Reminder – Secular NZ and Australia

Coming up next Saturday – the Humanist Society of New Zealand, the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists, and the Australian National Secular Association are sponsoring a  conference on:

New Zealand and Australia’s

Secular Heritage and its future.

0845 am – 5 pm Saturday 30 August 2008

Lecture Theatre 2, Rutherford House,
Pipitea Campus, Victoria university of Wellington

(Rutherford House is adjacent to the Wellington Railway Station. The entrance is from Bunny Street.)

Speakers  will discuss:

  • Is New Zealand a Christian Nation?
  • Do we have a state religion?
  • What is the relationship between the state and religion?
  • Does the State need religion?
  • What is the history of the secular state in New Zealand and Australia?
  • What is the present position and what of the future?
  • Why is secularism important?

The programme

BILL HASTINGS: Opening Speech

NICKY HAGER: The influence of fundamentalist religious groups on New Zealand politics.

BILL COOKE: Is New Zealand a “Christian Nation”?

MAX WALLACE: Clericalism in New Zealand

IAIN MIDDLETON: New Zealand’s Secular Education

LLOYD GEERING: New Zealand’s contribution to a secular global world

LEWIS HOLDEN: Secularism and New Zealand republicanism

A moderated panel discussion will follow

The Speakers

Bill Hastings, a practicing barrister, is New Zealand’s tenth chief censor. Appointed deputy chief censor in 1998 he was appointed chief censor in 1999. He holds an arts degree from Toronto, a LLB from Osgoode Hall, and LLM from the London School of Economics. He was formerly a Senior Lecturer, teaching Legal System and International Law, Deputy Dean of Law, and a member of the university governing Council of Victoria University of Wellington, and is now an Adjunct Lecturer teaching Censorship and Freedom of Expression.

Lloyd Geering ONZ, PCNZM, CBE is Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Born in Rangiora in 1918, he was educated in Otago and holds a Masters degree in Mathematics and an Honours degree in Old Testament Language and Literature. Ordained as a Presbyterian minister, he served in Kurow, Dunedin, and Wellington, before beginning theological teaching in 1956. He held Chairs of Old Testament Studies at theological colleges in Brisbane and Dunedin before being appointed as the foundation Professor of Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, retiring in 1984. The University of Otago awarded him an Honorary D.D. in 1976 and he received a C.B.E. in the 1987 New Year Honours, PCNZM in 2001 and ONZ in 2007.

Since 1983, he has presented a series of lunch-hour lectures on ethics, religion, and culture at St. Andrews-on-the-Terrace. Many of these have been published and broadcast on Radio NZ. His major publications include God in the New World 1968, Resurrection – a Symbol of Hope 1971, Faith’s New Age, 1980, In the World Today, 1988, Tomorrow’s God: How we Create our Worlds, 1994, The World to Come: From Christian Past to Global Future 1999, Christianity without God 2002, The Greening of Christianity 2005, Wrestling with God 2006.

Helen Irving is Associate Professor of Law at the University of Sydney. In 2006 she was Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School where she held the Harvard Chair of Australia Studies. She is the author of many works on constitutional law including Five Things To Know About The Australian Constitution, Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Bill Cooke is Senior Lecturer at the School of Visual Arts, University of Auckland at Manukau. He has a PhD in Religious Studies from Victoria University of Wellington on the subject of the history and ideas of Rationalism and Humanism in New Zealand. He is a Senior Editor of Free Inquiry, the bi-monthly magazine of the Council for Secular Humanism and a former Editor-in-Chief of The Open Society, the journal of the NZARH where he has also held the positions of president and vice president. His works include Heathen in Godzone: Seventy Years of Rationalism in New Zealand, 1998; A Rebel to His Last Breath: Joseph McCabe and Rationalism 2001; and A Dictionary of Atheism, Skepticism and Humanism, 2005.

Max Wallace BA, M.Soc.Sc (Hons), PhD, is Director of the Australian National Secular Association. His book, The Purple Economy, Supernatural Charities, Tax and the State, was published in December 2007.

Iain Middleton is the Vice President and a former president of the Humanist Society of New Zealand. A graduate of Canterbury University, he is editor of New Zealand Humanist, and New Zealand Humanist News and has written articles on a wide range of subjects. His articles include: Secular Education, Astronomy, Freewill and Determinism, The Human Brain, The Mead Freeman Controversy, The Value of Life, Human Evolution and Modern Birth Technologies, Gene Therapy, Stem Cell Research, Modern Humanism, and Applying Humanism, Same Sex Couples and the Law, Ethical Decision Making, World Population, The Origins of Violence, The Origins of Terrorism, and the Histories of Afghanistan and Tibet.

Nicky Hager has degrees in physics and philosophy. An author and investigative journalist he generally writes about issues involving environmental issues, intelligence networks, and politics. His works include, Secret Power 1996, Secrets and Lies 1999, Seeds of Distrust 2002, and The Hollow Men 2006.

Lewis Holden is Chair of the Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand. Involved with the Republican Movement since early 2004 he was elected to the National Council that year and became the President (since renamed Chair) at the end of 2006. Lewis developed his own detailed republican blog, The Holden Republic, which was discontinued in 2008. Lewis is a recent graduate, working in the IT industry.


Write to the Humanist Society of New Zealand (Inc), Box 3372 Wellington, with details including the number attending, contact details, and enclosing a cheque for the appropriate amount: $20 Waged $10 Unwaged.

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One response to “Reminder – Secular NZ and Australia

  1. Hmm…. sounds good. I might go.


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