About 500 guests attended the professorial lecture by the University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Māori and Pasifika) Professor Sir Mason Durie at the Hawke's Bay Opera House in Hastings last night.
Sir Mason was welcomed by Hastings District Council deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers, while Assistant Vice-Chancellor and University Registrar Stuart Morriss acted as master of ceremonies. A video of the lecture will be available online tomorrow on this page.
Entitled Aotearoa New Zealand: Recalling the Past, Exploring the Future, Shaping Tomorrow, the lecture followed a highly successful presentation at the same venue in April by Professor Glyn Harper, the head of the University's Defence and Security Studies programme, about World War I. A third Hawke's Bay lecture, scheduled for October, will be by Massey Director of Agriculture Professor Jacqueline Rowarth.
The professorial lecture series aims to reinforce the strong links the University has always had with the Hawke's Bay region, which has a large and active group of alumni as well as being the base for many current students and ongoing research partnerships, particularly in the food sector.
Sir Mason, one of New Zealand's most respected academics, discussed Aotearoa New Zealand's place in the world, its history of human settlement – from Kupe to Tasman to Cook – the clashes that followed and the reconciliation and "re-indigenising" of the nation that has taken place in the past quarter of a century.
He explored current concerns, such as impacts of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act that has replaced the Foreshore and Seabed Act, and the Act's wider significance in New Zealand’s evolving constitutional conventions.
Looking forward, he spoke about what the major Treaty of Waitangi settlements mean in the context of evolving relationships between Māori and the Crown and between Māori and the private sector as existing settlements bed in and outstanding grievances are addressed.
New Zealand's strengths and vulnerabilities, its demographics and global trends that impact upon it will be crucial determinants of what happens over the next quarter of a century, Sir Mason says. He also proposed options for constitutional realignment as an Australasian state, part of a combined United States of the South Pacific, an independent republic, or continuing as an independent nation within the British Commonwealth.