Asia, Africa, Australasia: Auckland

Created On Saturday, 22 October 2011 12:05 By Administrator
Events are held on the last Wednesday of the month, March - October

The Horse and Trap
3 Enfield Street
Mount Eden, Auckland
Phone: 09 630 3055

More info:
Arrive 6pm for 6:30pm start until ~8pm

The Auckland Museum Institute presents

Cafe Scientifique - Auckland

Auckland Museum Institute Whaowhia 2012


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Visit our CafeScientifiqueNZ channel on YouTube to view archived videos of Cafe Scientifique events from 2011 and earlier.

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Remember: our events are always the last Wednesday of the month, March - October!

October 26, 2016


Do animals think like we do?

A/Prof Douglas Elliffe

School of Psychology, University of Auckland


When animals solve complex problems, do they do it in the same way people do?  Do they ‘understand’ the problem, or do they just repeat behaviour that’s worked in the past?  What would evidence for that look like?  Graham will explore recent experiments on this question, investigating causal understanding in the Aesop’s Fable problem, metatool use and behavioural innovation, and flexible tool manufacture, all by New Caledonian crows.  The conclusion may be that we underestimate animal intelligence, but that perhaps we overestimate human intelligence at the same time.


Doug Elliffe has had a long-standing research interest in animal behaviour and in particular in the similarities and differences between animal and human behaviour.  He is a recent Head of Psychology at Auckland, directs the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour Research Group, and is currently Deputy Dean of Science.


Recent speakers   

September 28, 2016

 An Incomplete Picture: Interpreting the Past in the Future

Louise Furey, Curator, Archaeology – Auckland Museum


New Zealand has a dynamic coastline and the sea is constantly eating away the land, carrying with it anything in its path. Are we considering the effect of rising sea levels on heritage sites, and the associated loss of information, which will affect our ability to interpret the past?


Louise has been an archaeologist for 35 years and has carried out site assessments and archaeological excavations in the upper North Island. Louise's research interests are focused on Māori material culture, Māori gardening, archaeology of the Coromandel Peninsula, and Polynesian-Māori sites of the first 100-200 years after arrival in Aotearoa.August 31, 2016

August 31, 2016
Black holes in space and time – the remarkable inadequacies of what we know about what we put in our mouths and what impact it has on our health
Ask anyone what they eat and the response is midway between outright fiction and distorted, rose-tinted memory. It’s hardly the solid base on which to build a better understanding of the impacts of eating patterns on health. Moreover, few studies have studied mid-life, those mysterious lost years between fertility and the end of life – yet there is good reason to speculate that during this period, nutrition remains vital for both survival and health! Join David Cameron-Smith for a discussion of our limited current understanding of our most important black hole (our mouths), and of the health consequences of unwanted surplus nutrition to health.

David Cameron-Smith is Chair of Nutrition, University of Auckland, based within the Liggins Institute. He is also Science Director of the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge, where the objective is to create economic gain through identifying relationships between food and health in areas of competitive advantage for NZ food and beverage exporters. He maintains an active research program directed towards nutrient digestion , focusing on protein and the complexities of what protein does to skeletal muscle

July 27, 2016
Why Online Dating Doesn’t Work
Dr Martin Graff
School of Psychology, University of South Wales
There is much evidence that being in a good relationship can be beneficial to our health, happiness and general well-being. However, should we resort to online dating in the pursuit of a happy relationship? Psychological research would seem to suggest that online dating may not be the easy answer. 
Come along and hear Dr Martin Graff talk about the reasons why we should be cautious in our online dating pursuits. For example, people make bad decisions in online dating and often who we contact are often not what they appear to be. Additionally, there is no evidence that the algorithms employed by dating sites which purport to match us with a desirable partner actually work in reality. However don’t despair - Dr Graff will also touch on how to maximize your chances in an online dating environment.

June 29, 2016
Mana Taiao - Living in the Maori Natural World 
When the MV Rena struck Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef in the Bay of Plenty in October 2011, the impacts on Ngai Te Hapu’s customary use of the area and associated kaitiakitanga (stewardship) obligations were immense and ongoing. Briefly, the Rena disaster brought to public attention the on-going collision between Maori and Pakeha cultural perspectives on the environment, and the difficulties in reconciling the two. 
Buddy Mikaere has a background in Human Resources and Industrial Relations and is a former Director of the Waitangi Tribunal. In the last twenty years he has been a consultant in the Resource Management Area specialising in cultural issues and consultation with tangata whenua.

May 25, 2016
Smart and stylish too - Solutions for smart knitted e-textiles using engineered yarns
Michelle Peddie, Auckland University of Technology
“Smart” or “intelligent” textiles incorporate conductive fibres and embedded electronics, which is pretty clever. However fashion and electronics are markedly different fields – most smart textiles are designed with an emphasis on technical performance rather than aesthetics. They’re smart, but not very smart.
Michele Peddie’s research knits together (ahem) technical skills and design aesthetics, resulting in the construction of conductive yarns that are indistinguishable in appearance and handling characteristics from standard wool yarn. The research makes it possible to knit conductive circuits into garments that combine operational performance with good looks. Join Michele to hear about her curious journey bridging the worlds of design and abstract engineering.

September 30, 2015

Ancient DNA: Secrets from the past
A/Prof Craig Millar
U of Auckland 
Highlighted by Tom Higham in last Thursday night’s lecture ‘When Neanderthals and Modern Humans met’ is the role forensic and ancient DNA methods are playing in the determining of ancient genomes. Early forensic and ancient DNA methods could only recover small amounts of DNA information from relatively large quantities of well-preserved tissue. From these humble beginnings, ancient DNA research has now developed to the point where entire ancient genomes can be retrieved from the extinct New Zealand moa and from Egyptian bird mummies. 
Join Dr Craig Millar as he outlines this ever-advancing research field and the ways it is helping us to unlock some of the best-kept secrets of our recent past. 
July 29, 2015

Does that wine smell of violets to you?...I'm not sure - Do violets have a smell?
Prof Richard Newcomb
U of Auckland and Chief Scientist, Plant & Food
It’s old news that not everyone can smell certain odours, and that different people respond to the same odour in different ways, but with modern genomic tools we can now understand the underlying genetic variations that influence food preferences across populations and ethnic groups. Come along and discover what odours you can smell, and how this probably impacts your preference for different foods and beverages.
Richard Newcomb is Chief Scientist at the Crown Research Institute, Plant & Food Research, Professor of Evolutionary Genetics at the University of Auckland and a Principal Investigator at the Allan Wilson Centre.

June 24, 2015
Resolving the evolution wars
Dr Graeme Finlay
What do teeth (in hens) and sniffing for mates (in people) have in common? The answer is that they point to quirks in our DNA that we and other species share. Recently our DNA has irrefutably been shown to share a common history with that of other species.

This astonishing science illuminates our biology, and chronicles our genetic journey over millions of years. This seems to provide closure to the evolution-vs-creation wars – can the range of Christian beliefs about evolution survive this challenge from science?
Dr Graeme Finlay is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Auckland’s medical school. He brings two different worlds together: he has published a book on human genetics that overthrows the scientific claims of some biblical literalists and he also has theological training and maintains a strong Christian faith. Come and discuss what we now know about the human races' genetic past and present.

May 27, 2015

A physicist and an anthropologist walk into a bar...
Prof Thegn Ladefoged & Dr Dion O'Neale 
Te Pūnaha Matatini
Network science was "invented" independently by a number of different disciplines. Sociologists came up with sociograms; engineers created wiring diagrams; while mathematicians have long studied graphs.

At Te Pūnaha Matatini – “the meeting place of many faces” – researchers from very different backgrounds are using network science to gain fascinating, and sometimes non-intuitive, insights into New Zealand’s environment, economy and society.

Thegn Ladefoged is a Professor of Archaeology at the University of Auckland who has worked in Rotuma, Hawai‘i, Rapa Nui, and New Zealand. He is developing a network approach to investigate the connections between communities in pre-European Māori society.

Dion O'Neale is a Research Fellow in the Physics department at the University of Auckland. He is particularly interested in how the properties of innovation networks might help predict the future economic success of regions. He has been known to (mis)use network science for topics ranging from sports to soils to conversations.

April 29, 2015
Musing on museums: …of ships and shoes … and many things
Roy Clare, CBE
Museums around the world are facing new challenges and are evolving to meet them. Auckland’s own War Memorial Museum, with its unique collections and place in the ongoing story of Auckland, is changing too. Nearly four years after his appointment as Director of the Museum, and following the centennial ANZAC day commemorations on April 25th, Roy Clare scans the horizon and poses some questions for museums and the people who love them.
Roy Clare CBE used to drive an aircraft carrier for a living, before coming ashore to take up leadership roles at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and the UK’s Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. He was appointed Director of the Auckland Museum in August 2011.

March 25, 2015
Rambling with the wandering mind
School of Psychology
U of Auckland
Does your mind ever drift off what you’re supposed to be doing? You’re not alone. Most of us spend a fair proportion of our waking hours either “zoned out” or worried that we ought to have been paying better attention. But the tendency of our minds to wander is not only commonplace – it’s an essential design feature that helps to keep us sane and stay in touch with our creative sides. Join Michael Corballis as he takes a stroll down the winding path of our mental wanderings.
Michael Corballis is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Auckland. He has written several books on various fascinating features of the human mind.

September 24, 2014
Mathematics and Biology - are they really such strange companions?

Prof James Sneyd
Dept of Mathematics
U of Auckland
James Sneyd is used to getting confused looks from people – all he has to do is tell them he does “Mathematical Biology”.  Aren’t those completely opposite areas?  Well, James says, this might be a popular view, but it’s simply not true. For well over 300 years mathematicians have been deeply interested in biological questions (in musical questions too, another interest of James’), and some of the greatest scientific minds of the past centuries have worked right in that fuzzy area that sits squarely between Math, Physics and Biology. The modern word is “interdisciplinary”, and that is the space where James works. It’s not Math, it’s not Biology, it’s Math Biology, and it’s the wave of the future.
James Sneyd is Professor in Applied Maths at the University of Auckland.

August 27, 2014
Statistics in the media

Prof Thomas Lumley
Dept of Biostatistics
U of Auckland

Journalists are trained to be suspicious and questioning when people try to feed them stories. They typically aren't trained on statistics, which makes dodgy numbers a good strategy for getting stuff into print.  The main issues that we target in StatsChat are bogus polls, failure to divide one number by another, and lack of context, and I will give some examples. Things do seem to be improving, at least in the 'news' parts of the newspapers.

Thomas Lumley is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland, and a major contributor to the StatsChat blog.  He works on genetics, semiparametric statistics, statistical computing, and the statistical problems encountered by his co-workers in heart disease epidemiology.

  July 30, 2014
Get off the Grass: Kickstarting NZ's Innovation Economy

Prof Shaun Hendy
Dept of Physics, U of Auckland
Director, Te Punaha Matatini
New Zealanders work harder and earn less than most other people in the developed world.  In their book “Get off the Grass”, Shaun Hendy and the late Sir Paul Callaghan argued that if New Zealand is to grow its economy more rapidly it must build nationwide communities of innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses. It must “get off the grass” and diversify its economy beyond the primary sector.  But can New Zealand really learn to innovate like a city of four million people? Can we learn to live off knowledge rather than nature?  Join Shaun Hendy to hear how we can do just that.

Professor Shaun Hendy FRSNZ is Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini, a Centre of Research Excellence that studies complex systems, and a physicist at the University of Auckland.  In 2013 he was awarded the Royal Society’s Callaghan Medal and the Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize for his contributions to communicating science.

June 25, 2014 
Ocean Acidification: Threats and Challenges

Dr Todd Capson
Science and Policy Advisor to the Global Oceans Health Program, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership

Just when you thought the climate change threat couldn’t get any bigger…it turns out that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means more carbon dioxide dissolved in the world’s oceans – which makes the seawater more acidic.  That’s a very bad thing if you’re a marine organism that can’t tolerate a change in acidity, or a nation like New Zealand that draws significant economic and cultural value from a healthy sea.  When the problem is this big, what can anyone do?

Join Dr Todd Capson, chemist, biochemist and Science and Policy Advisor to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, to hear how bilateral collaboration between the United States and New Zealand is powering efforts to address acidification in the Pacific and Southern oceans.

April 30, 2014
DNA sequencing: Everything you want to know about yourself, but were afraid to ask

A/Prof Cristin Print, University of Auckland
What do you have in your genes? Would knowing your DNA sequence help you, or could it open a nasty can of worms? Is your DNA yours to sequence anyway, or does it also belong to your parents and children? The first human genome sequenced cost US$ 3 billion and took 13 years. By the end of this year scientists may be able to sequence your genome for as little as US$ 2,000 in 2-3 days. Join medical genomic researcher, Cristin Print to see what a genome sequence really looks like. Discuss the excitement of this world-changing technology and also the ethical considerations and risks.

March 26, 2014
Big News About The Big Bang
Richard Easther, University of Auckland

Cosmology was front page news all over the world this month -- "Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang's Smoking Gun" said the New York Times (Front page, above the fold). Come and ask Prof. Richard Easther, a theoretical cosmologist at the U of Auckland, what this means, what happens now, and what we are doing about it in New Zealand.

October 30, 2013
The empowered energy consumer of the future – choice or confusion?
Nirmal Nair, Energy Theme Leader, Faculty of Engineering, University of Auckland

The traditional roles of energy producer and energy consumer are beginning to change worldwide.  “Smart Grid” technology, together with affordable energy generation and storage options, presents consumers with new opportunities to break their dependence on energy producers and distributors – but only if they can master the nuances of generation, storage, home energy management, electric vehicle charging, grid friendly device control, and so on.  Just what does the future look like for a choice empowered consumer?

Dr. Nirmal Nair, a power systems engineer by training, leads the Energy research theme at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Engineering and directs the Power Systems Group which contributes to research, advice and advocacy on New Zealand’s power systems and energy sustainability. His research interests include blackouts, electricity markets, smart grids, renewable energy integration and energy policy.

September 25, 2013
Noses, Buses and a Sailor's Foot – new ways to engage with Museum and Art Gallery collections
Simon Gould, curator
Staying relevant is no simple matter for museums, collections and galleries these days. Even a knockout collection displayed and interpreted with traditional methods doesn’t seem to cut it any more. But if the exhibition is filled with touchscreens and Twitter channels, it’s easy to ignore the objects themselves!  Just what sort of experience do we want to have when we visit a Museum, anyway?  Curator Simon Gould explores some exciting possibilities to make the objects, ideas and people that surround every collection more dynamic, participatory and relevant to new as well as existing audiences - just so long as the audience is willing to put a little work in...
Simon Gould has won several awards for his work at University College London, where he was Contemporary Projects Curator for UCL’s Museums and Collections between 2008-2011.  A natural fan of all things interdisciplinary, Simon helped to pioneer exciting new ways for the museums to reinterpret their collections, engage different audiences and generally to work in new and genuinely innovative ways.

August 28, 2013
Championing the Hauraki Gulf
Tim Higham, Manager, Hauraki Gulf Forum 

The productive waters and islands network of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park are surrounded by a catchment of 1 million people, creating conservation success stories and challenges for resource managers. Join Hauraki Gulf Forum manager Tim Higham to discuss the significance of the Hauraki Gulf and the need for better, more integrated management. Can we protect the ecological diversity of the gulf when it also holds NZ’s largest commercial port? Will restrictions on recreational activities and limits in the gulf prioritize economic interests over every day people? What kind of balance can we hope to achieve?

July 31, 2013

New Zealand at the Large Hadron Collider: What have we learned and where are we going?

The University of Auckland
Department of Physics

New Zealand is an active participant in the research at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, on the  world’s largest particle and nuclear physics experiments.   In 2010 the Large Hadron Collider began  its main physics programme of smashing together protons in search of new particles and forces in the universe. What do we know now about our universe that we did not know in the pre-LHC era?  What questions remain unanswered, and can we ever hope to answer them?   We will discuss Hadrons-to-Higgs particles, and Z bosons-to-Zeptospace.   The LHC is currently  in  Long Shutdown #1 until January 2015 for upgrades and maintenance of both the accelerator and the huge particle detectors. 

June 26, 2013

Waiter! There's nanotechnology in my soup!
with Dr Michelle Dickinson, Senior Lecturer
University of Auckland
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

Nanotechnology seems to be sneaking into everything around us.  We’re told it’s going to make the world a better place, but how much do we know about the use of nanotechnology in our day to day lives - should we be worried about the use of nanotechnology in our food, for instance?  Michelle will uncover some of the mystery behind this new science called nanotechnology, and how much of what sounds like science fiction may already be science fact.

Michelle Dickinson is a nanotechnologist who has recently moved from a consulting position in industry to the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Auckland.  Her work involves the use of nanotechnology in medical and technology research.   Michelle is also a science advisor for TV3 and a contributor to Green Ideas Magazine.  Her passion is to encourage environmentally sustainable living through engineering design – when she is not in her research lab you can catch her cycling around the city, or tending to her permaculture garden.

May 29, 2013
Expert Session: The Ascent of Everest 1953
Join Sarah Hillary and Peter Cammell in this expert session as they recognise and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ascent of Everest by the 1953 British Team, and the lasting legacy left in Nepal by Sir Edmund Hillary.

Sarah Hillary, Principal Conservator at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki will share a personal perspective on her parents trip to Nepal in 1961.

April 24, 2013
When the going gets tough, should the tough get creative?!
Dr. Siouxsie Wiles
from UoA and Infectious Thoughts on SciBlogs
While the current NZ government have certainly been increased spending on scientific research, success rates here are still in the single digits for healthcare research. When funding gets this tight, the decision makers tend to back their winning horses – established scientists with large groups. These are the ‘silverbacks’ of the science world as they like to be known. So what should younger scientists do in times like this? Should they give up on their careers or try new ways of fund their research? Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles explains why she thinks scientists should get creative!

March 27, 2013
Fat chance for a healthy weight: rethinking what it takes to stay in shape

Prof. Grant Schofield from AUT's Human Potential Centre
Despite understanding the causes and effects of being overweight, rates of obesity remain high and are higher than ever in children and young people. Isn’t it just as easy as eating better and increasing exercise? Why doesn’t what the experts say about healthy eating inspire us to change our habits? Is it possible that most of what we are telling people about health eating and weight loss is in fact harmful?  Let's walkabout what the science says and what that means for staying in good shape.

October 26, 2012
The new generation of New Zealanders – evidence from the Growing Up in New Zealand study
Dr. Susan Morton, Liggins Institute, University of Auckland

Growing Up in New Zealand is a longitudinal study following the development of nearly 7,000 children, in the context of their families, from pre-birth to early adulthood. The study is designed to provide up-to-date, population relevant information about growing up in New Zealand in the 21st century, and is unique in its capacity to provide a comprehensive picture of child development and to consider outcomes for Māori, Pacific and Asian children as well as European and other New Zealanders.

Growing Up is a huge undertaking, with the worthy goal of helping government and other agencies to develop appropriate evidence-based policies to improve the lives of children.  But does it really take a multi-million dollar research programme to tell us what makes for a good start to life?  And are we ready to hear what the study might reveal about our children and their potential to thrive?

Join Susan Morton, the Research Director of Growing Up in New Zealand, for a discussion of the study’s history and approach, and of its implications for our understanding of family life in New Zealand.

September 26, 2012
Flips & Wiggles: The Mystery of Earth's Magnetism
Gillian Turner, School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University
Deep in the core of the planet churns a cauldron of molten iron – the source of the magnetic field that directs our compasses, guides numerous species on their annual migrations, and protects life on Earth from the deadly onslaught of the solar wind. As the core fluid churns, so the magnetic field lines rearrange themselves, the magnetic poles wander, and the direction of the compass needle changes imperceptibly – a few fractions of a degree each year.

Palaeomagnetists have confirmed that complete reversals of the magnetic poles occur perhaps two or three times per million years; and for every successful reversal there appear to be several aborted attempts resulting in wild excursions of the field direction and dips in its strength. What, another natural process with the potential to wipe us out?!

August 29, 2012
Curiosity on the Red Planet - Again with Mars?
Melanie Bruges, Stardome Observatory & Planetarium

Mars has always piqued human interest - more so than other brighter, larger and even closer neighbours of our solar system. NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity is the latest and most expensive endeavour to explore the red planet yet undertaken, and so far has sent back some truly amazing images of the surface. But haven't we done all this before?  Join Melanie Bruges, Stardome Presenter, to discover the reasons why NASA has invested a large pile of public money in yet another mission to investigate Martian soils.

July 25, 2012

Life With Oxygen: A Battle Against Free Radicals
The Royal Society of New Zealand's Rutherford Lecture Tour 

Prof Christine Winterbourn
Free-radical researcher Prof Christine Winterbourn lectured at the Auckland Museum instead of .


June 27, 2012
Taatai Arorangi: applied astronomy in pre-European NZ
Pita Turei, Storyteller
Matariki, the cluster of stars named Pleiades in Western astronomy, has always had a special place in Maori cultural narratives.  Matariki is variously described as the eyes of the wind god Tawhirimatea, flung into the sky in protest at the forceful separation of Ranginui and Papatuanuku, or as the mother and six daughters who assist the sun during his annual period of winter weakness.  But the star-lore contained in Maori oral tradition is more than mere myth; it provides the conceptual foundations for a fully developed system of celestial observation with very practical applications.  Join Pita Turei, Storyteller, for a discussion of the fruitful connections between mysticism and science in traditional Maori astronomy.


May 30, 2012
Volcanoes in our midst: should we be worried?
Dr Bruce Hayward
Ever wondered if we are safer here in Auckland surrounded by volcanoes than those in earthquake ravaged Christchurch or residents of Wellington waiting for the “big one”?

Join Dr Bruce Hayward for a discussion of the recent advances in our understanding of the volcanoes of Auckland. Increased study of the volcanic field has extended its age back to 250,000 years; increased the number of recognised volcanoes to about 53; recognised that at least 5 erupted at the same time about 32,000 years ago; and that Rangitoto erupted in two episodes 10-50 years apart. These advances have been made by many different workers and have been summarised in Dr Hayward’s recent book “Volcanoes of Auckland: the essential guide”.

But what about future volcanic activity?  Auckland Council’s “Volcanoes of Auckland website gives the risk of an eruption in the next 50 years as 5%. Is this something we ought to be thinking seriously about? Come along to find out.

Bruce is a graduate of the University of Auckland where he studied the Waitakere Voclano; a former Curator of Marine Invertebrates at Auckland Museum; a Fellow of the Royal Society of NZ; and a Member of NZ Order of Merit for his contributions towards earth science conservation.


March 28, 2012
A head start on stroke recovery

Dr Cathy Stinear, University of Auckland

Physical therapy is a critical part of stroke recovery, and is essential for regaining motor function. New research shows that priming the brain (with non-invasive stimulation, medications, and/or coordinated movement patterns) can enhance the benefits of physical therapy. But it’s not one-size-fits-all, so are there key ingredients to making a good recovery after stroke? Is it possible to have too much rehabilitation therapy? And does attitude matter as much as anatomy – is it your own fault if you don’t get better?

Dr Cathy Stinear is an Applied Clinical Neuroscientist in the Department of Medicine at the University of Auckland. She is working on ways to select the optimal combination of priming techniques for individual stroke patients, based on understanding the extent of damage to key pathways in the brain.

October 26, 2011

The new generation of New Zealanders – evidence from the Growing Up in New Zealand study

Susan Morton, Liggins Institute, University of Auckland

Growing Up in New Zealand is a longitudinal study following the development of nearly 7,000 children, in the context of their families, from pre-birth to early adulthood. The study is designed to provide up-to-date, population relevant information about growing up in New Zealand in the 21st century, and is unique in its capacity to provide a comprehensive picture of child development and to consider outcomes for Māori, Pacific and Asian children as well as European and other New Zealanders.

September 28, 2011

Why Should People Celebrate the Treaty of Waitangi?

Haare Williams, Auckland War Memorial Museum

Is the Treaty of Waitangi more relevant in our work and life today than in 1840?

The Treaty is about the sharing of power (Article 1) and the management of natural resources (Article 2).  It recognises the two languages and beliefs of its signatories – Maori and English.  It can be the interface between our two cultures and the manner in which we can protect the future for our children. It provides insights into mana, taonga, tapu, rangatiratanga (authority and management).

Today, Haare sees signs to celebrate – indications that reconciliation and forgiveness are possible, and that, through the work of the Waitangi Tribunal, we can settle our differences, pave the way for healing past wounds, and build highways for peace in our land.  

August 31, 2011

The fall and rise of public transport in Auckland – a New Zealand success story?

Michael Lee, Auckland Transport

Mike Lee will review the history of public transport in Auckland - from the mid-1950s up to the present day and reveal some surprising facts.  Facts such as: Aucklanders, who are conventionally believed to have had an enduring love affair with the private car, were as recently as the 1950's some of the most diligent users of public transport in the world.  

July 27, 2011

Do you understand the new genetics? Maybe you don’t have that gene!

Andrew Shelling, The University of Auckland

There seems to be a “gene” for something being identified on a daily basis, whether it is for breast cancer, inherited cardiac disease, ADHD, obesity, sexual orientation, yo-yo diet, IQ, sporting ability, infidelity, death, etc., etc. There will be a little bit about the science used to find these genes and the $1000 genome, but the focus of this discussion will be on what this “new genetics” means for disease and lifestyle, what the risks really mean, do we need a “personal gene coach” and how the information should be delivered. 

June 29, 2011

The politics of marine reserves

Tom Trnski, Auckland Museum

The designation of marine reserves is relatively recent – New Zealand’s first marine reserve was gazetted only in 1975. The evidence for the benefits of marine reserves is strong, but there is still resistance to designation of additional reserves. To confound the issue, terminology is ambiguous – how many people know the difference between a marine park and a marine reserve? 

May 25, 2011

Crowd-Sourcing For Communities: Lessons From The One Laptop Per Child Project

Fabiana Kubke, The University of Auckland

Crowdsourcing brings together the knowledge of individuals as a way of empowering communities. From science, earthquake response and education, the power of bringing personal knowledge to the public is having profound effects in communities. Crowd sourced projects can be more rapid, flexible and responsive than some government efforts, and are capable of delivering many necessary outcomes. One of these projects, One Laptop Per Child, brings educational resources to poor children around the world. This programme offers opportunities for community engagement from people in a variety of fields to fill a gap in elementary education. 

April 27, 2011

Where is the soul in science, and where should it be?

Cather Simpson, The University of Auckland

The idea of science as a cold and dispassionate exploration to obtain understanding of the natural world is relatively new. The origins of modern science were rather metaphysical, and some of our Founding Fathers of science had distinctly non-scientific views and methods. A movement is afoot in the US (and spreading) to put the "meta-" back in physics (and chemistry, and biology).  Where is the soul in science, and where should it be? 

March 30, 2011

Liquefaction in Christchurch: not building on solid ground

Michael Davies, The University of Auckland

The recent series of earthquakes in Canterbury and now Japan has forced all New Zealanders to reconsider the buildings where they spend their lives. What fell down that shouldn’t have, and what stood up that you wouldn’t expect to stay up? Liquefaction was a major cause of damage to buildings and infrastructure in the Christchurch earthquakes. Indeed, since these events “liquefaction” has moved from scientific jargon to popular lexicon. However, the general understanding of the process, its effects on structures and lifelines and what, if anything, can be done to mitigate its effects are not generally well understood. Why does the ground liquefy? What does this do to the built environment? Could it happen in Auckland? 

October 27, 2010

The closing coastline: how do Kiwis value beaches and are we losing our ability to enjoy them?

Robin Kearns, The University of Auckland

Dr Robin Kearns is Professor of Geography at The University of Auckland and is investigating coastal ‘hot spots’: localities where there have been proposals for major residential developments. The resulting ‘social climate change’ at sites like Ocean Beach in Hawkes Bay and Ngunguru near Whangarei has seen a galvanising of views – the coast as private paradise or public preserve? 

September 29, 2010

Printing the Future

Olaf Diegel, AUT University

3D printing is coming of age. It is now at the cusp of becoming a rapid manufacturing technology that will have a great deal of influence on how we live in the future. 

In the not too distant future we will, for example, be able to select a product from an online catalogue and, after customizing it to our preferences, our home 3D printer will manufacture it for us on the spot. Your mechanic needing to carry spare parts (or needing 6 weeks to order them) will be a thing of the past, as he will simply print out new parts as he needs them. Tired of waiting six months for your house to be built? Why not print one out in 6 days? Need a new bladder or hip joint? It’s now possible to print you out a replacement that is completely compatible with your body.

August 25, 2010

Walking Tall: the Rex Bionics Story

Richard Little

Rex Bionics was co-founded by Richard Little and Robert Irving about seven years ago when Robert received a multiple sclerosis diagnosis and realised he may need to use a wheelchair in future. The two life-long friends dreamed of making a product that would enable people with wheelchairs to stand and walk.  Working with a team of talented people, they launched the Rex pair of robotic legs.  Today, Rex Bionics has 25 engineers and a handful of other staff committed to bringing Rex to market around the world. 

July 28, 2010

Complementary Therapies for People with Cancer: Pearls in a Sea of Nonsense

Shaun Holt

People diagnosed with cancer want to do everything they can to beat the disease and almost everyone will consider or try complementary therapies. Some of these therapies have been proven to work in good clinical trials, but the majority have not been tested, do not work or can be harmful. How does a person in this situation know what works and what does not? Without scientific training and the time to undertake the research it is impossible for almost everyone. There are some pearls of knowledge but they are hidden in a sea of nonsense.

May 26, 2010

Living Well in the 21st Century: The Ethics of Sustainability and What We Eat

Rosalind Hursthouse

Remember when vegetarianism was mostly about animal welfare?  These days the most forceful argument for vegetarianism concerns the welfare of the planet.  There is a familiar theme here - once more we're being told that we need to live more sustainably because in a connected, finite world our descendants' futures are on the line.  But surely that means that we should all be in favour of the proposed Mackenzie Basin factory farms as long as environmental concerns are properly managed.   Or are we really under a moral obligation to stop eating meat?  What's next - an obligation to stop having children?  Sustainability issues seem to require us to apply a whole new set of values in making our choices - or perhaps we just need to stop ignoring some very old ones.

March 31, 2010

Green Chemistry – can clean and green ever beat cheap and dirty?

James Wright

Many of the industrial processes that produce our consumer goods either use toxic materials or produce polluting by-products.  Green Chemistry aims to invent new industrial processes that do not use or produce environmentally harmful substances, so that we can keep making the goods we need but in a responsible and sustainable way.  

The benefits of this approach appear to be obvious – so why has industry adoption of green chemical processes been so limited?  The reasons for this will be discussed within an historical perspective, and by way of illustration some examples of real world Green Chemistry solutions will be given.  The presentation will conclude with a brief discussion of the important role Green Chemistry can play in making our society sustainable – but only if we want it enough.

October 28, 2009

Small Science – Big Price Tag

Bryony James

Ever since their invention in the late 16th Century, microscopes have been at the centre of scientific research, enabling important discoveries in biology, geology, materials science, physics, and medicine.  In today’s “nano”-obsessed world, microscopes are becoming ever more powerful – but the price of these instruments is anything but tiny.  Eventually one has to ask: do the potential scientific advances still justify the cost of buying the equipment?  If the answer is “yes” then who pays, and how? The increasing cost of doing research is a problem facing all the experimental science disciplines, and there seem to be no easy answers.  As the frontier of knowledge moves outward, probing the unknown requires ever more sophisticated equipment and scientists with still greater specialisation of knowledge – which means new findings come at much greater cost.  The research funding environment in New Zealand has not expanded to keep pace.  So how much can (or should) the nation support?

September 30, 2009

A Sustainable Future for the Aerospace Industry: Cleared for Take-off or Flight of Fancy?

Karen Willcox

The aerospace industry faces two fundamental challenges to its future sustainability: the economics of air transportation and managing a global environmental footprint. Karen's research programme develops methods to support design of new aerospace systems, with a particular focus on future environmentally-sensitive aircraft. In this presentation, she will discuss some exciting new concepts including those studied through her collaborations with the Boeing Blended-Wing-Body aircraft design team and the NASA Aeronautics program.  But can any amount of design innovation produce a sustainable industry based on making heavy objects fly?

August 26, 2009

Where will all the flowers go? Honeybees, the Varroa mite, and the Future of Food Production

Peter Dearden

Honeybees are the most important insects on earth: most flowering plants, including a third of our domestic crops, rely on honeybees for pollination.  But the relationship between bees and flowering plants is under pressure.  In New Zealand bees have undergone a remarkable change from being a managed, but wild, species, to one that is wholly domestic and reliant on human intervention for its survival. This change has been brought about by the introduction of the varroa mite, just one of a number of devastating diseases now affecting honeybees world-wide. Peter will talk about the evolution of the relationship between honeybees and flowering plants, and how our treatment of bees and other insects is threatening this relationship and therefore the production of food.

Last Updated On Tuesday, 21 May 2019 15:28 By Auckland