Current Newsletter

September 2020

Visit from the security of your home!

The NIWA Wellington Regional Science and Technology Fair will be run as a virtual fair in 2020.

It will run 16-19 September, and viewing of selected exhibits will be available on our website

Judging                      Wednesday   16 September
Prize Announcement   Friday           18 September
Prize Giving                Saturday      19 September

To partake in the virtual science fair, the participating students have been requested to hand in the following:
1) Powerpoint/ Google Slide
2) PDF of their logbook
3) A short 3-minute video explaining their project


It has proved to be impractical to hold the usual public lectures in COVID-19 Alert Level 2 or above. It has also become frustratingly difficult to plan for lectures given that they may be postponed at short notice.
Therefore the Council has decided that
Until the Alert Level is reduced to 1.0  there will not be any Public Lectures.

A Decision on the Hudson Lecture for 2020 will be made on 30th September

Annual General Meeting 2020

We hope to hold the Annual General Meeting on 21 October.
If COVID is still an issue, then it will be held by Zoom.

Details to Follow

Any proposed Notices of Motion or General Business are required to be submitted to the secretary no later than 4 weeks before the AGM

Nominate for Council. Without a council there can be no Branch.

There are going to be vacancies on Council that need to be filled. 

The society constitution calls for: President, two vice-Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer and up to four other members.

At the moment we are operating with six on the Committee, and our President and a committee member have both indicated that they will not seek re-election (due to pressure of work). We are looking for a few more committee members to fill the gaps.

We need volunteers like you to be on the committee monthly to help run the branch and organise speakers.
Its not a difficult job, and it always looks good on your cv!  These days we usually meet monthly via the internet, or more traditionally (before Covid) at the RSNZ rooms in Turnbull St.

According to our constitution the positions should be sorted out before the AGM – so
If you are interested, please contact the secretary ASAP!
Students can volunteer too and you don’t need a degree, just committment.

Note too, we have never been “just a scientific society”.
From the outset the Branch was governed by Wellingtonians interested in the world around them, particularly the social and physical sciences, teaching, history, ethnology, – even the concept of Daylight Saving (Yes it was one of our members, George Hudson who in 1895, at a meeting of the society, proposed the concept!)

Your society is the second oldest scientific society in New Zealand, having been founded in  Wellington in 1851 as “The New Zealand Society”. It would be a great shame if it folded – not because of lack of members, or money, but through a lack of leadership!

Obituary for Michael Eric Upcott Taylor (1930 – 2020)

The Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Dr. Michael Taylor. Dr. Taylor was born in England and took a PhD in organic chemistry from London University. After graduation, he worked as an oceanographer for the United Kingdom Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Lowestoft.

He and his wife, Eileen, moved to New Zealand in 1964 to work at the Cawthron Institute, Nelson. After a period as Research Fellow at Cawthron, looking at fungal pathogens, he moved to the Ministry of Water and Soil with the Committee on Hydrology and Water Quality. He advocated for inter-laboratory, inter-calibration programmes which led to the DSIR setting up the ChemAqua Programme and Michael becoming Acting Director of the Cawthron Institute.

He moved to the Ministry of Works and Development to establish better water quality testing procedures and set up scientific advisory services in water resources around the country. He was appointed to the World Health Organisation as short term consultant to train on water quality and monitoring for Asia, China, Japan and India.

As a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry and President of the New Zealand Water Supply and Disposal Association, he worked to set-up the Water and Soil Conservation Act. He then became Research and Survey Director of the Water and Soil Directorate at the Ministry of Works, with oversight of scientists around the country. His published papers for UNESCO proved that his Microprocessors in Operational Hydrology programme was ahead of the rest of the world. He was appointed Chairman and Director of numerous working parties in both New Zealand and abroad.

He was awarded the New Zealand Water and Waste Award and Medal, while publishing numerous government standards such as the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand and Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality Management. He created the Register of Community Drinking Water Supplies and the Annual Review of Microbiological Quality of Community Drinking Water Supplies. He received the Premier New Zealand Water and Wastes Association Award, which in the year 2000 was renamed the Michael Taylor Award.

As Senior Adviser to the Ministry of Health, he coerced Government to let him write the Health Drinking water Amendment Act, which received Royal assent in 2007 when he was invested as a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for services to the Water Industry.

In 2008 he was heavily involved with the World Health Organisation within the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for development of the Water Bill, worked to enhance aid programmes to the Pacific Islands and served as United Nations trainer for Asia. He dedicated his career to giving us clean, safe, drinking water that is carefully monitored, assessed and quality controlled.