Winter Lectures 2016

Our annual Winter Lectures were held from 19 July to the 23 August 2016 at the General Library on the City Campus. This series of six lectures where held on consectutive Tuesdays.

Four of the lectures were recorded, and the audio is available below.

Winter Lectures 2016 - Whales and us: the past, present and future.

Whales and us: The past, present and future

New Zealand has a long history with whales. Whalers played a crucial role in our colonial history and we had a thriving whaling industry for many years until stocks were decimated.

Today whales have taken on new importance for Māori and Pakeha New Zealanders as cultural symbols and generators of tourist revenue. Pacific nations have declared 2016 the "Pacific Year of the Whale". We think this is an excellent opportunity for an interdisciplinary consideration of the extraordinary, difficult, bloody, and political relationship between humans and whales throughout New Zealand’s history and looking into its future. 

Our Winter Lecture Series brings together scholars from the University of Auckland and elsewhere in New Zealand from a variety of disciplines and professions. They'll identify key points of conflict and convergence in cetacean and human histories. They'll look at the ways humans have used whales as devices of profit and imagination, the exciting new trends in scientific understandings of whales, and the future of both our species. 


Dr Ryan Tucker Jones

The deep history of whales and humans in the Pacific

From Polynesian voyaging to Greenpeace, whale and human lives have long intertwined in the Pacific.  Whaling was the foundation of colonial economies in New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere. Whales connected Australasia to the   Antarctic in the age of industrial whaling, and anti-whaling politics came to define the region in the late twentieth century.  But there is another side to this story as well - whales themselves have changed substantially over the course of their interaction with humans.  Dr Ryan Tucker Jones will present the history of the Pacific as told through this very special relationship between these two species of large-brained mammals.

No audio available.

Dr Rochelle Constantine

Our whales today

New Zealand always had an abundance of whales but this changed dramatically with the development of commercial whaling. The Pacific voyagers’ stories are entwined with whale movements from the days of abundance. Dr Rochelle Constantine will talk about how our whales are doing post-whaling and how science is helping us chart their recovery through the use of research tools such as genetics, spatial mapping, behaviour and abundance estimates.

No audio available.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer

The unusual relationship between whales and humans

The unusual relationship between whales and humans: how whaling went from being a major industry to a leading environmental issue. New Zealand has a long legal involvement in managing whales and whaling. As a whaling nation we helped develop the International Whaling Commission (IWC), an agency that in a short timeframe has had many challenges. Sir Geoffrey Palmer will talk about the development of the whaling industry, particularly in New Zealand, and the history of the IWC and the terrific struggles there. He will discuss the International Court of Justice decision about the Japanese whaling programme in Antarctica and what it means for the IWC in the future.

Listen to lecture:

Winter Lecture 3
Download audio file of Sir Geoffrey Palmer's lecture. (43.6 MB, MPEG)

Olive Andrews

From whaling to whale watching

How did global opinion on the use of whales switch from one dominated in the 1960s by killing whales, to one in which whales became icons of conservation?  In this lecture, Olive Andrews will examine the changing cultural values, political rhetoric, and management strategies for whales and how they came to be worth more alive than dead. For a generation of New Zealand whalers; watching whales is now their passion.

Listen to lecture:

Winter Lecture 4
Download audio file of Olive Andrews lecture. (43.7 MB, MPEG)

Professor C. Scott Baker

Winter Lecture Five - From ‘The Cove’ to the market

Illegal, unregulated or unreported exploitation, including directed hunting and the sale of fisheries 'bycatch', is an ongoing threat to populations of whales and dolphins in several regions of the world. The technology of molecular genetics and genomics now provides powerful tools for the detection of this exploitation and tracking of these species in trade. Prof. Scott Baker will discuss what we have learned about exploitation of these species from the DNA identification of 'whalemeat' sold in markets of Japan and Korea and from traditional hunting in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati. These methods are now being used more widely in the control of illegal trade in both wildlife and fisheries around the world.

Listen to lecture:

Winter Lecture 5
Download audio file of Professor C. Scott Baker's lecture. (43.7 MB, MPEG)

Sue Taei

Pacific Voices: Humans and Whales

Whales have long brought New Zealanders into contact with the rest of the Pacific.  In this talk, Sue Taei will describe these relationships from the 17th century to today, and discuss a range of scenarios for the choices humans face today in deciding their relationship with whales in the coming centuries. These lessons are also applicable to other ocean resources, such as sharks and tuna, which could be seen as the “new whales.”  Will humans have learnt from their difficult relationship with the Pacific’s whales to craft a better ocean management strategy for the future?

Listen to lecture:

Winter Lecture 6
Download audio file of Sue Taei's lecture. (43.6 MB, MPEG)