Events for 2018

Hudson Lecture 2018: Wellington Branch of the Royal Society Te Apārangi

Scaling up: Getting to ‘language’ from individual differences

Professor Miriam Meyerhoff FRSNZ

Linguistics studies the structure of human languages and how languages are used. My particular interest lies in the field of language contact. What happens when speakers of languages (or dialects) collide? How do speakers bridge their individual differences? And how does the way they resolve those differences shape what we come to call separate ‘languages’?

I outline partial answers for these questions drawing on data from a number of diverse fieldwork sites: urban centres in the UK and Auckland, and smaller communities in Vanuatu and the Caribbean. In the course of this, we have developed some innovative methods for modelling the bridge between differences at the level of individuals and at the level of dialects/languages. I will also talk about how communities of speakers ‘scale up’ in order to identify their ways of talking as a distinct language by drawing on ongoing research in northern Vanuatu.


Professor Miriam Meyerhoff is with the School of Linguistics and Applied language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. Miriam is a leading sociolinguist, a discipline that studies the effect of any or all aspects of society on how language is used. Her research has focused on language use in New Zealand, the Pacific and the UK. Her latest research focusses on variation in the English of Auckland citizens, a richly linguistically diverse community. Miriam was made a Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi in 2017.


The lecture will be at Victoria University in the new Te Ti Toki a Rata Building (TTRLT1) on Thursday 16th August 2018, at 6pm. A map of the university can be found at The lecture theatre can be found at approximately row “g” and column “16” on this map, and is on floor 0 (or down the stairs).

The Hudson Lecture is RSNZ Wellington Branch’s premier annual lecture. The Hudson Lecturer is awarded in recognition of the Lecturer’s achievements in Science or the promotion of Science and Technology. It honours George Vernon Hudson (1867 – 1946) who was a distinguished amateur naturalist and scientist. An original Fellow of what is now the Royal Society of New Zealand, he was on its Council from 1923-46. Hudson was President of this branch (then the Wellington Philosophical Society) in 1900-01 and 1911-12. A formal obituary and photograph appear in the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 76, 264-266.



Digital breaths: The benefits of bioengineering

21st June (Lunchtime)
An aging population and increase in people living with chronic disease calls for new approaches to reduce healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes. Recent advances in imaging, sensor, and communications technologies, combined with innovative bioengineering approaches, has the potential to revolutionise healthcare. However, does New Zealand have the capability to become a world leader in this industry?

Professor Merryn Tawhai explains how each stage of this multi-disciplinary process, from a science discovery through to the applied science and then clinical research, are each critical to developing both technology and devices that can reduce the burden of chronic disease. Merryn’s own research advances computer modelling of the human lung in search of better methods to diagnose and treat lung disease, particularly in the older generation.

From a keen interest in biology and mathematics in her youth,  Professor Merryn Tawhai is now the Director of the Medical Technologies Centre of Research Excellence (MedTech CoRE) and Deputy Director of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute at The University of Auckland. At the 2016 New Zealand Research Honours, Merryn was awarded the MacDiarmid Medal by Royal Society Te Apārangi for her research to create anatomically detailed models of the respiratory system. The medal is awarded for outstanding scientific research that has the potential for human benefit, and the models created by Professor Tawhai provide new tools for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of lung disease.

Date: Thursday 21 June 2018
Time: 12.15 – 1:15 pm
Venue: Royal Society Te Apārangi, Aronui Lecture Theatre, 11 Turnbull Street. Thorndon.
Entry: free, guarantee your seat by registering now:

Minerals – Do we need them?
Do we have them?

Most people are unaware of the importance of minerals in their everyday life, and that New Zealand has a significant mining industry producing minerals for local use and for export.

Dr Tony Christie of GNS Science will describe New Zealand’s mineral resources, their past and present utilisation, and their potential for future development.

Please note the venue for this month – Café Scientifique continues the short break from Wholly Bagels, running in June in conjunction with the GSN Science Series ‘The Sources of our Resources’ at the War Memorial Library (see library website for information on other talks in the series).  We will be back at Wholly Bagels as usual in July for a talk on the durability of electric vehicle batteries.

 Thursday 28th June 2018: 6.00pm-7.00pm
 War Memorial Library, 2 Queens Drive, Lower Hutt

Supported by: GNS Science, Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch, Hutt City Libraries and Hutt City Council


The life and times of Supervolcanoes:  25 July – 12 September, 22 locations nationwide from Invercargill to Kaitaia. The 2018 New Zealand Rutherford Lecture with Professor Colin Wilson.


Killing for Conservation public discussion: 4 July, Wellington. Kim Hill will chair a conversation about some of the often overlooked ethical questions of pest control, from gene editing to what actually constitutes an invasive species; everything is up for debate.