School of Social Sciences


April, 03, 2008 16:00 Age: 10 yrs

New Zealand Political Science Association Conference

Category: SSS News

Dr Rae Nicholl of the Division of Politics and International Affairs attended the two-day annual conference of the New Zealand Political Science Association (NZPSA) held at the end of August in Wellington.

The theme of this year’s well-attended conference was 60 years of New Zealand Independence with sessions devoted to a reconsideration of New Zealand’s history and politics during the 1947-2007 period.

The conference included panels, presentations and sessions focusing on a range to topics including the rise of China and the implications for the Asia-Pacific region, and electoral systems and representation.

As my academic interests include politics and the media, I attended the excellent media stream and was privileged to chair the panel on Politics and the New Zealand Media.

Two of the papers were of interest to the Pacific. Masters student Kirsten Chambers of the University of Canterbury discussed her research, which focuses on the South Asian migrant community in New Zealand and on the print, broadcast and online media that has proliferated within this sector in the past decade: Fijian Indians are included in this migrant group (see The paper focused on changing conceptions of citizenship and the public participation of migrant groups living in New Zealand. This approach is relevant because, on the whole, migrant groups are not visible in the mainstream media.

In another paper in the Politics and New Zealand Media stream, Dr Kate McMillan of Victoria University analysed the results of the 2005 Global Media Monitoring Project. This project – which included Fiji - is a five-yearly, multi-country survey of the representation and participation of women in the world’s print and broadcast media (radio and television). The paper presented the findings of the 2005 project, which showed that women appeared in just 21 percent of hard news stories in newspapers and the broadcast media worldwide.

One session was set aside for Pacific Politics. Entitled Governance Issues in the Pacific, keynote speakers included Asofou So’o from the National University of Samoa, who discussed the relationship between village leadership and the government in regard to public sector reform. The other presenters were Andrew Ladley from Victoria University, and Stephen Dowd from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The conference organiser, Professor Stephen Levine of Victoria University, who was a founder member of the Pacific Islands Political Science Association (PIPSA), used this occasion to publicise the upcoming PIPSA conference in Vanuatu, which is being organised by USP’s Dr Steve Ratuva.

Other sessions of interest to the Pacific region included research findings on youth and environmental issues. Postgraduate students, who were given free entry to the conference, presented findings from their Masters and PhD theses. One Masters paper presented by Helena Cook of Victoria University focussed on the role of the Pacific Island Members of Parliament (MPs). To date, there have been four Pacific Island MPs the New Zealand Parliament, all of them Samoan.

Packed with stimulating papers, the NZPSA Conference was worth attending. Various interest groups also took the opportunity to meet, including the women’s group, which promoted Women Talking Politics, its publication devoted to women’s involvement in the New Zealand political arena.

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