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2021 NZPSA


NZPSA Annual Conference 2021

8 - 10 February 2022


The Politics of Crisis

The annual conference of the New Zealand Political Studies Association will be hosted by Auckland University of Technology from Tuesday 8th February until Thursday 10th February 2022. This conference has moved online.

Registration for the conference is now open.

Fees are $150.00 waged

$75 Student

$75 unwaged

Click Here to Register

People who registered for the in-person conference at the (earlier) higher rates: if you are no longer attending, you will receive a full refund for the conference registration fee and conference dinner. If you wish to attend the online conference a partial refund for the registration fee and full refund for the dinner, will be offered. Please email events@aut.ac.nz with your details to change your registration status and activate your refund.

Programme Highlights: 

Tuesday (est. programme begins at 10.30 am)

- Announcement of paper prize winners 

- Plenary panel on leadership and governance in times of crisis

Chair: Professor Geoffrey Craig (AUT)

Panellists: Rt. Hon. Helen Clark; Fa'anānā Efeso Collins (Councillor, Auckland Council); Professor Jennifer Curtin (University of Auckland).

- Keynote Lecture:

Professor Dominic O’Sullivan (Charles Sturt University)

(Abstract below)


- Plenary panel on the crisis in academia

Chair: Professor Richard Shaw (Massey University)

Panellists: Sandra Grey (TEU); Dr. Sereana Naepi (University of Auckland); Professor Dominic O'Sullivan (Charles Sturt University); Luke Oldfield (University of Auckland).


- Women Talking Politics launch.

- Public lecture:

Professor Steven Ratuva (Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury).

(Abstract below)

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Dominic O’Sullivan (Charles Sturt University)

Dominic O’Sullivan (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahu) is Professor of Political Science at Charles Sturt University, New South Wales, and Adjunct Professor in the Centre for Māori Health at Auckland University of Technology. He has a prolific publication record, reflecting his research expertise in the fields of political theory and Indigenous politics and public policy. His latest book is ‘We Are All Here To Stay’: Citizenship, Sovereignty and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (ANU Press, 2020). Dominic is also a frequent media contributor and has engaged extensively in public debate over issues relevant to his research interests. He has written for The Conversation, OpenForum, New Zealand Herald, Policy Space, Nursing Review, and is interviewed regularly by Australian and New Zealand media outlets. His work has also had significant public policy influence, including research commissioned by the International Labor Organization, the New Zealand Ministry of Education, and the National Institute of Research Excellence for Māori Development and Advancement. His background in both Catholic social thought and as a teacher and acting school principal also informs his academic work and public outreach.

The conference organisers would like to thank Taylor and Francis, publishers of Political Science, for sponsoring Professor O'Sullivan's keynote address.


The Crisis of Policy Failure or the Moral Crisis of an Idea: Colonial politics in contemporary Australia and New Zealand

For the analysis of indigenous public policy, crisis is best seen as the moral crisis of an enduring idea, rather than the crisis of sporadic and unconnected instances of policy failure. In Australia and New Zealand, for example, state manufactured crises of indigenous peoples’ personal deficiencies are used to justify colonial authority and are countered by the indigenous positioning of colonialism itself as the point of crisis. This means that the resolution of crisis in indigenous public policy is not resolved by the state becoming better at policy making or more attentive to the egalitarian distribution of public resources. Instead, it is in the non-colonial possibilities of indigenous self-determination that paths beyond crisis may lie. In practical terms, spaces of independent indigenous authority alongside spaces of distinctive culturally framed participation in the public life of the state contest colonialism as a normative order that presumes and requires policy failure. The potential for such arrangements in Australia, are discussed with reference to a proposed First Nations’ Voice to Parliament and possible treaties between First Nations and the state. For New Zealand, their potential is discussed with reference to the Treaty of Waitangi’s affirmation of independent Maori authority (rangatiratanga) and substantive state citizenship.

Professor Steven Ratuva (University of Canterbury)

Professor Steven Ratuva is Director of Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies and is an award-winning political sociologist and global interdisciplinary scholar. In 2020 he was awarded the Metge Medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand -Te Apārangi, the country’s highest award in social science research excellence. He is Chair of the International Political Science Association research committee on Security, Conflict and Democratization and former President of the Pacific Islands Political Studies Association. With a PhD from the Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex), he has published widely on a range of issues concerning Pacific societies and culture, indigenous knowledge, development, conflict, peace, political change, coups, memory activism, social solidarity economy, social protection, elections, ethnicity, security, military, affirmative action, COVID-19, social indexes, indigenous knowledge, climate security and nationalism. His most recent books are Risks, identity and conflict: Theoretical perspectives and case studies (Palgrave-Springer, 2021) and Epistemic siege: Neoliberalism and the commodification of knowledge (Forthcoming).

Professor Ratuva's Public Lecture is sponsored by the School of Social Science and Public Policy, Auckland University of Technology.


The Crisis of Racialized Knowledge and Power: Reflections on the neo-colonial Pacific

The controversial insinuation by the “Auckland University Seven” that indigenous knowledge “is not science” is just a surface manifestation of the deep-seated crisis of racialized knowledge, which has roots in the social Darwinian thought of the “European enlightenment,” and normalized institutionally and perpetuated in subconscious ways through colonialism and spills over into modern geopolitics, education and development discourses. This has implications on how Pacific knowledge and power have been framed in mainstream cultural and political discourse. This paper critically discusses the dominant “intellectual supremacy” narrative by (a) critiquing the claims to knowledge supremacy; (b) examining how neo-liberalism and the marketization of knowledge have further racialized epistemic and political inequity and the further subalternanization of indigenous epistemic systems; (c) examining the implications of these on expressions of Pacific indigenous knowledge, politics, culture and power (d) identifying the potential to leverage these to decolonize and empower.     

The Politics of Crisis 

We are living through a world moment in which major social and political problems are frequently framed as crises. The Covid-19 pandemic has presented us with a global health crisis, leading to increased social and economic suffering in many parts of the world. It has also exposed crises in state capacity and political leadership in polities as diverse as the United Kingdom, the United States, and Brazil. The ability of international actors and institutions to cope with potential crises brought on by future pandemics, the climate emergency, pressures on trade routes and the global supply chain, and shifts in power dynamics in an increasingly multi-polar and fractured international system, is in question. For many countries, the crisis of democracy, marked by the rise of anti-system forces and anti-social political movements, has only deepened over the past two years. Democracy in Aotearoa New Zealand might not be under the same kind of pressures or to the same extent as it is elsewhere, but we face our own series of crises, nevertheless. Among other national and local problems that are described in crisis terms are the “housing crisis”, an “infrastructure crisis”, a “climate change crisis”, a “crisis in local governance” and a “mental health crisis”.  

This raises a number of questions that political scientists and political theorists might further investigate, including:  

  • What is lost and what is gained by framing policy problems as crises? Does it get us any closer to addressing difficult political problems?  
  • How do we overcome the moment of crisis to address issues in an inclusive and equitable way? 
  • How and why was it possible for the New Zealand government to successfully address the Covid-19 crisis, but has found longer-term political problems such as housing, poverty, or climate change much more intractable?  
  • Has this sense of crisis really increased over time, or is the sense of living through crisis a normal part of doing politics?  
  • Which actors and institutions are best positioned to resolve particular crises? National or transnational ones? Government or non-government? Local government or central government? 
  • What role does the media play in creating or heightening the sense of crisis?

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