agreeable beyond description, and … might be rendered a kind of second Paradise
Sydney Parkinson, artist aboard the Endeavour on James Cook’s first voyage to New Zealand
In early June 2012 the Transit of Venus Forum, initiated by Professor Sir Paul Callaghan and partners, inspired thinking about New Zealand’s future prospects for its people and environment based on a realistic, science-based appraisal of our current situation.
Arising out of the ideas generated at this Forum, is ‘Paradise Regained’, the 2012 Talking Heads series of lectures and panel discussions, which looks for ways to realise Sydney Parkinson’s paradisal vision of New Zealand.
The transit of Venus symbolises a new chapter in New Zealand history encouraging us to shift our view from what is to what is possible. We want a country that is not only beautiful but smart, prosperous, just, inclusive and ambitious, in which a vibrant Maori economy plays an essential part in our big future.
Sir Paul Callaghan
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Recorded 7pm 14 June, Soundings Theatre, Te Papa, Wellington.
Sir Peter Gluckman KNZM FMedSci FRSNZ FRS
Sir Peter discussed how science can help New Zealand make faster and more effective progress towards these objectives.
Recorded 7pm 21 June, Soundings Theatre, Te Papa, Wellington
Dame Anne Salmond FRSNZ, Professor of Maori Studies, The University of Auckland
When the Endeavour sailed into the Pacific in 1769 to observe the Transit of Venus, it was a traveling sideshow of the Enlightenment. As a skilled hydrographer, Lieutenant James Cook produced meticulous charts of the places that they visited. The artists on board the ship recorded the landscapes, plants, animals and people that they found.
The Royal Society scientists led by Joseph Banks were lavishly equipped with the latest instruments, and inspired by an experimental spirit. They were intrigued by the people they met in the Pacific, and open to the possibility that their ways of living might provide new ideas for Europe.
The President of the Royal Society had drafted ‘Hints’ for the conduct of the voyage that captured the Enlightenment vision, including a concern for the rights of indigenous peoples. The scientists were urged to inquire into and document a very wide range of topics.
Since that time, the fragmentation of the scientific project into the natural and social sciences and the disciplines has often constrained scientific thinking. It has become difficult to address patterns of the world that cross these boundaries, including some of the most urgent questions of our times.
This talk explored the possibility of a new Enlightenment that recaptures the wide-ranging curiosity of those early scientists, while transcending ‘Western’ modernity by drawing upon other intellectual traditions. This includes the relational thinking characteristic of Maori and other Pacific life worlds, opening up new futures.
Recorded 7.30pm Wednesday 6 June, Gisborne
In his last ever public lecture in February, Zealandia Board Member Sir Paul Callaghan, entrusted his audience with one final challenge: to make New Zealand pest free. Get rid of the possums, rats and stoats, as we have done on our off-shore islands, and give New Zealand back to its birds. Could we have tuis and bellbirds singing in every garden, and recapture the ‘second paradise’ Cook’s men were so captivated by in 1769?
How realistic is this vision? Will New Zealanders rise to the challenge? What will it cost? And would it be worth the expense?
Kim Hill discussed whether New Zealand will ever be pest free with:
- Dr Gareth Morgan, economist
- Professor Charles Daugherty, Assistant Vice-Chancellor at Victoria University Wellington
- Dr Nicola Toki, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society
- Dr Rick Boven, formerly Director of think tank The New Zealand Institute.
Recorded, 12 noon Thursday 7 June, Gisborne
New Zealanders work harder and earn less than almost everyone else in the developed world. It’s no wonder our kids head overseas and don’t come back. Is more science the answer to our problems? Can scientists tell us who to sell the Crafar farms to, whether or not to exploit our offshore resources, and what will truly bring prosperity? Can’t we just milk dairy for all its worth and get the scientists to concentrate on mitigating the damage to air and water? Do scientists have any idea at all about the reality of business and economics?
Kim Hill discussed whether more science is the answer to our economic problems with:
- Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to Prime Minister
- Derek Handley, 2010 NZ Herald Business Leader of the Year
- Professor Shaun Hendy, Deputy Director of MacDiarmid Institute
- Dr Caroline Saunders, Lincoln University
Recorded 7.30pm Tuesday 5 June, Gisborne
East Coast people know the vicissitudes of life on the land as well as any other rural New Zealanders. They have lived through Cyclone Bola, seen their stock float out to sea, and experienced the demoralising ups and downs of kiwifruit and grape. Every day, huge volumes of their precious topsoil flow with the rivers into the sea, where it accumulates in perilous mountains. The plantation forests are holding the land together, but are causing damage too. The fish and whitebait are disappearing. Now, these hardy New Zealanders are taking their destiny in hand, and have resolved to build a resilient community where people can make a living and enjoy living off the land.
Kim Hill discussed these and other East Coast land issues with local representatives:
- Ingrid Collins – Chairperson of Whangara Farms
- Bridget Parker – Owner of Kiwi Organics / Broadlands Organics, Tolaga Bay
- Clive Bibby – East Coast Farmer
- Hilton Collier – Farm Management Consultant, AgFirst
Recorded 7pm 28 June, Soundings Theatre, Te Papa, Wellington
The age of economic prosperity has delivered, however New Zealanders’ expectations of material wealth continue to rise.
Can we be satiated or is despoiling of our land and environment an inevitable precondition for our priorities to change from consumerism to well-being?