Guest speakers and presentations

Common Ground 2018 Conference – Register here


Martin Manning

One Earth, One Future, One People

For more than two hundred years, growth has been the dominant driver for society, whether it is in human population, food production, energy use, or technological development. But this has come with widespread and structural changes to the environment that we are dependent on in areas such as biodiversity, water quality and availability, as well as climate change. Scientists specialise in questions like: can re-engineering of DNA bring back species such as the mammoth? what is the best way of removing salt from seawater? will the ozone layer recover to what is was fifty years ago? or how predictable is sea level fifty years from now? But generally, we postpone or avoid the more serious ones like: when should we open up New Zealand to Pacific islanders whose homes are going underwater? or, if the Syrian war was triggered by climate change causing a drought worse than any it had seen for over 900 years, how much responsibility do I bear for that?

Development of a broader social response to major changes in our world is becoming recognised as a key issue. Plastic pollution in rivers and oceans has hit the headlines and there is now a growing response, but could this problem have been totally avoided? Dis-investment from the fossil fuel industry is also growing, but the rate of uptake of renewable energy is still too slow to keep global warming below 2°C. Religious groups have a long history of caring for the poor, and this has expanded to cover our increasing number of global refugees, but will there be some limit to what can be managed that way? How do we achieve a broader social involvement?

Dealing with all these problems, their inter-connections with each other, and sometimes having to learn the hard way, is going to involve a continuing myriad of different approaches. We are inadequately prepared for such new responsibilities, but Teilhard de Chardin argued that a rise in our consciousness can drive a deeper form of human evolution with more collective responses across society. My over-simplified version of this is: we need to start loving all of our neighbours more than ourselves.

About Martin:

Professor Martin Manning has worked across several areas of science from theoretical physics to climate change. From 2002 to 2007, he was on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change senior management team that produced the Fourth Assessment Report for governments and won the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. He has been author of more than sixty peer reviewed papers and reports as well as more than twenty chapters in books on climate change. As inaugural Director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University of Wellington, he led an interdisciplinary study on New Zealand’s capacity to adapt to climate change and is now working with iwi land owners on adapting to sea level rise. Martin has also remained a practising Catholic through all of this.

Emily Colgan

A Place to Call Home?
Reading the Bible from the Perspective of Earth

In a renowned article published in 1967, Lynn White Jr. compellingly argued that Christianity is ‘the most anthropocentric religion the world has ever seen’, and ‘bears a huge burden of guilt for the kind of behaviour in the world that has been so ecologically disastrous.’ The ecological crisis, he argued, is a religious crisis. But he didn’t stop there. ‘Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious,’ he went on, ‘the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not.’ As you might imagine, White’s article proved to be provocative, particularly in the area of Biblical Studies.

Taking White’s argument as a starting point, my presentation will outline a process for reading the Bible in the context of global ecological degradation. I will ask how the ancient biblical texts fare from an ecological perspective and will explore the role these texts might play in shaping contemporary narratives concerning the relationship between human and other-than-human.

About Emily

Dr Emily Colgan is Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Trinity Methodist Theological College. Her research focuses on the relationship between the Bible and contemporary social imaginaries, asking about the degree to which the ideologies contained within biblical texts continue to inform communities in the present. Emily is particularly interested in ecological representations in the Bible, as well as depictions of gender and violence.

Her most recent publication is a multi-volume work, which she co-edited with Caroline Blyth and Katie Edwards entitled Rape Culture, Gender Violence, and Religion (Palgrave, 2018).

She is currently working on an ecological commentary of the Book of Jeremiah for the Earth Bible Commentary series (Bloomsbury T&T Clark). Emily has written chapters in Sexuality, Ideology and the Bible: Antipodean Engagements (Sheffield Phoenix, 2015), The Nature of Things: Rediscovering the Spiritual in God’s Creation (Wipf and Stock, 2016), The Bible and Art: Perspectives from Oceania (Bloomsbury, 2017), and The Oxford Handbook on Bible and Ecology (Oxford University, forthcoming).

Matt Matamua

Wellbeing of Tangata Whenua

Māori view all things created in Heaven and on Earth as ordered and understood by whakapapa and relationships which continually shape and inform our future. Within that view we will examine the three social groupings in Māori Society past and present, and what messages or learnings that will help inform solutions on wellbeing for tangata whenua moving into the future.

About Matt

Matt Matamua has long association with the intellectual disability sector. He has a psychopaedic nursing background and worked for many years at Kimberley Centre – a residential care facility for people with an intellectual disability. He also worked for NZCare Group as a residential clinical manager and for Healthcare of New Zealand as Māori Health Manager. Matt is currently a member of the Te Ao Marama Disability Advisory Group Māori (MOH) Ministry of Health, and Māori Advisor and kaumātua for Careerforce (ITO) Industry Training Organisation.

Matt’s Iwi is Tuhoe ki Waikaremoana with an affiliation to Muaūpoko ki Kawiu Marae Levin Horowhenua. Matt has over many years been involved in a number of organisations in Horowhenua and Manawatū with a focus on improving Māori Health. He is Muaūpoko representative on Manawhenua Iwi collective and advisory group to MidCentral District Health Board. Matt lives in Levin and commutes to Wellington three days a week. Sundays he and his wife the Reverend Heather Matamua attend church services at Te Kakano O Te Aroha Marae in Moera where Matt is also a trustee.

Hon Grant Robertson

Minister of Finance, Minister for Sport and Recreation
Associate Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage
MP for Wellington Central

Grant Robertson was born in Palmerston North and lived in Hastings before his family settled in Dunedin.

He studied politics at Otago, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in 1995. His involvement in the campaign against user-pays education led him to become President of the Otago University Students Association and, later, Co-President of the New Zealand University Students Association.

Grant joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1997 where he managed the New Zealand Overseas Aid Programme to Samoa. He was also posted to the United Nations in New York, working on environment and development issues.

On his return to New Zealand he became an advisor to then-Minister of Environment Marian Hobbs and then to former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Grant’s belief in social justice and a desire to see every New Zealander able to achieve their potential led him to politics, and he has been the Member of Parliament for Wellington Central since November 2008.

In Opposition, his Labour spokesperson roles included Finance, Employment, Skills & Training, Economic Development, Tertiary Education, State Services, Health, and Arts, Culture & Heritage.

After the 2017 election, Grant was appointed Minister of Finance, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Association Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

He met his partner Alf in 1998 playing rugby and their family now includes several grandchildren. In 2009 they were joined in a civil union.

Grant will speak about the triple bottom line: people, environment and economy.

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