Thur 4 April 2019: Development of natural fibre composites for a more sustainable future

Thursday 4 April 2019 at 6pm

Professor Kim Pickering

School of Engineering, University of Waikato

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 2

Admission: Gold coin donation

Composite materials commonly contain glass fibre with a matrix, and are used in a wide range of products such as bath tubs, shower cubicles, skateboards, surfboards, furniture and even bridges, as they can be very strong and stiff. However, these materials require a high input of energy to create and they are not recyclable or biodegradable. Professor Pickering will present some of her work on high performance composites from more sustainable materials.

Kim received her PhD in composite materials in 1993 from the University of Surrey, following on from her first degree from Imperial College, University of London and industrial work in the electronic materials sector (Plessey UK). She moved to NZ shortly after, where she formed and heads the Composites Research Group in the Engineering School of the University of Waikato.

Her work involves understanding the failure mechanisms of materials to enable improvement of their performance. She has researched extracting and using the fibres from hemp, wood and harakeke (New Zealand flax), to make strong and lightweight composite materials. She has also developed bio-derived plastic matrix materials to enable production of fully bio-derived composites, along with bio-processing technology for their improvement.

In recognition of her research, Kim was elected as a Fellow of Engineering New Zealand and is a Kudos Award recipient. In 2017 she was awarded the Scott Medal by the Royal Society Te Apārangi, for development of composite materials that are more sustainable.

19 Mar 2019: Lead in Our Home and Garden – Personal and National Effects

Watch the video of this lecture here:

Tuesday 19 March 2019 at 6.00pm

Ben Keet, MBA, FRSC, Senior Environmental Auditor

 Lecture Theatre 1, EIT, Gloucester Street, Taradale

Admission: Gold coin donation

The New Zealand government wants its citizens to be healthier and more productive. The Healthy Homes Initiative and the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health should take care of most threats to our national health one would say. However, both overlook the large grey elephant in the room: lead. Our older housing stock, approximately 250,000 according to Statistics New Zealand, has high levels of lead in and around the house.

While lead’s toxicity was recognised and recorded as early as 2000 BC, efforts to limit lead’s use date back to the 16th century. First evidence on the impact of lead exposure at low levels began to emerge only in the 1970s.Recently, it’s been determined that there can be no safe threshold for lead exposure.

But what does low-level lead exposure mean for Kiwis and the economy of New Zealand? How are we to know if lead is a problem in our homes? And, finally, what is the possible long-term solution to the low-level lead poisoning on the New Zealand economy?

Ben Keet, a certified contaminated land specialist and environmental scientist with over 30 years of international experience in the management of contaminated land, has extensively studied lead poisoning and its impact on humans and the national economy of New Zealand as part of his MBA thesis. He has researched the way lead particles behave in homes and the surrounding environment.

5 Mar 2019 Ocean detectives – tracking plastics in our marine environment

Tuesday 5 March 2019 at 7pm

National Aquarium Marine Parade Napier

Heni Unwin and Ross Vennell, Cawthron Institute

Over/under split photo of a plastic bag floating on the surface of a coral lagoon

Plastic waste is a global problem and is destroying marine environments. Plastic that is dumped in the sea or ends up in the ocean can accumulate on beaches or be transported many kilometres by ocean currents.

Scientists from the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge are developing a new digital tool to track how ocean currents transport plastics.    Using modelling data for Cook Strait and Tasman-Golden Bays, they have produced an interactive tool which allows users to “drop” a piece of virtual plastic into the ocean and watch where the ocean currents take it. This tool could eventually help to manage the impact of plastics in our marine environment. It can also be used as a teaching resource for students studying marine pollution.

In this Royal Society Lecture, Heni Unwin and Ross Vennell from Cawthron will give a demo of the plastic tracking tool and talk about the ocean modelling data that drives it.




26 Feb 2019 Dancing with Atoms – a film by Shirley Horrocks

Tuesday 26 February 2019 at 6pm

EIT Lecture Theatre 1

Admission by Gold coin donation

Sir Paul Callaghan was a great scientist who was honoured internationally but also became a famous local figure through his talks about science with Kim Hill, his work for the environment, his links with writers and artists, and his great campaign to make New Zealand ‘A place where talent wants to live.’

In this film director Shirley Horrocks focuses on the microscopic world that so entranced Sir Paul. He became a world expert on magnetic resonance, like a choreographer able to direct the dance of atoms. The film includes a beautifully composed mosaic of memories and anecdotes by his brother Jim, friends, students, colleagues, scientists and artists, eager to record his unique personality and vision.

See a trailer here:

This film has been funded by the MacDiarmid Institute, Callaghan Innovation, Massey University, Kiwibank, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Royal Society Te Aparangi, University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Otago, AUT, Waikato University and University of Canterbury.

102 minutes

13 Feb 2019 1931 Earthquake Commemorative lecture: Shaky Times – The Christchurch earthquakes and all that followed

Wednesday 13 February at 5.30pm

National Aquarium, Marine Parade, Napier

Associate Professor Caroline Bell

Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Canterbury
Clinical Head of the Anxiety Disorders Service, Canterbury District Health Board.

Gold coin admission

Over an 18 month period between 2010 and 2011 there were 4 major earthquakes and over 12,000 aftershocks in Christchurch, New Zealand. This resulted in 185 deaths and huge damage to the city.  There were also widespread secondary stressors including complex economic and practical consequences which compounded the difficulties of many.

As a result some people developed mental health disorders, some reported subsyndromal problems, some post-traumatic growth but most just soldiered on. This highlights the enigma of understanding why some people develop PTSD after exposure to a traumatic life event while others, exposed to the same experiences, do not.

From her experience as a psychiatrist dealing with the spectrum of responses over this period, Dr Bell will discuss the psychological impact of the Christchurch earthquakes. This includes how people were affected, the phases of what was seen, what was helpful and the challenges of working in a chaotic, post-disaster environment.

Since the Canterbury earthquakes Caroline has been the clinical lead of a specialist mental health service set up to treat people with post traumatic earthquake related distress. She has been studying the psychological and neurobiological effects of the earthquakes in both people presenting with significant earthquake related distress and those identifying as resilient.

Caroline Bell EQ slides 2019

30 Jan 2019 The Story of Polio: the disease, vaccines and hopes for eradication

Wednesday 30 January 2019 at 7.00pm

Holt’s Planetarium, NBHS, Chambers Street, Napier

Michelle Tanner

Rotary District Polio Chair
Projects Facilitator,
Immunisation Advisory Centre

Admission: Gold coin donation

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of Rotary’s first project to vaccinate children against Polio, and the dream of a polio-free world has motivated their work ever since. They became the driving force behind the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the biggest public health initiative the world has ever seen. Today, rates of polio have been reduced by 99.9% and the disease remains endemic in only two countries. The last case of polio the world will ever see seems imminent.

Come and listen to the story of polio: the disease, its vaccines and how close we are to eradication, from immunisation expert nurse and Rotarian, Michelle Tanner.

Michelle has nursed for over 40 years, initially in intensive care in South Africa and UK, then in child health. For the last 15 years, since immigrating to New Zealand, she has worked in various roles with the Immunisation Advisory Centre.

Michelle joined Rotary in 2008, plays a key role locally in polio eradication and has visited Pakistan twice undertaking a range of polio eradication activities.

She is the recipient of the NZ College of Primary Healthcare Nurses Tall Poppy Award and Rotary International’s Regional Service Above Self Award, both for services to polio eradication.