Seminar Series: Reading Aotearoa New Zealand in the company of Lydia Wevers' Work

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–5.30pm (except 25 May seminar—5.00pm–6.00pm)

Where: Maclaurin Lecture Theatre 103, Kelburn Campus and Online (

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

Below are the recordings of the Seminars:

Seminar 27 April

Seminar 4 May

Seminar 11 May

Seminar 18 May

Seminar 25 May


27 April: The Infrastructure of Reading

This seminar will reflect on Lydia Wevers’ beautiful memoir “On Reading”. The panel will discuss Lydia's commitment to the infrastructure of reading and investigate the current state of reading in Aotearoa New Zealand, the role libraries have to play in our society, and how reading can and should be fostered.

4 May: Cultures of Reading

While we often imagine reading as a solitary activity, many of us read as Lydia Wevers read: surrounded by family, community, and culture. Taking Lydia’s Reading on the Farm as a starting point, this panel will think about the cultures of reading that define us in Aotearoa, arising from our pasts, presents, and futures.

11 May: Writing and Reading for/in Public

Our panelists will share some of their memories of “Lydia moments’ in the media, discuss contemporary aspects of media work by writers, and delve into the relationships and future of media, academic engagement, and research.

18 May: Women 'readings' of Aotearoa New Zealand

This seminar will discuss what it means to be a woman writer in Aotearoa New Zealand but also about the pleasures of reading women’s New Zealand fiction. The panelists will discuss their own take on writing about, and in, Aotearoa New Zealand, reflecting on Lydia's reading tastes, their own reading tastes, and memories of their favorites writers growing up.

25 May: Reading the Short Story

Short stories can be windows into other worlds. Fictions brief enough to be consumed in one sitting but memorable enough to stay in the imagination for months or years afterward, the short story at its best can be a kind of hinge between the everyday world and the world of the imagination. Appearing in weekly magazines and newspapers as much as in book collections, short stories mingle productively. Lydia Wevers read, wrote about, and anthologised the New Zealand short story throughout her career. This panel takes Lydia’s work as a starting point to think about collecting and anthologising.

Please note that this seminar begins at 5pm.

1 June: Being Pākehā

Lydia Wevers' Being Pākehā: the politics of location interrogates what it means to be Pākehā, engaging in a reflexive examination of culture and politics. This panel engages with this seminal article and explores persistent dis-ease about who Pākehā are. Panelists extend this work beyond a focus on biculturalism to explore the place of tauiwi in a landscape shaped by the Christchurch mosque shootings, and within work by Māori towards tino rangatiratanga. In unpicking the politics and culture of this location, they continue the work of Lydia and many others to reassemble a place of radical justice.

8 June: A life as a Reader Researcher: Honouring Lydia Wevers’ Legacy at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

In this festive afternoon event, speakers will remember Lydia's legacy and share their memories. Lydia’s lifelong friend, a fellow Oxford graduate, author Professor Witi Ihimaera 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.

Our speakers will remember Lydia’s legacy as a lecturer of students, a fellow teacher and researcher, a colleague, and a public academic.