Kia ora:

It is certainly good news to hear that Pope Francis has convinced many Catholic Church leaders to moderate their formerly strongly critical language about gay unions, and to admit that homosexuals may have “gifts and qualities to offer”. But it is disappointing that here in New Zealand, the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand General Assembly has decided that though it is acceptable for gay and lesbian people to be in the congregation they may not be married in the Presbyterian Church. We applaud Wellington’s St Andrew’s on The Terrace congregation who will oppose this decision. It is moving in Wellington in this 100th year after World War 1 to have two memorials to those who have died in battle. The recently opened Arras Tunnel with stylised Flander’s poppies on the side walls does bring to mind the NZ soldiers who in 1916 helped to develop the vast underground tunnel system in the chalk caverns of Arras which were very close to the Front Line, where. 41 NZ tunnellers lost their lives. On October 7 2014 a second memorial was unveiled at NZ Post House,(where our Post Office Box is situated). This is a memorial to the Gilbert Islands Coastwatchers who were sent, during World War 2, to the islands to help send wireless reports of Japanese surface craft or aircraft movements to military intelligence in London and Washington. On 15 October, 17 NZ volunteers were executed by the Japanese. I am glad that also in the media, there has been acknowledgement of the bravery of Archibald Baxter and other anti-war activists who suffered so terribly as conscientious objectors during World War 1.

Monthly Meeting: Monday 27 October 2014

The Scientists, Inventors, Engineers, Artists of Classical Greece

Nikos Petousis, a Humanist member from Auckland and Honorary Greek Consul will talk about the achievements of Classical Greek thought and how early Christianity maligned and destroyed this heritage. Nikos Petousis, was born in 1936 in Athens, Greece. Nikos lived through both WW2 then the Greek Civil War in his hometown. He endured bombing – seeing parts of bodies spread out in front of him, hunger – looking for food in the gutter, cold – walking barefoot through the snow, and poverty – five adults living in one room. Throughout that period, Nikos studied hard, gaining a place at an engineering school and graduated at the age of 19. Nikos could see no future for himself in Greece, so decided to leave and was sponsored out to New Zealand. Nikos started the New Zealand Greek Society, helping other Greeks who had come to New Zealand and fostering friendship between the two nationalities. Nikos later set up his own engineering firm fabricating machinery he had designed and he started exporting machinery He travelled extensively through Europe, both East and West, Asia and the United States making export contacts. When he retired he accepted the position of Honorary Consul for Greece in Auckland and continues to foster relationships between the two countries.

All interested people are welcome, Society members and members of the public – bring a friend..

We meet from 7.30 pm until 9.30 pm

Tararua Tramping Club, 4 Moncrieff Street, Wellington.

Moncrieff Street is off Elizabeth Street, which is off Kent Terrace, Wellington – a short distance from Courtney Place on bus routes 1 &3.

Regular 2014 monthly meetings are on the 4th Monday of the month at the Tararua Tramping Club rooms, 4 Moncrieff Street.

2014 AGM and Seminar: Saturday 18 October

Ground floor of the Law School, Old Government Building 11am

AGM: If you are interested in joining our Council, please contact us – you are very welcome.
Note: only financial members of the society may vote at the AGM or stand for the council.
If you plan to attend both the AGM and the Seminar, please bring some finger food to share in between. After the Climate Reality talk we will go to a nearby eatery.

Seminar: 3pm-4pm – Climate Reality 2014

Cathy Iorns BA LLB(Hons) Well, LLM Yale. Senior Law Lecturer, School of Law, Victoria University

Venue: Ground floor of the Law School, Old Government Building, Room GBLT3
This is a public lecture sponsored by the Humanist Society of NZ and the Faculty of Law Victoria University
All Welcome

2014 has been full of news about climate change, from extreme weather events attributed to climate change, to formal reports and academic research about the causes and effects of climate change, to public protest about the actions needed to mitigate it. Catherine will present a summary of the climate change news from 2014, including the weather, the research and the politics, New Zealand and overseas.

Catherine Iorns is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Victoria University of Wellington. She teaches, researches and writes on environmental law topics, including environmental rights. She has been trained as a Climate Reality presenter, by the Climate Reality Project founded and supported by Al-Gore. She is also a member of the Board of Aotearoa New Zealand, a member of the National Executive Committee of ECO (Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand), as well as a national Governance Team member of Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand.

NZ Humanist Charitable Trust: We thank the NZ Humanist Charitable Trust for granting our application to continue the Eileen Bone Victoria University Scholarship for a Year 13 Naenae College student attending Victoria in 2015. Eileen was a valued and loved member of our Humanist Society and taught English for many years at Naenae College where she is remembered as an inspirational teacher.

News from Nepal: There is possibly a disturbing development in Nepal. It has recently been reported that several Nepali Congress leaders have launched a campaign to revive Nepal as a Hindu state through a nationwide training programme. The campaign, with the slogan “Nation, Nationality and Sanatan Hindu State”, led by former minister and party leader Khum Bahadur Khadka was launched amidst a programme in Kathmandu where several former ministers, lawmakers and party leaders expressed solidarity in reviving the country’s Hindu status. Khum Bahadur Khadka is a former Minister of the Interior in Nepal. He left active politics about 2006 after corruption allegations, and was convicted and jailed in 2012 on corruption charges, and released in 2013. This is the first time that pro-Hindu leaders in the Congress party have publicly urged for the revival of a Hindu state. The Congress party, which agreed to make Nepal a secular state in 2007, where freedom of religious worship was explicitly protected, has not made any official comment over this new campaign. Addressing the launch, Khadka pledged a nationwide campaign to declare Nepal a Hindu state. “Our force shall compel the prime minister to address our concerns,” said the former minister, claiming that Nepal was forcefully declared a secular state by the international community. “If our campaign is disrupted by forceful means, we will retaliate,” he said. “We will be visiting all the districts to finalise the dates for the protests.” These two sentences do not bode well for Nepal’s future. While trekking in Nepal earlier this year we were conscious of how harmoniously the different religious groupings co-existed. Indeed our guide told us how this co-existence had worked well for generations and the Maoists were not popular because they wanted to divide Nepal on ethnic and religious lines. This would have meant dislocation for many families if they had been forced to move to other areas of Nepal. It is disappointing that after the turmoil of the assassination of the Nepalese Royal family in 2001 and the 10 year disruption of the Maoist Civil War from 1996 until 2006 that Nepal could experience unrest again.

NZ Skeptics Conference 5 December to 7 December, Auckland:

2015 NZARH Hawke Bay conference

with the Humanist Society of NZ and the NZ Skeptics Society 13 – 15 February 2015

Future Directions of Rationalism and Humanism

Duart House, 51 Duart Road, Havelock North

The Hawke’s Bay Conference organisers, John Warren and John Timpson see this ‘get together’ as an avenue for positive dialogue between rationalists, humanists, and sceptics, from around New Zealand.

The Humanist Society wishes to thank the NZ Humanist Charitable Trust for contributing the cost of Professor Guy Standing’s return travel from the UK. The Trust has also contributed $1000 towards conference costs. NZARH will also contribute an honorarium for Professor Standing – an appreciation to Professor Standing for making his time and knowledge available to us.

The timing of the conference was planned to enable participants to remain in the Hawkes’s Bay, if they wish, for the Art Deco weekend 19-22 February 2015. The Mission Winery Estate Concert is also around this time. The date for 2015 is yet to be announced but if it is the same weekend it would be possible to attend the concert by missing a small segment of the Saturday evening conference entertainment.

The conference has an innovative idea for the speaker sessions. Instead of sitting in lecture theatre style rows one behind the other, the conference venue has round tables – remember King Arthur. It is planned that the speakers will speak for 45 minutes, to be followed by 20 minutes of ‘around the table’ discussion and then a 30 minute question & answer session with the speaker. The questions will come from the ‘around the table’ discussion. To further encourage conviviality and friendship the conference will include a breakfast together at Duart House before the first session of the day.

Guest speakers include:

Professor Martin Manning, Victoria University, who represented New Zealand on the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Professor Guy Standing, Professor of Developmental Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network. Professor Standing will speak on Saturday and Sunday so we will have ample opportunity to absorb and consider the breadth of his analysis of our present day economic environment and the possibility for change. Michael Burawoy from the University of California, USA writes ‘Guy Standing has elaborated a brave and imaginative programme that could bring protection to the denizens of the world and save us all from the destructiveness of neoliberal capitalism.’ (Note: denizens are citizens who rights are being whittled away.) Professor Standing will talk to us about the precariat class and the need to move towards an unconditional basic income and deliberative democracy. (Note: the precariat is an emerging class characterised by chronic insecurity, detached from then old norms of labour and the working class.)

Russell Wills, New Zealand Children’s Commissioner who will discuss future issues of young people in New Zealand

Sara Passmore, who has recently left her position as Head of Education and Promotion with the British Humanist Association On her departure BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said, ‘In her time with us, Sara Passmore brought a new level of professionalism to all of our education programmes, from the training of volunteers to speak about Humanism in schools to the production of curriculum materials for teachers. She also developed new ways of communicating Humanism to the general public through innovative online campaigns. Her contribution will be viewed with gratitude by all our supporters.’ While attending the 2014 World Humanist Congress in Oxford we saw the sadness that BHA felt with her imminent departure. Sara will act as moderator for the Conference.

The conference will begin and conclude with short presentations from the three free-thought organisations: Rationalists, Humanists, and Skeptics. During the final afternoon there will be a panel discussion ‘A Vision for the Future’. Panel speakers will be confirmed shortly. Further details and additions will be outlined in future newsletters.

Registration is now open and we recommend that participants REGISTER and reserve accommodation as soon as possible as demand is strong in Hawke’s Bay at the time of Art Deco and a possible Mission Concert.

See Registration Form