The Gospel of Kindness: Animal welfare and the making of modern America

Source: University of Auckland (2)

Professor Janet M Davis| University of Texas at Austin, USA | 2019 Hood Fellow

Janet M Davis is Distinguished Teaching Professor of American Studies and History at the University of Texas at Austin and is the 2019 Hood Fellow at the University of Auckland. She has written extensively in the areas of United States cultural, social, and environmental history, popular culture, and animal studies.

Her public lecture is drawn from her most recent book, The Gospel of Kindness: Animal Welfare and the Making of Modern America (2016). Published on the 150th anniversary of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), this prizewinning book is the first transnational history of animal protection in the United States and internationally. This “original and thought-provoking work” examines the interconnections among humanitarianism, moral reform, and empire. Professor Davis reveals the historical and political significance of animal welfare advocacy and the profound challenges of global animal protection.

Sponsored by the Hood Foundation, the Faculty of Arts and Auckland Museum.

Register to attend

RoVE consultation period comes to an end

Source: Tertiary Education Commission

Last updated 5 April 2019
Last updated 5 April 2019

The consultation period for the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) proposals closed on 5 April 2019.
The consultation period for the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) proposals closed on 5 April 2019.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to attend an event or meeting, complete the online survey or send in a submission.
All submissions are being carefully considered and final recommendations are being developed. These will be presented to Cabinet for decision by mid-2019, after which an announcement is likely to be made. Exact dates are still to be confirmed.
We will continue to keep you informed through this website and the Kōrero Mātauranga website.

Pasifika Director calls for media cultural awareness

Source: Massey University

Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi.

Massey Pasifika Director Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi has welcomed the censure of talkback host Heather du Plessis-Allanfor denigrating comments she made about the Pacific Islands, but says more has to be done to ensure our media is culturally aware. 

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) found Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan breached broadcasting standards in a radio programme when she made comments referring to Pacific Islanders as leeches. The comment caused widespread condemnation from Pacific peoples. 

Associate Professor Koloamatangi says, while the BSA’s decision is a clear indication that Ms du Plessis-Allan’s views were inflammatory and devalued the reputation of Pasifika people, it also highlights a general lack of understanding in the media of New Zealand’s place in the Pacific and Pacific people’s place within New Zealand. 

“Kiwi journalists should be able to understand our history as a Pacific nation, the role Pacific peoples play here in New Zealand and our relationship with the Pacific Islands but I suspect most have never had any training in this area and therefore report and make comment from a place of ignorance.”

Associate Professor Koloamatangi says news organisations should ensure their staff are given cultural awareness training that goes beyond being able to pronouce the names of Pacific sports stars. 

The BSA has ordered NZME, owner of Newstalk ZB, to broadcast a statement during Wellington Mornings with Heather du Plessis-Allan, summarising the BSA’s decision and to pay $3000 in costs to the Crown.

Note: Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi was consulted by the BSA to ensure the broadcast statement to be issued by the broadcaster is appropriate from the perspective of Pasifika cultures.

Awards to Empower Women, Communities

Source: Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

A trust set up to inspire women to create new horizons and realise their potential is looking for more applications to one or more scholarships valued from $1,000 to $15,000.

The New Horizons for Women Trust: Hine Kahukura Awards applications are open now and will close at 5pm on Sunday, 14 April. Applicants may apply for more than one award.

Trust Manager Taone O’Regan says the awards recognise women who are studying and working to achieve, not just for themselves but for the good of their families, communities and society.

“Most of the awards are for women who are returning to study later in life and recognise the extra responsibilities and costs women have when studying when they are older. Other awards prioritise women entering careers and study where women are under-represented. Some awards support women undertaking research and projects that benefits women and girls in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Women who return to study and work inspire us all and most importantly inspire their children, families and whānau.”

She says women who have received the awards in the past have appreciated the boost to their confidence and having their efforts valued.

“They also describe the difference it made in paying to get the car fixed so they could travel to course safely, cover childcare when they were on placement, buy the laptop that enabled them to work at home rather than staying at university late, and paying the rent. 

“The awards can be used for living and study costs – whatever it takes to support you while studying.”

Taone says with a substantial pool of funds to give out, the trust is hoping to get as many applications as possible, and the process of applying is easy.

“It doesn’t take long. You need to write about your study, personal and financial circumstances and attach evidence of residency, enrolment and academic results.

“The trust realises study can be a step-by-step and long journey for some.

We really welcome applications from women starting that journey with foundation certificate and diploma courses, and those who are older.”

The awards are supported by Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. Head of Marketing and Communciations Jess Barnett said the institute gave $20,000 raised from its 2018 Charity Golf Day to the trust because of its commitment to uplifting women and communities.

“We have worked with the New Horizons for Women Trust to create scholarships in our name for Bay of Plenty and South Waikato applicants. 

“Working with the trust provides us with a great opportunity to show the institutes commitment to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principals and to give back to a charitable organisation that has a proven background with strong support networks.”

Jess says last year’s successful Charity Golf Day was the inaugural event and was attended by stakeholders and staff from across the Bay of Plenty.

Applications can be made at

Uncommon milestone for ‘Sparrow’

Source: Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

05 Apr, 2019

Professor Welby Ings’ film Sparrow, has reached an uncommon milestone among short films.

It has been honoured with its 50th international juried film festival selection at the 51st Fotogramma d’Oro Short Film Festival. The festival will take place in Messina, Italy from 22 – 25 May 2019.

Sparrow has also now accrued 11 international awards.

The film tells the true story of a small boy who believes he can fly. However, his life is overshadowed by the legend of his grandfather who died a hero in World War 2. One night, he discovers the tale that his father so adamantly clings to, is a lie. His grandfather was a gay man who, upon seeing the futility of war, deserted in protest when his lover was shot in the dugouts of Egypt. In unravelling the truth behind what happened, the boy discovers the strength to stand up to the bullies in his world in an unexpected way.

Sparrow teaser trailer

In the next few weeks, Sparrow will show at the following places:

  • 3rd Jaipur Film World Festival, India (April 5-7)
  • 5th International Motion Festival, Cyprus (May 6-9)
  • Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival, Calgary, Canada (May 23)
  • 51st Fotogramma d’Oro Short Film Festival, Messina, Italy. (May 22 – 25)
  • 6th Mind The Indie Film Festival, Plovidv, Bulgaria (June 14)
  • 11th Shanghai PRIDE Film Festival (8-16 June)
  • Quarantine Film Festival Varna, Bulgaria (2-6 July)

Watch Welby discuss his film-making process

Visit the Sparrow website

Study helps explain why some of our famous flightless birds can’t fly

Source: University of Otago

Friday 5 April 2019 10:02am
Paul Gardener and Moa skeletons at Otago Museum.
University of Otago researchers in association with colleagues from Harvard University have discovered new evidence of what made some of New Zealand’s iconic birds such as the kiwi and extinct moa, flightless.
Rather than obvious physical features like small wings, the study identified the molecular roots of the loss of flight seen in a wide variety of these types of birds by precisely analysing DNA. The study, Convergent Regulatory Evolution and Loss of Flight in Palaeognathous Birds, has been published today in the prestigious journal Science.
“This work tells us more about the origins of moa and kiwi. It supports the hypothesis that the ancestral moa flew here, while the ancestral kiwi, which is related to the emu may have walked, or indeed flown from the likes of Australia or Madagascar over the ancient Gondwanan continent,” says Dr Paul Gardner, of Otago’s Department of Biochemistry. Dr Gardner co-authored the study alongside his former student, Dr Nicole Wheeler.
By comparing the DNA sequences between the different birds, these bioinformaticians have found that it’s mostly the regulatory DNA, not the protein-coding DNA that explains the similar loss of flight across the ratite birds. This suggests the change in the regulation of the protein genes, rather than the proteins themselves is what is responsible for the loss-of-flight changes in the birds.
In contrast with previous work, which emphasised changes to protein-coding DNA as driving flightlessness, this study associates loss of flight more strongly with regulatory evolution in noncoding DNA. The results provide an example for future genome studies of so-called convergent phenotypes throughout the animal kingdom.
The work was predominantly carried out by colleagues at Harvard University, in particular Professor Scott Edwards and Dr Tim Sackton.
“They were very gracious in allowing us to contribute to their very interesting study. Also, we must acknowledge Ngāi Tahu and Te Āti Awa iwi, who permitted genetic analyses of kiwi blood samples obtained from their lands. The moa and kiwi samples were collected by the late Allan J. Baker, an ex-pat New Zealander based in Toronto.
Due to this collaboration, we now have a better idea now that the places of the genome that we concentrate on, the protein-coding genes, may not in fact be the ultimate source of species diversity and change,” Dr Gardner adds.
For more information, contact:
Dr Paul GardnerDepartment of BiochemistryUniversity of OtagoTel +64 3 479 7264Email
Mark HathawaySenior Communications AdviserMob +64 21 279 5016Email

Electronic addresses (including email accounts, instant messaging services, or telephone accounts) published on this page are for the sole purpose of contact with the individuals concerned, in their capacity as officers, employees or students of the University of Otago, or their respective organisation. Publication of any such electronic address is not to be taken as consent to receive unsolicited commercial electronic messages by the address holder.

Kereama Taepa Helps Students Shape Their Future

Source: Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

According to Oscar Wilde, nothing heals the soul like the senses, as nothing heals the sense like the soul. And this is exactly how Toi Ohomai tutor Kereama Taepa sees art. 

For Kereama, our senses are a direct line in to how we make sense of the world and ourselves. He says art is a way to awaken the senses and find a sense of belonging in a world that can sometimes seem confusing and catastrophic. 

“Art and creativity is what drives me – I’ve always been a creative. This is what takes up most of my time outside of being a husband, father and teaching,” says Kereama. 

“My students are my main focus. I’ve been working at Toi Ohomai for a decade and it’s really satisfying to see students realise their dreams, building their dreams and going on to be successful in industry.”

Kereama teaches within our Bachelor of Creative Industries course, where he teaches creative thinking and execution skills, but also focuses on the use of technology to create art, including 3D printing, laser cutting etc. 

“I also teach the commercial aspects of creative practice like entrepreneurship, business development and marketing, which are really important skills to have for aspiring artists,” says Kereama. 

Kereama brings a world of industry knowledge that he has built up as one of New Zealand’s renowned artists, known for his Māori-themed work.  

His involvement in the arts have included working as a bronze technician at the Dibble Arts Foundry and participating in various national Māori arts symposiums, in fashion design through his label Urbanmaori and a range of his works exhibited across new Zealand and internationally. 

He was also contracted to design screens for the toilets in the Whakarewarewa forest in 2014 and the Redwoods toilets in Rotorua in 2013. 

With all these achievements, as well as a unique cultural perspective that forms the narrative for his work, it’s easy to see how students can be so inspired by Kereama and the energy and knowledge he brings to the classroom. 

A woman’s best friend – dogs and domestic violence

Source: University of Canterbury

04 April 2019

A new book by a University of Canterbury academic explores the role that dogs and other companion animals play in women’s recovery from abuse, and the impacts on the animals themselves.

  • A dog (or other companion animal) is often a woman’s best friend when it comes to escaping and recovering from domestic violence.

A new book, Companion Animals and Domestic Violence: Rescuing You, Rescuing Me, explores the role that dogs and other companion animals play in women’s recovery from abuse, and the impacts on the animals themselves.

A dog (or other companion animal) is often a woman’s best friend when it comes to escaping and recovering from domestic violence. Women were interviewed by University of Canterbury Associate Professor Nik Taylor, and her co-author QUT Associate Professor Heather Fraser. They spoke of companion animals as part of the family which played an important role in helping them to heal after domestic violence. 

The link between domestic violence and animal abuse is well documented in social work research, so the authors focused instead on the loving connections between human and animal survivors for their initial project: Loving You, Loving Me: Companion Animals and Domestic Violence.

“It is clear that these woman have a deep and profound relationship with their animals that helps them get through their experiences of abuse,” Dr Taylor says. 

“For more than a few caught up in domestic violence, these relationships can literally provide victims/survivors with the will to live, to eat, sleep, keep caring for others, and in the process, maintain the will to rebuild their lives.”

Mistreatment of animals can also be the catalyst for women to leave.

“Women who say they can take the abuse themselves cannot see their animals suffer abuse, and that is ultimately good because it gets everyone out of the abusive situation,” Dr Taylor says.

Co-location following abuse may be just as important for animals, which are often impacted after indirectly or directly experiencing abuse. Dr Taylor wants people to remember that animals are victims, too. This was evident in the project, when participants spoke of their animals’ recovery process.

For example, one dog waited for the children in her family to come home after school and then licked them thoroughly. “It is just what she needs to do,” a woman explained in an interview.

Keeping women, children and animals together, however, is challenging. The Northern Domestic Violence Service (NDVS) in Adelaide is one of the few facilities that offers a pet-friendly shelter for domestic violence victims. Other shelters commonly offer a fostering service for pets, which keeps pets safe from abusers, but nonetheless separates women and children from their animals.

NDVS contacted Drs Taylor and Fraser after hearing them speak at a conference.

“They said ‘we offer a pet-friendly residence. We know that the women really value it but we don’t have any research showing that – are you interested?’ So we got together with them and the project was born,” Dr Taylor says. 

NDVS created a photography exhibition of women, children and companion animals, and the interviews were conducted alongside that. The project, Loving Me, Loving You, then developed into the book. Featuring images from the photography exhibition, the book Companion Animals and Domestic Violence: Rescuing You, Rescuing Meis published by Palgrave Macmillan and will be launched on 8 May at Avid Reader Bookshop in Brisbane, Australia, with a panel discussion hosted by ABC Radio National’s Paul Barclay in conversation with Dr Taylor, Dr Fraser and social worker Christine Craik.

UC Professor Annie Potts, co-director of UC’s New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies, has called the book a “compelling landmark text”.

Rescuing You, Rescuing Me is a comprehensive, honest, compassionate and respectful study of a difficult and disturbing subject,” Professor Potts says.

The book will inform various academic disciplines including social work, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, geography, as well as to professionals working in domestic violence or animal welfare service provision.

However, the work also explores empathetic connections between humans and animals in the context of domestic violence.

For Dr Taylor, the impacts of domestic violence on animals has been a lifelong interest, since she first volunteered at an animal shelter in Northern England as an undergraduate student.

Dr Taylor is an internationally recognised critical and public sociologist who has published over 70 articles, books and book chapters. She recently joined UC and teaches topics in the Human Services programme that focus on human-animal violence links; scholar-advocacy; social change; and crime and deviance, particularly domestic violence and animal abuse. She is a convenor of the Human-Animal Studies (HAS, also known as Anthrozoology) group Animals in Society Working Group

Measuring the impact of Pacific holidays

Source: Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

04 Apr, 2019

Our Pacific neighbours offer tourists idyllic experiences in tropical locales, but inadequate waste management is having a detrimental effect on the environment according to a UN report written by Dr Jeff Seadon from the School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences.

Jeff’s latest report for the UN Environment Programme – Small Island Developing States: Waste Management Outlook – investigates waste management in island states across the Atlantic, Indian, Mediterranean Oceans, the South China Sea region and the Carribean, as well as the Pacific.

“Waste management affects all aspects of society such as public health, the economy, industry, environment, climate change and disasters,” Jeff writes in the report.

“Small Island Developing States (SIDS) waste management-related issues are not uncommon within global trends – however their locations and environmental sensitivity often intensify the impacts of waste, creating complicated situations that require innovation, collaboration and regional solutions.”

The report explores the opportunities for improving recycling and reducing illegal disposal – such as how developed island states like New Zealand can offer leadership and expertise in developing local solutions – and the impact of tourism on waste.

“Compared to the average 2.5 kg of waste generated by a local every day, a tourist typically generates more than 7 kg of waste,” Jeff explains.

“Much of the waste is then burnt, buried in illegal landfills or dumped. Roughly 80% of litter ends up in the oceans.”

SIDS Waste Management Outlook presents evidence of the environmental impact of sub-par waste management, and offers proposals for how SIDS can move from “dumping societies” to “circular economies” focused on effective waste management.

“The promotion of resource efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, delivery of basic services to all, and green and suitable jobs will provide a better quality of life for residents,” Jeff writes.

This report is Jeff’s third for the UN Environment Programme. His other publications are Guidelines for Framework Legislation for Integrated Waste Management (sole author) and Asia Waste Management Outlook (one of 3 authors).

The full report, as well as a summary document with key points, is available to download from the UN’s International Environmental Technology Centre website.

Opinion: Royal Commission must be an inquiry, not an inquisition

Source: Massey University

The Prime Minister’s announcement of a Royal Commission into the Christchurch terror attack was inevitable. The country needs to know why this attack was able to be planned, and carried out to such dreadful effect.  

There are questions about how the accused gunman’s manifesto could be compiled – its length attesting to the time taken to distil and articulate it all in writing. How did the gunman effectively radicalise himself? Why did nobody notice anything sufficiently amiss with this individual to raise concerns? These are all valid questions that an inquiry needs to consider.

However, it needs to be an inquiry, not an inquisition. To be genuinely useful, the inquiry must create an environment in which those with the knowledge of current processes, decisions and resources are free to discuss it all.  If there are gaps, they need to be found and addressed – not hidden by individuals trying to avoid liability.

The inquiry needs to be broader than it is. Before 15 March, most New Zealanders assumed there would never be a terrorist threat here. Warnings or fears expressed were commonly dismissed as paranoia. New Zealanders did not care about preparing for terrorism, and politicians did not either. 

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies maintain terror watch-lists. These work well and in multiple countries have identified problem individuals, and intercepted them well ahead of them ever doing anything violent. The success of these preventative efforts is difficult to define, because in preventing a violent outcome, the evidence there was ever going to be any such outcome is eliminated.  

Watch-lists are a collation of individual names of people who may pose a risk because they have said, or done something to raise suspicion.  If evidence is found it will usually lead to increased surveillance and in many countries attempted terrorist attacks have been thwarted this way. New Zealand has also prosecuted a small number of people for engaging with extremist material. Who will ever know if these prosecutions actually ever stopped anything? 

But watch-lists do not always work.  In August 2018, a Sydney student was arrested in possession of what appeared to be plans to undertake a terrorist attack. Subsequent investigation revealed he had been framed. Omar Mateen, who committed the Orlando shootings in June 2016, had twice been on the FBI’s watch-list, and twice removed from it. He exhibited no sign of sinister or hostile intent – and the FBI dismissed him as a threat possibility.  His attack, when it came, killed 49 people. If the Christchurch offender had been on a watch-list, it does not necessarily mean anything would have been any different.  

The problem with watch-lists is that they are composed of every person identified as potentially posing some threat – even though the vast majority of those listed never commit any violent offence. Working through such a list is not like finding a needle in a hay-stack, it’s like finding a needle in a needle-stack.  The Christchurch offender looked like you or me, lived or travelled in several countries, and did not raise any suspicion in any of them.  

Isolated, aloof, and ruthless, lone actors are very difficult to find – especially if it is only in their twisted minds that their true intent is known. That is probably why law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Australia and New Zealand missed him.

The inquiry should address the Arms Act – the subject of criticism and a Parliamentary Inquiry in 2017.  Our Parliamentarians did not recognise the possession of military style semi-automatic weapons as a risk that needed mitigation. Had they done so, the Christchurch attack may still have occurred but the toll could have been much less.  

New Zealand’s terrorism legislation has languished – its cumbersome definition of terrorism, as well as its incoherence and impracticality, have rendered it useless. Any changes in the resourcing or powers of intelligence agencies have been reluctantly made, and only then amid protest from various groups opposing intrusion into our civil rights. All of this fed into the decisions about the resourcing of the intelligence and law enforcement coal-face. 

It will be of no value to attribute blame for gaps or poor decisions without understanding the social and political context, legislative and fiscal constraints that such decisions were taken in. The inquiry must recognise that the Christchurch attack was as much about our general complacency as it was about decisions taken by agencies on the watch for those who intend do us harm.

Dr John Battersby is a Teaching Fellow in the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at Massey University and a specialist on terrorism and counter-terrorism.