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Lecture Programme 2014

VUW Continuing Education
Lecture programme archive


Venue and Times

All lectures are held from 10.30am - 12 noon in the Paramount, Courtenay Place.

Entrance Fee

The entrance fee to all lectures is $3.
Tea is available in the foyer from 10am at a cost of $2.

Please note that current membership cards must be shown for admission to the lectures.



Tuesday 18 March

A Wellington actor 
Ray Henwood

Welsh-born Ray Henwood moved to New Zealand in his 20s, and began a long-running theatrical career. Along the way, there has been a host of screen appearances, most famously on classic Roger Hall comedy Gliding On and a run of Moro Bar advertisements. In 2006 he was awarded the Order of Merit for services to film and theatre. He has also toured one-man shows playing Richard Burton and Dylan Thomas.

Friday 21 March

Keyhole surgery: The journey from candle to robot
Dr Dynes McConnell

One of the most impressive success stories of modern healthcare is the introduction of minimally invasive surgical techniques.Medical science has sought to reduce the invasive adverse impact of surgery on the body whilst maintaining safe access to internal organs. Dynes will examine the journey of minimally invasive surgery, with particular reference to women’s health, and will discuss the relationship between advancing age and surgical outcomes.

Tuesday 25 March       

The Kermadec Islands: Vignettes from their history
Steven Gentry

Steve’s recently published Raoul and the Kermadecs: New Zealand’s northernmost islands is the first history ever written of these fascinating islands. That it has taken so long for pen to have been put to paper on this topic is quite remarkable as New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands have been well traversed in this regard. Steve’s appetite was whetted as a result of participating in the first tourist visit to the islands in 2005. A former consulting engineer with an interest in the natural and human history of the South Pacific, Steve will present some highlights of the Kermadecs story from prehistoric times to the present day.

Friday 28 March

An insider’s view of the World Bank
Helen Sutch

Helen held senior roles in the World Bank for many years. Now living back home in Wellington she will share her perspectives on the World Bank and the—sometimes controversial—role the donor community plays in poor countries.

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Tuesday 1 April

A year on an island adrift in time
Gwen Levick

Gwen and her husband spent a year as volunteers with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) in a remote province of the Solomon Islands. She will share some of the challenges faced and insights gained from an assignment focused on working with the local education authority to strengthen education in Makira Ulawa Province after a period of neglect during the ethnic tensions in the country from 1999 to 2002.

Friday 4 April

High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Pole 3 Project: The inter-island link

Andrew, Engineering Manager, System Operator, Transpower NZ Ltd, and formerly their HVDC Project Director, will outline the background to Transpower’s HVDC inter-island link, the new HVDC Pole 3, along with the challenges in implementing the project.

Tuesday 8 April

What goes on at our Interest Group meetings?

Convenors of some of our 13 Interest Groups will talk about their activities, with members of the Writing Group reading some of the work they have written last year.  Find out what goes on, where and how often these groups meet.  Come to listen, ask questions and make suggestions for any new groups that could be set up.

Friday 11 April

River dog
Grant Muir

Grant is a farmer and artist who paints modern landscapes.  For the past eight years Grant’s focus has been devoted to the health of the Pahaoa River which surrounds his Hinakura property.  He set up a national water lobby group, WaiNZ, and a monitoring partnership with Victoria University.  His ongoing effort to get stock out of the waterway and address the wider issue of environmentally unsound farming practices was the subject of the international award winning documentary, River Dog, filmed and produced by his son James Muir.

Tuesday 15 April

What do unions do?
Helen Kelly

Helen Kelly has been President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) since 2007. She is the CTU’s chief spokesperson on a wide range of issues including economic development, employment law, climate change, social partnership and ACC. A vigorous advocate for women’s pay and employment equity she also co-chairs the Workplace Health and Safety Council. Helen is responsible for CTU international work through the International Trade Union Congress and the International Labour Organisation.

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Tuesday 6 May

New Zealand in political time: The 2014 general election and beyond
Dr Jon Johansson

Jon is a senior lecturer in comparative politics at Victoria University.  His major specialties are domestic political policy, political leadership, political psychology, political rhetoric and US politics, particularly the study of the presidency. He has been a political analyst for Television New Zealand’s current affairs programme Q & A, and has appeared across various media platforms during the past decade, including election-day coverage in both New Zealand and the United States.

Friday 9 May

Modern weather forecasting
Dr Mike Revell

Mike is principal scientist and manager for the Meteorology Group at NIWA.  He pioneered the use of computers for forecasting in New Zealand.  His current research interest is looking at the airflow over hills and around buildings.  In his talk he will cover the history of weather prediction and how a modern numerical weather forecast system works.  Mike will include a forecast of the weather for Wellington for the next few days.

Tuesday 13 May

Friday 16 May

New Zealand fossils
Dr James Crampton

Because of New Zealand’s location astride the Earth’s great oceanic and atmospheric currents, scientists in New Zealand are making crucial contributions to the understanding of global environmental and climate change. Our extremely rich rock and fossil records allow us to place modern observations into the context of deep time. How does modern change compare to the upheavals and transitions that have occurred over millions of years? James will share with us how their research into the use of chemical, fossil and physical evidence and computer models is yielding surprising and sobering findings.

Tuesday 20 May

‘Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink’: Vision and violence in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Heidi Thomson

Heidi is the Romantics specialist at Victoria University.  Her lecture deals with Coleridge’s 1798 ripping yarn about the mariner who shot the albatross and who was forced to tell the tale forever.  The poem crosses psychological and geographical boundaries in a way that no poem has ever done before, and readers have been fascinated with the enchanting terror of the ballad ever since.

Friday 23 May

The New Zealand coast watchers in the Pacific in WW II
Dale Williamson

During WW11 a number of young New Zealand civilians, mainly from the Post and Telegraph Department, volunteered for ‘Special Duty outside New Zealand’ as radio operators and coast watchers. They were placed on islands in the Pacific to keep watch for principally Japanese naval and air force activity. Dale will share with us where they were sent and what became of them.

Tuesday 27 May

The role of the Banking Ombudsman scheme
Deborah Battell

In her fifth year as Banking Ombudsman, Deborah Battell will share her insights on banking today. The global financial crisis is now behind us, but its impact resulted in big changes in the way disputes with banks are resolved. The banking sector is constantly evolving, and dispute resolution is evolving with it. What are the big issues facing banking customers in 2014? Cases resolved this financial year range from disputes over how much money was handed over to the bank teller, through to out and out identity fraud through email hacking on public Wi-Fi. Are you doing all you can to manage your banking relationships and keep your finances safe?

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Tuesday 3 June

Remembering war: New Zealand’s changing international situation
Terence O’Brien

Terence O’Brien is a former senior diplomat who has lectured and written widely on New Zealand foreign policy and international affairs. The great wars of the 20th century had a direct influence on shaping New Zealand’s international identity. How we decide to commemorate our country’s part in them will tell us something about ourselves and influence the perceptions of others about modern New Zealand.

Friday 6 June

Note: Change of programme

Sustainable utilisation of fisheries resources in New Zealand 
Dr Kevin Sullivan

Kevin is the Fisheries Stock Assessment Manager at the Ministry for Primary Industries who chairs the fisheries assessment working groups, reviewing the stock assessment advice from the researchers and managing the competitive tendering process for research contracts. He will outline the system used to manage New Zealand’s fisheries with specific case studies on rock lobster and orange roughy fish stocks and the approach to management of fisheries interactions with protected species.

Tuesday 10 June

Transport, climate and health: Wellington at the crossroads
Russell Tregonning

Russell is a Wellington orthopaedic surgeon and senior lecturer at the Otago University School of Medicine & Health Science, Wellington. He  was born, bred and educated in Dunedin, then did post-graduate training in Auckland, London UK, and Toronto. He is an executive member of Ora Taiao: The NZ Climate & Health Council, who are a group of over 200 health professionals concerned about climate change which is being described by leading global health organisations as the greatest potential health threat this century

Friday  13 June

Wellington’s roads of national significance
Rod James

Rod, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) Highway Manager for the Central Region, will provide a brief history, followed by an overview of Wellington’s roads of national significance, the transformational impact of these projects on the region, and an update on current progress.

Tuesday 17 June

Colours of India
Valerie Carson

. . . ‘no other land enjoys such a profusion of creative energies for the production of textiles as the subcontinent of India’quote from John Gillow, friend and colleague of Valerie Carson. Valerie, Te Papa’s first textile conservator, was employed in 1980 by what was then the National Museum. She retired in 2007 after 27 years of service and remains active in the textile community, practising conservation and leading workshops and study tours.

Friday 20 June

Note: Change of programme

A New Zealand environmental issue
Dr Jan Wright

Jan Wright, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, will speak on a topical issue based on one of her latest reports.

Tuesday 24 June   Midwinter lunch

Exhibiting colonial culture
Dr Rebecca Rice

Rebecca is Curator Historical New Zealand Art, at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. She confesses to a long-standingpreoccupation with the culture of exhibitions and colonial art. In her current role at Te Papa, she faces the challenge of conveying this passion to visitors,and finding ways toengage those in the present with the art of the past

Friday 27 June

Linking eco-restoration, reproductive behaviour and climate modelling to predict tuatara offspring sex ratios
Anna L Carter

Anna Carter, a doctoral candidate in the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington, will share some of her research examining how climate change could impact one of New Zealand’s most charismatic endemic species. Environmental variation is ubiquitous in nature, whether the direct result of human activity or of ‘normal’ climate-driven processes. Predicting the impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations is, arguably, the hottest topic in ecology. Anna has combined cutting-edge computer modelling techniques with creative data mining to explore how female nesting behaviour interacts with the environment to influence hatchling sex ratios in tuatara, a long-lived reptile with temperature-dependent sex determination.

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Tuesday 1 July

An Insider View into the World of Translation
Liz Seymour

Liz Seymour was appointed as CEO NZTC International (The NZ Translation Centre Ltd)  in 2001 and is now a joint owner and director of this privately owned written language translation company based in Wellington.

Friday 4 July

Environmental sustainability in New Zealand depends on people, cows and water. What can you do?
Dr Mike Joy

Dr Mike Joy is Senior Lecturer, Environmental Science/Ecology at Massey University. He is an outspoken advocate for environmental protection in New Zealand. In 2013 he received the Charles Fleming Award from the Royal Society. Mike teaches environmental sustainability to ecology and environmental management undergraduate students in the Institute of Agriculture and Environment.He teaches community ecology, global environmental issues, freshwater ecology, microbial ecology and runs a field-based paper looking first hand at environmental issues in New Zealand.

Tuesday 22 July

Mahy magic in New Zealand’s School Journal
Vivien van Rij

Like many acclaimed New Zealand writers, Margaret Mahy first had her work published in theSchool Journal.This presentation explores some of her earlypieces within the context of thejournal’s philosophy and the pedagogy of the 1960s to 1980s. Visual images of the actual texts and illustrations will be shown.

Friday 25 July       This lecture begins at 10.00 am

Wellington’s zoo
Baukje Lenting

Dr Lenting, who trained at Massey University’s Veterinary School, received their Veterinary Science Medal in 2007 as the top graduate in all subjects. She had a strong focus on the care of native wildlife and did extra training in avian medicine before working in Auckland and the Netherlands. Baukje joined the Wellington Zoo team in 2012 and will talk on the work the zoo is doing and hopes to do, particularly for our native birds and reptiles. She has a few lions and monkeys to discuss as well!

Tuesday 29 July

What is it that diplomats do for New Zealand when posted overseas?

This session which involves five retired diplomats (three of whom are members of Wellington City U3A) will be chaired by Frank Wilson. The four participants, who will direct their comments to specific postings, will be Gerald McGhie (Russia), Derek Leask (United Kingdom), Suzanne Blumhardt (Fiji) and Denise Almao (Brazil). They will open our eyes to many aspects of New Zealand’s diplomatic service.

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Friday 1 August    This lecture begins at 10.00 am

Recent ‘shakes’ in Wellington and the future
Russ van Dissen

Russ, a senior scientist at Geological and Nuclear Science (GNS), will share with us his experience of earthquakes in the Wellington region and look to the future.

Tuesday 5 August

Montecassino, the abbey and WWII: A story of fall and resurrection
Barbara Pezzotti

This lecture focuses on the millennary history of the Montecassino Abbey, at the centre of the Montecassino battles (1944) that took place during the Second World War. Founded by Saint Benedict in 529, in the Middle Ages the abbey hosted a school of illuminators famous throughout the West. It was a centre of arts and culture before being bombed by the Allied forces on 15 February 1944.

Friday 8 August    This lecture begins at 10.00 am

Geoff Robinson

Dr Geoff Robinson is a general physician and the Chief Medical Officer of the Capital and Coast District Health Board. Early in his medical career he specialised in drug and alcohol problems and set up services for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. He has campaigned nationally on TV, radio and with many newspaper and magazine articles to influence our legislation and treatment of drug and alcohol addictions.

Tuesday 12 August

New Zealand politics in the 1950s: Was it such a boring decade?
Elizabeth McLeay

In this illustrated talk Elizabeth argues thatthe decade of the 1950s has been undeservedly neglected by scholars. The political culture of the time was neither boring nor uniformly conventional, and the 1951 waterfront lockout and the Mazengarb Report were not the only significant events. This decade displayed some of the strengths as well as the weaknesses of our political culture and also saw the beginnings of major change. Elizabeth shows this bytracing the political patterns and major decisions of the era and discussing the dominant political personalities.

Friday August 15         

Our living city
Myfanwy Emeney 

Myfanwy, Team Leader, Urban Ecology, Wellington City Council, manages biodiversity activities for WCC. Our harbour, hills, wild coastline and native flora and faunaare all situated in close proximity to urban life.This means that our ecology faces unique challenges as we balance the needs of the natural environment with the needs of a capital city and its residents. Myfanwy will talk about the opportunities and challenges we are faced with as a city and what we are doing about them.

Tuesday 19 August

From Worcestershire to Wellington: A musical voyage
Mark Dorrell

Mark, who has been the Music Director of the Orpheus Choir from February 2012, is an experienced musician and is passionate about choralmusic. From musical theatre in London to Mozart at the Michael Fowler Centre, from Bernstein to Beethoven, Dame Judi Dench to Dave Dobbyn, he will take us on a journey that spans his eclectic musical tastes.

Friday 22 August   Note: Change of programme                   

The Karori Lunatic Asylum
Dr. Roger Ridley-Smith

In 1922 Dr. R.V. Fulton described the Karori Lunatic Asylum as a seriously mismanaged institution in the colonial era. In 2013 this stimulated Dr. Ridley-Smith to search the National Archives where he found much of the history of this long since vanished place was documented. But he also found boxes of hand written letters dating back to the 1860's which he used with the help of old newspapers to construct an account of how a scattered community dealt with problems of mental health in those harsh colonial times.

Tuesday 26 August

From Brooke to Borges, Brecht to Billy Bragg: Kipling’s legacy
Harry Ricketts

Harry Ricketts is a Professor of English in the School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies at Victoria University. He teaches and researches 19th and 20th century poetry, children’s literature, creative non-fiction and literary biography.  In 1999, he published an acclaimed biography of Rudyard Kipling, The Unforgiving Minute. He has also authored journal articles, book chapters and conference papers, and edited books on the world-renowned writer.

Friday 29 August

3D printing
Ross Stevens

Ross, a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University’s School of Design, will be talking about 3D printing, a new way of making things. He will discuss the basic techniques and technologies used, the benefits and limitations and real world applications illustrated through produced products and 3D printing’s potential to challenge mass production.

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Tuesday 2 September

Talk at work: Addressing challenges for new immigrants  Janet Holmes

Janet, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at Victoria University, will describe how the Wellington Language in the Workplace Project team uses research on workplace discourse to assist new migrants as they enter the New Zealand workforce. In particular, she will discuss how the ways in which New Zealandersengage in small talk and humour at work are culturally challenging for some immigrants.

Friday 5 September

To mine or not to mine, that is the question
Ian Graham

New Zealand is relatively rich in terms of per capita mineral wealth, being endowed with significant onshore resources of precious metals, coal, water, geothermal energy and industrial minerals. In our vast, largely unexplored, offshore Exclusive Economic Zone there are large known reserves of alluvial minerals as well as likely significant reserves of oil and gas. Dr Ian Graham, Director of Research at GNS Science in Lower Hutt, will outline what is known about these resources and what steps are needed to take economic advantage of them. He will also address the question of ‘social license’ or the trade-off between benefits and possible damage to the environment through exploration (e.g., deep-sea drilling) or extraction (e.g., fracking). An important side issue to the debate is where to seek the strategic trace metals that are critical to sustaining the global drive towards renewable forms of energy.   

Tuesday 9 September

SPCA and its future
Iain Torrance

Iain is the Chief Executive Officer of Wellington SPCA.  His long-term vision extends to transforming the SPCA nationally into the leading charitable organisation of New Zealand—professional, consistent, self-sustaining and making a tangible difference in every community.  He is a strong believer in strategic partnerships, achieving greater outcomes as a group than could ever be achieved individually.

Friday 12 September

Note: Change of Programme. Dr Ben Gray will now speak on September 26

Clostridium botulism: Old enemy, new threat?
Steve Flint

Steve—Professor in Food Safety and Microbiology, and Director, Food Division Institute of Food Nutrition and Human Health, at Massey University—will talk about the most serious cause of food poisoning. It is the microorganism that can be found in poorly preserved home ‘canned’ foods and which manufacturers of canned foods need to ensure is inactivated, as this bacterium can be lethal. Recently, whey protein concentrate used in the production of infant formula was mistakenly thought to have been contaminated by Cl. Botulinum.

Tuesday 16 September

Sewing freedom: Philip Josephs and early New Zealand anarchism
Jared Davidson

Anarchism as a philosophy and social movement has long been misunderstood. Yet as a force for social change, anarchism has an appeal for many people worldwide. Philip Josephs—a Latvian-born Jewish tailor and anti-militarist was founder of one of New Zealand’s first anarchist groups in 1913. This talk will highlight his life and ideas. Jared Davidson is an archivist, member of the Labour History Project and writer on the intersections of power, culture and class. He has published two books, including Sewing Freedom: Philip Josephs, transnationalism & early New Zealand anarchism (AK Press, 2013) which will be available for $15 on the day.

Friday 19 September  AGM

My life in science
Mike Berridge

Mike is a research professor at the Malaghan Institute—formerly the Wellington Cancer and Medical Research institute—where he has worked since returning to New Zealand in 1976.

Tuesday 23 September

Reporting the full picture
Michael Johnston

Dr Michael Johnston, Senior Lecturer, Victoria University School of Education Policy and Implementation, is currently leading a Ministry of Education project to develop an assessment tool for teachers to measure and report individual students’ progress in reading, writing and mathematics. He will discuss issues concerning assessment, including the way in which data are typically used to compare schools.

Friday 26 September

Note: Change of programme. Professor Steve Clint is now scheduled for September 12

Medical ethics: Good people doing the right thing cost effectively for a diverse population 
Ben Gray

Dr Gray, Otago University of New Zealand’s first Professor of General Practice, convenes the teaching of professional skills, attitudes and ethics for medical students in Wellington. He will talk about medical ethics affecting decision making when there is disagreement about the right course of action and will discuss a variety of ways of trying to decide what is right. For example (doing) the Right Thing. This is a predominant approach where ethicists engage in debate on controversial topics to determine what is right. They develop guiding principles and write codes of ethics as guidance for practitioners.

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Tuesday 14 October

“A hitch-hiker’s guide to trade agreements”
Stephen Jacobi

Trade is New Zealand’s life-blood but trade negotiations are becoming increasingly complex and controversial. In this talk trade expert Stephen Jacobi will lift the veil of secrecy around trade negotiations, explaining why they’re important, how they are carried out and what benefits and risks there are for New Zealand. Stephen is a well known public commentator on trade issues. A former diplomat and trade official, he runs his own consultancy specialising in international trade, government relations and economic development. He serves as Executive Director of the NZ International Business Forum and Alternate Member of the APEC Business Advisory Council.

Friday 17 October

The Art of Genetic Science.
Dr Kate Neas

Kate trained as a paediatrician before studying clinical genetics and is now the clinical leader for the Genetic Health Service in Central New Zealand. She sees patients across the age spectrum from pre natal abnormalities, children with physical and intellectual disabilities through to adults with adult onset genetic conditions such as Huntingdon Disease. Her areas of special interest are pre-natal genetics, dysmorphic children and cardiac genetics.

Tuesday 21 October

New Zealand Portrait gallery
Avenal McKinnon

Avenal is the Director of the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, a significant visual archive of the many faces of New Zealand. From the celebrated to the seldom seen, the Gallery defines the unique qualities of Aotearoa New Zealand. Through dynamic and evolving exhibitions the Gallery records our rapidly changing social environment, illuminating our past, present and even giving glimpses of our future. The Gallery shows creativity of significant historical and contemporary artists

Friday 24 October

Maritime Law
Judge Tom Broadmore

Tom graduated from Victoria University with a Law and an Arts degree. While working in Chapman Tripp he was introduced to maritime law and followed this up when he worked in London in the 1970s.  From 1999 to 2002 he was President of the Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand. Since 2005 he has been a District Court Judge. He will use recent cases and “war stories” to show how particular features of New Zealand Maritime Law mark it out from other areas of law

Tuesday 28 October

Panel discussion: What agendas are driving tertiary education policy and what are the effects on staff, students and NZ communities?

Dr Sandra Grey (chair) is a senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington and a Vice President of the Tertiary Education Union.

Dr Todd Bridgman is a senior lecturer at the School of Management at Victoria University of Wellington.

James Houkamau is the Academic Student Support Co-ordinator (Maori) at Whitireia and a Vice President of the Tertiary Education Union.

Rory McCourt is a student association activist and Victoria University of Wellington student.

Dr Charles Sedgwick is a sociologist who has taught at the University of Canterbury and Victoria University of Wellington.

Around the world politicians are using agendas of economic growth, privatisation, and marketisation to drive tertiary education policy. This means that institutions are focused on research and teaching projects which are countable, measurable, and commercialisable. As a result, staff struggle to find time and space to engage in public debate, to fulfil the legislated function of critic and conscience of society, and to ensure that institutions develop engaged citizens as well as good workers.

Friday 31 October

The Origins of New Zealand
Dr Hamish Campbell

Hamish is a senior scientist with GNS Science. His illustrated talk will explain the latest geological understanding of the origins of the New Zealand landmass. It will traverse three billion years of time with emphasis on our history in terms of the Rodinia, Gondwana and Zealandia continents and touch on our future: what will become of New Zealand?



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