Lecture Programme 2020

Series 1: Weather ... or Not

  • 2 March: An Introduction to Dendrochronology: Dr Gretel Boswijk

  • 9 March: The West Antarctic Ice Sheet: Vulnerability in a Warming World: Dr Christina Hulbe

  • 16 March: Cancelled due to the pandemic

Series 2: The Future of Democracy

Series cancelled due to the pandemic

​Series 3: Art

Series cancelled due to the pandemic

​Series 4: Medical Matters

Series cancelled due to the pandemic

​Series 5: Speakers' Corner
  • 6 July: Legionnaires’ Disease – A Canterbury Tale: Prof Stephen Chambers

  • 13 July: Science: Good, Bad and Bogus: Doug Campbell, PhD

  • 20 July: The Career of a Girl from Pleasant Point: Diana Crossan, BA

​Series 6: Viewpoint
  • 3 August: Adventures in Astronomy / Moa Footprints: Dr Ian Griffin

  • 10 August: China’s Great Leap Outwards: Dr Brian Moloughney

  • 17 August: Owning our History: The New Zealand Wars: Dr Vincent O’Malley

Lecture Programme 2019
25 February 2019
Unexpected Moments in Composers' Lives

Professor John Drummond

Many famous composers had their lives (both personal and professional) turned around by unexpected events. We owe the existence of many great pieces of music to chance encounters, remarkable recoveries from illness, accidents, surprises and unlikely turns of fate. In this talk John explores examples and, in some cases, wonders what might have happened if events had gone another way.

4 March 2019
From “Wrecked on a reef” (1870) to Jules Verne’s “Mysterious Island” (1874).

Christiane Mortelier

François Raynal’s "Les naufragés" (translated as "Wrecked on a Reef") is a genuine story of shipwreck and twenty months survival on Auckland Island in 1864-65. It directly inspired Jules Verne’s famous utopia "Mysterious Island" (1874) which explores how 19th century scientific knowledge can ensure survival on a desert island without loss of human values.

11 March 2019
The Power of Music for a Healthy Brain

Professor Warren Tate

Neuroscience is just starting to understand how the human brain processes music - both tunes and lyrics - and what parts of the brain are engaged when listening to or performing music in all forms and at all stages of our life. The power of music therapy has been appreciated but it has been under utilised for its healing powers for the aged and for those with neurological degenerative disorders.

18 March 2019
“Small spaces of silence in between borrowed breaths:”
The Culture of Poetry in Ireland

Dr Majella Cullinane

Why are there so many poets in Ireland? What is it about Ireland and Irish culture that inspires many Irish to write, and to write poetry in particular? The first part of my talk will examine the history and culture of poetry in Ireland, and then I will discuss how it was that I came to poetry, and how living in New Zealand has influenced my writing. I will finish by reading a few poems from my recent poetry collection ‘Whisper of a Crow’s Wing" (Otago University Press and Salmon Poetry Ireland, 2018).


April 8, 2019
The Future of Trusts in New Zealand

Professor Nicola Peart

New Zealand has thousands of trusts, many of them settled by people wishing to retain control over the trust for their own benefit. These trusts are increasingly vulnerable to challenge by State institutions, such as MSD, and by the courts in the context of spousal and creditor’s claims. They are no longer providing the protection expected of them. Is there a future for trusts in New Zealand?

April 15, 2019

Selected issues in Family Law

Professor Mark Henaghan

A lot is happening in family law.  The Family Court is being reformed, relationship property is being reformed and we are making no head way with dealing with violence in the home.  This talk will look at issues in family law including some interesting leading cases to give you a feel and sense of what the challenges are to ensure the Family Court works well for everyone.

April 29, 2019
The Feminist Judgments Project Aotearoa

Dr Rhonda Powell

In 2016, a group of academic lawyers and legal practitioners (and one retired judge) rewrote a series of New Zealand court decisions from a feminist perspective. The subject matter was broad but included decisions of particular concerns for Māori women. In this talk, Dr Rhonda Powell, one of the project leaders, discusses the project goals, the journey, the feminist judgments, and learning points from the Feminist Judgments Project Aotearoa.

May 6, 2019
Separating Couples: Some Big Legal Issues

Associate Professor John Caldwell

The talk will cover two important areas of law confronted by families when a couple separate: i.e. child care arrangements and relationship property rights (with particular attention being paid to an interesting issue of how the courts deal with the situation when one of the partners, typically the woman, has been financially disadvantaged by the failed marriage or relationship). Proposed changes to both areas of law will be examined.


​20 May 20, 2019
A Perspective on the Practice of Orthopaedic Surgery

John Dunbar MBChB, FRACS

The talk discusses one of the most common afflictions we suffer as we age and one of the most common conditions  leading  people to see an orthopaedic surgeon – osteoarthritis. We will look at contributing factors to osteoarthritis, what sufferers can do to help themselves and the type of advice an orthopaedic surgeon might give. Hip and knee replacement surgery will be discussed. I will take the opportunity to comment on where medicine might be taking us in the future.

27 May

Climate change – climate disruption

Dr James Renwick

Climate change is reshaping both the weather and the coastlines in New Zealand and around the world. We experience it not as a smooth and gradual change, but as increasingly intense heavy rainfalls and high temperatures, fires and floods. The presentation will cover how climate change works, and what the implications are for us. Also, how we stop climate change and achieve a zero-carbon economy.

10 June, 2019
Ten things we can learn about you from your DNA!

Dr Martin Kennedy

DNA is the molecule of life, and it underpins the biology of humans and all other species on earth. However, our DNA also contains a great deal of information about our lives, our health, our ancestral origins, and our interactions with the world in which we live. This talk will illustrate just how much we can learn about a person if all we had to study was their DNA.

17 June, 2019
Involvement in Food Crises

Dr David Stirling

This talk will discuss the reaction of the State Owned Enterprise, AssureQuality, when faced with urgent requests for analytical chemistry method development for four food crises – Sudan Dyes, Melamine, DCD and the 1080 Criminal blackmail event.

24 June, 2019
Successful aging: Emotion in later years

Emeritus Professor Ken Strongman

The later stages of life bring problems, problems that can be tackled with an improved ability to regulate emotions. Of key importance are social and emotional support, resilience in dealing with stress and emotional intelligence.  Fortunately, although there is a decline in many capacities with increasing years, our emotional life need not decline and may even develop.


15 July 2019
A Islam and the Roots of Understanding 

Assoc Prof William E. Shepard

Islam means submission to God and is also a vast and diverse religious and cultural tradition having at its  core a method (or methods) of discerning and obeying the will of God. The lecture will focus on this core explaining key concepts such as Shari‘a and relating it to various social concerns such as gender and politics (including war and peace and terrorism).

22 July 2019
A Taste of Hinduism

Will Sweetman BA MPhil PhD

An ancient and highly diverse religious tradition, Hinduism is hard to define and is sometimes said to be better thought of as a family of religions than a single religion. Nevertheless, there are characteristically Hindu ways of practising religion. This talk will introduce some of those ways, by examining the different sources which have come together to make up contemporary Hinduism.

29 July 2019

God’s Own Country or Secular New Zealand?

Assoc Prof John Stenhouse PhD

Premier Richard ‘King Dick’ Seddon liked calling New Zealand ‘God’s Own Country’. Why? Influential nationalist historians such as William Pember Reeves and Keith Sinclair, by contrast, tended to depict it as a modern secular nation rapidly leaving religion behind. Why? Attempting to answer both questions, this lecture argues that religion shaped New Zealand’s past more significantly than Reeves and Sinclair were prepared to acknowledge.

5 August 2019

The life of the Buddha

Dr Elizabeth Guthrie

Dr Guthrie will talk about the life of the Buddha using  contemporary Cambodian Buddhist mural paintings to illustrate her talk. She will show changes in representations of the life of the Buddha due to colonisation by the French.