Politics of Scandal

August 28, 2014

University of Otago politics specialist and election commentator Bryce Edwards informed an audience of around 80 people regarding scandal in the New Zealand election process, in Queenstown’s first University of Otago Winter Series lecture.

Bryce covered political campaigns over the last 30 years, giving multi media examples of scandals past and present.

He concluded that there appear to be more scandals broadcast in the media this election than previously. However, he said, this is not necessarily a bad thing as exposing scandals is a means of controlling poor behavior by politicians.

The audience asked numerous excellent questions, including a poser on whether corruption and dirty politics extends into local body politics.

A particularly interesting plot provided by Bryce showed that all our political parties are right of center … is that why it is so hard to pick between the parties in this election?


August 26-27, 2014



University of Otago’s Brain Health Research Centre brought its huge inflatable megabrain to Queenstown for two days to show more than 700 students aged five to 18 from throughout the Wakatipu how the brain works, in collaboration with Catalyst Trust.

Students entered the 4 by 3 by 3metre brain through the frontal lobe and exited through the cerebellum.

En route, they learned the functions of each part and what healthy and diseased or injured brain tissue looked like.

P1020672From BHRC educator Irene Mosely, they also learned that the brain uses about 20% of your body’s oxygen, is about 75% water and generates 25 watts of power while you’re awake – enough to illuminate a light bulb.

It also knows when you tickle yourself…which is why you don’t bend over laughing in response.

Questions flowed throughout the two days of showing, with students travelling from as far as Arrowtown and Glenorchy to enjoy the opportunity.

Latest Research Advances in Cancer, Diabetes and Brain Disease

25 August, 2014

BrainTwo of the 800 leading scientists in town for Queenstown Research Week, Professors Richard Faull and Peter Shepherd, shared insights on key advances in cancer, diabetes and brain disease with a 70-strong audience.

Prof Faull explained researchers had now found that the adult brain could create new cells and therefore repair itself to an extent, like other organs. Animal studies suggest that enhanced and stimulating environments and physical exercise result in increased numbers of new brain cells being produced, as does creative thinking. Another case of “use it or lose it,” he said.

What Makes a New Zealander?

From Africa to Aotearoa

13 August, 2014

2About 65,000 years ago modern humans started expanding across the globe. The final landmass settled by humans was Aotearoa/New Zealand, just 750 years ago.

While Maori were the first to arrive, they were joined by later migrants, primarily from Europe, Asia and the Pacific Islands.

But Allan Wilson Centre’s Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith related how her research into DNA ancestry trails reveals we can all, ultimately, trace our origins back to Africa.

She described the implications of the first year of her genetic diversity study in terms of understanding New Zealand’s settlement history. Fifty of the 80-plus audience were then offered the opportunity to help Prof Matisoo-Smith with her study, having a simple cheek swab to provide genetic material to be analysed for genetic heritage tracing direct ancestry on the maternal (mtDNA) and paternal (Y chromosome) lineages.

For more information on the Africa to Aotearoa project see: http://www.africatoaotearoa.otago.ac.nz/
For the Allan Wilson Centre: http://www.allanwilsoncentre.ac.nz/
and for National Geographic’s Genographic project: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/


Born in Vietnam: Made in New Zealand

MitchellPham11 August 2014
Vietnamese Kiwi business and social entrepreneur Mitchell Pham arrived in New Zealand as a refugee at age 13. He shared the story of his journey, the adversities that he faced and overcame, and what shaped and continues to drive his entrepreneurial spirit and passion for innovation as well as to make a difference. Mitchell addressed how his software business has continuously transformed over the last 21 years, in order to stay relevant in an ever-changing environment, and shared his view of opportunities for Southland and Central Otago businesses and innovators. He also highlighted the necessity of values as a basis for business as well as life. Brought to Queenstown by Innov8, of Invercargill

Mitchell’s presentation can be seen by clicking here