‘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

Entries close soon for Jesson journalism awards

Entries for this year’s Bruce Jesson Journalism Awards will close on 31 October 2019.

The awards include a senior award paying up-front costs of up to $4000 for a planned work of “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”.

There is also an award of up to $1000 for published work by a New Zealand journalism student nominated by a journalism progrannme leader. This work must also be “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”.

Full criteria and details on how to apply are available on the Bruce Jesson Foundation website www.brucejesson.com.


Simon Collins, acting chair: 021 901 036, ehlarandsimon@gmail.com

Dr Geoff Kemp, trustee: 021 445 721, g.kemp@auckland.ac.nz

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

Levin journalist wins 2018 Bruce Jesson journalism award

Levin journalist Aaron Smale has won this year’s Bruce Jesson journalism award to fund research into abuse of patients at the former Lake Alice mental hospital near Marton.
Smale, a freelance journalist whose previous work on abuse at Lake Alice helped to put the wider issue of abuse of people in state care on the public agenda, receives a $4000 grant to fund further work on the issue.
The annual grant was established to honour journalist and politician Bruce Jesson,  who died in 1999. It funds “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”.
Bruce Jesson Foundation acting chair Simon Collins says Aaron Smale’s work, done mostly without secure employment but with a passionate commitment to social justice, is “exactly the sort of work that the Jesson Foundation exists to support”.
“This work would not be done without an independent source of funding for public-interest journalism,” he says.
“We are very grateful to everyone who has donated to the foundation over the past 18 years so that we can contribute in a small way towards funding Aaron’s important work.”
The foundation has given this year’s Emerging Journalist Award of $1000 for published work by a student journalist to Wellington journalist Meriana Johnsen for a story published in the Sunday Star-Times on police handling of suicide calls, written while she was a journalism student at Massey University.
Two other Massey students have been awarded special $500 highly commended awards: Amber Allott, for an investigation into reptile trading published in NZ Geographic magazine, and Anna Whyte, for an in-depth story on revenge porn published on the TVNZ website.
The awards are being announced at the annual Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture, which is being delivered at Auckland University at 6pm tonight by Monte Cecilia Housing Trust chief executive Bernie Smith.

‘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).


Trust offers $4000 for critical journalism

The Bruce Jesson Foundation is offering up to $4000 this year to fund a piece of critical journalism that will contribute to serious public debate in an era of “fake news”.

The Foundation’s annual grants aim to fund “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”.

Acting chair Simon Collins said applications for this year’s grant are now open, and close on Friday 14 September.

“Unlike other journalism awards, ours aim to pay upfront for journalism that would not be done otherwise,” he said.

“We are willing to pay for travel and other research costs, and for the time someone will need to produce a piece of serious journalism which is not ‘fake news’.

“Social media and the internet have made it possible for anyone in the world to produce journalism that contributes to public debate, but most people need to earn a living and don’t have the time to produce journalism that will uncover new facts or to do the research necessary to present a new, in-depth perspective on an important issue.

“We are not looking just for paid, professional journalists, because they are already paid to produce well-researched journalism.

“Rather, we are looking especially for people like Bruce Jesson, who produced critical books and articles analysing NZ society from the margins, driven by his passion to understand the world and to change it.”

Previous grants have part-funded books on inequality, on New Zealand’s role in the US “war on terror”, and on the abdication of corporate and political responsibility that led to the deaths of 29 miners at Pike River.

They have helped to finance Jon Stephenson’s award-winning reporting from Iraq, a documentary on New Zealand’s climate change policies, investigative articles on rest homes, and a report on how the welfare system treats beneficiaries in domestic relationships.

The latest grants in 2015 supported a new documentary on New Zealand’s role in the US-led global surveillance network, and a report on the feasibility of the Auckland Council adopting the Living Wage.

No grants were awarded in 2016 or 2017, but the foundation is keen to find projects worth supporting this year. Applicants should submit an outline of their proposed project and explain how it meets the criteria set out on the Foundation website.

The foundation is also calling for nominations from tutors in NZ journalism courses for the $1000 Emerging Journalism Prize for “outstanding recent work by New Zealand print journalism students.”

Stories must have been published, in any form, between the closing date for last year’s awards, 29 September 2017, and this year’s closing date, 14 September 2018.

Last year’s award was won by a student at Massey University’s journalism course in Wellington, Baz Macdonald, for a story on how the benefit system’s rules have failed to keep up with the growing numbers of New Zealanders living in less formalised and more insecure relationships.

Applications and nominations can be submitted online through the Foundation website or to the Secretary, Bruce Jesson Foundation, c/- Politics & International Relations, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142.

Baz Macdonald wins the Bruce Jesson Emerging Journalism Award for investigative journalism for 2017

Baz won the Award for his story on how, with more New Zealanders entering into de facto relationships, the benefit system’s rules are struggling to keep up. This means some people may end being investigated for fraud.

The judges told Baz his article “was exactly the kind of critical, informed, analytical and creative writing – which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue – we want to foster.

“We hope this award may help in a small way to encourage you to keep on pursuing important public issues in your career in journalism.”

See here for more on the Award.