific region. In 1990 Professor Bedford was awarded the New Zealand Medal for services to New Zealand and in 2007 he received the

Evolution of the body snatchers, or the secret lives of parasites

Friday 19th February 6 pm, Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St Wanaka, $5 admission. Evolution of the body snatchers, or the secret lives of parasites. Professor Robert Poulin Department of Zoology, University of Otago, Dunedin. Although they account for maybe half of current biodiversity, parasites are often ignored by biologists because they are small and generally not visible, but also because of their repugnant lifestyle. However, far from the degenerate organisms running counter to progressive evolution often depicted in textbooks, parasites display some remarkably sophisticated adaptations allowing them to better exploit their hosts and complete their life cycle. Using examples drawn

Making Light Work

Friday 23rd October, 6 pm, Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby St. Admission $5 Associate Professor Cather Simpson, Director, The Photon Factory, University of Auckland Today, lasers correct your vision, record your purchases, weld power train components in your car, and much more. In this Ten by Ten talk marking the International year of Light, Cather Simpson shows the ‘cutting edge’ of high-tech lasers from the factory floor to the inventor’s bench, and peeps over the horizon at the future of laser manufacturing.

Sugar, Sugar Everywhere But Which One Is Safe To Eat

Professor Peter Shepherd, University of Auckland. Friday 4th September 6 pm Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St. $5 admission. Professor Peter Shepherd will demystify the science behind the many different types of sugar that we have in our diet. He will go on to show how too much sugar causes problems for our body and go through what we now know about how obesity develops and how we might successfully address this problem in the modern world. Is coconut sugar really good for you ? Are fizzy drinks bad for you ? What does Stevia do ? Its not as simple

Flowers in the fridge: Floral Biology in New Zealand Alpine and Subantarctic Zones

Dr Janice Lord, Department of Botany/Genetics Otago, University of Otago (RSNZ Leonard Cockayne Fund Recipient). Friday 28th August 6 pm Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St. $5 admission. The flowers of high latitude and high altitude plants are often less coloured and smaller compared with relatives from warmer climates, a phenomenon commonly thought to relate to a reduced reliance on biotic pollination. The NZ alpine flora is particularly famous for its abundance of small, pale flowered species. However, as noted by Leonard Cockayne, bright flower colours are, surprisingly, more common among sub-antarctic plants compared with their mainland relatives. Recent work in

The Civilisation of Angkor

Professor Charles Higham, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Otago. Friday 7th August 6 pm, Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St. $5 admission It was in the late 16th century that Portuguese missionaries discovered the largest pre-industrial city in the world, in the jungles of Northern Cambodia. The city was deserted and much of its story had been lost over time. Uncovering the secrets of Angkor has attracted the attention of the world’s scholars and students throughout the world as its hidden secrets have been revealed using traditional archaeological methods combined with the latest technological developments. One person above all