Lecture Programme

Lecture programme March – July 2016

 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.

If you have an idea for possible speakers please contact Bruce Medcalf medcalfba@orcon.net.nz or any committee member.


Tuesday 1 March

Writers’ Week
Kathryn Carmody

Kathryn Carmody’s love of books has taken her from a commerce degree at Victoria University to organising her second Writers’ Week at the New Zealand Festival. Her first ‘real’ job was at Bennetts Bookshop on Featherston Street. She is a fourth (if not fifth!) generation Wellingtonian on both sides of her family.

Friday 4 March

Cancer, Therapy Resistance and the Surprising Role of Mitochondria.
Dr Melanie McConnell

Melanie, a senior lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington will talk about how mitochondria are the batteries of plant and animal cells, generating the majority of energy necessary for life. These organelles evolved from bacteria that moved into our cells 3 billion years ago, and all complex organisms have come to rely on mitochondria for their survival. Indeed, some might say mitochondria have been taken for granted. But have mitochondria retained more autonomy than we realised? Melanie will present recent findings that mitochondria are highly mobile entities that move between cells, and look at some of the implications of this for cancer treatment.

Tuesday 8 March

Does New Zealand Need a New Written Constitution?
Sir Geoffrey Palmer

New Zealand’s constitution is not well known or understood.  It is time for a new written constitution which will be readily accessible, easily understood and fit for purpose in modern times.  But what should it contain? Few people are better qualified to address this question than former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, who has also been President of the Law Commission, as well as a constitutional lawyer and academic.

 Friday 11 March 2016

Cancer Immunotherapy – The Science
Professor Gavin Painter

Gavin, the Science Team Leader at the Ferrier Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington will briefly outline the history of immunotherapy (i.e. an explanation of what it is and how is differs from conventional treatment options). He will discuss new immunotherapy treatment options and how recent clinical data has dramatically changed the outlook for patients with late stage disease (in some specific indications including melanoma). How their own work here in Wellington fits into this new landscape will also be discussed.

Tuesday 15 March

The Making of the Film Festival
Lindsay Shelton

Lindsay Shelton started his working life as a cadet reporter on the Dominion, before moving to the Sydney Morning Herald followed by a stint as an international correspondent in London’s Fleet Street. He returned home to become editor of network television news, a job which gave him time to also become president of the Wellington Film Society and founding director of the Wellington Film Festival. He ran the film festival for its first ten years and then spent 20 years promoting and selling New Zealand movies as the first marketing director of the Film Commission.

Friday 18 March

Work of the Land and Water Forum
lastair Bisley

Alastair has had a long career in the New Zealand Public Service. He was Secretary of Transport from 1998-2004. From 1967 – 1998, he was a member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in which he became a Deputy Secretary, and New Zealand’s Principal Trade Negotiator (1994-98).

During his diplomatic career, Alastair was posted in London, Brussels, Sydney, where he was Consul-General from 1982-86 and Geneva, where he was Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office, and Ambassador to the WTO. In that capacity, he led the New Zealand delegation in the final stages of the Uruguay Round. He was also accredited as Ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna. In Wellington, Alastair was the Director of the Economic Division from 1987-91, and during that period was New Zealand’s Senior Official to APEC.

Tuesday 22 March

Private Lives of Empire: Edinburgh, Rothschild and New Plymouth
Charlotte Macdonald

Professor Charlotte Macdonald, Victoria University of Wellington, has research interests in women’s history, New Zealand social and cultural history and the history of sport and spectatorship.  Her talk will be a discussion of recent discoveries in the falls and rises of families and fortunes, lives spanning late 18thC and 19thC Edinburgh and India, New Plymouth and Boston. An historical excursion from the Georgian squares of New Town to the barrack rooms of Taranaki (and much in between).

Friday 25 March – Good Friday – No lecture

Tuesday 29 March

Sustainable Development Goals
David Payton

 Friday 1 April 2016

The Cartoonist in NZ
Martin Doyle

Martin Doyle is a 59 year old Wellington-born artist and political cartoonist. He has worked as a teacher and civil servant. His mental development involved a BA and MPP at Victoria University, plus a life-long love of languages. He is humble about his visual skills. “Whatever skills I have in terms of art and cartoons are self-taught. You must truly believe, truly own your own work. I think that cartoonists should be scathing on all levels; otherwise their role is meaningless”.

Tuesday 5 April – To be advised.

Friday 8 April

Polish Children Immigration to Paihiatua
Adam Mantreys

Growing up in exile. On 1 November 1944 a group of 732 Polish children and their 102 guardians landed in Wellington Harbour. Together they had shared the fate of 1.7 million Poles who had been ethnically cleansed from their homes in eastern Poland by the Russian Secret Police, under Stalin’s orders at the start of World War II, and deported in cattle wagons to forced labour camps thousands of miles away throughout Siberia and the Arctic Circle. This group of children, mostly orphans or having lost family members, were the lucky ones. Through the tides of wartime politics they fled from their bondage, found temporary refuge in Iran, and were finally offered a safe and permanent home in New Zealand. Their story is one of remarkable survival against all odds in war and successfully integrating into a foreign country.

 Tuesday 12 April 2016

Rae Julian

The United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was a UN peacekeeping operation in Cambodia in 1992–93. It was the first occasion on which the UN had taken over the administration of an independent state, and organised and run an election. Rae Julian was a civilian member of the mission. She went on to coordinate VSA’s activities in Cambodia until 1997 and has maintained contact with the region.

Friday 15 April

All You Ever Wanted to Know About TTPA
Stephen Jacobi

Stephen grew up in Auckland and was educated at Auckland Grammar and Auckland University. He has a First Class Honours degree in French and German and is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) in Paris and the Institute for Strategic Leadership (Millbrook). Stephen has broad experience in industry and trade development. He earlier served as Chief Executive of the New Zealand Forest Industries Council, a national pan-industry body representing the forestry and wood processing sectors, the country’s third largest exporter. Earlier he established and led the New Zealand Trade Liberalisation Network – a business organisation aimed at building broad public understanding and support for trade. Stephen ran the NZ US Council as Executive Director 2005-2014. In these roles he has been a frequent media commentator on industry and trade issues. Stephen also has extensive diplomatic, trade and government experience including posts as Deputy High Commissioner in Ottawa, Assistant Trade Commissioner in Paris and adviser on trade and diplomatic issues with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He was formerly Private Secretary to the Minister for Trade Negotiations, Hon Jim Sutton, advising on trade policy, international affairs and government-to-government negotiations.


Tuesday 3 May

Climate Change: A New Deal? Making Sense of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change
Adrian Macey

150 heads of state and government, mayors of major cities, and leading business CEOs descended on last December’s climate change conference in Paris to urge the parties to achieve an ambitious climate change agreement. There was an agreement. But how good is it? This lecture will look at the Paris Agreement in its recent historical context and discuss what it means for the planet – and for New Zealand. Adrian Macey, a former diplomat, is Adjunct Professor, New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, School of Geography and Earth Sciences and Senior Associate, Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, School of Government, Victoria University.

Friday 6 May 2016

Wellington: from Conception to Capital to Empire City
Gabor Toth

Last year we celebrated the 150th anniversary of Wellington becoming the capital, so it’s worth reflecting on the period leading up to 1865 and the nature of our early settlement. What were the motivations of the New Zealand Company and how did economic conditions in Britain influence their actions? This generously illustrated talk will investigate these issues, examine the fragility of early Wellington and the impact that becoming the capital city had on our economy.

Tuesday 10 May – To be Advised

Friday 13 May  – Note: change to published programme

Forensics of Catastrophe: Volcanic Eruptions
Professor Colin Wilson

Erupting volcanoes are one of the great natural sights on the planet. There are, however, volcanoes on Earth which erupt on such a scale that if you are in a position to be able to see the volcano you are also certain to die. Apart from being somewhat career-limiting, the chances of making useful observations are almost nil. Thus, much of what is understood about such eruptions has to be gained from studying the products of past events, in a form of geological forensic science. In this talk, Colin will outline the ways in which insights into large explosive eruptions can be gained from studying rocks in the field, then applying a variety of analytical techniques down to the microscopic scale.

Tuesday 17 May

St Peter’s Basilica, Rome – a ‘Communis Patria’
Christopher Longhurst

Taking up and exploring two specific meanings – beauty as ‘that which pleases upon being seen’, and art as ‘right reason in making things’, this lecture looks in depth at how these meanings have been applied throughout the ages to produce one of the world’s most impressive buildings – The Basilica of St. Peter, Rome – and reveals what has essentially become a ‘communis patria’ (universal homeland), irrespective of the building’s religious message, attracting visitors from diverse cultural backgrounds from all over the world. Dr Christopher Longhurst has worked as a docent at the papal basilicas and Vatican Museums, Rome, since 1997. He holds a doctorate in theology summa cum laude from the Pontifical Angelicum University, Rome, specialised in the interdisciplinary study of theology and the philosophy of art.

Friday 20 May  – Note: change to published programme

The Commercialisation of University Technology
Geoff Todd

Geoff Todd, the Managing Director of VicLink Limited has extensive and well-recognised international skills at raising capital, buying and selling technology businesses, formulating joint venture agreements and adding significant commercial value to technology projects. He will look at where commercialisation fits into the University’s role and then talk about why and how Universities commercialise technology and provide some examples.

Tuesday 24 May

New Zealand Opera in the 21st Century
Stuart Maunder

Stuart, who has been General Director of New Zealand Opera since 2014, will give us an insight into opera in New Zealand in particular. With his broad experience directing opera in New Zealand, Australia, England and America he will offer his thoughts on the future of opera in the 21st century.  Particular reference will be given to the forthcoming production of Mozart’s popular opera The Magic Flute, which opens at the St James Theatre later in the week.

Friday 27 May – No Lecture, due to School Shakespeare at venue.

Tuesday 31 May

Cabinet, Ministers and Cabinet Office: Is Yes Minister a documentary?
Marie Shroff

Where does the power really lie and how do Ministers, heads of departments and political advisers go about the vital decision-making business inside government? Marie Shroff will explain the practical workings of Cabinet and central government processes, and how the Cabinet Office runs the Cabinet system and plays mediator and referee. She will also explain the constitutional moderator role of the Cabinet Secretary and how this works at times of political turbulence and change of government. In the course of a varied career, Marie was the Cabinet Secretary for 16 years, and then served as the Privacy Commissioner for 11 years.

Friday 3 June

Chinese Immigration in Wellington
Lynette Shum

Lynette Shum is a third-generation Chinese New Zealander, who had no idea that a Chinatown ever existed in Wellington until her uncle, who grew up in the area, proposed it to her as a research topic. After embarking on the Haining St Oral History Project, she completed a Masters thesis on the subject. She now works at the Alexander Turnbull Library, where the interviews are archived, as their Oral History Advisor. She has two grown-up daughters and lives in Plimmerton.

Tuesday 7 June

Inequality: Where We’ve Been, and Where We’re Going
Max Rashbrooke

Widening wealth and income gaps have drastically changed New Zealand in the last 30 years. How has this happened, what does it mean for our country, and is it going to get better – or worse? Max Rashbrooke is the author of Wealth and New Zealand, published in November 2015, and edited the best-selling Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, published in June 2013. He is also a research associate of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University.

Friday 10 June

Freaky Scientists Who Have Come My Way
Bob Brockie

Bob Brockie is a New Zealand cartoonist, scientist, columnist and graphic artist. He has been an editorial cartoonist to the National Business Review since 1975, specialising in political satire. As a biologist he is interested in animal populations, animal behaviour and diseases and did his PhD on hedgehog ecology. He has published material on butterfly evolution in Sicily, behaviour of sparrows, magpies, possums, starlings, mange mites, animal roadkill, flax flowering, cabbage tree disease. He has been a science columnist for Wellington’s Dominion Post newspaper since 2001. Brockie takes a strong interest in refuting popular myths, like danger to humans from 1080 poison used to control possum populations. In the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2013, he was appointed a Member of The New Zealand Order of Merit for services to science and cartooning.

Tuesday 14 June

50 Countries in 50 Years
David Barber

David Barber has spent 60 years in the newspaper business and is one of New Zealand’s most travelled journalists.  He will talk about his fascinating career as a foreign correspondent which took him to 50 countries in half a century of overseas reporting.  It also accounted for his being the only newspaper journalist on the frigate HMNZS Otago, which the New Zealand government sent into the Pacific in 1973 to protest French nuclear tests.  David has recently published Whizzing all over the place – a foreign correspondent’s memoir.

Friday 17 June 2016

400 Years of Shakespeare
Dawn Sanders

Dawn Sanders fell in love with the arts when she was a youngster, and at age 15 read the entire works of Shakespeare. She performed as many Shakespearean roles as she could and loved helping her thespian father run lines. Now, after running the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival for 22 years, Ms Sanders has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to theatre. “I was sort of gobsmacked,” she said. “But it really belongs to the students because if they weren’t so lovely, enthusiastic and talented then the festival wouldn’t exist.” More than 90,000 students have taken part in the festival since 1992, and every year she helps select 24 to travel to London to perform at the Globe Theatre. She also arranges for groups of theatre students, teachers and actors to make the trip each year. “It’s a fulltime job, I probably work 80 hours a week.”

Tuesday 21 June


 Friday 24 June

WWI Exhibition at Te Papa
Sir Richard Taylor

The name of Richard Taylor is often mentioned in the same breath as Wellington special effects and design empire Weta — which Taylor helps command — and director Peter Jackson. The blockbuster success of The Lord of the Rings and King Kong has allowed Taylor to apply his imagination, lateral thinking and leadership skills across a range of areas, from monster-making and costume design, to children’s TV programming. Taylor and his partner Tania Rodger have been helping bring Jackson’s visions to life ever since the director’s second film, “Meet the Feebles.” A passionate advocate for local talent and ingenuity, Taylor was proud to have hired “almost completely a New Zealand crew” for Lord of the Rings. Taylor grew up on a farm south of Auckland. The child of an engineer and a science teacher, he taught himself to sculpt using mud dug from a creek behind his house. Keenly interested in art, he was 17 before realising that soap opera “Close to Home” was filmed in a television studio, instead of someone’s house. Moving to Wellington with his creative and romantic partner Tania Rodger, he studied graphic design at Wellington Polytechnic. The rest is history.

Tuesday 28 June – To be Advised

Friday 1 July

The Place of the Battle of the Somme in WW1
Chris Pugsley

On the centenary of “going over the top” on Saturday July 1 1916, NZ’s pre-eminent WW1 historian, Christopher Pugsley, puts the Battle of the Somme into the wider context of WW1. It was a controversial event, still widely debated by historians today. Meticulous planning – much of it the brainchild of British Commander-in-Chief Sir Douglas Haig – lay behind the Somme campaign. An intense week of shelling the German lines would destroy all forward German defences. Allied troops could then move across no-man’s-land and overrun the Germans. It was expected that the surprised Germans, exhausted from the week-long bombardment of their trenches and bunkers, would put up little fight. The Allies could then advance on the next line of trenches, with troops moving safely behind a curtain of artillery fire. With the German defence extended, a cavalry charge would eventually rupture the entire line. But that was not the reality that prevailed.

Tuesday 5 July

New Zealand’s Marine Estate From the Perspective of a Seafloor geomorphologist
Joshu Mountjoy

Joshu Mountjoy is a marine geologist with NIWA. New Zealand has a very large and dynamic offshore area making it one of the most exciting places in the world to study the processes that shape the seafloor. Thousand-metre deep submarine canyons, subduction fault zones and mountain scale landslides work together to shape this hidden landscape. NIWA’s mapping efforts over the last 15 years have revealed much of this seafloor and enable us to gain some insight into the important processes and the timescales over which they occur.

Friday 8 July 2016

Loss of NZ Ships Off the Coast to German Mines During WW2
John Ackrill

“About 11 a.m. that day, HMS Puriri struck a mine and sank within a few minutes. As a result either of the explosion or the sinking of the ship, five men lost their lives. Lieutenant Hyde stated that at the time of the explosion Lieutenant Blacklaws was on the bridge of the Puriri and was carried away by the blast. He was last seen falling into the sea among stone ballast and other debris.” John Ackrill fills in this story.