The world's most famous astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson has touched down in Aotearoa for a two-date talking tour which kicks off in Christchurch this evening at the Horncastle Arena.
Tyson is a renowned public figure in the United States and a passionate advocate of education, science and reason, often debating the role of religion in American public life and arguing for greater funding for the sciences.
In addition to his role as a public speaker, which sees him rubs shoulders with presidents, intellectuals and celebrities, Tyson heads the Hayden Planetarium in New York.
Kawe Kōrero spoke to Tyson ahead of his Christchurch talk entitled. 'Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Cosmic Perspective'.
When asked about his beliefs, Tyson was quick to clarify his views.
"I'm a scientist, so it's not a matter of belief,' says Tyson, It's a matter of where there's evidence.
"We have evidence to show that the universe is nearly 14 billion years old through measurements of the expansion of the universe, where you turn the clock back and you find a time where all the objects in the universe were in the same place at the same time. When you run that calculation you get 13.8 billion years ago. We call that the Big Bang.
"There's much more evidence that comes together that makes a complete picture there."
Tyson is unapologetic in his view that reason is more powerful than any particular belief system.
"Something to keep in mind is that the universe is under no obligation to make sense to you - because what we've learned about the universe comes through methods and tools of science that go far beyond our five senses."
In addition to tonight's Christchurch talk, Tyson will appear this Sunday July 9th at Spark Arena in Auckland.