Science events for the community.

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Cawthron Memorial Lecture

The Thomas Cawthron Memorial Lecture is a free annual community event held by the Cawthron Institute Trust Board for the people of Nelson to commemorate the legacy of Thomas Cawthron and to share science with the public.

The 2018 lecture was held on Tuesday 23 October and our guest lecturer was Jonathon Porritt, who spoke about Natural Capital: Re-imagining earth, air, fire and water.

Over the years many distinguished scientists and scholars have shared their knowledge on a wide range of subjects. Past speakers include Sir Edmund Hilary, Sir Ernest Rutherford, Professor Lord Robert Winston and Rt. Hon. Helen Clark.

Watch the 2018 Cawthron Memorial Lecture

Click here to view or download memorial lectures.

Open Day

Every year Cawthron opens its doors to the public and provides presentations, tours of the laboratory and research facilities, and displays for the public. Scientists representing Cawthron's wide range of research disciplines share their knowledge and explain their work.

"Right now it's an exciting time at Cawthron and we're looking forward to sharing our research with the community," Cawthron Institute Chief Executive, Professor Charles Eason, says. "These open days are a fantastic way to connect with our community and allow people to see some of the world-leading science happening in their own backyard."

Watch the 2015 Open Day highlights


Seaweek ( is a national event run by New Zealand Association for Environmental Education. Cawthron is a proud supporter and hosts an event annually during Seaweek.

During Seaweek 2017, Cawthron engaged with the business community at a Sustainable Seas workshop by hosting a public forum on the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. 

Cawthron staff participated in a Beach clean-up – swapping their test tubes for rubbish bags – and tidied up the back beach at Rabbit Island.

Finally, 250 guests attended at a free public event hosted by Cawthron where eight scientists shared their stories, research and passion for the sea. Speakers covered topics from the history of the Ross Sea, the lowdown on natural toxins, to how we're using citizen science to monitor the effects of climate change on our oceans.

Events supported by Cawthron

Motuora Mission

The Mission is an Enviroschool initiative. Enviroschool students from Nelson-Tasman arrive at Rabbit Island for a day of exploration and fun, and learn about sustainability. Science and environmental activity providers run sustainability challenges for the students to accomplish.

Cawthron has supported this event since 2013 and provides hands-on activities based on scientists’ work, such as a sustainable fishing game, or a police investigation into who killed the dog (toxic algae).

Celebrate Science

Celebrate science is a fantastic family fun day where the community gets to discover and explore the science in our everyday lives.

In the past Cawthron has showcased examples of its applied science: from Food testing to Scampi technology, water quality and ocean acidification. It has provided many scientific talks and given students the chance to become science communicators during a series of Lightning Talks.

In 2017, Cawthron was one of the activity providers and gave the community an overview of the impacts everyday chemicals on the environment and how simple choices can make a difference.