The rise and fall of tuatara and wasps

Victoria Uni Extinction vortex Flier

Lecture Theatre 1, Eastern Institute of Technology, Taradale
Wednesday 19 August at 5.30pm

If you would like to attend, please email  with ‘Napier lecture’ in the subject line or phone 04-463 5791 by Friday 14 August.

Leading ecology experts from Victoria University of Wellington are visiting Napier this month to give a public lecture on two animal populations facing very different challenges.

Dr Nicky Nelson and Professor Phil Lester from Victoria’s School of Biological Sciences will discuss the population dynamics of tuatara and wasps at their talk at the Eastern Institute of Technology.

Tuatara are iconic New Zealand animals facing possible extinction as a result of climate change, with rising temperatures impacting on the sex-ratio of the species, leading to a greater number of males being born.

Dr Nicky Nelson, who is also a Principal Investigator at the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, will present a case study considering these impacts, the role of re-introduced tuatara populations, and what conservation actions can help  save these national treasures, or taonga.

Professor Lester will discuss methods being developed to take the sting out of one of New Zealand’s most abundant, widely distributed and damaging pests—the common wasp.

It has been estimated that wasp numbers need to be reduced by up to 90 percent to effect an increase in the survival probability rates of our native animals. Professor Lester will discuss novel pest control projects he is leading as part of a National Science Challenge, including using mites, gene silencing and artificial pheromones.

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Symphony of the Soil

SymphonyoftheSoil6 – 8 PM, Tuesday 25 August 2015
Century Cinema, MTG, Napier

In this International Year of Soils, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has arranged a public viewing of the innovative documentary, “Symphony of the Soil” by Deborah Koons Garcia.

“Drawing from ancient knowledge and cutting edge science, Symphony of the Soil is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance soil. By understanding the elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource.”

“The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil’s key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time.”

The showing of the movie will be followed by pizza and a discussion forum.

Download printable flier here>

Gold coin donation, koha

IntYearofSoils HBRCColourLogo70mm

When Neanderthals and modern humans (and Denisovans) met


Tom Higham, Prof. Archaeological Science, University of Oxford

Thursday, 17 September 2015 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Napier venue: Century Theatre, MTG, Herschell St, Napier

The Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society is delighted to be included in the Allan Wilson Centre’s 2015 International Lecture Series.

To ensure a seat, go to: click ‘Register Online’ under ‘Events’.

Tom Higham will discuss the period from 60,000 to 30,000 years ago, which saw the final dispersal of moderns out of Africa, colonising the Old World and Australia, and the disappearance of Neanderthals from the areas they had occupied for 200,000 years. We now know through ancient DNA research that ancient modern humans and Neanderthals probably interbred prior to the wider dispersal of modern people.

TomTimHigham is the Deputy Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, administers the Unit’s archaeological dating programmes and is secretary to the NERC – AHRC National Radiocarbon Facility advisory panel.

His research interests revolve around archaeological dating using AMS, radiocarbon AMS dating of bone, the chronology of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of Europe, reservoir effects in 14C, the application of Bayesian calibration methods to archaeological dating, dating novel sample types and sample pretreatment chemistry.

Our Moon: a source of wonder and mystery

Gary Sparks, Director, Holt Planetarium

Tuesday 23 June 2015 7:30 PM Holt Planetarium, Chambers St, Napier

A lecture following the Hawke’s Bay Branch Annual General Meeting.

Gary Sparks2Gary Sparks is President of the Hawke’s Bay Astronomical Society and Director of the Holt Planetarium in Napier.

In 2000, A Royal Society Teacher Fellowship enabled Gary to spend a year at the Holt Planetarium developing education programmes and curriculum resources.  In 2002 he was appointed Director of the Holt Planetarium, a role he continues to hold teaching astronomy and space education from pre-school to primary through secondary school.

In this lecture, Gary will discuss the Moon. He says, “The moon is our nearest neighbour in space. It has long been a source of wonder and mystery. This talk will look at the formation of the moon and how its appearance has enchanted people throughout the centuries.”

HoltPlanetarium     HBAstronomicalSoc

Slowly Slipping Earthquakes at the Hikurangi Subduction Zone


Laura Wallace, University of Texas Institute for Geophysics

Tuesday 30 June 2015 at 7:30pm
National Aquarium of New Zealand, Marine Parade Napier

The Hikurangi subduction zone is where the Pacific Plate dives down or “subducts” beneath the eastern North Island. The boundary between the eastern North Island and the Pacific Plate is called the Hikurangi megathrust.  In this pressentation, Laura Wallace will discuss “slow slip events”, which are an exciting new form of fault slip behavior observed on the Hikurangi megathrust beneath the Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Kapiti, and Manawatu regions.

Slow slip events beneath the North Island also have important implications for our understanding of the earthquake and tsunami hazard posed by the Hikurangi megathrust. The talk will also introduce a recent international scientific investigation of slow slip events and earthquakes offshore Gisborne that involved the deployment of 35 seafloor instruments belonging to the United States and Japan. The instruments were deployed between May 2014 and June 2015 to monitor seismicity and seafloor deformation related to slow slip beneath Poverty Bay.

Laura WallaceDr. Laura Wallace is a Research Scientist at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics. Prior to joining the University of Texas, Laura was a research scientist at GNS Science in Lower Hutt for nearly a decade.

Laura is one of the scientists from the research vessel “The Roger Revelle” that is doing seismic work on our coast.

Laura uses a variety of methods to investigate deformation of the Earth’s crust at tectonic plate boundaries, with a particular focus on subduction zone plate boundaries.  She undertakes research at various locations in the western Pacific, and she has spent much of her career trying to better understand earthquake processes on the Hikurangi subduction zone beneath the eastern North Island.

Much of her recent work has been focused on investigating “slow slip events”, a recently discovered form of fault slip behavior, which are now known to occur frequently on Hikurangi subduction zone.

Members and friends are inviited to this National Aquarium of New Zealand Lecture

Admission: Gold coin donation

Please direct any enquiries to

The Energy Revolution

Prof. Jeffery Tallon FRSNZ, Victoria University

Tuesday, 28 July, 7pm, National Aquarium, Marine Parade, Napier

The age of fossil fuels is coming to an end.  Global warming from their burning is undeniable.  But when will tomorrow begin?

Will there be a long transition period, with a mish-mash of renewables, while we learn to harness the sun’s energy efficiently, as plants have been doing for 3.5 billion years?  Is there even enough sunlight striking the Earth to supply the increasing energy demands of 6-9 billion humans?  Nuclear energy may be the only realistic alternative for some countries but it’s not an option for a nuclear-averse country like New Zealand, with a small population and large land area split in two.  Can our renewable energy sources satisfy the extra load of a wholesale conversion to electric vehicles?  Or would it be simpler just to filter the CO2 out of vehicle and other emissions instead?  What are the options likely to mean for more remote centres like Nelson, Napier, Whanganui, Tauranga, and oil and gas-producing New Plymouth?

jeff-tallonJeffery Tallon CNZM, FRSNZ, HonFIPENZ is Professor of Physics at Robinson Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington. He is internationally known for his research and discoveries in high-temperature superconductors (HTS), both fundamental and applied, leading eventually to commercialization through the company HTS-110 Ltd. His research has focused on the thermodynamics, magnetism, spectroscopy and electronic transport properties of superconductors.

Professor Tallon’s other research interests include nanotechnology, organic/inorganic hybrid materials and physics at high pressure. He has received many awards for his work, including the Rutherford Medal, the Dan Walls Medal for Physics and, with Professor Bob Buckley, the inaugural New Zealand Prime Minister’s Science Medal for commercialization of fundamental science. He is the 2015/16 IEEE Distinguished Lecturer in Applied Superconductivity. Dr Tallon has been a frequent Visiting Professor at Cambridge University and a Visiting Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge.

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The MacDiarmid Institute is supporting regional development with this series of free public talks, organised in association with the Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Dinosaurs & space-shuttles

Dinosaurs and Space Shuttles

Dr Phil Manning
hosted by the Royal Society of New Zealand
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Napier venue: National Aquarium, Marine Parade

Register now (gold coin entry)
Download flyer

In 1999, the mummified remains of a hadrosaur dinosaur were discovered in North Dakota, USA. Skin, muscle, tendons and other soft tissue that rarely survive fossilisation were preserved in this 67-million-year-old dinosaur, allowing scientists to estimate its muscle mass and ability to outrun its predators. Dr Phil Manningand his team obtained scanning equipment normally used on space shuttles at NASA to examine the remarkable fossil and they made some surprising discoveries about these ancient creatures.

This talk will take you on a whistle stop tour of the people, places and science associated with a very special fossil dinosaur called Dakota.

Dr Phil ManningPalaeontologist and writer Dr Phil Manning is Professor of Natural History at the University of Manchester and Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre of Ancient Life. Phil has appeared in and presented many television documentaries for the BBC, Discovery and History Channels, and is currently filming two new documentaries to be released later this year.

Phil plays an active role in Manchester Museum’s public outreach programme and has authored popular science books. He blogs atDinosaur CSI and tweets @DrPhilManning.

More information about Dinosaurs & space-shuttles on the Royal Society of New Zealand website

This tour is a partnership between the Royal Society of New Zealand and Museums Aotearoa.


Tangata Whenua – New Perspectives

Atholl Anderson and Aroha Harris

5.30–7.00pm Monday 27 April 2015, Century Theatre, MTG Hawke’s Bay, Napier

TangataWhenuaAtholl Anderson, FRSNZ and Aroha Harris will talk about new perspectives on Māori history, drawing on their work for Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History.  This book is shortlisted for the 2015 Science Book Prize.

Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History charts the sweep of Māori history from ancient origins through to the twenty-first century. Through narrative and images, it offers a striking overview of the past, grounded in specific localities and histories.
The story begins with the migration of ancestral peoples out of South China, some 5,000 years ago. More at Bridget Williams Books

Judges’ comments

Tangata Whenua is a beautifully produced, well illustrated and comprehensive record of the tangata whenua. Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney and Aroha Harris present archaeological and genetic evidence alongside history, traditional narratives and oral sources to produce this powerful story – both scholarly and readable – of Maori people and the land they live in.

This is a free public event – for more information, contact Dianne Park:, (06) 833 9936

Download flier here>



Biological Trickling Filter Site Visit

Thursday 19 March 2015, 5.30pm. Napier BFT Plant, 55 Waitangi Road Awatoto, Napier.

The Hawke’s Bay Branch of IPENZ invites members of IPENZ and the Hawkes Bay Branch of RSNZ to join them for a site visit to observe the Napier Biological Trickling Filter (BFT) plant now in operation.


Ten years in the planning, the Biological Trickling Filter (BTF) plant was built alongside the existing milliscreening plant at Awatoto. The wastewater treatment upgrade provides a secondary treatment process that includes grit removal followed by biological treatment.  The design allows for further treatment stages to be added in future if required.

Use Main Treatment Gate for access and parking (Gate 2).

Safety Requirements: High Visibility Jacket, sensible shoes are required for access to the site. Please bring these items for your visit.

RSVP: Please confirm your visit to John Warren (06 845 4623)