Dancing with Viruses: Unravelling the Mysteries of Persistent Viral Infections and Their Aftermath

Speaker: Dr Richard Meech

Date: Thursday, 23 May 2024, 6pm

Venue: Napier Sailing Club, 63 West Quay, Ahuriri, Napier

Admission: Gold coin donation

Join us for an enlightening lecture that explores the ongoing battle against viral infections and their long-lasting effects on human health. In “Dancing with Viruses,” Dr. Richard Meech will discuss the persistent challenges of diseases like long-COVID and HIV/AIDS, their global impact, and how medical science responds to these invisible enemies. This session will offer valuable insights into the mechanisms of viral persistence, the evolution of diseases like influenza, and the advances that have transformed deadly viruses into manageable conditions.

Our speaker, Dr. Richard Meech, is a distinguished figure in the field of infectious diseases with a career spanning several decades. Graduating from Otago University in 1969, he specialized in infectious diseases at St. George’s Hospital in London and later served as a Senior Lecturer in Medicine and a Consultant Physician. Dr. Meech has been a pivotal member of various health advisory committees, contributing significantly to HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis research and policy. Awarded the MNZN for his services to Public Health, Dr. Meech’s expertise and experiences provide profound insights into the challenges and successes in combating viral diseases.

Battling Plant Plagues: How epidemic models can help control outbreaks

Speaker: Rebecca Campbell, Plant Pathology Scientist, Plant & Food Research

Date: Thursday, 9 May 2024, 6pm

Venue: Pacific Surf Club (26 Marine Parade, Bluff Hill, Napier )

Admission: Gold coin donation

Ever wonder how we fight the invisible enemies that threaten our crops and gardens? Enter into the Rebecca’s world of combating plant diseases with her case studies on two notorious culprits: the apple tree’s foe, European canker, and the native plant killer, myrtle rust. She will focus on the development and use of epidemic models to predict outbreaks and their spread to inform decisions on the nature, extent and timing of interventions.

Learn about the challenges of managing diseases in our changing environment and the innovative strategies used to outsmart them. Whether you’re a gardening enthusiast, a nature lover, or just curious about the science behind plant disease, there will be something in this talk for you.

Dr. Rebecca Campbell is a distinguished Plant Pathology Scientist at Plant and Food Research, Motueka, known for her pioneering work in protecting our ecosystems against plant diseases. Awarded the MBIE Science Whitinga Fellowship for her groundbreaking research in epidemiological models, she focuses on the challenges posed by diseases such as European canker, myrtle rust, and Xylella fastidiosa in New Zealand. With a rich background in ecology, entomology, and geospatial analytics, and a PhD from the University of Canterbury investigating stream ecosystem dynamics, Dr. Campbell’s career is dedicated to the intersection of science and nature, aiming to safeguard plant health and biodiversity.

Building a wind farm through Covid-19 and cyclones

Speaker: James Mear, Project Manager for Meridian Energy’s Harapaki wind farm

Date: Tuesday, 9 April 2024, 6pm

Venue: Pacific Surf Club (26 Marine Parade, Bluff Hill, Napier )

Admission: Gold coin donation

Join us for an insightful session with James Mear, Project Manager for Meridian Energy’s Harapaki wind farm. Dive into the journey of constructing the second largest wind farm in Aotearoa, set to bolster Hawke’s Bay with unprecedented resiliency and security of supply. This 41-turbine project on the Maungaharuru Range showcases our commitment to renewable energy and a decarbonized economy. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about the challenges and triumphs of building a greener future.

James Mear brings over two decades of expertise in managing significant capital projects globally, including the notable Watchman Road project. As a chartered civil engineer, his experience with Meridian Energy highlights a dedication to sustainable development. With Meridian’s portfolio of wind farms, hydro power stations, and solar arrays, James’s work exemplifies our journey towards a sustainable planet. Join him to explore the intricacies of developing renewable energy infrastructure that stands the test of time and nature.

Individual and Systemic Climate Action: Aotearoa New Zealand from an international perspective

Speaker: Kai Greenlees, Watson Fellow

Date: Thursday, 14 March 2024, 6pm

Venue: Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (159 Dalton Street, Napier)

Admission: Gold coin donation

Have you ever wondered if or how individual climate action makes any difference? What’s the relationship between your household composting and the international Paris Climate Agreement? In this conversation, we will explore how international climate commitments, national climate legislation, regional climate plans, and household action are all essential for enabling rapid and equitable climate mitigation.

Kai will present a framework to visualise how our daily individual actions and grassroots efforts enable systemic change at a large scale, and how system change, in turn, can reinforce localised efforts. While Kai comes with an international perspective, climate action will be framed within the current New Zealand and Hawke’s Bay Region context. This solutions-oriented conversation will aim to challenge the dominant framing of individual action, discuss what systems change means in practice, and explore what a sustainable transformation could look like locally.

Kai Greenlees is an interdisciplinary social scientist with a background in geography and social psychology based in the UK. Originally from the U.S., Kai graduated from Vassar College in 2020 and has been studying and working at the nexus of psychology, sustainability, and systems science. This year, Kai is supported by the Watson Fellowship to carry out a year-long independent passion project titled, ‘Individual and Systems Change: Exploring interconnected pathways to rapid climate mitigation’. Through the fellowship, Kai has been travelling to connect with grassroots organisations, businesses, and civil servants from different sectors and communities to explore how diverse actions across multiple scales contribute to the ecosystem of change needed to address the climate crisis. Prior to the Watson Fellowship, Kai received their Master of Research in Sustainable Futures from the University of Exeter and was a Policy Analyst for the Carbon Trust in London. Kai is also a member of the UK Youth Climate Coalition, supporting the Systems Change working group.

Biology and conservation of kororā (little penguins) – 2024 Seaweek lecture

Speaker: Dr John Cockrem, Massey University, Palmerston North

Date: Tuesday, 5 March 2024, 6:00pm (Door open from 5:30pm)

Venue: National Aquarium of New Zealand, 546 Marine Parade, Napier

Admission: Gold coin donation

In the face of declining kororā (little penguin) populations along New Zealand’s coastlines, Dr John Cockrem’s upcoming lecture aims to shed light on the pressing challenges these charming birds face. As human activities and climate change continue to threaten their existence, understanding the biology, conservation status, and the impacts of these threats becomes crucial. Dr Cockrem, with over three decades of experience in penguin research, will delve into the life cycle, breeding biology, and feeding habits of the kororā, complemented by insights from at-sea tracking studies.

Dr Cockrem’s extensive career began with his pioneering research in Antarctica, focusing on Adelie and emperor penguins, and has evolved to spotlight the kororā as his main study species. His impactful work includes establishing new nestbox study sites across New Zealand and engaging in comprehensive field studies to determine the breeding success and survival of kororā. His dedication to penguin conservation is further demonstrated through his roles as a trustee and patron of penguin trusts, providing expert advice to local councils, and advocating for penguin protection in both legal and media arenas. Dr Cockrem’s efforts in kororā research and conservation have been recognized with prestigious awards, marking him as a key figure in the fight to preserve these unique creatures.

Is there a war on cars? 40 years studying health and transport

Speaker: Alistair Woodward, School of Population Health, University of Auckland

Date: Thursday 22 February 2024, 5:30pm

Venue: Napier Sailing Club, 63 West Quay, Ahuriri, Napier

Admission: Gold coin donation

How we get around is an issue for everyone, and there is no shortage of opinions on what works and what doesn’t. Some claim those who want to change things are engaged in a ‘war on cars’. Is this true? Come to this talk and find out. 

At present, in New Zealand, the burden of illness and injury caused by transport is probably as large as the effects of tobacco, or obesity. But transport systems, well done, can be health-improving.

Alistair Woodward will draw on 40 years of studying health and transport to describe the progress we have made, and will share his thoughts on what improvements lie ahead.

Professor Alistair is an epidemiologist and public health doctor who was born and raised in Ōtautahi Christchurch. He was Head of the School of Population Health at Auckland from 2004-2012 and previously led the departments of public health at the University of Otago Wellington, and the University of Adelaide. Ever since his years as a junior hospital doctor he has been curious about the influence of environmental factors on human health, since here, it often seemed, is an excellent opportunity to prevent disease and injury. His first position after postgraduate training in the UK was in a Road Accident Research Unit, and since then he has worked on many aspects of transport and health. Recently his research has focussed on environmental health issues in China; climate change impacts in the Pacific; the effects of street changes on health and safety; pathways to sustainable, healthy and fair transport systems; and the future of the bicycle.

Shake, Rattle, and Hold: Earthquake-Resistant Building Structures – The 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake Commemoration Lecture

Speaker: Professor Jason Ingham, University of Auckland

Date: Thursday, 15 February 2024, 5:30pm (Door open from 5pm)

Venue: National Aquarium of New Zealand, 546 Marine Parade, Napier

Admission: Gold coin donation

The 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake Commemoration Lecture, presented by the Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, is a pivotal event that delves into the Art Deco heritage of Hawke’s Bay. This year’s lecture holds special significance as it revisits and updates the insightful discussion led by Professor Jason Ingham a decade ago, in 2014.

Highlighting the resilience and beauty of the region’s Art Deco architecture, this lecture will also shed light on recent advancements in the assessment and upgrading of buildings for earthquake preparedness, particularly relevant to Hawke’s Bay.

We are pleased to have Professor Jason Ingham from the University of Auckland return as our speaker. Renowned for his expertise in structural engineering and seismic assessment, Professor Ingham’s work is crucial in preserving and reinforcing the historical structures that define our region. His research is an integral part of understanding and protecting our architectural heritage against natural disasters.

Thursday, 7 December: Farming Forward: Innovative Strategies for Weed Management

Speaker: Dan Bloomer

Date: Thursday, 7 December 2023 from 5.45 pm

Venue: Pacific Surf Club (26 Marine Parade, Bluff Hill, Napier)

Please register as space is limited
For Members: gold coin donation
Non-members (if space): $15

Image generated by Midjourney

An enlightening talk on pioneering the future of farming with sustainable practices by Researcher Dan Bloomer. In this talk, Dan will delve into the world of non-herbicide weed control within AgResearch’s extensive program on herbicide resistance management. Discover the cutting-edge alternatives, including ultra-low energy electric shocks against weed seedlings, and explore the latest in precision weeding technologies. From lasers and precision sprays to robotic cultivators, this presentation will shed light on innovative strategies reshaping our approach to crop production.

Image offered by Dan Bloomer

Leading the charge in sustainable agriculture, Dan Bloomer returns from Callaghan Innovation’s Horticultural Automation Immersion Tour, bringing state-of-the-art insights into farm robotics and precision agriculture. A respected figure in horticulture and soil science, Dan heads Page Bloomer’s agricultural consultancy and LandWISE. His work is currently focused on innovative non-herbicide weed control, regenerative farming methods, and studying the impacts of sediment from Cyclone Gabrielle. Dan’s expertise in sustainable crop production is both extensive and highly relevant in today’s agricultural landscape.

Thursday, 16 November: Fungi: A 55-Year Adventure in Mycology

Speaker: Eric McKenzie, Myclogist, LandCare Research

Date: Thursday, 16 November 2023 at 6.00pm

Venue: Napier Sailing Club, 63 West Quay, Ahuriri, Napier

Admission: Gold coin donation

Image offered by Eric

Join us on a captivating journey through five and a half decades of studying microfungi, where adventure meets discovery. Explore the intriguing world of microfungi, which can impact both animals and plants. We’ll unravel questions like the consequences of fungicides on fungal ‘flora’ in sheep pastures, the dual influence of endophytic fungi in ryegrass on sheep and plants, the mysteries of chalkbrood disease in Samoan bees compared to those in New Zealand, and the personal repercussions of encountering rust fungus-infected plants. Discover how New Zealand’s fungi were meticulously examined following visits to remote islands, and why a book titled “Collect Fungi on Stamps” earned its place among the ‘Top 10 Weirdest Book Titles.’ Delve into the purpose behind collecting, identifying, and compiling plant disease lists for Pacific countries through extensive visits across the region. And finally, gain insights into consultancies and student supervision in South East Asia, which led to expeditions in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China. This presentation offers a glimpse into a truly adventurous and fulfilling career in mycology.

photo offer by Eric

Eric, a distinguished mycologist, spent over four decades as the curator of the NZ Fungal and Plant Disease Fungarium, which houses a unique collection of fungi in the Southern Hemisphere. He holds a BSc (Hons) from Massey University and a PhD from Cambridge University. Throughout his career, Eric conducted extensive research on microfungi in pastures and contributed significantly to New Zealand fungal systematics. He played a pivotal role in plant disease surveys across the Pacific Islands and provided consultancy services in South East Asia. Eric is a Highly Cited Researcher and continues to work on Rust Fungi of New Zealand even in retirement.

Tuesday, 31 October: AI Today – the Pioneering World of Contemporary Artificial Intelligence (human written)

Speaker: James Simmonds, founder of Webfox

Date: Tuesday, 31 October at 6.00pm

Venue: Napier Sailing Club, 63 West Quay, Ahuriri, Napier

Admission: Gold coin donation

If you think this one was generated by ChatGPT, please leave your opinion in the comments below.

Image generated by Midjourney

The realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has seen unprecedented advances in recent years, particularly with the advent of state-of-the-art Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT. These developments have redefined the boundaries of technology and ushered in a sea of opportunities for businesses to harness. But with such rapid transformations, how do businesses navigate and integrate these innovative tools?

Image offered by James Simmonds

In this session, James will delve into the contemporary landscape of AI, shedding light on its practical implications for business. As the founder of Webfox — a pioneering software development company based in Ahuriri — he has been at the forefront of harnessing the latest technological innovations to provide businesses with a competitive edge. Through Webfox, James and his team design, develop and support various solutions ranging from bespoke software and mobile applications to cutting-edge AI solutions.

The talk will journey through:

The Evolving Landscape: Understanding the swift paradigm shift in technology with the emergence of LLMs and how traditional approaches are fast becoming obsolete.

Practical Applications: James will showcase how Webfox and other innovators leverage these new tools, presenting real-world applications.

Navigating Challenges: Tackling the security aspects, dealing with the uncertainties of nascent technologies, and ensuring robust solutions.

A Little R&D: James will share a few intriguing R&D projects and run over high-level developer concepts behind some groundbreaking innovations the Webfox team is working on.

Image offered by James Simmonds

James Simmonds, a curious software developer turned curious business owner, has consistently been at the intersection of technology and business. Through Webfox, he has combined his developer acumen with a forward-thinking business approach, always seeking to harness the latest technology. James brings a blend of technical knowledge, practical strategies, and a passion for the AI era.