In regard to the conference, I see there was a recent talk by Glenn Urquhart called "God: the failed hypothesis. How science shows that god does not exist." Mayhe he would be a good candidate for a talk at the conference if he is willing?
Welcome to the Palmerston North Skeptics in the Pub meetup group. This group is part of a larger, socially orientated group of skeptics. Details at http://skepticsinthepub.net.nz/
We meet every second Friday of the Month, in honour of old English god Frigg, at the Eminem Café on Broadway in Palmerston North. Kickoff is at 7pm, bring along something that you would like to talk about, an open mind and a sense of humour. Even just two of the above would be fine.
"A skeptic is one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient, and therefore rigorously and openly applies the methods of science and reason to all empirical claims, especially their own. A skeptic provisionally proportions acceptance of any claim to valid logic and a fair and thorough assessment of available evidence, and studies the pitfalls of human reason and the mechanisms of deception so as to avoid being deceived by others or themselves. Skepticism values method over any particular conclusion." - Dr. Steven Novella of The New England Skeptics and The Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast.