The journey to level 10 without one, two and three

Source: Massey University

Dr Jeremy Hapeta graduated with his doctorate in November.

PhD graduate Dr Jeremy Hapeta, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Huia, says he became a “brain surgeon” straight out of school – in the offal room of a Levin abattoir.

After leaving Manawatū College with no qualifications, he spent two years working there, but dreamt of a university education. He says the role taught him transferable skills that helped to shape his future – early start times at 5am and a strong work ethic. He demonstrated resilience to persevere through two unsuccessful attempts to attend university before turning 20, and was eventually accepted as a “second-chance” learner into the Bachelor of Education programme. 

Today, Dr Hapeta is a physical education lecturer at Massey University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition. Over six years, part-time, he has worked towards his PhD investigating the inclusion of Māori culture when developing rugby team culture. He also explored the impact of these inclusive (or exclusionary) practices on wellbeing for rugby players, coaches and administrators.

A former professional rugby player in New Zealand, Japan, France and Italy, he looks back at his time at secondary school and wishes he had applied the same grit and determination to his studies as he did crafting his sport skills. He hopes his “non-traditional” pathway to gaining his PhD can inspire others to achieve academic success if they put their minds to it.

“It is the end of a long journey; it is extremely satisfying for me, my wife, our two children and wider whānau,” he says.

Dr Hapeta with his whānau at graduation in Manawatū.

“I wish I had made the connection earlier that everything I was doing in sport, those skills and tools, could be applied to my school work. But getting my PhD demonstrates that just because I skipped a few steps in terms of gaining high school qualifications, it does not necessarily mean the doors are closed to higher education.

“I didn’t receive the equivalent of NCEA level one, two or three, but here I am with level 10.”

Māori tradition in sport development

Dr Hapeta’s interest in his PhD topic began when he noticed Māori culture being increasingly incorporated into the development of sport teams. He was interested in the impact this was having on wellbeing for the people involved, both Māori and non-Māori.

His research led him to work with the Bay of Plenty Steamers, Taranaki Rugby’s Māori and Pasifika Rugby Academy (MPRA) and the New Zealand Māori U18s team, where he studied their approaches to cultural inclusion. The different ages and ethnicities of focus groups meant his research came from multiple perspectives.

He says, at times, he was surprised at the impact Māori traditions had for non-Māori players. For example, the Steamers undertook an exercise where the team had to research the various maunga within the Bay of Plenty region so they understood the geographic area they were representing.

“It quite literally grounded the players and gave them a sense of belonging. It was a really inclusive initiative that made people feel like they were a part of something much bigger.”

This process was not focused on performance-based outcomes, but the team’s leadership recognised the benefits of getting the off-the-field elements right.

“What stood out to me was their recognition of building solid foundations. They thought, ‘If we grow and nourish this side of the team and their connection to where they are playing, and allow it to flourish, some of the fruits this process will bear are strong outcomes.’ In one interview a coach even talked about being a better dad at home to his teenaged children”.

And their off-field pillars appear to have paid off on-field with this change in direction. The Bay of Plenty Steamers went from last placed in 2013 and 2014 to winning the Mitre 10 Championship in 2019 and gaining promotion to the Premiership for the 2020 season.

A traditional approach to research

Hapeta’s research utilised an approach known as pūrākau, or traditional narratives and storytelling, which acknowledges the past, present and future.

“In Te Ao Māori we walk ‘backwards’ into our future. We stare at our past, something that is known, as we walk towards the unknown future. This is what I would like to think my PhD contribution makes, it is about putting a pou or peg into the ground now so that we can progress and move forwards into a more culturally inclusive future. I hope the findings of my research might inform why and how Māori practices can be used to develop team culture.

He says working with the younger men who were part of the MPRA academy provided fascinating insights into their future aspirations, which were not centred around playing rugby professionally.

“What the academy was doing wasn’t about rugby, it was actually about life skills. Their second-chance learners weren’t treated like athletes, they were treated as people and rugby was the vehicle used to embed values into them like respect, forgiveness and work ethic. Many youth spoke of future aspirations like building their own home and furniture. One was returning to mainstream school so he could do his building apprenticeship, the majority of others exited into employment.”

Inspiring others to further their education 

Dr Hapeta hopes his story may inspire people of different ages and backgrounds and that his research will contribute to positive Māori stories.

“I’d like my research to reaffirm our cultural identity, increasing the mana of Māori and serve as a catalyst for other groups to recognise the value and potential that they could tap into.”

His advice for current students, or those considering studying but are hesitant to? Just do it.

“I hope in some small way I might provide an example that you don’t need to be a genius or rocket scientist to walk across the stage and get your degree, if I can do it, anyone can.

“And don’t be disheartened by setbacks. If I had listened to and accepted my first two rejection letters, I would not have applied a third time (lucky). It took me six years of part-time study to do this PhD. It was a struggle and didn’t come easily and that’s okay too.”

Pioneering ex-mayor awarded honorary doctorate

Source: Massey University

Former Palmerston North mayor Jill White was awarded a Doctor of Literature for her advocacy on environmental, social and local history issues.

Former Palmerston North mayor and Manawatū MP Jill White has been awarded an honorary doctorate in recognition of her advocacy for environmental issues and local heritage, and making a difference through local body politics.

Dr White, who has Bachelor of Arts (honours) and Master of Arts degrees from Massey, was awarded a Doctor of Literature (honoris causa) at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences ceremony on Friday.

Massey historian Dr Geoff Watson says it is “highly appropriate that in 2019, which marks 100 years since women were granted the right to stand for Parliament, that Jill White be awarded an honorary doctorate in recognition of her pioneering political achievements and her advocacy on environmental, social and heritage issues.” 

Dr White made history as the first woman elected as MP for Manawatū, representing the Manawatū electorate between 1993 and 1996 and serving as a list MP between 1996 and 1998. In 1998, she successfully stood for Mayor of Palmerston North, becoming the city’s first female mayor and serving between 1998 and 2001. She also served as a city councillor for Palmerston North between 1983 and 1992; the Manawatū-Wanganui Regional Council between 1989 and 1994 and Horizons Regional Council between 2007 and 2013. 

Dr White’s deep interest in the environment was informed in part by her studies at Massey, where her master’s thesis focused on the relationship between Palmerston North and the Manawatū River. 

She has worked with many social organisations, including the Palmerston North Methodist Social Services, Age Concern and the Multi Ethnic Council. She has also made a significant contribution to local history and heritage – she is a longstanding member of the Palmerston North Heritage Trust, and has made a significant contribution to local history as a regular contributor to the Manawatū Journal of History and the preserving records and artefacts of St Paul’s Church on Broadway. 

“Jill’s career epitomises Massey University’s philosophy of lifelong learning and her contribution as a political pioneer for women and her extensive community service make her an eminently worthy candidate for an honorary doctorate,” Dr Watson says in his nomination.

Historian, Associate Professor Margaret Tennant, says in her supporting testimony that; “Jill has a more extensive experience of politics in its various forms, electoral and associational, than any other Manawatū woman I am aware of, and she remains a source of sound advice and a model of ethical behaviour to others with similar aspirations.

“During her term as Mayor, Jill placed considerable emphasis on strengthening the relationship between Massey University and the city. She also initiated a modernising of Palmerston North’s image and the redevelopment of the Square in its present form.”

Her background in science and interest in the environment came to the fore in her parliamentary career, in which she was Labour Spokesperson for Research Science and Technology; Environment and Biosecurity and Crown Institutes. Her expertise in this field was further recognised in 2000 she was appointed Chair of the Environmental Management Risk Authority 

Building on her background as a public health nurse and teacher, she has served on a wide range of community organisations including the Palmerston North Community Services Council; the District Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse and National Council of Women. 

Gay men’s health and discrimination researcher awarded

Source: Massey University

Professor Michael Ross was awarded a Doctor of Science in recognition of his international career researching issues relating to gay men’s health and wellbeing.

Massey University alumnus and health psychologist Professor Michael Ross has been awarded a Doctor of Science for his lifetime of research into sexual risk behaviour and mental health in gay and bisexual men across cultures and continents.

Professor Ross, who is currently based in the Human Sexuality, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health programme at the University of Minnesota, enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in psychology at Massey nearly 50 years ago. He gained his BA (Hons) in 1974, dedicating his academic career from then to understanding the links between internalised homophobia, stigma, mental health and sexual risk-taking in sexual minorities – from the Americas to Africa, as well as Europe and Australia.

He’s published more than 500 peer-reviewed papers and 12 books, with his initial work focused on stigma and adjustment in gay men, and subsequently on sexual risk behaviors for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. 

Professor Ross, back in New Zealand to receive his degree based on a theses of recently published works, says his choice to work in this area early on was “certainly risky in terms of a future career.”

“I saw it as not a mental issue, but one of human rights and science previously based on poor research with only hospital samples. If we were describing heterosexuals based only on samples from mental hospitals, we’d get a pretty inaccurate idea of them too.”

As an undergraduate, he says there was “already a recognition that the earlier data were deeply flawed – 1973 marked the American Psychiatric Association removing homosexuality from its list of disorders.” 

“I knew at that point that I wanted to go on into academia – and psychology excited me. There were few areas where one could break new ground, and be part of a new direction in the study of human sexuality and human rights.

He graduated from Massey 12 years before the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was passed here in 1986 to decriminalize homosexuality. In 1973, he and two other men became the first to speak openly in the news media. They were interviewed for Radio New Zealand by host Lindsay Perigo. “We talked about being gay, about the issues of having to be hidden and stigma, and about law reform. It led to the slightly later 1973 Listener article, another first.”

Social stigma and mental health link in gay men

Professor Ross completed his PhD at University of Melbourne in 1979, and during the HIV epidemic of the 1980s, he explored the epidemiology of HIV and STIs in Australia, Sweden and Finland and the relationship of social stigma to mental health in gay men. 

His work included the development of methods for Internet studies of sexual minority populations, culminating in his work on internalized homophobia in a study of 180,000 gay and bisexual men in 35 countries and in 25 languages in Europe. This was extended to the epidemiology of HIV-related risk in injecting drug users in Australia, which paved the way into understanding the delivery of health services in prisons in the United States, and how the measurement of the prison social climate could predict health-related behaviors in inmates, staff health and safety in correctional environments. 

Over the past two decades, he published some of the first papers on gay and bisexual men and HIV and sexually-transmitted infections in East Africa, and the impact of stigma on health care and risk behavior in networks of gay and bisexual men. He is currently studying and evaluating the teaching of sexual history-taking and counseling in student nurses and midwives in Tanzania.

“Until the last decade, it was not recognized that there are significant gay and bisexual populations in large African cities, and that HIV risk in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in the second wave of the epidemic, closely involves some key populations,” he says.

Light years and dark ages

Professor Ross, who has worked in medical schools or public health schools in universities since 1978, says that over the 50 years since he began his studies, attitudes towards homosexuality are “light years ahead in terms of social acceptance and knowledge, in most Western countries including New Zealand. But there are major parts of the world which are still in the dark ages in their conceptualization of, and discrimination against, sexual diversity.”

Despite being told by a senior psychologist back in 1974 that homosexuality was “not an appropriate topic”, for his psychology honours thesis, he says staff at Massey “strongly supported me and I did the thesis – which I believe was the first in New Zealand on the subject, and was published. I owe Massey for that support and academic freedom, which launched my career.”

He credits his New Zealand education as standing him in good stead for later scholarly success. “When I was at Cambridge University in the UK [where he earned a masters in Criminology and a Diploma in Applied Criminology in the early 2000s], I got to my first class and thought OMG, I am in here with the brightest people in the world! How am I going to make it? I later realised that I had the advantage of a superb education in New Zealand, from primary school to university, all in Palmerston North – Terrace End Primary, Ross Intermediate, Freyberg, then Massey. I was top or top-equal in my course at Cambridge. What better place [than Massey] to mark the “bookends” on my career of 50 years and nearly 600 publications?”

Professor Ross will be joined at graduation by friends and family including his cousin, Dr Kirsty Ross, a Senior Lecturer in psychology at the Manawatū campus. The degree of Doctor of Science is awarded for original contribution(s) of special excellence to knowledge in science. His thesis is titled: Health and Health Promotion and Applied Health Psychology in Stigmatized Sexual Minority Populations.

Diversity in neighbourhoods and online spaces

Source: Massey University

Topics at the conference include how to create a more inclusive society (Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash)

Diversity in neighbourhoods and workplaces – and online debates about free speech – are themes addressed by Massey University sociologists in this week’s Arahia He Ara Pathways conference on immigration and diversity.

The overarching theme of this year’s conference at Massey’s Auckland campus on Tuesday, 19 November, is Diversities of Migration: racism, difference and inequalities. The Pathways conference was established in the 1990s as an annual event for research and policy communities to discuss current issues relating to immigration and diversity. 

Senior lecturer and conference co-organiser Dr Jessica Terruhn says this year’s conference builds on and extends this legacy by highlighting the variety of ways that migration is shaping contemporary Aotearoa, while also seeking pathways to address the challenges of racism, settler colonialism and inequalities.

“Our aspiration is that together we can work as pathfinders, charting new directions for more inclusive societal futures,” Dr Terruhn says.

In his presentation ‘Performing rage’: undermining diversity recognition in Aotearoa by defending free speech, hate speech and bigotry, Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley addresses what he describes as “a populist rage at diversity” – or “performing rage” – enabled by online platforms and forums. This has resulted in “the internationalisation of populism and extremism and the possibilities provided by online platforms, at the cost of diversity recognition,” Professor Spoonley says.

In their presentation, Dialogues with diversity: working in organisations to understand constraints and opportunities, Associate Professor Robin Peace, from Massey, and independent researcher Geoff Stone, will share their findings on how three organisations are responding to diversity and building their capability and capacity in relation to more diverse clients and stakeholders. 

Dr Trudie Cain will discuss her work on how senior adults in Auckland negotiate superdiversity and how they “live with difference” in densely-populated neighbourhoods.

Dr Terruhn will present her work on how notions of equality and diversity play out in the visions of current urban development projects, with a focus on the Auckland suburb of Northcote.

Topics covered by keynote speakers, presenters and panelists include; the rise and fall of the discriminatory “family link” refugee policy, the importance of listening to communities in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre, citizenship, cultural identity and Indigenous political participation, and migrant exploitation in New Zealand.

Dr Terruhn, who is coordinating the conference alongside colleagues and partners at the Auckland Council and the Human Rights Commission, says the richness and scope of the presentations will provide fresh insights, nuanced understandings and varied perspectives on the lived experiences of diverse communities in this country.  

“Informing policy makers and the wider public on issues relating to immigration in a way that promotes understanding and pathways to inclusion is a central aim of the conference,” she says.

Keynote speakers include: Anjum Rahman, a chartered accountant and the acting head of the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand); Dr Emily Beausoleil, a lecturer of politics at Victoria University of Wellington; Melinda Webber, an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland; Rachel Simon-Kumar, an Associate Professor, School of Population Health, at the University of Auckland; and Shanthi Robertson, a sociologist and senior research fellow in migration studies and globalization at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. 

The opening address will be given by Auckland-based list MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan, a member of the Asia New Zealand Foundation Leadership Network and the National Council of Women. 

For more information on the speakers and programme, click here.

Development Studies celebrates 30 years

Source: Massey University

Development Studies programme director Professor Regina Scheyvns (centre, front) with current and former staff, current students and graduates at Wharerata, Manawatū campus to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the programme.

Development studies researchers at Massey have helped to transform lives around the globe by tackling the toughest problems – from economic inequality and labour exploitation, to lack of access to education and environmental sustainability – for three decades.

A celebration to mark the programme’s 30th anniversary brought together current staff and students with high-profile alumni, including the Cook Islands Ambassador to New Zealand, Elizabeth Koteka-Wright, and former staff, including the man who started it all. 

Founder Dr Crosbie ‘Croz’ Walsh, aged 86, shared his recollections of the challenges of setting up the first such programme in New Zealand – a game-changing, multi- and inter-disciplinary field of study that seeks to understand social, economic, political, technological and cultural aspects of societal change, particularly in developing countries. The programme is part of the School of People, Environment and Planning and is ranked in the top 100 development studies programmes worldwide. 

Dr Crosbie says it was structured to promote teaching, research and consultancy via strong collaboration between the University and relevant government agencies, such as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the development sector. 

Development Studies staff with the programme’s founder Dr Crosbie Walsh (front row, second from right).

Researchers in a privileged position

Head of development studies Professor Regina Scheyvens, the first person in New Zealand to gain a PhD in this field, told the audience that going to another country to do research involving local people is a privilege, not a right. The researcher usually has more to learn than to give, she says. 

In the past two decades as a lecturer and supervisor of numerous master’s and doctoral theses, she says she has witnessed students “go out into the world, and into Aotearoa, and do some pretty amazing things”.

She cited one example of a graduate who emailed her to say she had scored her dream job working as a midwife for Médecins Sans Frontières International (Doctors Without Borders) in Sierra Leone helping to re-build maternity health services post-Ebola.

Development Studies programme founder Dr Crosbie Walsh with current director and the first person in Aotearoa to gain a PhD in the field, Professor Regina Scheyvens.

Graduates making a difference around the globe

Guest speakers included development studies master’s graduate Denise Arnold, a lawyer from Tauranga and Women of Influence 2019 finalist who started the Cambodia Charitable Trust to empower children in Cambodia through education. 

Speaker and master’s graduate Jo Peek, co-founded (with another development studies graduate, Christey West) Just Peoples – a grassroots fundraising organisation in which 100 per cent of money donated goes directly to projects designed to help people living in poverty. The project has so far funded 64 projects – relating to clean water, free education, sustainable farming, mental health, microfinance and life skills – in 13 countries and made a difference to the lives of more than 200,000 people.

Professor Scheyvens, whose specialist research area is in sustainable tourism, says the programme is well established, with over 300 master’s and doctoral research projects completed, reflecting the work of committed, passionate change-makers who want to make a difference, and continues to build global connections through the work and influence of its graduates.

Next year it will launch the Master in Sustainable Development Goals, based on the United Nations’ 17 goals and the only such degree in Australasia.

Related articles

New degree tackles urgent issue of sustainability
Tourism insider to development studies scholar

Professor’s family links to campus land

Source: Massey University

Professor Roseanna Bourke (left) with her aunt, Mary Clifford, and Mary’s daughter Rose Mary Lynch under the Massey campus sign bearing their family name – a reminder of their pre-Massey farming connections to the land.

Professor Bourke with her Aunt Mary

When educational psychologist Professor Roseanna Bourke gave her inaugural professorial lecture on learning earlier this month, the event sparked a reminder of her personal links to the University reaching back across generations of her family and its connections to the Manawatū campus.

Professor Bourke only has to look at the street signs on the campus bearing her family name to be reminded of her heritage connections to the Turitea site where her grandfather once farmed. 

The significance of the street sign was highlighted when her 101-year-old aunt Mary Clifford (nee Bourke) attended her recent public lecture. Mary drove with her daughter, Rose Mary Lynch, from Masterton to attend and joined ­Professor Bourke for a family photo on the land she roamed as a girl.

Professor Bourke’s father, Palmerston North general practitioner Dr John Bourke, died when she was 15. She says his legacy to his 12 children was; “a capacity and thirst for learning, and the indelible message that education was important. He grew up on on one of the original Turitea farms on this very Massey land. His sister Mary, my aunt, is now 101 years old. Her proud family recognise in her what lifelong, life-deep and lifewide learning really looks like.” 

Her grandfather farmed on the site until the land was earmarked for the expansion of the Massey Agricultural College in the early 1900s.

“Aunty Mary can still remember swimming in the Turitea stream, raising cows, and climbing trees. With her three brothers, one being my late father John Bourke, she started her learning on this land.”  

In the 1960s she worked at Massey’s Department of Agriculture, Economics and Farm Management.

In her lecture, Professor Bourke paid tribute to her family, in particular her late mother, who she says epitomised the lifelong learner. 

“When I was informed of my promotion to Professor in November last year, the first person I told was my 92-year-old mother,” she told the audience at the lecture.  “Frail and unwell at the time, but having had an intense interest in my career over the years, she was very excited and asked me what I’d call my talk. ‘Who’s afraid of learning?’ seemed like an apt title and my mother’s immediate response was ‘Well I’m not afraid. And I’m still learning’.” Her mother died a month later. 

Professor Bourke, based at the Institute of Education, has spent her career exploring, researching and teaching about the phenomenon of learning. She shared insights into sociocultural and cognitive theories and her personal observations on what learning means in her public lecture.

Related articles

Learning – filling up the brain or something more?

Create1World – an antidote to climate grief

Source: Massey University

Climate grief and climate anxiety are real for this generation, say organisers of a Massey University event bringing together youth to share creative ideas and solutions to the climate crisis.

Hundreds of secondary school pupils will converge at Create1World conferences at Massey’s Auckland and Wellington campuses this month to take part in workshops, online and live panel discussions as well as view performances by poets, film-makers and musicians. The aim of the event, now in its fourth year, is to inspire and foster hope among young people in the face of daunting global issues confronting humanity, from climate change impacts to poverty, deforestation, plastic pollution and social inequality.

Create1World is hosted by Massey’s School of English and Media Studies and the New Zealand Centre for Global Studies. Co-organisers Dr Hannah August and Associate Professor Elspeth Tilley say many young people they have spoken to during the year are feeling angry and frustrated.

“Climate grief is real and it has many of them in the grip of fear and anxiety,” Dr Tilley says. Taking action “is a logical and healthy response to feeling frustrated and disempowered, which is just one of the many reasons why the school strikes are so important,” she says.

“Creative action is also an important form of response. It can be accessible to more people – not everybody is able to participate in a protest march – and it can help process emotional responses through catharsis or inspiration. 

Winners of the Create1World Activism and Global Citizenship competition will be announced at each of the conferences (Wellington on November 14 and Auckland on November 21). Finalists’ work includes slam poetry, music, theatre, a poem in te reo Māori, and speeches on topics ranging from refugees and climate change to sexual consent.

Professor Chris Gallavin (left) with Fatimah Khan, from Newlands College, reading her creative writing in 2018. She is a finalist this year too.

Art to displace fear

Dr August says using creativity to channel fear and concern about pressing global issues helps by bringing a human focus and increasing awareness. “Art and creativity can make a difference both to the person doing the creative work and to the audience they share it with.”

Wellington highlights include creative activist Waylon Edwards, of Whakatōhea, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāi Tai and Ngāti Hine, and Diane Wong, who will beam in live from New York via an interactive video feed to talk about her work with Chinatown Art Brigade, an intergenerational cultural collective that uses the power of art to advance social justice. 

Wellington-based actor, musician, writer and director Moana Ete, of Ngai Tahu and Samoan descent, and Abhishek Majumdar, an environmental and human rights playwright who will participate via a live feed from the United Arab Emirates, will also be on panel discussions.

Highlights for Auckland are Robbie Nicol, aka White Man Behind a Desk, who makes videos for social media to raise political awareness and engagement, and Alice Canton, an award-winning theatre director known for her work using theatre to tell the stories of Auckland’s Chinese community. Workshops by Massey’s award-winning creative writers and theatre practitioners, including Professor Bryan Walpert, Dr Jack Ross, Dr Rand Hazou and Stuart Hoar, are also on the agenda.

Secondary school pupils or teachers interested in attending Create1World are invited to register now, on:

For more information:  

or check Facebook page: 


Theatre version of NZ history screens on Māori TV

Source: Massey University

A scene from television adaptation of UNDERTOW, written by PhD candidate Helen Pearse-Otene.

Massey University PhD student and award-winning playwright Helen Pearse-Otene’s four plays exploring New Zealand’s bicultural history will premier on Māori Television this week.

View video trailer:

The world premiere of UNDERTOW, a bicultural television adaptation of the plays written and developed over several years by Ms Pearse-Otene, of Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Rongomaiwahine-Kahungunu, Ngāti Ruanui and Ngāti Pākehā in partnership with members of Te Rākau Hua o te Wao Tapu Trust theatre company, airs tomorrow  at 9.30pm, with the first of four plays. The other three will screen over the following weeks.

A staged musical, the work required a cast of 35 performers and hundreds of hours of rehearsals to tackle major historical moments in Aotearoa’s collective stories. Encompassing 180 years of history and centred on six generations of one family, the plays span milestone events. These include the activities of the New Zealand Company (established in the first half of the 1800s to oversee the systematic colonisation of New Zealand), the Taranaki Land Wars, the World War I battle of Passchendaele in 1917 and the Vietnam War, to current-day urban development. One of the plays was written as part of Ms Pearse-Otene’s psychology master’s thesis, titled Staging areas: Vietnam veterans from Aotearoa-New Zealand and therapeutic landscapes in black box theatre, for which she interviewed Vietnam veterans. 

Screen still from UNDERTOW, to screen over the next four weeks on Māori Television starting October 31.

Series filmed at Te Papa

Te Rākau Hua o te Wao Tapu Trust, New Zealand’s longest-running independent Māori theatre company, has been crafting UNDERTOW since 2013. The television adaptation was filmed at Te Papa by renowned cinematographer Waka Attewell, edited for television by Abi King-Jones and produced by long-running Te Rākau producer, Aneta Pond. The plays were directed by distinguished actor and theatre director Jim Moriarty.

Massey’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences has provided support for UNDERTOW both in its initial delivery and its development for television. Associate Professor Elspeth Tilley, a senior lecturer in the School of English and Media Studies, has hosted Te Rākau as ‘Māori Theatre Company in Residence’ at the School of English and Media Studies’ Wellington campus theatre laboratory since 2014.

Helen Pearse-Otene (photo/Tabitha Arthur)

Exploring our best and worst interactions

Dr Tilley said the plays offer unique and compelling insights. “They illuminate Māori, Pākehā and migrant perspectives, exploring our best and worst interactions with each other, and tracing New Zealanders’ journeys through notable moments in history.”

The UNDERTOW series screens over four weeks all at 9.30pm:

The Ragged on October 31, Dog & Bone on November 7, Public Works on November 14 and The Landeaters on November 21.

Related articles

Māori theatre a tonic for NZ’s ‘historical amnesia’

Learning – filling up the brain or something more?

Source: Massey University

Professor Roseanna Bourke will share her research insights on learning in different contexts in her lecture.

Professor Bourke, based at Massey University’s Institute of Education, has spent her career exploring, researching and teaching about the phenomenon of learning. She will share insights into sociocultural and cognitive theories and her personal observations on what learning means in her public lecture, titled Who’s Afraid of Learning?, this Friday at the Manawatū campus.

Fear and failure are all part of how we learn, she says. Learning is about “the unknown and taking risks in the belief that you can do it. Learners on this view are adventurers; they must be prepared to risk failing – or falling – on the way to learning a new skill. 

“The sad reality is that we are more likely to observe this outside school learning, where the stakes of assessment and testing do not influence the learner’s willingness to take a risk.”

As a professor of learning and assessment, she has studied the role of formal assessment (tests, exams, assignments) as well as self-assessment among school pupils and tertiary students. “Learning begins both with knowing, and with the realisation of not knowing,” she says. “Self-assessment is therefore a critical component of being able to learn, and of wellbeing.”

She will discuss philosophical perspectives and quirky examples about how we learn – from Plato to Palmerston North sculptor Paul Dibble, whose bronze sculpture of a tuatara and a dancer outside the Regent on Broadway theatre epitomises, for her, an essential understanding about learning. 

Chameleonic’ learners

Professor Bourke will touch on her earlier research into learning, which revealed that children’s conceptions ranged from “least sophisticated, where they believed learning was to ‘fill up the brain’ and was about knowledge acquisition and recall, through to more sophisticated understandings that learning is about changing the way you see something, and the way you engage with people and the environment around you”.

She coined the term, “the chameleonic learner” – the title of her book – which discusses her study of successful learners who developed a strong sense of self and identity yet could also change and adapt their behaviours according to the context. “Effectively, they could become one person in the mathematics class, another in drama, or in judo class, and another on the rugby field or netball court.”

To demonstrate learning in formal and informal settings, and how well we can adapt learned skills, experience and knowledge to novel situations, she will touch on celebrated examples, such as pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who landed on the Hudson river in New York after a double engine blow-out following a bird strike; young Māori land rights activist Pania Newton, who founded Save Our Unique Landscape to stop Ihumātao, in Māngere, Auckland, from being turned into a housing development; and golf phenomenon Lydia Ko, who became world number one at age 17.

Professor Bourke credits her family life with fostering in her a deep love of learning. When she was informed of her promotion to Professor last November, the first person she told was her 92-year old mother, to whom she is dedicating her talk. 


Professor Bourke started her professional career as a classroom teacher and later educational psychologist, and went on to complete a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Education at Massey before heading to Cambridge University as Visiting Fellow for six months (2003). She then worked at the Ministry of Education (2003–06), where she led national research programmes, professional practice advisor teams, and represented New Zealand at an OECD meeting in Paris. From 2007, as director of the Centre for Educational Development, Massey University, she led the teacher advisory service of 70 in-service teacher educators across the central North Island. She currently leads the postgraduate educational and developmental psychology programme, Education Scope of Practice, that prepares registered psychologists.

Event details:

Who’s Afraid of Learning? | Inaugural Professorial Lecture – Roseanna Bourke (Professor of Learning and Assessment)

Friday, 1 November – 3.30pm – 5.30pm

Japan Lecture Theatre, University House, Manawatū Campus

For more info contact Julie Sakai:

‘Hola’ to Spanish language and culture week

Source: Massey University

Spanish language lecturers Dr Francisco Gonzalez Bonilla and Dr Celina Bortolotto setting up the exhibition of photos of Cuban taken by New Zealanders, on display at Palmerston North City Library.

Poetry, cinema, photography, theatre, dance and free language lessons are on the menu for Spanish Language and Culture Week to celebrate the diverse ways Kiwis can embrace the world’s second most-spoken native language after Mandarin.

Associate Professor Leonel Alvarado, who heads Massey’s Spanish Language Programme, says the week, October 18-27, is organised by programme staff in collaboration with embassies, city libraries, schools, local artists and the Latin American community. 

“The idea is to share the richness of the language and the culture, while continuing to highlight its presence in Aotearoa,” he says. “Academic, business and cultural partnerships between both cultures are increasing, and these events seek to contribute to that.”

Spanish language-flavoured events are scheduled at campus and community venues in Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North, with the opening of a film festival in Palmerston North tomorrow night featuring a Cuban film, Por qué lloran mis amigos? (Why do my friends cry?). The festival, in its 18th year, comprises films from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and Spain. The films have been screening in cities around New Zealand throughout September and October.

Also in Manawatū is photography exhibition at the Palmerston North City Library of entries from a competition organised by the Cuban Embassy. New Zealanders submitted pictures they took while travelling in Cuba on the theme of “Cuba through Kiwi eyes”. Spanish language lecturer Dr Celina Bortolotto says about 60 photos are on display. “The pictures are a wonderful mixture of portraits and landscapes, capturing intimate and colourful snapshots of life in Cuba.”

Dr Alvarado, who is based at the Wellington campus in the School of Humanities, will read Spanish poetry from his award-winning books, as well as new works, at El Barrio, a Wellington venue where Massey’s Spanish Programme also runs monthly group practices of both Spanish and Portuguese.  

Spanish lessons in Wellington at lunchtime are free and open to Massey students and staff, and the public. They are run by the staff from the Spanish Programme and will focus on conversational Spanish.

At the Auckland campus a special book display in the campus library showcases the range of books related to Spanish language, Latin America and Spain from the Massey Library collections.

Along with Spanish improv comedy (for both Spanish and non-Spanish speakers) at Auckland and Wellington by the company Mabel Teatro, dance lessons are scheduled in Wellington for next Thursday and in Orewa next Saturday. Tastebuds will have their day too, with a Latin American culture and food workshop at Palmerston North’s Youth Space next Thursday.

The programme is also co-sponsoring – with the support from the Embassy of Chile – a Spanish poetry and short story competition for secondary school pupils. Winners will be announced during the week.  The Spanish Language programme is available via distance learning and internally at the Auckland and Manawatū campuses. For more information click here.

For more information on Spanish Language and Culture Week:

Spanish Language Week Brochure – Oct 2019.pdf (805 KB)