Reading Aotearoa New Zealand in the company of Lydia Wevers' work: A Life as a Reader: Honouring Lydia Wevers legacy at Victoria University

Reading Aotearoa New Zealand in the company of Lydia Wevers' work: A Life as a Reader: Honouring Lydia Wevers legacy at Victoria University


MCLT 103 Kelburn Campus and Online

This seminar is part of the Seminar Series: Reading Aotearoa New Zealand in the company of Lydia Wevers' Work.

This festive afternoon event will have Lydia’s life-long friend and fellow Oxford graduate Professor Witi Ihimaera as a guest speaker. He will speak about his life as a reader and writer and share memories of Lydia and their life as students, later as university teachers, researchers, and writers. Other speakers will offer short contributions remembering Lydia’s legacy on our campus: as a lecturer of students, as a fellow teacher and researcher, a colleague, and a public academic.

Reading: Lydia Wevers: Striding both worlds: Witi Ihimaera and New Zealand's literary traditions

Wevers, Lydia. ISSN: 1744-9855; EISSN: 1744-9863; DOI: 10.1080/17449855.2012.718512

Chair: Professor Rawinia Higgins, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Māori), Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Panel: Professor Witi Ihimaera, author and Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington's Professor Jennifer Windsor, Acting Vice-Chancellor; Hon Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika); Sarah Leggott, Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences & Education; Simon Keller, Professor in Philosophy; and David O'Donnell, Professor in Theatre.


About the speakers

Witi Ihimaera (Te Āitanga a Māhaki), DCNZM QSM. He was the first Māori writer to publish a collection of short stories, with Pounamu, Pounamu (1972), and the first to publish a novel, with Tangi (1973). He is an influential figure in New Zealand literature, and over his long career has won numerous awards and fellowships, including multiple awards for both fiction and non-fiction at the New Zealand Book Awards spanning the period 1973 to 2016 and the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in 2017. Until 2010 he was the Professor of English and Distinguished Creative Fellow in Māori Literature at the University of Auckland. He has since published two volumes of his memoirs: Māori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood (2014) and Native Son: The Writer's Memoir (2019). In 2004 Witi was awarded a LitD Honoris Causa from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Jennifer Windsor has been Kaiwhakakapi Tumu Whakarae—Acting Vice-Chancellor since March 2022. She was previously Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Wellington Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Wellington Faculty of Education, a role she held since January 2015. Professor Windsor was previously at the University of Minnesota in the United States where she held various strategic leadership roles, including leading undergraduate education and student services in the College of Liberal Arts and being a member of university governance. Professor Windsor’s scholarship focuses on language acquisition and she has published extensively on the cognitive and environmental factors influencing children’s language. She serves on several advisory boards and trusts.

The Hon Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban is currently the Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington and is a respected leader in the local Pasifika community.  She has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Mana Electorate and was the Labour Party's spokesperson for Pacific Island Affairs.

Sarah Leggott has been Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Wellington Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Wellington Faculty of Education since March 2022. As the Acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor, she has responsibility for the overall leadership of the two faculties. Professor Leggott joined Victoria University of Wellington in 1998 as the University’s first Lecturer in Spanish; she has held various leadership roles at the University, most recently as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. As a Professor of Spanish, her research expertise is in the field of Spanish literary and cultural studies, and she has published extensively on works by women writers related to the Spanish Civil War, Franco dictatorship, and Spain’s transition to democracy.

Simon Keller is a Professor in Philosophy at the University. He has published extensively in ethics, political philosophy, metaphysics, the history of philosophy, and the philosophy of mental health and disorder. He is the author of The Limits of Loyalty and Partiality, and a co-author of The Ethics of Patriotism: A Debate.

Professor Rawinia Higgins Professor Rawinia Higgins (Tūhoe) is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.  Previous to this, she was the Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Māori Research) and Head of School for Te Kawa a Māui / School of Māori Studies.  She is also a member of the Waitangi Tribunal, a number of Government Advisory Boards, and the current Chairperson and Commissioner of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori—The Māori Language Commission.

David O'Donnell, Professor, SEFTMS Victoria University.  David is a graduate of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Otago. I have worked in New Zealand theatre as a director, actor and dramaturg for 40 years.

About the series

Join us in honouring the legacy and work of Emerita Professor Lydia Wevers.

Professor Wevers was an internationally renowned literary historian and critic, teacher, writer, and scholar who specialised in New Zealand studies.

This series addresses themes and activities in New Zealand research that were central to Professor Lydia Wevers' work, especially during her time as director of the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies. ‘Reading’ New Zealand through the lens of writers, columnists, journalists, librarians, booksellers, and academics colleagues will explore our understanding of our country through the lens of reading and writing.

Each afternoon will start with a short reflection on Lydia Wevers’ reading of the chosen theme. The panellists will then take this theme in new directions.

By ‘reading’ Aotearoa New Zealand, we deepen our relationship with our unique country; by discussing it together we seek to open it up to new ways of listening. Every panel session will end with Q&A.

If you have further questions, please contact: or

Date: Every Wednesday from 27 April–8 June

Time: 4.30pm–6pm (except 25 May seminar—5.00pm–6.30pm)

Where: Maclaurin Lecture Theatre 103, Kelburn Campus and Online


Other seminars in this series

27 April: The Infrastructure of Reading

4 May: Cultures of Reading

11 May: Writing and Reading for/in Public

18 May: Women 'readings' of Aotearoa New Zealand

25 May: Reading the Short Story

1 June: Being Pākehā

You are welcome to attend any number of seminars, please ensure you click only the ones you want to attend as spaces are limited: Register