Lecture Programme



Lectures are held at the Embassy Theatre, 10 Kent Terrace
from 10.30 am until 12 noon


TERM 1 Tuesday 25 February to Tuesday 7 April

TERM 2 Tuesday 28 April to Friday 24 July

TERM 3 Tuesday 25 August to Friday 25 September

TERM 4 Tuesday 13 October to Friday 6 November


Tuesday 25 February

New Zealand’s Infrastructure Challenges and Opportunities
(… and how it’s paid for!)                                  
Alan Bollard

Alan Bollard is Chair of the NZ Infrastructure Commission, Professor of Economics at Victoria University, and Chair of the NZ Portrait Gallery. Until last year he headed the APEC Organisation, headquartered in Singapore. Previous to that he has been Governor of the Reserve Bank of NZ, Secretary of the NZ Treasury, Chair of the Commerce Commission, and Director of the NZ Institute of Economic Research. Irritated by traffic congestion, but don’t want more roads? Worried about the cost of new housing but don’t want to see infill developments? Think we are wasting money on underground piping but worried by climate change? New Zealand has some big infrastructure challenges ahead. The Government has just established the NZ Infrastructure Commission to advice on the big picture for our infrastructure development. The Chair, Alan Bollard, will talk about why infrastructure investment has been difficult in New Zealand, how to improve it, and who how it might be paid for.

Friday 28 February

The Climate Emergency and the Climate Change Commission
Professor James Renwick

Professor Renwick has had 40 years’ experience in weather and climate research and was a lead author for the last two assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He will discuss the basics of the science of climate change, how things have changed to date and what needs to be done to stop global warming in terms of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. He will also describe the role of the NZ Climate Change Commission.

Tuesday 3 March

New Zealand Festival                                                                                                  Marnie Karmelita

Marnie is a performing arts curator and international arts producer with 20 years’ experience working in venues and festival, in Australia, the United States and NZ. Appointed to the role of Creative Director of the New Zealand Festival Trust (now Tawhiri) in 2018. Marnie worked as Head of Programming of the NZ Festival in 2016, where she led a team that delivered the main biennial festival, the annual Wellington Jazz Festival and the biennial Lexus Song Quest. Marnie will present to us an overview of the NZ Festival Programme.

Friday 6 March 

A vision for Wellington                                                                                            Mayor Andy Foster

Andy Foster was elected Mayor of Wellington in October 2019, having served as a city councillor since 1992. As well as being Mayor, Andy sits on the important Council Strategy and Policy Committee and the Annual Plan/Long Term Plan Committee. He is a director on Wellington Airport board, represents the Council on various regional organisations and is president of the New Zealand Traffic Institute.

Tuesday 10 March

The only time we have                                                                                              John Downie

John has had a long professional career as a creative artist and university teacher. Trained as a director in performance arts he worked initially for Granada TV and theatres in Scotland. As a playwright, his work was produced in the UK by Traverse Theatre, Kneehigh Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Bristol Old Vic. In 1990 he emigrated to Aotearoa and worked as a senior lecturer in Theatre and Film at Victoria University until retirement in 2012. In this talk John will suggest an approach to the common denominator of human experience, ageing and the business of taking and making account of this, in the spirit of playfulness, mystery and aesthetics – that is, the intelligence of feeling – based on his autobiographical book “The Only Time”. – taking account of the only life you have.

Friday 13 March

Te Pahuatanga te kite o naianei rangi
(The Unseen Plundering of Today)
Kura Moeahu

Kura is a descendant of Te Kahui Maunga, the eight tribes of Taranaki and Ngata Toa. He is the Tumu Whakarae (Adviser Maori) to Parliament. His presentation will be based on what took place on 5 and 7 November 1881 in the peaceful settlement of Parihaka, where his ancestors and his people became subjugated to slavery and suppressed. He will contend that through intergenerational outlooks the events of past suppression still exist today.

Tuesday 17 March

New ground breaking Initiatives in our court system                                      Judge Emma Parsons & Judge Lisa Tremewan

Judge Emma Parsons has recently begun sitting in the AODT (Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment) Court, Te Whare Whakapike Wairua (the House which uplifts the spirits), in Waitakere where she sits with Judge Lisa Tremewan.

Judge Lisa Tremewan has served as a practicing lawyer for two decades and has served as an adjudicator in the Tenancy Tribunal and served on various refugee and immigration appeal authorities. Lisa is better known for her special interest in Therapeutic Jurisprudence. In 2012 with a colleague, Judge Ema Aitken they began NZ’s first AODT Court. In 2019 the AODT Court was confirmed by Government as a permanent Court in the NZ Court System. Their talk will be on NZ imprisonment rates; Drug Treatment Courts Internationally; What the judges learn while in the AODTC; The court practice; NZ’s approach to AODTC; The graduates and cost savings in custody time and imprisonment

Friday 20 March

Public Sector Accounting – Boring to the Power of Two                                Professor Ian Ball

Ian Ball is Professor of Public Financial Management, and the first Professor in Practice at Victoria University of Wellington. During his career Ian has been an academic, a senior public servant, an accounting standard setter, an international consultant on public financial management, and chief executive of an international organization. He will address the financial management reforms of the 1980’s and 1990’s and their result in shaping the Government’s fiscal position up till the present day. Comparisons will be drawn with other countries such as Greece and the USA.

Tuesday 24 March

Pacific youth in a changing world
Dame Winnie Laban

Associate Professor Hon. Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban QSO DNZM was appointed Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika), at Victoria University in 2010. The role was established to provide strategic direction and support for Pasifika students and staff. She previously served as Member of Parliament (1999-2010) and was Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, Minister for the Community and Development, and Associate Minister of Trade, Associate Minister of Economic Development, and Minister Social Development and Employment. Luamanuvao is a graduate in Social Work from Victoria University and completed a post-graduate qualification in Development Studies from Massey University. She is a member of the NZ Institute of Directors, patron of the Wellington Pasifika Business Network, patron of the Cancer Society Relay for Life, member of the creative NZ Arts Council and Council Member of the National University of Samoa.

Friday 27 March

Family Violence in Aotearoa New Zealand                                                            Dr Ang Jury

Dr Jury is the Chief Executive of Women’s Refuge Aotearoa and has worked in the domestic violence arena for over 20 years. She will provide an overview of family violence in NZ, and discuss the role of the Women’s Refuge movement in this country. She will then describe how places of business can support those experiencing family violence and what communities can do to combat one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most troubling issues.

 Tuesday 31 March

Protecting Nature’s Future                                                                                         Iona Pannett

Iona is a Green City Councillor with over 25 years’ experience in governance as well as a background in NGO management, communications and historical research. Iona was born, raised and educated in Pukehnau Lambton, the area she now represents.  She studied History and Philosophy at Victoria University. Iona has been a sustainability leader in the city for many years focussing on capital city infrastructure including water, waste and buildings. Her focus in conjunction with her colleagues has been transforming Wellington into one of the most sustainable cities in Australasia. As Climate Change bites and the biodiversity crisis deepens, cities around the world have a big role in protecting nature for its own sake and to safeguard the birthright of our children and our grandchildren. Iona Pannett will look at what Wellington is doing and could be doing to prepare for a radically different but exciting future.

 Friday 3 April

The International Legal Institutions in The Hague
Do they make the world a better place?                                                                 George Troup

George has worked within the External Aid, Economic, Australia and Europe Divisions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with postings in Paris, Washington. Mexico City and The Hague, the latter two as Ambassador. He will survey the history of the institutions and New Zealand’s involvement with them. He will also attempt to assess their degree of success in establishing the rule of law as the basis for international relations, especially in areas such prosecuting the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 Tuesday 7 April

Josephine’s Garden
The Empress Napoleon and her botanical garden                                           Stephanie Parkyn

Stephanie Parkyn is the author of “Josephine’s Garden” published by Allen & Unwin.  She had a former career as an environmental scientist, but now writes historical fiction from her home in the Coromandel Peninsula. Her short stories have been shortlisted for the RSNZ Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing and her debut novel “Into the World” was longlisted for the Tasmanian Premier’s Literature Prize 2019. Introducing Empress Josephine, the colonial girl from Martinique who survives imprisonment during the reign of terror and becomes wife of napoleon Bonaparte and Empress of France.  Much maligned as a prostitute and scandalous entertainment of elite men, in this talk I will explore her largely unknown obsession with growing rare and unusual plants gathered from expeditions around the world.  My novel Josephine’s Garden is the story of her desire to grow these plants in France for the first time, her magnificent garden, her botanical rivalries, and her tumultuous marriage to Napoleon.  She must give Napoleon an heir or she will lose everything she has achieved.

April 10 to 26
Easter and Term 1 Holidays


Tuesday 28 April

A politician’s life                                                                                                            Peter Dunne

Peter was educated at St Bedes College and at the University of Canterbury where he graduated with a Master of Arts Degree with Hons in Political Science. He also studied Business Administration at Massey University. He was elected to Parliament as MP for Ohariu in 1984 and held the seat through several boundary and name changes until his retirement in 2017. Peter will talk on ‘’Reflections on a Life in Politics.’’ He will give his view on the state of NZ’s Democracy and a brief non-partisan view (as far as is possible) of the up-coming election.

Friday 1 May

Explorers, Shipwrecks, Coast Watchers and lost gold
Ornithology of the Subantarctic Auckland Islands
Dr Colin Miskelly

Dr Miskelly is curator of vertebrates, specialising in birds, at Te Papa. The Auckland Islands are the largest and most biologically rich of NZ’s subantarctic islands. They also have a rich human history, with the survivors of several shipwrecks relying on the local wildlife for vital sustenance. He will summarise the major findings of the recent review of the history and status of the vast range of bird species from 1807.

Tuesday 5 May

Swedish Democracy
Dr Karl Lofgren

Dr Karl Lofgren is an Associate Professor in the School of Government at Victoria University prior to this he had academic positions with Universities in Copenhagen, Malmo and Roskilde. He teaches in a number of subfields of political science including comparative politics, public administration/management, public policy and European Union studies. Karl will talk to us on the Swedish Political system in general with a point of departure in its constitutional and historical development.

Friday 8 May

This is the first of our Friday political series of five lectures for the election

Political polling in New Zealand: past and present                                           Stephen Mills

Stephen is the Executive Director of UMR Research. He worked in politics from 1983-1990, including periods in the offices of David Lange and Helen Clark He has been involved in polling for about 50 NZ general elections and Australian federal and state electoral campaigns. He will describe how political polling by parties began, how it has changed and what it can still tell us about this year’s general election.

Tuesday 12 May

The Attorney General and the Rule of Law
Hon Chris Finlayson

Christopher Finlayson QC is a New Zealander who grew up in Wellington. He is a New Zealand lawyer and former Member of Parliament, representing the National Party. From 19 November 2008 until 26 October 1917 he was a Cabinet Minister. He was the Attorney-general, Minister for Treaty Waitangi negotiations and, for a shorter period, Minister of Culture and Heritage. In October 2014, Chris also assumed responsibility for the ministerial portfolios of Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau and the Minister in Charge of the New Zealand’s two main intelligence agencies. He left parliament and politics in January 2019 and is now a partner in Bankside Chambers. Chris has been heavily involved in the arts community. He chaired Creative New Zealand’s Arts Board from 1998 to 2001, and was a former trustee of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Friday 15 May  

A perfect voting system? New Zealand and MMP
Emeritus Professor Nigel Roberts

Nigel Roberts taught political science at Victoria University for 30 years and at the University of Canterbury for 11 years. He was election night commentator on radio and television from 1975- 2008. He has also been an advisor to NZ electoral referendum panels, to the Electoral Commission and to the 2012 review of MMP. .Nigel’s talk will both examine how MMP works and assess how it has worked out in practice for the country as a whole.

Tuesday 19 May

Re-thinking plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand
Dr Rachel Chiaroni-Clarke       

Rachel Chiaroni-Clarke is a research analyst and writer in the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. After several years in research, Rachel moved into a writing role in medical communications, before joining the PMCSA team. Rachel led the Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand project for the office in 2019. Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand is a system-wide overview of the evidence related to plastics, alongside ideas and recommendations about how we can mitigate the issues associated with plastic while retaining its many benefits. Through wide consultation with people from community groups, businesses, the waste industry, research and government, and an analysis of the evidence base, Rethinking Plastics charts a pathway forward for New Zealand to change our relationship with plastics to be more sustainable. This talk will summarise the findings of the report and update on any policy implications that have occurred since its release.

Friday 22 May

The Bougainville Referendum                                                                                  Tony Sutorius

Tony Sutorius runs Porirua-based company Unreal Films. He first made his mark as a filmmaker with Campaign, a 1999 documentary about an election campaign. Since then his company has won a reputation as the company to call for films about elections, from training videos for electoral staff, to films promoting voting and explaining how it works. He will discuss his work on the education campaigns for the 2019 independence referendum in Bougainville.

Tuesday 26 May

Race Relations In New Zealand                                                                                Meng Foon

Meng Foon has taken up the appointment of Race Relations Commissioner, after 24 years at the Gisborne District Council.  Mr Foon was elected Mayor, a role he held for 18 years.  He is one of a handful of people of Chinese descent to have become a mayor in New Zealand. He is fluent in Te Reo.  He is a member of a number of community organisations including the Nga Taonga a na Tama Toa Trust, the New Zealand Chinese Association, Aotearoa Social Enterprise Trust.  He has released a musical number. “Tu Mai,” He has been Chair of Gisborne/Tarawhiti Rugby League since 1989, and was a member of the New Zealand Rugby League Board.

Friday 29 May

The 2017 General Election as seen by the cartoonists
Ian Grant and Hannah Benbow

Ian was the founder of the NZ Cartoon Archive at the National Library. He was also a founding director/editor of the National Business Review and is also an author and publisher. Hannah is the Alexander Turnbull Library’s research librarian, cartoons, in charge of the Cartoon Archive. Cartoonists have been described as “instant graphic historians” and the political cartoon as an “editorial in pictures”. Ian and Hannah will discuss how these comments relate to the 2017 general election.

Tuesday 2 June

Community Gardening
Hannah Zwartz

Hannah has been gardening for over 30 years, and when not gardening she’s teaching gardening, writing about gardening or developing school and community garden programmes. For the last year she’s been at Urban Kai farms, run from Common Unity trust in Epuni, growing food with kids at Epuni Primary School, Epuni Care and Protection Youth Residence, men at Rimutaka prison, tenants in Housing NZ/Kainga Ora backyard and dozens of volunteers. Last year Urban Kai farms produced over 5 tonnes of vegetables and this year they’ve set the ambitious target of producing 1200 meals per week for local schools and community. Hannah will be talking about her work at all the above places.

Friday 5 June

Burma/Myanmar: will the fragile democracy survive?                                    Ross Wilson

Ross, a former president of the Council of Trade Unions, worked in Myanmar for the ILO in 2012-2013. He is the founder and current Chair of UnionAID, which has been responsible since 2009 for the MFAT funded Myanmar Young Leaders Programme. This programme brings 12 young civil society leaders, mainly from ethnic minorities to Wellington each year for a six months programme of English, democratic processes, economic and social policy development and leadership skills through Victoria University. Ross will review the challenges facing Burma/Myanmar under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi against the background of a history of oppressive military rule for more than 50 years.

Tuesday 9 June

International Human Rights                                                                                Professor Paul Hunt

A national of Aotearoa and UK, Paul studied law at Cambridge and Waikato University. He has lived and undertaken human rights work in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Aotearoa. In 1992 he was appointed Professor at Essex University. Paul served as an independent expert on the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (1999-2002) and UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to the highest attainable standard of health (2002 -2008) Between 2011 and 2013 he advised WHO Assistant Director-general Dr Flavia Bustreo public inquiry into emergency health care established by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (2014-15) In 2018 he was a member of the Advisory group on Human Rights leadership established by the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. Paul became the New Zealand Chief Human Rights Commissioner in 2019 and will discuss some of the key human rights challenges confronting Aotearoa New Zealand and the Human Rights Commission’s plan to respond to them.

Friday 12 June

Cataract surgery from the early Egyptians to Bach, Monet, Fred Hollows and the present
Dr Paul Herrick

Paul has been a consultant ophthalmologist at Wellington Public Hospital for the past 50 years. He has also worked in Iraq, Pakistan, Cambodia and Samoa. His talk will race the changes in cataract surgery from early Egyptian times to the present. Particular mention will be made of the effect of the operation on J S Bach and Claude Monet. He will also talk about Fred Hollows’ great work in bringing the operation to developing countries and conclude with describing current procedures, including laser surgery.   

Tuesday 16 June

Farming today in NZ and international experiences
Katie Milne

Katie is a fifth generation West Coast farmer and National President of Federated Farmers NZ. In 2015, she won Dairy Woman of The Year and Rural Woman of Influence. She has been heavily involved with water quality projects at Lake Brunner and pest elimination on Mt te Kinga, where a small farmer group hopes to help Kiwi in the area thrive again. Along with advocacy for NZ farmers, she advocates for farmers worldwide through the World Farmers Organisation, WFO. She is also a mother, grandmother, volunteer fire fighter and loves outdoor pursuits. Katie will talk about wicked problems and solutions of modern farming, and contrasts around the world between NZ and other countries farming challenges, ranging from subsidies through to lack of resourcing in developing nations.

Friday 19 June

Sea Sponges, Natural Products and Cancer
Emeritus Professor John Miller

Professor Miller is based at the School of Biological Sciences and Centre for Biodiversity at Victoria University. His research interests include anti-cancer drug design and development, microtubule-targeting agents and the neurobiology of drug abuse. Professor Miller’s presentation will cover the successes and failures in treating cancer with drugs extracted from marine animals, bacteria or plants. These natural products have been and still are being researched in laboratories around the world to try to produce a new chemotherapeutic drug that selectively kills cancer cells and has fewer off-target or unwanted side effects.