Category Archives: Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture

Claire Charters to deliver 2022 Jesson lecture

A senior legal expert is calling for a fundamental rethink of New Zealand’s constitution in the light of the “illegitimacy” of the British Crown’s claim to sovereignty over this country.

Associate Professor Claire Charters chaired the working group that produced the 2019 report He Puapua on possible strategies to implement Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

She will give this year’s Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture on Tuesday 18 October on the topic: “Legal Myth-takes and the Crown’s claim to sovereignty over Aotearoa/New Zealand: What are the implications for New Zealand’s constitution today?”

She will critically examine various legal narratives that attempt to explain, or refute, the Crown’s claim to sovereignty over Aotearoa/New Zealand under tikanga Māori, British and international law.

Exposing the conflicts between these narratives and the legal myths on which many of them rely, she will then consider their implications for New Zealand’s constitution today.

She will argue that redressing the basic illegality and illegitimacy of the Crown’s historical claim to sovereignty might require a fundamental rethinking of New Zealand’s constitution, and will offer some ideas inspired by international law and comparative constitutions.

Claire Charters is director of the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law in the law school at the University of Auckland and is a Royal Society of New Zealand Discovery Fellow (2019-24) investigating constitutional transformation to realise Māori aspirations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, drawing on lessons from around the globe including North and South America, the Pacific, Asia, Africa and northern Europe.

She has links to Ngāti Whakaue, Tūwharetoa, Ngā Puhi and Tainui and grew up in Rotorua, attending Rotorua Girls’ High School.

She has degrees from Otago, New York and Cambridge Universities and wrote her doctoral thesis at Cambridge on the legitimacy of indigenous peoples’ norms under international law.

From 2010 to 2013 she worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She was an adviser to the president of the United Nations General Assembly in 2016-17 and served as a trustee on the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples from 2014 to 2020.

The Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture has been delivered annually since the year 2000 in memory of the journalist and politician Bruce Jesson (1944-1999), whose books published over several decades analysed the capture of wealth and power in New Zealand by a small elite.

Claire Charters will deliver her lecture in the Old Government House lecture theatre on the main Princes St campus of the University of Auckland at 6pm on Tuesday 18 October. The event is free and open to the public.

You can register here.

Sinead Boucher to deliver 2020 Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture

Sinead Boucher, the journalist who bought Stuff, New Zealand’s biggest media company1, for $1 will deliver this year’s Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture.

Quality journalism has long sat at the heart of the democratic process – with a commitment to uncover the facts, and hold the powerful to account. Yet in a society increasingly plagued by misinformation and conspiracy theories, public trust in news organisations is under threat like never before.

In the wake of the US and NZ elections, this lecture will explore the importance of public trust in journalism. What can news organisations be doing to rebuild public trust? Is it possible in a world where social media platforms continue to grow, unchecked, fuelling greater division and social unrest? And, as the media landscape continues to undergo rapid and significant change, what learnings can the Stuff experience offer for those seeking to build a sustainable future for journalism, and find innovative ways to fund it?

Sinead Boucher was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Stuff in August 2017 and in 2020 completed a management buyout from Nine Entertainment Ltd, famously for a dollar. Prior to becoming CEO, Sinead was NZ Group Executive Editor for four years, responsible for NZ’s largest newsroom, a stable of newspapers and magazines, and the Stuff website. She started her career as a reporter for The Press in Christchurch and was a journalist at the Financial Times and Reuters in London before returning to New Zealand, where she became Stuff’s first digital editor. Under her watch, Stuff has grown to record audience numbers driven by the organisation’s reputation for award-winning journalism.

She will deliver the 2020 Bruce Jesson Lecture in Lecture Theatre B10, General Library Basement (Building 109), 5 Alfred Street, Auckland, at 6pm on Tuesday 1st December.

You can register here

The lecture is free and open to all, but registration is encouraged. A collection will be taken to sustain the Bruce Jesson Foundation.

1 2019 AUT NZ Media Ownership Report, p25

‘What institutional reform befits the era of the long climate crisis’ – Russel Norman’s 2019 Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture

University of Auckland, October 22, 2019


It is a real privilege to present this years Bruce Jesson memorial lecture.
I was lucky enough to meet Bruce and Joce Jesson when I was studying the Alliance as a postgraduate student. Bruce and Joce literally opened their home to me and provided me with a vast treasure trove of information about the Alliance and the history of progressive politics in New Zealand. And coming as I was from Australia it was an invaluable insiders’ perspective. In addition Bruce’s books and many articles over the years provided not only an important historical record but a theoretical conversation which is often lacking.

Continue reading ‘What institutional reform befits the era of the long climate crisis’ – Russel Norman’s 2019 Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture

Greenpeace leader: What we really need to cut emissions

The former Green Party co-leader, who labelled his successor James Shaw’s Zero Carbon Bill as “toothless” when it was released in May, has titled his lecture: “Will the Zero Carbon Act really cut emissions? What institutional change does a climate emergency demand?”

Greenpeace NZ executive director Russel Norman will outline what is really needed to cut carbon emissions when he gives this year’s Bruce Jesson Lecture on October 22.

The lecture comes after a dramatic week at the United Nations where 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg told world leaders: “How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just business as usual and some technical solutions?”

Continue reading Greenpeace leader: What we really need to cut emissions

‘Housing crisis – A Smoking Gun with no Silver Bullet’ – Bernie Smith’s 2018 Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture

This housing crisis is not a central or local government issue to resolve in isolation, this crisis has been in the making for many years and it’s now going to take many years of courageous and creative solutions backed by strategic planning and financial backing.

Bernie Smith, CEO of the Monte Cecilia Housing Trust, canvassed the situation in the 2018 Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture and argued that we can do much more.

Click on the picture below to see a video of Bernie’s talk. The accompanying text and slides can be found here.

Frontline housing worker to give 2018 Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture

Frontline social housing worker Bernie Smith will examine how to restore secure housing for all New Zealanders in this year’s Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture on October 23.

You can register here

Smith, the chief executive of Māngere-based Monte Cecilia Housing Trust, will argue that the Labour-led government is not doing enough to meet the housing needs of low-income families, and seems to be putting all its efforts into KiwiBuild houses that will cost up to $650,000 each.

“Why does the government believe it can solve the housing crisis by itself using the KiwiBuild programme, instead of proactively and creatively working with community housing providers to reduce the increasing gap between homelessness and home ownership?” Smith will ask.

“The government position is creating further poverty and a greater sense of hopelessness among New Zealand families, who only seek a warm, dry, affordable, long-term, sustainable rental home in which to raise their children.”

​​In an address titled “Housing crisis: A smoking gun with no silver bullet”, Smith will say that New Zealanders were initially excited by the new Labour-led government’s plans to tackle the crisis.

“But all we’ve ended up with is KiwiBuild,” he says.

“There is no silver bullet to solve the housing crisis, but this talk considers how together we might build strong healthy and safe communities and provide creative housing solutions for our people.

“Every man, women and child, once housed in a secure, warm, safe, affordable and sustainable home, can then stand tall in their culture, faith and gender, and only at that point can their dreams and aspirations begin to transpire and they become self-sufficient.”

With over 40 years in social services in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Australia, Smith has extensive experience of child protection and foster care, disabilities, seniors and now homelessness and poverty.

On returning to New Zealand in 2016, he was shocked to find that in South Auckland there were 100,000 people living in overcrowded and substandard housing, and appalled to see his own people living in garages, parks, cars and lodges.

He will deliver the 2018 Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture in the Old Government House Lecture Theatre (102-G36) at the University of Auckland at 6pm on Tuesday 23 October.

About Monte Cecilia Housing Trust

Monte Cecilia Housing Trust was one of the first charities established to respond to the new phenomenon of homelessness in New Zealand in the 1980s. It was established by four other Catholic charities in 1982 and initially provided emergency housing in what is now called the Pah Homestead in Hillsborough Rd. The Church sold the Hillsborough site and moved the housing service to Māngere in 1982.

The trust now provides emergency housing for 40 families in South Auckland, 80 plus social housing in South & West Auckland, and provides social work support to homeless families in the Western Park motor camp at Rānui.

Wraparound services provided by Monte to support homeless families include: financial literacy, parenting programmes, household management, cooking classes, family goal setting and job seeking.

About the Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture

The annual Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture was established by the Bruce Jesson Foundation in 2000 to honour the journalist and politician Bruce Jesson, who died in 1999.

Jesson wrote and edited some of the most original, important and challenging journalism in New Zealand in The Republican, which he published on a hand-to-mouth basis from 1974 to 1995, as a columnist for Metro magazine, and in a series of books including The Fletcher Challenge: Wealth and Power in New Zealand (1980), Behind the Mirror Glass: The Growth of Wealth and Power in New Zealand in the Eighties (1987) andOnly Their Purpose is Mad: The Money Men Take Over New Zealand (1999).

He was elected to the Auckland Regional Council as an Alliance candidate in 1991 and chaired the Auckland Regional Services Trust from 1992 to 1995, keeping key assets such as the Auckland port in public ownership in the face of massive pressure by the National Government of the time to privatise them. He was also a research fellow in the Political Science Department at the University of Auckland, which co-sponsors the Jesson Lecture.

Past Bruce Jesson Lectures have been delivered by: David Lange (2000), Brian Easton (2001), Chris Trotter (2002), Jane Kelsey (2003), Ani Mikaere (2004), Colin James (2005), Gordon Campbell (2006), Laila Harre (2007), Mike Lee (2008), Robert Wade (2009), Annette Sykes (2010), Paul Dalziel (2011), Nicky Hager (2012), Ted Thomas (2013), Mike Joy (2014), Rod Oram (2015), Lisa Marriott (2016) and Tāmati Kruger (2017).