11 September 2013: Victoria University of Wellington Public Lecture Series

Wednesday 11 September, 5.30pm–8.00pm, Eastern Institute of Technology, Gloucester Street, Taradale, Napier

Victoria University of Wellington invites you to a free public lecture by Professor Tim Stern from the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences and Professor Lionel Carter from the Antarctic Research Centre.

Exploration, earthquakes and resources of Zealandia

Over the past few years, we have experienced severe earthquakes in Canterbury and, most recently, in the Cook Strait region. Meanwhile, the Gisborne area has been subjected to a different type of ‘slow earthquake’—earthquakes that take minutes or hours to occur, rather than the few seconds normally associated with regular quakes. Amongst all this upheaval, earthquakes create warps and structures in the earth that trap resources such as geothermal steam, oil, gas and valuable minerals. In this talk, Professor Tim Stern will present results from some of the exploration programmes he has been involved in, to investigate both earthquakes and the related resource potential of New Zealand.

An island in a changing ocean—how New Zealand’s ocean is responding to modern climate change

New Zealand sits between the South Pole and the Equator, so it’s not surprising that our climate and ocean are strongly affected by natural forces coming from Antarctica and the tropical Pacific Ocean. The eastern North Island, for example, has flooded under subtropical cyclones and has chilled under southerly storms that extend from the Ross Sea. Professor Lionel Carter will examine how these  great north and south weather machines are behaving under modern climate change and what may occur in the future. This is not a ‘doom and gloom’ story, but a discussion of actual observations that will contribute to the nation being better prepared for the challenges ahead.

Please email rsvp@vuw.ac.nz with ‘Napier Lecture’ in the subject line or phone 04-463 6390 by Monday 9 September. Lecture will be cancelled if less than 40 people register. 

2013 August

Welcome to the August 2013 Newsletter of the Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society. This newletter is the first sent from our new website. It collates recent postings of coming and recent lectures and other events, and notices to Branch members. Please let us know if you strike any glitches!

If you are not subscribed to personally receive these newsletters, you can do so for free on our Newsletters webpage. You can unsubscribe at any time.

If you would like to join the Branch as a member, you can download the application form here. The annual subscription for the current year is $20.


Dan Bloomer
Branch President

Lectures and events


Plants that changed history

Dr Ross Ferguson ONZM FRSNZ. 7:30pm Tuesday 27 August 2013  at the Hawke’s Bay Holt Planetarium, Chambers St Napier.

Rather than study only the actions of individual men and women, of governments or of economic forces, we should also look at plants because it is plants that ultimately determine the quality and course of human life. Most of the foods that form part of our normal diet, we would not think of as exotic.  And this shows just how blasé we have become.

What we have is really a remarkable range of food – truly exotic food in the sense that it is alien: introduced from abroad: brought in from outside. The movement of plants and foodstuffs from one country to another has had many consequences. The talk will consider the implications of the pursuit of some addictive plants and is illustrated by many paintings and engravings. The socially accepted addictions discussed include tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate. Opium, potatoes and breadfruit will also be mentioned.

Dr Ross Ferguson, FRSNZ has worked  with DSIR and then Plant & Food Research mainly on the biology of kiwifruit and related species.  He made a detailed study of kiwifruit, their origin in China and the process of domestication leading to them becoming New Zealand’s most important horticultural export Admission: Free


Switch: The Movie. What is the future of Energy?

5:30 PM, Thursday 26 September, Lecture Theatre 1, Eastern Institute of Technology, Taradale.

The Hawke’s Bay Branches of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand are combining with the Eastern Institute of Technology to present a special screeing of the film, “Switch”.

Following the screening, there will be a short break for a drink and nibbles, before an invited panel of energy experts lead a discussion of the meaning and implications for New Zealand. The event is anticipated to finish by 8:15 PM.

What does the future of energy really hold? Join energy visionary Dr. Scott Tinker on a spectacular global adventure to find out.

Energy is the foundation of modern life. Our transportation, global commerce, food and water, housing, medicine, communications and computing all depend on it. Yet energy is in a sweeping period of transition. Renewables are entering the landscape. Unconventional gas and oil are changing our ideas of supply. Opinions on nuclear are shifting. Carbon concerns may, or may not, affect global production and consumption.

Dr. Tinker explores the world’s leading energy sites, from coal to solar, oil to biofuels, many highly restricted and never before seen on film. He gets straight answers from the people driving energy today, international leaders of government, industry and academia. In the end, he cuts through the confusion to discover a path to our future that is surprising and remarkably pragmatic.

Switch is part of the Switch Energy Project, a film, web, and educational effort designed to build a balanced understanding of energy.

Contacting Us

You can contact us via our Branch email, hawkesbay.rsnz@gmail.com


Science, Innovation and Economic Prosperity: Sir Peter Gluckman

Sir Peter Gluckman presented two lectures on 31 July 2013 entitled “Science, innovation and economic prosperity”.

The first lecture at Lindisfarne College in Hastings was for educationists and students. The second at the Eastern Institute of Technology was for our members, community and business leaders and the general public. These were excellent presentations for a passionate champion of science and objective data for policy development.

Sir Peter outlined a number of the roles he has and why he feels so strongly about increasing research and innovation in New Zealand. Comparing New Zealand to other countries, he finds marked gaps in research policy and culture and in economic performance. Through various initiatives, he believes we can make a difference, in particular if we support and invest in our young researchers and innovators.

Sir Peter Gluckman, KNZM FRSNZ FMedSci FRS, is Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister.

After training as a physician specialising in paediatrics, Sir Peter has spent the greater part of his professional life in scientific research. He founded the world-class Liggins Institute and is a globally renowned thinker in the field of endocrinology, with a particular focus on foetal and child growth.

He has received numerous awards from scientific societies and academies. In 2001 he was awarded New Zealand’s highest scientific honour, the Rutherford Medal, and is the only New Zealander elected to be a Foreign Member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2011, Sir Peter was awarded the inaugural Callaghan Medal for outstanding contribution to science communication, in particular for raising public awareness of the value of science to human progress.

Sir Peter’s visit to Hawke’s Bay was made possible through the support of the Royal Society of New Zealand and Massey University.

2013 Hochstetter Lecture: Dr Mark Quigley

The 2010-2012 Canterbury Earthquake Sequence: pushing the limits of geological seismology using backyard science

The Canterbury earthquake sequence (CES) started with the 2010 moment magnitude (Mw) 7.1 Darfield earthquake and includes thousands of Mw ≥ 3 aftershocks, most notably the fatal 22 February Mw 6.2 Christchurch earthquake.

Dr Quigley described how the largest CES earthquakes caused geologic and geomorphic processes that changed the Canterbury landscape. Some of these changes lasted only hours and others will persist in the geologic record for thousands to millions of years or longer.

Using numerous examples, he described how careful documentation of the geomorphic and geologic effects of the Canterbury earthquake sequence, and comparing these with instrumental seismic data, is important because it helps to define the seismic thresholds for generating these phenomena and it enables paleoseismologists to better interpret these features when they are observed in the geologic record.

Dr Quigley’s heavily illustrated talk summarised the impacts of the Canterbury earthquake sequence and showed new evidence for the timing, extent, and conditions of prehistoric earthquakes in the Canterbury region, including penultimate rupture on the Greendale Fault, prehistoric liquefaction in eastern Christchurch, and prehistoric rockfall in the Port Hills south of Christchurch.

Better attention to the geologic record will help us to avoid further land planning mistakes and increase societal and financial resilience to future earthquakes both in Christchurch and elsewhere in New Zealand.

Dr. Mark C. Quigley is Senior Lecturer in Active Tectonics and Geomorphology in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Canterbury. www.drquigs.com/


Einstein’s Universe: Professor Brian Foster and violinist Jack Liebeck

Professor Brian Foster presented his lecture entitled “Einstein’s Universe” at the Municipal Theatre, Napier, on Tuesday 16 July. He was accompanied by violinist Jack Liebeck. Their illustrated talk covered the grand sweep of modern physics – from Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to the Large Hadron Collider and the Higgs Boson – illustrated with the violin music that Einstein loved to play.

Widely acclaimed in the press and featured on the BBC, Brian and Jack have presented the illustrated talk Einstein’s Universe around the world and toured New Zealand in July 2013.

Brian Foster is Professor of Experimental Physics at Oxford and Alexander von Humboldt Professor at the University of Hamburg. He is European Director of the Linear Collider Collaboration at CERN, Switzerland.

Jack Liebeck, ‘Young British Performer of the Year’ and founder of The Fibonacci Sequence, has established a reputation as one of Europe’s most exciting young violinists. He has appeared in major venues across Europe and recorded to enormous critical acclaim both on CD and with the BBC. Jack plays the ‘Ex-Wilhelmj’ Guadagnini dated 1785.

The lecture was followed at the same venue by a concert of chamber music that Einstein played and loved. This special event was organised by Chamber Music New Zealand and the Royal Society of New Zealand.  It featured Jack Liebeck, Victoria Sayles (violin), Julia Joyce (viola), Andrew Joyce (cello) and Stephen De Pledge (piano). The music was varied, with different combinations of members in each of four main sets.