Thursday, 18 May: 2023 Gibbons Online Lecture – AI Colonisation and Mātauranga Sovereignty

The 2023 Gibbons Lectures series is intended to describe ongoing research in Computer Science to a wider public, organized by Faculty of Science, University of Auckland.

Karaitiana Taiuru, Taiuru & Associates

Thursday 18 May, 6.30pm

Venue: Lib B15 Lecture Theatre General Library Basement, (109-B15) The University of Auckland 5 Alfred Street, Auckland CBD, register your place here.

This lecture will be available to livestream here.

Māori and indeed all indigenous peoples are on the brink of being colonised again with generative AI if they are not a part of the ethics, initial planning and decision-making processes, as beta testers, co-developers, the entire life cycle from inception to deployment and then in a monitoring capacity. The talk will then discuss the positive impacts of generative AI with te reo Māori and future considerations for Māori Peoples with generative AI in our traditional settings such as marae and pōwhiri.

Iwi affiliations include Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Toa.

Dr Karaitiana Taiuru is a future thinking leader with Te Tiriti, Māori culture, mātauranga, te ao Māori, tikanga and how those rights and beliefs are applied to the digital world and biological sciences. He is a director of his boutique research and Māori cultural advisory company Taiuru & Associates.

Thursday, 25 May: 2023 Gibbons Online Lecture – How does generative AI work and what is its future?

The 2023 Gibbons Lectures series is intended to describe ongoing research in Computer Science to a wider public, organized by Faculty of Science, University of Auckland.

Jiamou Liu, School of Computer Science, University of Auckland

Thursday 25 May, 6:30pm

Venue: Lib B15 Lecture Theatre General Library Basement, (109-B15) The University of Auckland 5 Alfred Street, Auckland CBD, register your place here.

This lecture will be available to livestream here.

Graph analysis is an increasingly important tool in modern data science, providing powerful ways to represent and analyse complex structured data. In this talk, we will discuss recent advances in graph analysis, including data mining and social network analysis, as well as the use of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) for tasks such as node classification and link prediction. We will also explore recent techniques in contrastive learning for graphs and data augmentation for graphs, which have enabled significant improvements in the accuracy and robustness of graph-based models.

Jiamou currently holds a position as a Senior Lecturer at the School of Computer Science at The University of Auckland. Graduated with a PhD in Computer Science from the same university in 2010, he has held academic positions at institutions including the University of Leipzig in Germany and AUT in NZ. Jiamou’s research is focused on a variety of areas, including data mining, multi-agent systems, and natural language processing. His work published in prestigious venues such as NeurIPS, ICML, and ACL. He has served as a Program Committee member for leading conferences in the field, including AAAI, IJCAI, and AAMAS.

Thursday, 1 June: 2023 Gibbons Online Lecture – ChatGPT and the Road to Artificial General Intelligence?

The 2023 Gibbons Lectures series is intended to describe ongoing research in Computer Science to a wider public, organized by Faculty of Science, University of Auckland.

James Maclaurin, Co-Director, Centre for AI and Public Policy, University of Otago

Thursday 1 June, 6:30pm

Venue: Lib B15 Lecture Theatre General Library Basement, (109-B15) The University of Auckland 5 Alfred Street, Auckland CBD, register your place here.

This lecture will be available to livestream here.

Recent progress in Large Language Models and tools like ChatGPT built upon them will have radical consequences for the future of life and work in Aotearoa. Some, including OpenAI who make ChatGPT, suggest this technology is now a promising route to the development of artificial general intelligence. The  plausibility of such claims rests in part on whether such systems can exhibit distinctively human capacities such as belief, desire, knowledge, reasoning, and  autonomy. This talk asks what philosophical analysis of such phenomena can tell us about the possibility of recreating them in software. It also discusses the utility of artificial general intelligence as a measure of our success at creating intelligent machines.

James is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Otago. His research spans the philosophy of artificial intelligence, philosophy of science, applied ethics  and metaphilosophy. He has devised and co-ordinates  “When Machines Decide”, a new multi-disciplinary course on the social, ethical, and legal implications of AI. James is co-director of Otago’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Public Policy and co-investigator on New Zealand Law Foundation-funded reports on  the impact of AI on jobs and work in Aotearoa as well as government use of AI. He is co-author of  A Citizen’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence with MIT Press.

Bird Evolution – from Dinosaurs to DNA

AllanWilsonSeries2015Scott Edwards, Prof. of Zoology, Curator of Ornithology, Harvard University
Wednesday, 12 August 2015 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Napier venue: National Aquarium of New Zealand, Marine Parade, 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.

In this lecture, Scott Edwards explains that birds are the living descendants of dinosaurs.  This theory, based almost entirely on the size and shape of fossilized bones, is now the world view shared by most evolutionists.  What is less well known is that the genomes of birds – comprised of over 1 billion DNA letters and thousands of genes – bear traces of their dinosaur ancestry as well.

Modern genomics reveals how bird genomes reflect their streamlined and high-energy lifestyles, epitomized by their ability to fly. Deciphering the language of DNA reveals the origin of birds’ unique traits, such as feathers, the mystery of evolutionary reversals, such as loss of flight, and provides clues to their stunning diversity and survival in the face of global environmental change.


Scott Edwards is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He moved to Harvard University in late 2003 as a Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology after serving as a faculty for 9 years in the Zoology Department and the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Scott‘s interest in ornithology and natural history began as a child growing up in Riverdale, Bronx, NYC, where he undertook his first job in environmental science working for an environmental institute called Wave Hill.He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1986.

In New Guinea and Australia he researched ecology of birds-of-paradise and studied the genetics and population structure of a group of cooperatively breeding songbirds called babblers (Pomatostomus) found throughout Australia and New Guinea. He received his PhD in 1992 from the Department of Zoology and Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, in 1992.  He conducted postdoctoral research in avian disease genetics at the University of Florida, Gainesville.  He has conducted museum-based fieldwork throughout the U.S., Australia and the Pacific region and has interests in many aspects of avian biology, including evolutionary history and biogeography, disease ecology, population genetics and comparative genomics.

He has served on the National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration, the Senior Advisory Boards of the US National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), and on the Advisory Boards of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian.  He oversees a program funded by the National Science Foundation to increase the diversity of undergraduates in evolutionary biology and biodiversity science.  He is currently serving as Director of the Division of Biological Infrastructure in the Biology Directorate of the National Science Foundation.

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.

Download flier here>

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

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.

Download printable flier here>




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.

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)

When Does Science Go Beyond Hypothesis Testing?

Professor Martin Manning at the Holt Planetarium, Chambers St, Napier

Thursday 12 February at 7:30 pm

martin-manningProf. Martin Manning represented New Zealand on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He spent five years in Colorado managing the recent IPCC assessment of the physical science of climate change and was a member of the IPCC that was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He is now responsible for establishing an interdisciplinary New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute hosted by Victoria University.

Prof. Manning delivered an excellent presentation questioning traditional science approaches based strongly on hypothesis testing. He noted that scientists working in the physical and natural sciences are often told that they should propose a hypothesis and test it thoroughly.

This relates to classic works by statistician Ronald Fisher in the first half of the twentieth century that moved away from subjective forms of inference and focussed on explicitly formulating and testing hypotheses.However, another leading statistician, George Box, showed that some forms of subjective judgement will always be involved. Then German climate scientist, Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, noted that “hypotheses about global change are the less falsifiable the more they are relevant to humanity”.

An example: A new and very detailed model for the Antarctic ice sheets now explains why sea level was 20m higher in the past and implies that it could increase by as much as 2m in the next 100 years. But do we really want to test that model by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and what would it mean for the Hawke’s Bay coastline and flood plains? If not, at what point does, or did, further testing of climate models become unnecessary to scientifically justify radical changes in our use of fossil fuels?

Prof. Manning was in Hawke’s Bay to present at “Future Directions of Rationalism and Humanism“, a three day conference for New Zealand Rationalists, Humanists, Skeptics.