Seminar Series

We will be hosting New Zealand and international academics to talk about contemporary issues relating to science, technology and the environment – how they impact our lives and societies, and how we can respond to them.

Details on past and upcoming seminars are below. All welcome! 

Nayantara Sheoran Appleton runs our seminar series. If you have any questions please contact her at

Upcoming events

The Uses and Abuses of Māori Ancestral Remains in the Development of Western Science

Date: Thursday 7 November, 11:00am – 12:00 noon

Location: TTR 205, Kelburn campus

The repatriation movement is gaining considerable momentum across the world, yet the history of the collection, sale and research of Ancestral Human Remains still remains largely unknown. In Aotearoa New Zealand, the collection, or more correctly theft, of tūpuna Māori (Māori ancestors) for the purposes of increasing Western knowledge about the development of the human species and the coming of the Māori, is a part of our history that needs to be brought to light. This seminar looks at the development of Western science in New Zealand in relation to the study of Māori ancestral remains and how this has developed into more modern scientific research which is being undertaken today as part of the repatriation process.

Dr Amber Aranui is the researcher for the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, where she undertakes provenance research to aid in the return of Māori and Moriori ancestral remains back to their descendant communities. In her work as the programme’s researcher over the past 11 years Amber has developed an interest in the collection and trade of human remains and the effects this had on indigenous peoples throughout the world. Amber has a background in Anthropology and Archaeology and has recently completed a PhD with Victoria University of Wellington, focusing on Māori perspectives around repatriation and scientific research of Māori ancestral remains.

Amber is of Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Tūwharetoa, descent, and is dedicated to working with iwi Māori as well as other indigenous peoples throughout the world.

Past events

Academic showcase 2019

Date: Thursday 24 October, 3:00 – 5:00 pm

Location: TTR205, Kelburn Campus

Public mistrust of science

Date: Thursday 10 October, 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Location: AM103, Kelburn Campus

Scientific evidence seems to have lost its authority to persuade. In a new world of easily accessible, rapid, mass communication all kinds of ideas⁠—good and bad⁠—can travel fast. A deluge of information leads to people seeking simplicity, yet ideas without evidence may often be dressed up in the sometimes deliberately obscure language of science. In this talk Richard Arnold will discuss some of the reasons why it’s hard for evidence to be seen as convincing in today’s world. He’ll use examples from statistics, politics, health and sport to investigate why and when we choose to believe.

Richard Arnold began his research career in astronomy, and after working in medical and official statistics is a statistician and data scientist. He has published in a variety of domains of applied statistics including statistical seismology, fisheries and the theory of reliability. He has an interest in the communication of science and has been the election night statistician for TVNZ at the last four elections.

Picture of Annemarie Jutel

Diagnosis – Truths and Tales

Date: Thursday 19 September, 11:00 – 12 noon

Location: AM 103, Kelburn Campus

The announcement of a serious diagnosis is a solemn moment, where a person’s life may seem to be forever cleaved into “before” and “after”. It is also the beginning of a new story, a story we can all imagine, even if we have never received such a diagnosis. In this presentation, critical diagnosis scholar, Annemarie Jutel, will shed light on the many stories we tell about diagnosis, and will ponder the degree to which these stories influence the experience, and the possibility of their retelling in different forms.

Opening science: The principles and practice of citizen science – Monica Peters

Date: Monday 26 August, 11:00 – 12 noon

Location: MY 632, Kelburn campus

Citizen science has emerged as a powerful means to democratise scientific research. Well-designed studies can fill important knowledge gaps in addition to fulfilling public engagement goals. In NZ, community-based environmental monitoring (in the context of restoration initiatives) forms a large component of citizen science but research initiatives now include public/environmental health and disaster management dimensions. This presentation will chart a course through the history of citizen science, define the field and review the key principles that distinguish citizen science from traditional scientific practice. The emergence of citizen science associations in Europe, the US, Australia, Asia and now NZ reveals a more critical focus on citizen science practice and a desire to mainstream new methods of working that have a robust philosophical foundation and practical outcomes.

Monica works freelance at the interface between science and the public on diverse community conservation-focussed projects throughout New Zealand. She chairs a Citizen Science Think Tank in Wellington, which aims to bring greater strategic direction to citizen science in NZ as well as enhance the credibility of citizen science as a research method. Monica is also on the executive of Forest and Bird and blogs regularly under on citizen science and community-led environmental restoration. She was recently awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship to research citizen science policy and applications in Hong Kong, UK, Germany and Austria.