Lecture Programme

Lecture Programme for 2018 – February to May

The Coffee Club

To meet a more social aspect of U3A outside of the Special Interest Groups a fortnightly, fairly free-wheeling discussion will be trialled this year on issues, questions or comments from the preceding fortnight’s lectures. Allowing for holidays, this “Coffee Club” will generally follow the lecture on the 2nd Friday and last Tuesday of each month, and take place at the top of the stairs in the room overlooking Kent Tce. Each will be announced at that day’s lecture though intending participants may like to order their coffee at the top of the stairs for 11.45 on their way into the lecture. Prospective dates are: Tuesday Feb 27, Friday April 13, Tuesday April 24, Friday May 11, Tuesday May 22.

Coffee Club dates are included in the lecture information below.

Venue and Times

All lectures are held from 10.30am – 12 noon in the Embassy Theatre, 10 Kent Tce, Courtenay Place, unless otherwise notified.

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

There is no admission charge for current members of U3A Wellington City. For visitors accompanying a member the charge is $5 each.

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

Because the Embassy Theatre is unavailable during Film Festivals we are not able to follow our usual three lecture terms. To accommodate the usual number of lectures the following are the lecture terms for 2018.

 First lecture session Tuesday 20th February to Tuesday 6th March

7th to 28th March No Lectures – French Film Festival at The Embassy
No lecture Friday 30th March – Easter Friday

 Second lecture session Tuesday 3rd April to Friday 25th May

 29th May to 9th June – Two week Break

Third lecture session Tuesday 12th June to Tuesday 24th July

26th July to 15th August – International Film Festival at the Embassy Theatre

 Fourth lecture session Friday 17th August to Friday 28th September

 No lectures 2nd October to 12th October – School Holidays

 Final lecture session Tuesday 16th October to Friday 2nd November


Tuesday 20 February

Wellington – Most Liveable City
Mayor Justin Lester

Justin Lester was elected Mayor of Wellington in 2016. Justin received an AFS scholarship in 1996 and spent his seventh form year in Germany. He has an LLB and a BA (German) from the University of Otago and a Masters of law (LLM) from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Justin has extensive experience in both the public and private sectors. He was formerly the Director of property and asset Management at the international commercial property firm Jones Lang La Salle. He has served on the Boards of Wellington SPCA, Wellington Waterfront Ltd, Capital Football, Johnsonville Charitable Trust, Johnsonville Property Trust, and as a Guardian of Zealandia. Justin wants Wellington to thrive to be a place with lots of jobs, plenty of events and a strong cultural scene. The city also needs to be fair, and provide quality local services to those who choose to settle here.

Friday 23 February

Work and Prayer in the Medieval Monasteries
Dr Roger Ridley-Smith

From early in the Christian era, monasteries were founded by groups of monks all over Europe. They became sanctuaries, often allied with cathedrals. They created accommodation for lay persons as well as for the monks. They were places of worship, they received privileges, and some achieved wealth through royal favour and trade in many commodities, sometimes across international boundaries. They were centres of art and learning, providing hospitality to the sick and shelter to the traveller and to the indigent. They left an astonishing legacy of magnificent architecture, some of it intact, some of it reduced to ruins, and it remains a mystery to this day how wonderfully well all of this was done. Life in the monasteries was stern, but they provided security for many in tumultuous times

Tuesday 27 February

Being a Music Critic
John Button

John Button started as the music critic for the Dominion in 1984 when production methods involved serious sub-editing and “hot metal.” He has continued his role in the computerised world of modern newspaper production at The Dominion Post and will introduce his talk by describing the difference and its effect on journalism. He will then describe some of his experiences of the musical scene in Wellington starting before the first International Festival in 1986 and continuing to the present day.

Coffee Club Meets

Friday 2 March

Digging up the Romans
Doug Miller

Doug Miller recently retired from Telecom-Spark as a Network Design Engineer, but has always had a more than passing interest in archeology, making the most of whatever opportunities have arisen for ongoing education in the area.  His retirement opened up new opportunities for further involvement in this interest area, and in particular, as a volunteer excavator at the site of the Roman Fort, Vindolanda, near Hadrian’s Wall.  There he spent two weeks in a ditch, digging up Roman artifacts and will share with us not only a description of Vindolanda and its importance to Roman archeology, but his experience as an excavator, and what the team found there.

 Tuesday 6 March

Stonehenge Aotearoa – Take a tour into the past and discover the secrets lost civilisations
Richard Hall

In the past 30 years Richard Hall has been a dedicated promoter of astronomy in New Zealand serving on committees and as President of several astronomical societies. He was the founding President of the Phoenix Astronomical Society Aotearoa (TPAS) formed in December 1997 and he now manages it. He has currently co-authored “Work of the Gods” a book on Maori astronomy. How to Gaze at the Southern Stars: Stonehenge Aotearoa: the complete Guide. An Alpha series publication on Stonehenge Aotearoa and The Zodiac. Myths and legends of the Stars. Although similar in size to the Stonehenge on Salisbury plain, Stonehenge Aotearoa is not a replica. It is a complete and working structure designed for its precise location in New Zealand. Situated in the Wairarapa countryside, Stonehenge Aotearoa is a window into the past where the visitor can rediscover the knowledge of their ancient ancestors. It incorporates ancient Egyptian, Babylonian and Indus Valley astronomy, Polynesian navigation and Celtic and Maori starlore.

No Lectures – French Film Festival at The Embassy – 7th to 28th March

No lecture Friday 30th March – Easter Friday

Tuesday 3 April

Food and Health
Jason Shon Bennett

Jason Shon Bennett is a food and health researcher with over 30 years educating and inspiring people all over the world on what he calls “Healthy Longevity.” After 20 years of asthma, hay fever, skin, bowel and digestive problems he cured himself and has not been sick since. Jason has written two books “Eat Less, Live long” and “My 20 Golden Rules”

 Friday 6 April

Education and Entrepreneurship, the way forward in Afghanistan
Tariq Habibyar

Tariq Habibyar grew up in Afghanistan. He has been in New Zealand for over 5 years and now considers NZ his second home. He obtained a PhD from Canterbury University, a Masters from University of Massachusetts, and a BA from Herat University in Afghanistan. Tariq has been an advocate for children’s education and Afghan women’s rights since he was a teen. He dared to teach young girls literacy and language underground, when girls in Afghanistan were forbidden by the ultra-conservative Taliban from getting an education.

Tuesday 10 April

U3A Interest Groups
Margaret and Ian Garrett

An introduction to the various interest groups available to U3A members. Some of the groups will give short presentations about their activities.

 Friday 13 April

The future of work and the future of tertiary education
Stuart Brock

Assoc Professor Stuart Brock/Associate Dean (Academic Programmes), Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, will discuss the proposition that: We live in an age where Artificial Intelligence, and other forms of automation, threaten the economic and social wellbeing of many people now entering the workforce. So the BA and higher degrees need to equip and enable graduates with new and enhanced skillsets, such that people are smarter and capable of doing much more than the computers, ie dynamic adaptability, superior analytics, human communications, and creative skills, not to mention critical thinking.

Coffee Club Meets

 Tuesday 17 April

 1915 The Gallipoli Campaign revisited with New Zealand women
Jane Tolerton

Wellington historian Jane Tolerton is the author of ‘’Make Her Praises Heard Afar: New Zealand Women Overseas in World War One’’ – which changes the historical view of the role of New Zealand women in World War One, showing that many women played a role overseas. Jane is the author of an award-winning biography of Ettie Rout and an Awfully Big Adventure, a collective oral history of World War One through the eyes of veterans she interviewed in the 1980s. Her other oral history include Sixties Chicks and the best-selling Convent Girls.

Te Papa’s giant model of nurse Lottie Le Gallais in tears having found out that her brother was dead, sums up the image we have of New Zealand women’s role in the Gallipoli Campaign. Many other women played a humanitarian role, including women doctors (one of the first in the world to work in a British army medical unit) and /nurses and volunteers in Egypt. In Britain, the civilian New Zealand War Contingent Association set up a hospital for New Zealanders – staffed mainly by New Zealand women volunteers.

Friday 20 April

Current New Zealand Pandemic Planning
Dr Ryan McLean

Ryan McLane has worked in public health in a range of settings over the past two decades, including managing a public health unit in the Alaskan arctic for a number of years; leading an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone, and following Cyclone Winston in Fiji. His PhD work with the University of Otago focused on the 1918 Influenza pandemic in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. In 2017, the NZ Ministry of Health reviewed and updated the National Influenza Pandemic Plan in response to the recognition of a novel influenza pandemic as one of the most significant risks facing the nation today. This plan guides the whole of government response to an influenza pandemic and also serves as a core planning tool for other communicable disease outbreaks. This presentation will address the origin, evolution, and current elements of the NZIPAP, how it meets our national and international obligations, and discusses how they would be implemented in a crisis situation.

Tuesday 24 April

Larissa Paris

Larissa Paris studied at Victoria University and is a Senior Account Manager for Xero Ltd. She will talk about her journey with one of NZ’s Iconic and developing world wide companies Xero Ltd. which was founded in 2006 by Wellington born Rod Jury- Chief Executive Officer. Xero is a NZ Based (Head Office in Wellington) Software Company that developed a Cloud based Accounting Software System for small and medium sized businesses. It currently has offices in Australia, UK, USA and Asia and is expanding.

Coffee Club Meets

 Friday 27 April

Climate Change – Recent conference updates
Adrian Macey

Dr Adrian Macey’s particular research interests include climate change policy, science and science-policy connections; international negotiations; multilateral environmental negotiations, global governance; international trade, and the WTO. Adrian is a former New Zealand diplomat. His previous positions included Ambassador in Bangkok (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar), Ambassador in Paris (France, Algeria and the OECD) and Chief Trade Negotiator. From 2006-2010 he was New Zealand’s first Climate Change Ambassador.  He served as Vice-chair and then Chair of the UN climate change negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol in 2010-2011. He has participated in and chaired several WTO dispute settlement panels.

Tuesday 1 May

Why did Wellington suffer nearly double the death rate of Christchurch in the 1918 influenza pandemic?
Dr Geoffrey Rice

Professor Geoffrey Rice taught History at the University of Canterbury for 40 years and was Professor and Head of Department before his retirement in 2012. He has published ten books on Christchurch local history, and books and articles on British diplomacy in the 18th century. He is now Zealand’s leading historian on the 1918 influence pandemic and has presented papers at conferences in Madrid, Melbourne and Singapore. This talk attempts to explain why Wellington had a much higher death rate in the 1918 flu than Christchurch. The cities appear to have had similar infection and morbidity rates. There is no single reason, but rather the combination of a number of different factors, each contributing to the higher death rate.

Friday 4 May

Artificial Intelligence and the impact on NZ
Ross Young

Ross Young leads public policy and government affairs for Google in New Zealand. He is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, a Solicitor of England and Wales, and a Solicitor of New South Wales, Australia. After completing degrees in psychology and law at Victoria University of Wellington, he began his career in policy with the National Health Committee and then as Private Secretary to the Minister of Health. The hype surrounding machine learning can make it difficult to discern both its benefits and its challenges. This talk is an introduction to artificial intelligence and machine learning, what it is, and how it is being used in areas from healthcare to agriculture, along with the questions it raises for public policy.

Tuesday 8 May

Musical Life
Gareth Farr

Possibly NZ’s foremost Composer who to date has 145 listed compositions to his name for almost the full range of musical instruments. He is the recipient of 8 awards which in 2001 included the NZ Order of Merit. Gareth will talk on his life as a composer.

Friday 11 May

Where the romance of the high seas meets hard reality
Joanna Mossop

Joanna Mossop, is Associate Professor (as of January 2018), Law Faculty, Victoria University of Wellington. In this talk Joanna Mossop will discuss the challenges facing countries in regulating the increasing amount of activities on the high seas. She will touch on a range of activities including shipping, security, fishing, whaling and the protection of marine biodiversity to illustrate the difficulties in managing humanity’s impacts on the oceans.

Coffee Club Meets

Tuesday 15 May

The Banking Ombudsman Schemes – Complaints Traps and Scams
Nicola Sladden

Nicola was appointed Banking Ombudsman at the Office of the Banking Ombudsman from 1 August 2015. She has almost 20 years experience in dispute resolution, including four as Deputy Banking Ombudsman. She has a law degree from Victoria University and a Masters of Public Health from Boston University. Nicola was previously the Chief Legal Adviser at the Office of Health and Disability Commissioner and has worked in private practice. She has published and presented on dispute resolution in New Zealand and abroad. Nicola will talk about what the Banking Ombudsman is all about and also talk through some common complaints and traps that have caught people out, which you may be interested in, such as common scams affecting bank customers, lending complaints etc.

 Friday 18 May

Jury decision making
Yvette Tinsley

Dr Yvette Tinsley is Reader in Law, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington. Her interests include Jury decision-making, and so will discuss the impact of reforms to jury trial management, particularly in terms of judicial direction. Yvette will include some insights into the dynamics of group decision-making and challenges for the system in a technological age. Her team is currently analysing associated data from the study, and so there will be some cutting edge results to share.

Tuesday 22 May

Susan Keall

Sue is a Senior Technical Officer in Conservation Ecology at the School of Biological Sciences, at Victoria University of Wellington. She started as a technical trainee straight out of Polytech over 30 years ago, and has been fortunate to be able to develop her role at Victoria in her preferred area of conservation ecology. She supports field based teaching courses for both under-graduates and post graduate students, as well as being integrally involved in long-term research on NZ reptiles in particular tuatara. This has led to many collaborative conservation projects with other organisations such as the Department of Conservation (DOC) Wellington and Auckland Zoos, mainland sanctuaries, iwi and other universities. Sue has been lucky enough to visit many protected islands inhabited by tuatara, and also cares for 4 adult tuatara living in an exhibit at Victoria University. Tuatara are a New Zealand taonga that occur naturally nowhere else on Earth. In New Zealand along with many other native species they have been severely impacted by habitat loss and more seriously, introduced predatory mammals. Sue will talk about their natural history and one of many conservation projects that have contributed to reversing the decline of the iconic species.

Coffee Club Meets

 Friday 25 May

What’s more important – physical health or mental health?
Bernadine Reid

Bernadine Reid has a BSc and a Masters in Education. She was the Samaritan’s representative at the public consultation meeting at the Ministry of Health draft suicide prevention strategy and is passionate about suicide prevention in NZ.  What’s more important? Physical health or mental health? If you had a broken leg you would go to a doctor to get it fixed. If you have a mental health problem, what do you do? A leading NZ researcher on suicide, Professor Annette Beautrais, argues that suicide is preventable. So why did 606 New Zealanders die by suicide last year, with thousands more being admitted to hospital after serious suicide attempts? Why were there over a million prescriptions for anti-depressants filled out for New Zealanders last year? Why is the state of mental health in New Zealand so bad? And what can you do to look after your own mental health?

Two week break from lectures