Winter Week on Campus 2018

Immerse yourself in a week of intellectual stimulation and social enjoyment designed to expand your mind.


Winter Week on Campus is an annual week-long event which opens a fascinating window into some of the world-class research carried out at New Zealand’s leading university.

Morning and afternoon sessions feature lectures by distinguished University of Auckland faculty members, chosen for both their subject expertise and their passion for teaching adult students. You’ll join a group of enthusiastic individuals who not only have a love of learning but also enjoy the opportunity to debate current issues and meet new people.

Enrolment in a week pass ($95.00) entitles you to attend all three lectures each day Monday – Friday (15 lectures in total). Tea, coffee and biscuits are provided during the morning break each day. Enrolment for a single day is also available. Single-day pass enrolment ($35.00) entitles you to attend all three lectures on a single day. To register for a single day please contact our team on 0800 864 266 or use one of the codes below at the checkout.

Monday code: WWDAY#MON
Tuesday code: WWDAY#TUE
Wednesday code: WWDAY#WED
Thursday code: WWDAY#THU
Friday code: WWDAY#FRI

Registrations close Sunday 1 July


  • Monday 2 – Friday 6 July, 10am – 2:30pm
  • $95.00 incl. GST
  • The University of Auckland, City Campus

The Great Humpback Whale Trail

10:00 – 11:00am
Associate Professor Rochelle Constantine
Faculty of Science – Biological Sciences

Despite near extinction from commercial whaling, humpback whales are slowly recovering after 50 years of protection. They undertake one of the longest known migrations from tropical winter breeding grounds to Antarctic summer feeding grounds. We recently revealed the complex migration paths of these whales; showing different northern and southern pathways past NZ. Our multi-disciplinary approach using non-lethal research tools e.g., satellite telemetry, genetics, aging and hormone analysis, gives us the best understanding of the humpback whales spanning ~3,600km of Oceania and ~4,500km of Antarctic waters. With the focus now on the whales’ role as ecosystem engineers and how climate change affects population recovery, there are interesting questions needing answers.

How did Nemo really find his way home?

11:30am – 12:30pm
Associate Professor Craig Radford
Faculty of Science – Marine Science

Reef associate fish have a unique life cycle. They spend their time as adults living on or around the reef, while the larvae (babies) live in open water and can be found as far as 40-50 km from the nearest reef. It was previously thought that these larvae were at the mercy of ocean currents and where they found adult habitat was a random process. However, research has shown that reef fish larvae have remarkable swimming abilities and that they can actively direct and choose where to settle as adults. So, how do they know which direction to swim? There are many sensory cues available in the ocean, but they are not all suitable for the long-distance movements these animals must make. In this session, Associate Professor Craig Radford will discuss the research that he has been doing highlighting that hearing is the sense that would direct these movements.

Compensating Civilians: Counterinsurgency, Condolence Payments, and the Politics of Grief

1:30 – 2:30pm
Dr Thomas Gregory
Faculty of Arts – Politics and International Relations

As part of the “battle for hearts and minds”, the United States issued condolence money to ordinary Afghans and Iraqis who had been killed or injured by military forces. These payments were meant as a symbolic gesture rather than an acknowledgment of liability or guilt, but proponents have argued that they provide an effective way of recognising the pain and suffering caused and mitigating the economic hardships that result. In this session Dr Thomas Gregory will examine the politics of grief that is at play in these payments, paying attention to the strategic logic that underpinned the initiative along with the values that were attached to the loss of civilian lives. Drawing on the work of Judith Butler, Jenny Edkins and Emily Gilbert, along with case-studies from both Afghanistan and Iraq, I will argue that the program was underpinned by a peculiar strategic logic that framed civilian losses as a strategic problem that needed to be resolved rather than a human tragedy that needed to be addressed. Despite the huge sums of money invested in this program, the civilian population remained ungrievable, their lives profoundly lose-able.

Tax Reform in New Zealand in 2018

10:00 – 11:00am
Professor Michael Littlewood
Faculty of Law – Law

The New Zealand government is currently considering major reform of the country’s tax system and recently set up a Working Group to make recommendations. This paper considers the likely outcomes. In particular, should we have a capital gains tax? A land tax? What should be done to incentivise small business? To protect the environment? Should fruit and vegetables be exempt from GST?

Preventing and Managing Burnout

11:30am – 12:30pm
Dr Fiona Moir
Faculty of Medical and Health Science – Population Health

This session will commence with a brief introduction to mental health and ill-health. This will emphasise the importance of early awareness of some of the common warning signs of stress, and of learning to take action early. There will be a brief overview of the stress-vulnerability model. The main focus of this seminar will be on burnout and will include a description of the concept of burnout, along with common contributing risk-factors in individuals and in workplaces. Strategies which can build resilience, reduce stress and prevent and manage burnout will be outlined. Useful resources for preventing and managing burnout and enhancing wellbeing will also be recommended. The topic of how to communicate with others about stress and burnout will be briefly covered. This seminar will have a practical focus on early intervention skills that we can use for ourselves and our families.

Computer says ‘No’: quantitative models in society

1:30 – 2:30pm
Professor Thomas Lumley
Faculty of Science – Statistics

Business and government are increasingly relying on quantitative risk predictions and performance indicators rather than individual evaluations by individuals. This automation can be both good and bad: computer systems are much easier to audit and adjust than human minds, but also give an illusion of objectivity and accuracy. This session will look at criteria we could use to evaluate the fairness and effectiveness of quantitative decision tools.

Rewiring the Damaged Spinal Cord; Manipulating the matrix

10:00 – 11:00am
Dr Jarred Griffin
Faculty of Medical and Health Science – Medical Science

Spinal cord injuries cause damage to the neurons that relay signals between the brain and the peripheral body. A result of these injuries is some or full loss of sensory and motor functions to the affected. Molecules present in the matrix that surround damaged neurons are now known to be potent inhibitors of neuron regeneration. This session Jarred will focus on how these molecules interact with neurons and then will highlight how a novel genetic therapy that is being developed in our laboratory has shown success. The session will finish with the importance of neurorehabilitation and how it can enhance the outcome of therapies.

Big Food and the ‘war on childhood obesity’

11:30am – 12:30pm
Dr. Darren Powell
Faculty of Education and Social Work – Curriculum and Pedagogy

In recent times, multinational food and beverage corporations have been blamed for a global childhood obesity ‘crisis’. Unsurprisingly, these corporations have been quick to refute these claims and now claim to be ‘part of the solution’ to childhood obesity. In this session, Dr Darren Powell will examine how ‘Big Food’ (and other industries) are using concerns about children’s fat bodies for their own business interests; a way to deflect criticism, improve public relations, shape public policy, and profit. A variety of tactics are employed in this new ‘war on obesity’: corporate philanthropy; sponsorship of sport and physical activity initiatives; funding or devising health and physical education programmes and resources in schools; and, a shift to advertising healthy products and lifestyles to children. Although these business strategies are generally promoted as being healthy for children, Darren argues that they carry a number of ‘dangers’ and may do more harm than good.

Hot Air and Hard Choices: Climate Change Politics in New Zealand

1:30 – 2:30pm
Dr Julie MacArthur
Faculty of Arts – Politics and International Relations

Climate change presents a significant challenge for policy-makers and citizens around the world, but the issue is too often discussed as an issue of science and technology rather than one of politics and power. This talk examines how and why an issue with such overwhelming scientific consensus is so challenging to solve. We will explore the unique ways in which New Zealand contributes to climate change, the effects we are currently experiencing, and the policy choices that are shaping how we move forward. It illustrates the role of political actors in privileging particular approaches and ideas and investigates new avenues of policy action based on international best practice.

What’s it doing

10:00 – 11:00am
Dr Sean Kerr
Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries – Fine Arts

In this session, Dr Sean Kerr will discuss his interactive exhibition ‘What’s it doing’. This show took place in the education space of the Auckland Art Gallery and allowed the re-configuration of some of his existing works as well as the creation of entirely new works. Reworking the previous works acknowledges the temporal and interactive nature of much of his practice, and allowed the earlier works to be understood within the larger context of this new exhibition and within an educational arts setting. Sean will discuss the processes utilised in the creation of the interactive exhibition that often encouraged lateral thinking, sometimes creating unorthodox scenarios and misbehaving machines that owe as much to communication theory as to slapstick comedy.

Personalised Healthcare, Computer Modelling and the Heart

11:30am – 12:30pm
Professor Nic Smith
Faculty of Engineering – Dean of Engineering

Heart disease continues to result in significant loss of life in both New Zealand and western society where, with aging populations and increasing obesity, it is rapidly becoming an epidemic. The significance of the disease has motivated the development and application of state-of-the-art techniques to provide unique information on individual patients. However, the clinical practice of using population-based metrics fails to account for much of this personalised data. Thus, despite diagnostic advances, determining optimal treatment strategies for cardiac patients remains problematic. In this session, Professor Nic Smith will discuss how mathematical modelling can help improve treatment plans.

A real gutsful: the gastrointestinal microbiome and human health

1:30 – 2:30pm
Associate Professor Mike Taylor
Faculty of Science – Biological Sciences

It is increasingly apparent that we are not alone: bacterial cells in our gut outnumber our own human cells, their genes collectively outnumber ours by about 100-fold, and their activities have profound implications for our health and well-being. The bacteria and other microorganisms in our guts (the “gut microbiome”) have now been linked to a range of human conditions, ranging from obesity and diabetes to Alzheimer’s and autism.  In this seminar, we will look at the roles (both good and bad) of our gut microbiome, and focus particularly on the so-called gut-microbiota-brain axis and its potential consequences for neurological conditions.  I will also introduce some of our research team’s ongoing work on autism spectrum disorder and the gut microbiome.

The Infinite Game: How to Live Well Together

10:00 – 11:00am
Dr Niki Harre
Faculty of Science – Psychology

Imagine if life was a game, an infinite game in which we continually changed the rules to keep our deepest values in play and ensure that everyone could take part. In this session, Associate Professor Niki Harré will first discuss what people value most deeply by presenting data from a study with 1,085 New Zealand adults. She will then discuss how we can keep these values alive by creating cooperative, innovative and responsive social structures. What kind of world would you like to live in? What kind of player would you like to be? This session raises fundamental questions about how to live well together on the planet that we share.

Mobility from stone tools: how do archaeologists learn about hunter-gatherer movement?

11:30 – 12:30pm
Professor Simon Holdaway
Faculty of Arts – Social Science

Hunter-gatherers moved themselves often and over long distances particularly in more arid parts of the world. How do archaeologists use the material remains left by people in the past to learn about the way people moved in the past? In this session, Professor Simon Holdaway will explain how some simple geometric measures can be used to reconstruct the nature of past movement using the results of fieldwork he undertook in investigating archaeological sites created by Aboriginal people the semi-arid regions of western New South Wales, Australia.

What happens to our brains as we get older?

1:30 – 2:30pm
Dr Reece Roberts
Faculty of Science – Psychology

One of the constants—maybe the only constant—of being alive is the fact that we are always changing. This is true for our bodies, our brains, and our minds. In this session, Dr Reece Roberts will discuss some of the ways in which neuroimaging methods have helped shed light on how our brains’ structure and function change as we get older, and how this impacts how we think.

The University of Auckland City Campus

All lectures will be held at the City Campus in the University of Auckland’s General Library lecture theatres.

Comments from past participants

Winter Week is an experience not to be missed. New ways of thinking, new ideas being kept up to date with new research is enlightening and rejuvenating. Totally recommended.

Winter Week is a good breath of fresh air – excellent lectures, good company, lively discussions. Winter Week gives one the opportunity to learn about subjects one has never previously explored.

The Winter Week on Campus is a great way to spend a week for young or older participants. There are interesting people you meet in and out of the lectures. High quality of lectures, the majority of whom had excellent presentation skills.

Winter Week is something to look forward to each year where we not only learn but also appreciate the courses and enjoy each others company and the unique University atmosphere and grounds.