nerd nite 28: scales, feathers and shells

Image of tuatara, kea and carnivorous snail

Image credits: Tuatara – Anna Carter, VUW
Kea, Nga Manu, Waikanae, Wellington, New Zealand, 15 April 2006 – PhillipC, Wikimedia Commons
Powelliphanta augusta, previously known as Powelliphanta “Augustus” photographed in Happy Valley, New Zealand – Alan Liefting, Wikimedia Commons

Tuatara! Kea! Carnivorous snails! Squeeeeee!

NZ has some awesome endemic – found only here – critters. We figured we’d start a whole series dedicated to them, and the people here who research and work with them.

Et voila! Endemic Critters of NZ – Vol I.This very special edition will be taking place at:

  • Hotel Bristol
  • 6pm (speakers to start at 6:30pm)
  • Monday 18 May 2015

As always, seating may run out, so don’t rock up at 6:30pm expecting to get a decent seat – or one at all.

nerd nite wellington 28 poster

Poster! Click to enlarge and print out for your school/workplace/laboratory/lair.



Discovering the world of Kea
Daniela Biaggio, Conservation Manager, Wellington Zoo

The noteworthy Kea is the only alpine parrot in the world. Their curiosity and intelligence have allowed them to find food in the harsh alpine landscape. Discover their world and how they have gone from bounty hunted to an at risk species and what we can do to keep these nerdy birds around.

Daniela Biaggio has an MSc in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Toronto. She is the Conservation Manager at Wellington Zoo and is passionate about developing effective holistic conservation. An Argentinean by birth, Daniela has been lucky enough to live and work in some extraordinary places from the tropical forest of Costa Rica, to wild Tanzania and challenging Bangladesh. She is often found calling attention to overlooked species as she did at the Evolutionarily Distinct Globally endangered (EDGE) project in the UK or working with bats and spiders. Since arriving in New Zealand almost two years ago she has fallen in love with New Zealand’s native fauna.
NZ land snails & slugs – high diversity and endemism
Karin Mahlfeld, Honorary Research Associate, Te Papa Tongarewa

Karin will be talking is about global and local diversity of landsnails and conservation issues. Squishy and slimy, slugs and snails have an image problem when it comes to public attitude and conservation. They deserve better!

Karin became interested in NZ micro-snails in the late 1980. She did her MSc and PhD on snail topics, freelances in science education and conservation and runs pop-up labs on invertebrates.


Finding a flat in Wellington…or predicting sex ratios of tuatara populations
Anna Carter, Victoria University of Wellington

As humans, we think about climate change on a global scale. But most species on Earth inhabit a microclimate space that is very small, relative to continental or global models. So how can ecologists translate broad-scale climate change into predictions that are relevant for the conservation of other species? In fact, the most cutting-edge microclimate models predict future environmental conditions utilising the same basic algorithms that university students employ when flat-hunting in Wellington.

Anna will talk about using some of these computational tools to predict how global climate warming could impact offspring sex ratios in tuatara, a New Zealand-endemic reptile with temperature-dependent sex determination.

Anna is a conservation ecologist, who enjoys the weather in Wellington so much that she decided to stick around after finishing her PhD at Victoria University. Her choices of nerd-ness are based primarily on being able to make maps with lots of pretty colours.


As always, NNW is free and open to everyone*. Bring your friends and family – someone to share a meal with, definitely, as there are some great 2 for 1 specials on the menu.

* Who behaves themselves, of course. Naughtiness will be stamped on. Hard.

nerd nite 27: Antarctica – the subzero edition

ANTARCTICA!! Its past, its present and its future are all subjects in Nerd Nite Wellington #27.


We warned you this edition was going to supercool. And yes, we apologized for the pun, but it was _so_ worth it.

This very special edition will be taking place at:

  • Hotel Bristol
  • 6pm (speakers to start at 6:30pm)
  • Monday 23 March 2015

As always, seating may run out, so don’t rock up at 6:30pm expecting to get a decent seat – or one at all.


nerd nite wellington #27 poster

Poster! Click to enlarge and print out for your school/workplace/laboratory/lair.


Antarctica: the past
Rebecca Priestly, @RKPriestley

On her second trip to Antarctica, in December 2014, Rebecca engaged with Antarctica’s recent and deep history. In this presentation, which will include short video clips and photographs that won’t be as good as Rob’s, she reports on her experiences camping with the geologists studying Antarctica’s past climate, filming the conservators working to preserve Antarctica’s early 20th century history, editing an anthology of Antarctic science writing, and visiting Antarctica without seeing any penguins.

Rebecca Priestley has degrees in geology and history of science and is a senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington where she teaches a range of Science in Society courses. She has traveled to Antarctica twice: in 2011 she visited on the media programme, and wrote a series of articles for her science column in the Listener magazine, and in 2014 she visited Ross Island and the Friis Hills region of the Dry Valleys to film lectures for an upcoming online course on Antarctic history, geology and culture.

In her 2012 book, Mad on Radium, she wrote about “nukey poo”, the Antarctic nuclear reactor that helped power McMurdo Station in the 1960s. Her next book, “65 Million Years in Antarctica” is an anthology of Antarctic science and will be published by Awa Press in 2016.


Antarctica: the present
Rob Suisted, @RobSuisted

Rob Suisted was a senior conservation manager before leaving a career to follow his passions of wildlife and wilderness. He’s built a successful business telling stories visually. Science is a constant companion.

15 trips to Antarctica later he’s gathered some interesting, often hair raising, sometimes funny, insights into this continent; gained from visiting many areas and guiding a wide range of people (from rockstars to diplomats, to oil company execs) through many experiences. He’ll share some stuff with passion (like how to control men (learnt from huskies) or, at 20tonnes of carbon per trip, should tourists visit?).  As a professional photographer expect some great frames.

Visit Rob’s blog at, or perve at his Antarctic photos at


Antarctica: the future
Veronika Meduna, @VeronikaMeduna

As a producer and presenter of Radio NZ’s science show Our Changing World, Veronika has told more than a thousand and one stories about science and the people behind it. Many of these stories have been about Antarctica – so many in fact that she decided to write a book about Science on Ice.

Why is Antarctica such a great place for scientists? For many big scientific questions, the white continent is the best – and sometimes the only – place to look for answers. And although it is the only major landmass without permanent human habitation, Antarctica holds the key to how habitable our planet will be in the future. Veronika will take a tour through some of the long-running science projects in Antarctica – from astronomy to zoology – and yes, there will be penguins.


As always, NNW is free and open to everyone*. Bring your friends and family – someone to share a meal with, definitely, as there are some great 2 for 1 specials on the menu.

* Who behaves themselves, of course. Naughtiness will be stamped on. Hard.

nerd nite 26: of words, dialogue, and accessibility

Happy New Year, nerdlings! We hope your 2015 is AMAZING.

We’re back for another year of Nerd Nite Wellington – our fifth, if you can believe such a thing.

And we’re kicking off the year with a great selection of speakers, so come join us at:

  • Hotel Bristol
  • 26th Jan 2015
  • 6:00pm (speakers starting at 6:30pm).
    • Sign up for our calendar to make sure you don’t miss it!

Remember, good tables can go fast, so don’t rock up at the last minute and expect a decent spot 🙂

And as always, NNW is free, with 2 for 1 specials on some mains, so bring your mates!


nerd nite wellington #26 poster

Poster! Click to enlarge and print out for your school/workplace/laboratory/lair.

Our lineup for NNW 26 (though not necessarily in this order) is…


Workplace dialogue: the science and skill of communication
John Rusk, @agilekiwi

Part science, part autobiography, and part hand-drawn stick figures, this talk is about how anyone can learn people skills… even the nerdiest of nerds (like me).  You can use these skills to communicate more successfully and persuasively.

The talk presents a simple but effective mental model of successful communication and introduces a few of the specific skills you can learn.  Hopefully, we’ll also bust a few myths along the way.

A classic “introvert” by inclination, John thought he was on safe ground when he started working in IT.  But he soon found otherwise. Even in technical fields, success typically hinges on people reaching wise agreements. So John set out to learn the mysteries of “people skills”.  Eventually, after much learning and several false starts, he was surprised to find himself enjoying and succeeding in the people side of work.

Today, he leads agile software developers at OSPRI, where he recently helped deliver the multi-award-wining “Insite” project.


An Accessible Web: Can’t you just see it?
Jason Kiss, @jkiss

The web was conceived and constructed to be accessible to all users, regardless of disability. What does that mean? How do people with disabilities use the web? How do you make a website accessible? Why does it matter, anyway?

Jason is from Canada, and he apologises. He has an active interest in web accessibility. He also works for the Department of Internal Affairs where he manages the New Zealand Government Web Standards, the bulk of which are about ensuring that government websites are accessible to all taxpayers.


Scrabble®: a return to the tile bag
Steven Brown, @hazhapard

Steven first spoke about general Scrabble®-related nerdery* at Wellington Nerd Nite 5 (back in April 2011) mostly covering anagrams, algorithms, intellectual property, and more anagrams.

This time, his talk will take a look at some nerdish aspects of tournament Scrabble® in particular, including who plays whom (the draw), the wordlist* and adjudication, the ratings system(s), and Scrabble® variants that may or may not get played in the evening between days of proper Scrabble® (and that may very well involve anagrams).

Steven has been involved in club Scrabble for 20-mumble years, and has been playing in tournaments for almost as long. He has represented New Zealand in the Trans-Tasman Challenge five times, but has never managed to qualify to play at a World Champs.  He is the ratings officer for the New Zealand Association of Scrabble Players, and also administers a couple of mailing lists for New Zealand Scrabble® players.

He is still employed putting words together in support of a part of the democratic process, but is also trying to get his dev skills back up to speed.

* these asterisks will be explained in the talk.

nerd nite 25: of colours, censors and cycles

Ladies and gentlenerds, we’ve reached A QUARTER CENTURY. Gosh 🙂

Our 25th Nerd Nite will take place on Monday November 17th, 2014.

Venue: Hotel Bristol

Time: 6pm, with speakers starting at 6:30pm. Get there in good time if you want a decent seat!

But enough nattering. Instead – our lineup!


Nerd Nite Wellington #25 poster

Poster! Click to enlarge and print out for your school/workplace/laboratory/lair.

Is Periwinkle Blue? – Defining and Quantifying Colour
Jessica Mills, BFA

The world is full of colour, but we do not all see or describe colour in the same way. This indvidual initial classification is based on genetics, environmental factors, personal perceptions and experiences. So then, how can there be a single definition of colour and how is this definition measured in order to ensure repetition and reproduction in the controlled manner necessary for industrial, commercial, and artistic applications. In this talk we will explore these questions of Definition and Quantification, and you will hopefully come away with a deeper understanding of your visual perception of the world around you and seeing colour in a brand new way.

Jessica is a graduate of the Visual Media program of Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, she has a Bacholor of Fine Arts in Photographic Arts and Sciences focusing on Colour Management and Digital Print Workflow. Prior to NZ Colour Management, Jessica has worked as an Applications Specialist for large international companies helping them and their external clients to create viable digital workflows based on software and hardware training and the principles of Colour Management.

What the **** – a brief tour through New Zealand’s censorship history.
Michelle Baker, @mshel

The effects on the audience, positive or negative, of media which our society produces and consumes has always been cause for debate.  From the influence of the written word on perceptions of religion and politics, to the concerns over films chipping away at society’s moral fibre, to the debates over whether video games make people violent – the media, who accesses it and who stops them has been a constantly evolving and ongoing story both in New Zealand and around the world.

What our society deems to be okay – and not – is reflected in the way films, books and other publications are classified. New Zealand has had film censorship legislation since 1916, and there have been some interesting (and occasionally odd) decisions assigned to various things over the last nine or so decades. Do you know about the unusual (and unique) decision assigned to the 1967 film Ulysses? Why was a book of rugby songs banned? Just how many drink cans have been classified in New Zealand? Come on a brief tour of some of the highlights (or lowpoints?) of New Zealand’s censorship history.

Michelle is an Advisor at Office of Film and Literature Classification, where she runs the Office’s websites, social media, and handles all manner of inquiries from people. Movies and dinosaurs are a few of her favourite things, and she has strong opinions about what makes a good karaoke song.

Two hundred and fifty thousand revolutions
Paul Smith

Why would I choose to ride a bicycle with one gear and pedals that don’t stop turning, for seven days and 1200 kilometres around the back roads and trails of the South Island?

At the turn of the 20th century the hard men of a fledgling sport were racing the Tour de France along dirt roads over mountains on fixed gear bikes. But no more – gear and freewheel technology quickly resigned fixed gear bikes to mainstream obsolescence. But a fixed gear bicycle retains an enduring appeal – to a small subset of cyclists at least.

I’m going to attempt to describe the appeal of 100 year old bicycle technology with a rambling exploration of fixed gear bicycles, some dodgy psychological self-diagnosis, and the design philosophy of Dieter Rams. In the process I might leave myself wondering why I ride one.

Paul’s first cycling memory was screaming down Brickyard Hill on his 12” wheel Raleigh Striker. It didn’t end well – with a bloody chin and elbows, the bike dumped on the gravel road, and a small boy running home crying for mum. The experience didn’t put him off the two-wheeled life though, and he would be very proud if one of his kids came running to him with bleeding elbows. Professionally-speaking, Paul is a Design Engineer – by day he manages product testing at Consumer New Zealand, where he can indulge his love for good product design and engineering detail. By night he tries to encourage others to discover cycling adventures by documenting his experiences on


As always, Nerd Nite is a FREE event open to anyone. There are some great 2 for 1 deals on mains as awell, so bring your peeps!

Isaac’s Eye theatre tickets giveaway

Isaac's Eye posteR

UPDATE: Closing date extended!

We have something super exciting for our Wellington Nerds – winnable theatre tickets! Those who’ve attended our recent events will know we’ve been working with Circa Theatre to bring together theatre and other nerdery, and this continues in that vein.

We have TWO DOUBLE PASSES to give away to Circa’s awesome new show Isaac’s Eye (details below), which re-imagines the contentious, plague-ravaged world in which the young Isaac Newton and established scientist Robert Hooke are a Mozart and Salieri of science squabbling over the physics of light.

Far from a stuffy costume drama, Isaac’s Eye is original in its presentation, contemporary in its tone, fast-paced and very bloody funny with an exciting, fresh line up of actors.

Also, the music’s by local composer Rhian Sheehan, who is AWESOME (seriously, we love his stuff).

How do I win a double pass?

  1. First, you need to be signed up to our mailing list (right hand side panel on the homepage). Winners will be picked from that.
  2. Secondly, we want to hear from you about one or more of the following topics:
    1. What’s your favourite Nerd Nite (event or a specific talk) been, and why?
    2. What do you love about Nerd Nite? Why do you keep coming back?
    3. What Nerd Nite talk or event would you like to see in the future?

Get hold of us

Competition closes end of day October 14th. Winners will be picked at the beginning of next week, and announced (through the mailing list!) and announced on Wednesday 15th October.


Isaac’s Eye on Facebook

Isaac’s Eye on Circa’s site


Isaac’s Eye

Written by: Lucas Hnath
Directed by: Paul McLaughlin
Circa Two
18 October − 15 November

With music by Rhian Sheehan

New Zealand Premiere


Isaac’s Eye re-imagines the contentious, plague-ravaged world in which the young Isaac Newton and established scientist Robert Hooke are a Mozart and Salieri of science squabbling over the physics of light.

Isaac Newton is desperate to gain admittance to the prodigious Royal Society. One man stands in his way – the evil Robert Hooke. What is the price of success for Isaac? Will he expose the dark secrets Hooke hides, will he risk blinding himself in the ultimate power play for dominance, truth and scientific discovery in this theatrical experience you’ll never forget!

Far from a stuffy costume drama, Isaac’s Eye is original in its presentation, contemporary in its tone, fast-paced and very bloody funny with an exciting, fresh line up of actors. Lucas Hnath is the hottest young writer in the UK right now and Circa bring you the NZ premiere of this daring new play.

“This play made me laugh;” says director Paul McLaughlin. Hnath’s text is brutally funny – he’s created a delightful work of fiction/fact that will delight and intrigue audiences … and how do they do that thing with the needle …?”

With a cinematic soundscape from Wellington’s Rhian Sheenhan, Isaac’s Eye occupies its own time and space as it explores the dreams and longings that drove the rural farm boy Isaac Newton to become one of the greatest thinkers in modern science.

Come see that story live with us at Circa.

“A quirky sendup of fusty historical dramas… funky, stylized, but distinctly contemporary. Isaac’s Eye wins a whole mess of points for originality.” – The New York Times

Starring Todd Rippon, Andrew Paterson, Alex Grieg and Neenah Dekkers-Reihana

To book, visit’s-Eye or call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992

nerd nite 24: lost in translation(al neuroscience)

Well, we’re on for the twenty-fourth edition of Nerd Nite Wellington, and the awesome continueth 🙂

As always, we have a superb lineup of speakers who’ve stepped forward to share their Nerd, and it’ll all be taking place at:

  • Hotel Bristol (home of Nerd Nite Wellington)
  • 6pm (speakers starting at 6:30pm, but you’ll want to get there early to get good seats!)
  • Monday 22nd September, 2014

[Use our useful calendar to make sure you never forget again]

And yes, Nerd Nite Wellington IS STILL FREE! Because we love y’all. And there are 2 for 1 specials on some mains, too, so bring an eating buddy or many 🙂

Without further ado, then, the lineup (not necessarily in this order):



Nerd Nite Wellington #24 poster

Poster! Click to enlarge and print out for your school/workplace/laboratory/lair.

Thinking matter
Andrew Jackson

We all have 100 billions neurons in our brains.  Scientists have been slowly unravelling what they do.  What can science tell us about – why we forget what we were looking for, why we always want more and how to design the perfect date?  I will explore these questions and other issues such as – are there drugs which will enhance the performance of my brain and if so what are they?

Andrew is currently the Deputy Chief Executive in the Ministry of transport.  Originally from England, he moved to Wellington in 2007 and has fallen in love with kayaking and scuba diving in and around Wellington.  He dreams of finally making the trip to the Islands to enjoy those sports in sunnier climes.   He studied science and the philosophy of religion at University, then did a post graduate diploma in economics and law while working in the civil service in the UK.  He had a dream job before coming here, when he worked with the UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser.  His role was to explore big issues like the future of drugs, the challenges of obesity and cyber trust, by tapping in to the leading science experts on these issues.  This has given him a thirst for knowledge and solving stuff and an appreciation that there is always someone who knows heaps more than he.

F*** the duck till exploded” –  Linguistic and cultural pitfalls of translation
Marco Sonzogni (@SonzogniMarco) 

Whether it’s a menu or a film, a poem or a manual, translation is never – as many still think – a mere exchange of words. Every form of translation involves a very complex process of cross-cultural negotiation which requires ethical as well as linguistic and aesthetic skills.

In this short presentation, Macro will highlight the challenges and the rewards of translating.

Marco Sonzogni is a widely published academic and an award-winning poet, literary translator and editor. He firmly believes everything can be translated – how is another story altogether.

If Tanizaki only knew: the festish and fashion of women’s shoes in modern day Tokyo
Emerald King, @emeraldlking

In 1999 young Japanese girls’ habit of wearing 20cm+ platform shoes made headlines as high-heel and shoe related injuries climbed to the point where the Japan Consumer Information Center (now the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan) issued warnings alerting the public of the dangers of platform shoes. Even now the site of young Japanese women falling from their sky-high heels is a common, if disturbing, sight on the streets and underground malls of Tokyo.

These fashions (one part strip dancer, two parts Hello Kitty cute) have spread onto the global stage following in the wake of popular anime and games. Gwen Stefani and her ‘Harajuku Girls’ helped to popularise the look with lyrics that proclaimed a love of all things Japanese street fashion. While the reptilian monster shoes featured in the late Alexander McQueen’s 2010 spring/summer collectionPlato’s Atlantis were described by one commentator as being ‘reminiscent of Japanese foot binding.’ Orientalist inconsistencies aside, the statement illustrates how pervasive the image of exotic/errotic Japan remains.

The question that needs to be answered though is what do the Japanese think of these shoes? Or more to the point, what would Tanizaki Jun’ichirou think?

Emerald is a lecturer in Japanese at VUW. Her Facebook page insists that she’s an ‘Academic – Cosplayer – Kimono Enthusiast’but really she just enjoys slipping literary references into talks about fashion and fetishism.

nerd nite 23: undead, the universes and everything

UPDATE: Lots of awesome linky goodness from Nerd Nite Wellington #23

And we’re on for Nerd Nite Wellington 23! As always, it will be held from 6pm (talks starting at 6:30 pm) at Hotel Bristol, Cuba Street, Wellington.

Date: 21 July 2014.

Nerd nite is a free event, so bring your friends, family and nemeses! There are even 2 for 1 specials on some meals, too; an ideal opportunity to bring someone along, OR make a new friend 🙂


Quick aside: Nerd Nite Calendar

Keep forgetting to calendar Nerd Nites Wellington? Well, forget no more! 


And now, without further ado, the lineup (in no particular order; speaker order may change on the night!):


nerd nite wellington #23 poster

Poster! Click to enlarge and print out for your school/workplace/laboratory/lair.

Tech knitting and the code of craft
Tash Barneveld (@knitsch)

Knitting is enjoying a renaissance of popularity. Much is attributed to the mental health benefits, our desire to slow down in a busy world, and the ability to create something unique in a mass-produced society. However there’s much more behind it: i’m going to explore knitting’s connections to code, maths and the internet.

After repeatedly learning and forgetting how as a child, Tash re-taught to herself to knit in 2006. Initially an act  of rebellion against being surrounded by people learning to crochet, it became an obsession. 8 years later, Tash owns a hand-dyed yarn business and two yarn stores as part of a crusade against awful yarn and knitting stereotypes.

The Law of the Undead: real legal problems to consider ahead of the Zombie Apocalypse
Rochelle Furneaux (@kiwiseabreeze)

Rochelle is a real live lawyer with 20 years of NZ experience, and Director at Enspiral Legal Ltd. More details on the talk coming soon!

Possibilities and Constellations
Matt Visser and Rachel Lenart

“Every choice, every decision you’ve ever made and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes.”Constellations by Nick Payne, Circa Theatre 26 July – 23 August

Professor Matt Visser explores concepts around Multiverse Theory, free will,  and the dividing line between what we know and what we speculate to be true.

Matt Visser is a Professor of Mathematics at Victoria University in Wellington. He has published widely in the areas of general relativity, quantum field theory, and theoretical cosmology.

Theatre Director Rachel Lenart joins the conversation as she looks at how these theories are theatrically explored in her production of CONSTELLATIONS, by Nick Paye, on at Circa Theatre, on 26 July – 23 August There’ll even be a double pass spot prize to the show!

nerd nite 22: of the weird, wild and wonderful

Another fantastic lineup features for this most recent of the nerdy happiness that is Nerd Nite Wellington.

Venue: Hotel Bristol, downstairs
Date: 19th May 2014
Time: 6 pm, talks starting at 6:30pm (but beware, earlier people get better seats!!)
Cost: FREEEEEE! Because we think it’s important there are no impediments to learning 🙂 Also, there are 2 for 1 specials on some mains, so bring friends!

Without further ado, our lineup (as always, in no particular order, and order may change on the night):


nerd nite wellington 22 poster

Poster! Click to enlarge and print out for your school/workplace/laboratory/lair.

People believing weirdly
Marc Wilson

We can do rather a lot more to manipulate our world through the ‘magic’ of science than ever before. We can grow ears on animals for transplant into humans, fiddle with the building blocks of life, see into space and time, etc, etc. And at the same time, Sensing Murder is one of the most popular shown on TV when it airs. People believe in conspiracies, and ghosts, and witch craft, and a bunch of things for which, face it, the evidence is not rock solid. So why do we do this? Because he’s just nosy he’s spent a lot of time asking people, finding out who believes what, and in this talk he shall argue that we believe what we believe because it serves a psychological function to do so (that may well be independent of pesky things like ‘evidence’). He shall also speculate as to why Hamiltonians report the highest levels of paranormal belief in New Zealand.

Marc is Associate Professor of Psychology and Head of the School of Psychology at VUW. He justifies his interest in weird beliefs by arguing it’s useful material when teaching about how to do science, but it’s really because he loves the X-Files and wishes the world was really like that.

The Kraken Rises
Sea Rotmann

Are you interested in mythical beasts of yore and legend? There is none more devastatingly frightful – and more real! – than the mighty KRAKEN. Hellbringer sent by the gods, tormenting seafarers over millenia, its existence long speculated upon. Finally it was found, but only dying or as rotting carcasses. Alas! Millions of dollars and years of preparation have recently led to a real, filmed sighting of the living beast. Come and learn about all things Kraken, cephalopods and cryptozoology. You will never view the sea in the same light again…
Dr Sea is a marine biologist by training, a kraken wrangler by passion and a behaviour change expert by vocation. Her pet interest is cryptozoology, particularly sea monsters. The more tentacles the better. In real life, she is a Green Party candidate and travels the world working on a big behaviour change research project with the International Energy Agency.

Who says deep AND beautiful can’t go together? Deep sea invertebrates of New Zealand.
Kareen Schnabel

The deep ocean around New Zealand harbors an incredible amount of diversity with the region considered a biodiversity ‘hot spot’ for many groups. The NIWA Invertebrate Collection captures a large portion of the diversity as we know it today with samples collected around the southwest Pacific region and the Ross Sea, Antarctica, over the last 60 years. Kareen will be delving deep and bring up a few of her favorite stories and specimens.

Kareen is the Collection Manager of the NIWA Invertebrate Collection in Wellington and the mastermind behind the weekly Critter of the Week on the NIC Facebook page. When she doesn’t herd deep-sea specimens and scientists in the collection, she describes deep-sea squat lobsters at her microscope and desk.


See youse there!

nerd nite 21: of books, visuals and beverages

Greetings and whatnots!

Well, it looks like we’re officially adult. This means that we can now drink legally (everywhere, as opposed to only the sensible places), get in Proper Adult Trouble (yikes), and begin thinking about, um, grownup things. Whatever those are.

Nerd nite 21 will be taking place at the usual time (6pm, talks at 6:30pm), and the usual place (Hotel Bristol), on MONDAY, MARCH 24TH. As always, it’s a free event, so bring everyone you know!* Warning, though – seating can sometimes fill up fast, so rocking up at 6:25 is probably not the best of strategies if you want to sit somewhere nice and comfy 🙂

And now, on with the lineup. Speaking on the night (not necessarily in this order):


nerd nite Wellington 21 poster

Poster! Click to enlarge and print out for your school/workplace/laboratory/lair.

The Glorious Smell Of A New Book
Mike Riversdale, aka Miramar Mike – @MiramarMike /

There are book smellers and those yet to admit it to themselves. With the inevitable, unceasing and inorganic move to electronic books are we going to lose a deeper connection with the words we read and the pictures we marvel at? Mike will, through that aid of smelly books, fancy diagrams and spoken words, remind you of this declining world before painting a picture of the glass and metal empire we may end up serving – hands up who smells their iPad.

Mike, vell, he’s just zis guy, you know.

On Delight
Chris McDowall, @fogonwater

Enthusiastic web folk often talk about creating stuff that elicits “magic and delight“. Of late I’ve been thinking about that last word a lot, trying to unpick the nature of delightful experiences. In this talk I will share a curious selection of books, photographs, data visualisations and assorted whatnot, outlining how and why these things delight us. There will be maps. Lots of maps.

Chris helps preserve and promote cultural heritage as Manager of DigitalNZ Systems at the National Library of New Zealand. In an earlier life he worked as a scientist and cartographer at Landcare Research. He does other stuff too.

Appreciating Beer and Wine – The Beer Geeks vs The Terroiriste
Jules van Cruysen, @xy_eats

Craft Beer and Wine do essentially the same thing. Yet where they come from, how they are made, sold and enjoyed and most importantly the philosophies behind them are very different. The craft beer and wine industries and communities are often dismissive and derisive of the other, portraying the other as either elitist, less relevant or less serious. Playing an active role in both communities, Jules will discuss what makes beer and wine appreciation different and most importantly how beer and wine lovers can work together to defeat the evil forces of the RTD industry.

Jules is a sales representative for Macvine International, selling wine and Spiegleau glassware in Wellington and the lower North Island. He is also a freelance wine and drinks writer and writes regularly in Homestyle magazine and several online publications.

[Note: Sea Rotmann, our original speaker for this slot, will instead be speaking at nerd nite 22]


* It’s also two for one on mains, so bring a friend (or archenemy, we’re not fussy).

Joe’s talk: an apology

Last night, concerns were raised by members of the audience about some of the content and connotations of Joe’s talk ‘The rise of modern man’.

I would like to apologise personally for the upset caused – in my conversations with the speaker beforehand I had expressed the importance, difficulty and complexity of the issue, and how crucial it would be to make sure research was deep and concepts and so forth were expressed clearly. I don’t ask NNW speakers to give me transcripts of their talk ahead of time.

I’ve spent well over three years working to make Nerd Nite a safe and tolerant space for every kind of person, and am incredibly proud of the gender parity we’ve reached together in our audience. I’m deeply sorry for any damage done, and will do my utmost to ensure that the situation never arises again.

Below, you can see Joe’s response to the concerns raised. If you would like to communicate with him further, you can email me and I’ll pass your messages on.

All the best! I hope you have a fantastic week, and to see you again in mid March, for Nerd Nite Wellington’s 21st birthday 🙂


Firstly, thank you to all who attended Nerdnite #20 – the great escapes.

After last night there were a few comments and questions raised about my talk discussing the role of modern men.

I would like to apologise:  the nerves of speaking about such a loaded topic certainly got to me and my points were not made as well as they should have been.

One of the statements I made was that Feminism is the wrong word to use when discussing equality. I realise that the subject is vastly complicated and one that was not best broached in a short talk. I meant in no way to discount the feminist movement here, or its enormous importance and value in the fight for equality.

I would like to clarify that allowing those around you to feel ‘safe’ is different to protecting them – I was speaking about the former. I know people don’t need to be protected by men, but everyone does need to feel safe.

It seems the two ideas were confused in my talk; I apologise. Safety and the feeling of safety are fundamental needs in our lives; after physiological need they are the most important, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.’s_hierarchy_of_needs

I should have made the use of this framework more explicit in my talk.

One of the messages I hoped to bring through in my talk was that making those around us feel safe is something we should all strive for, including men, and I was trying to give some pointers on how men might be more engaged with and responsive to those around them.

I would also like to separate the behaviour of men from their physical size.

The way men act is very different to the physiology of men. The social pressures on men (put forward by a patriarchal culture) are much more damaging to the development of men’s behaviour than the way we are built.

My closing statement was that it is the role of everyone, especially men, to make sure the people around them feel safe.

Safety and the feeling of safety is not protection. It is crucially important that the people around me feel safe – from me, first and foremost.

I would like to apologise sincerely and deeply for having upset people. It was my intention to champion the ideals of equality in my talk, but I realize this is not what I achieved.

– Joe Hopkirk





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