Phone - Carole 021 401 951

Meetings are held at the Te Awa Lifecare Woolshed, 1866 Cambridge Road, Cambridge, from 10am for 10.30 until 12.00 noon on the second Friday of each month.

Announcing an additional three lectures in Partnership with the Cambridge Historical Society - lecture on the history of Cambridge and region - on the fourth Friday of May, August and October.

Friday October 13th, 2023 - Rob Waddell - My Life So Far

A Cambridge local, Rob Waddell (ONZM) has a number of achievements and 'hats' and is one of New Zealand's highest-profile and most respective sportspersons, with a longstanding involvement at all levels in the New Zealand sports sector.

Rob is a New Zealand Olympic Gold Medalist and double World Champion Single sculler rower, and America's Cup yachtsman. He is a triple New Zealand Supreme 'Halberg Awards' Sportsperson of the year winner, 1998 to 2000.

Rob holds the third fastest 2000 metre indoor rowing machine time in the world, clocking a time of 5 mins 36.6 secs (5:36.6), which was the previous world record for 19 years before the time was improved by Joshua Dunkley-Smith. He also held the record for 5000m on the rowing machine with a time of 14min 58sec.  He holds a black belt in judo. In addition, he also played rugby union for Waikato.

Rob was Chef de Mission of the 2014 and 2018 New Zealand Commonwealth Games teams, and the 2016 and 2022 Summer Olympics.

His business, Waddell and Associates specialises in assisting organisations and people with sports funding and strategy management.

Some other achievements include:

  • Instrumental in bringing the Home of Cycling to Cambridge, helping to secure $32 million of funding for the Avantidrome.

  • Wide contribution at a governance level across the not-for-profit sector, including governance roles with the Halberg Disability Trust, Te Awa River Trust, and the Home of Cycling charitable trust.

Friday October 27th, 2023 - SPECIAL LECTURE - in Partnership with the Cambridge Historical Society.
Dr Andrew La Croix - Geologic History of the Waikato Region

Andrew received his Ph.D in Earth Sciences from Simon Fraser University (Canada) in 2016.  From 2017 to 2019 he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, as part of the Energy initiative at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Since 2109 Andrew has been a Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer at the University of Waikato in New Zealand where he leads the Sedimentary Environments and Analogues Research Group.

Friday November 10th, 2023 - 
Jane Foster - Hidden in Plain Sight  - sexual exploitation of children

Jane Foster is a Board member and former National Director of Child Alert / ECPAT New Zealand. She continues her active commitment to Children’s Rights and Protection delivering training programmes for Child Alert to professionals in social work, youth justice, community work and police.

Jane was a practitioner in youth development in Aotearoa and the UK. She taught youth development at the University of the South Pacific and AUT. Jane worked for Oxfam in Aotearoa, Tanzania and the Pacific as a Country Director leading the delivery of humanitarian and development programmes.

Jane has also lived and worked in South Africa, Fiji and the Caribbean.

Friday December 8th, 2023 - Diane Foreman - The Entrepreneurs Journey

Diane is a New Zealander who is currently living in London, but who retains her connections to New Zealand.  She is a mother of 4 adult children and 5 grandchildren.  

Diane is married to Paul Henry (Broadcaster) and prior to my marriage to Paul she was married to Bill Foreman (businessman and Trigon founder). 

Diane is an entrepreneur and she has owned and operated businesses across multiple sectors.  These include her time as a director and senior manager of the Trigon companies, Chairman and founder of the Emerald Group with  previous interests in Healthcare (Mercy Ascot Hospitals), Emerald Foods and New Zealand Natural and Movenpick ice cream brands.

She currently owns and run a Hotel (Emerald Inn, Takapuna), Emergent (recruitment) and a large residential and commercial real estate portfolio. She also serves on several private company boards and divides her time between New Zealand and London where she consults to and advises various international businesses. 

Diane was the NZ Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009 and became a world Judge based in Monte Carlo for World Entrepreneur of the Year (4 years).  She has been previously appointed by EY to chair Entrepreneur of the Year boards in NZ, London and United Kingdom.

Diane has also won NZ manufacturer of the Year and NZ Franchisor of the Year. 

To share her experiences, Diane wrote “In the Arena” which was published in 2015 which became a best seller and she is currently working on a new book provisionally titled “Diane Foreman Sensemaker”.

Friday February 9th, 2024 - Emeritus Professor Roberta Farrell - Fire and Ice: Antarctica and Tales of Research from Mount Erebus and the Heroic Era Historic Huts

By the Antarctic Treaty, Antarctica is dedicated to peace and science.  It is also the coldest, driest, windiest continent on the planet.

The talk will describe what it is like as a scientist to be privileged to work on the Ice.

The lecture will discuss the work of Emeritus Professor Roy Daniel, whose research started on Mount Erebus in 1980 and the current research of his wife, Emeritus Professor Roberta Farrell, who has focused on Antarctic fungi, studies which initiated by evaluating the deterioration of the historic huts of the Heroic Period of exploration, the British National Antarctic Expedition (1901-04) and Terra Nova British Antarctic Expedition (1910-13) led by Robert F. Scott; and the British Antarctic Expedition led by Ernest Shackleton (1907-09)).  

When these expeditions ended and relief ships arrived, a rapid exodus allowed only essential items to be returned to England.  The huts and thousands of items were left behind and though the extreme polar environment protected them from rapid decay, it has not from significant biological and non-biological deterioration. The resulting findings led to the ‘hunt for decay fungi’ in pristine areas of Antarctica, with surprising results.

Roberta’s research has had impact in biotechnology, specifically  in the areas of enzymes, fungi, bio-control, and bio-remediation, the latter, in collaboration with Ngaio Awa, was  featured in the documentary "The Green Chain" as well as in Māori Television’s “Project Matauranga“.  

Roberta and Roy have 4 children, 7 grandchildren, are now retired from The University of Waikato, and have enjoyed a wonderful life together.

Friday March 8th, 2024 - Rescheduled Speaker - Dr Sarah Gordon - From psychiatric patient to Associate Professor (and psychiatric patient)

Associate Professor Sarah Gordon PhD (Otago), MBHL, LLB, BSc

Sarah’s personal experience of mental illness shaped her university study with the areas of psychology, medical law, bioethics, and psychological medicine being the focus through to PhD level. Combining this theoretical education and personal experience, Sarah has spent the last 20 years working and advocating for an improved mental health sector and societal perceptions of mental health from the perspective of a person who personally experiences mental illness.

Since 2011 Sarah has worked as a service user academic with the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago. Through this role, she has promoted and progressed service user-led and co-produced education and research.

This work has resulted in the establishment of "World of Difference" – a service user academia education and research team, which Sarah currently leads. The education and research programs being led or co-produced by the World of Difference team are focused on ending discrimination, and promoting recovery, inclusion, and respect for the human rights of people who experience mental distress.

From psychiatric patient to Associate Professor (and psychiatric patient)

Sometimes I wonder where to start. Should it be the serious assault I suffered at the age of eleven or should it be when I was officially diagnosed with a serious mental disorder after I was sent for my first ‘vacation’ at the psychiatric facility? Ultimately it doesn’t really matter – what does matter is that I have always had people in my life that have supported me unconditionally, despite the serious impact that my struggles have had on my life, and theirs, at times (and I will talk a little about this). Furthermore, their expectations about who I am and what I am capable of have never changed. Their perspective has always been that given the impact of my illness I'd just need a bit more support to realise my dreams and aspirations (and I will talk a little about this).  I never knew that my ultimate aspiration was to be a ‘disruptor’ which is how I describe what I have been doing for the last thirty years (and I will talk a little about this). Essentially, I try and disrupt the status quo – the status quo being the belief that people like me don’t recover and achieve, that a broken system can’t be fixed, and that most people really don’t care that much about any of this….unless it is personal to them (and I will talk mostly about this). I look forward to sharing my personal and professional knowledge and experiences, and most importantly, my hope and vision for the future with you.

Friday April 12th, 2024 - Judge Rosemary Riddell - Life After the Bench - a Retired Judge Reflects

Rosemary came late to the law, going to university when the youngest of their three children started school. She graduated from Auckland University at the age of 40. 

From 1992 to 2006 she worked as a lawyer in Auckland and then Dunedin, before being appointed as a District Court Judge to Hamilton, where she was based for the next 12 years. 

Her  love of theatre and film saw her direct a short film  called Cake Tin which won an award at the Moondance film awards in 2007 and later she also directed a feature film called The Insatiable Moon, based on a novel by her husband Mike. 

Life intervened, as it does, throwing her and the family some curveballs, and through family tragedy they ended up settling in Central Otago in 2018, while Rosemary continued to work as a part time judge. 

The Covid lockdown was the catalyst for the book Rosemary wrote describing her years as a judge. It’s a heartwarming tale,  peppered with humour, while acknowledging her personal loss. Through the book  To Be Fair: Confessions of a District Court Judge, Rosemary demonstrated that judges are human too, revealing aspects of the job she couldn’t have talked about when she was a judge. And so she retired in 2020 and the book was published the following year. 

These days Rosemary lives in the very small village of Oturehua, gardens, plays the piano and is learning Spanish.


Friday June 14th, 2024 - Ben Skeen - There still is hope – educating youth for a bright future

Ben joined St Paul’s Collegiate School as Headmaster in May 2021 from Auckland Grammar School. 

Educated at St Peter’s College in Auckland, Ben graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in HR and Economics and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in NZ History with a minor in Political Studies, along with a graduate diploma in teaching from the University of Auckland. 

He held a variety of leadership and management positions at Auckland Grammar, including Associate Headmaster, Associate Dean, Dean, Assistant Boarding Housemaster, and Master in Charge of Student Leadership Programmes. He was awarded a Woolf Fisher Fellowship for excellence in education and leadership. 

In 2009, he initiated and led a flagship programme – a month-long biennial service programme for Auckland Grammar students. He was a teacher of history and social studies. Master in Charge of rugby for five years and Assistant Coach of Auckland Grammar First XV rugby team for eight seasons. 

Outside of work, Ben was contracted to NZ Rugby’s high-performance match official squad, where for 12 of his 15 years with the squad, he provided refereeing services to World Rugby. After officiating 70 test matches and travelling the world numerous times, Ben retired from refereeing at the end of 2019. 

Friday July 12th, 2024 - Fiona Sussman - Award Winning New Zealand Fiction writer

Growing up in a publisher's clicking here home in South Africa meant that I fell in love with language and the written word at an early age. Our house was always filled with manuscripts, books and colourful authors. This was during the apartheid era, and witnessing the brutal regime at work sensitised me to the issues of injustice and racial prejudice – experiences which would inform much of my early writing.

After school, I completed a BA in English Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand; however, the untimely death of my father from a terminal illness saw me change direction and pursue a career in medicine.

In 1989 I emigrated from South Africa to New Zealand, where I completed my medical degree and went on to work as a family doctor.

While I found practising medicine immensely satisfying, I still hankered after the literary world of my childhood. Finally, the call to write became too great. I hung up my stethoscope, returned to university to do a Master of Creative Writing and began to write in earnest.

Most of my days are spent writing, mentoring new writers and speaking at events. I have also been involved, alongside my husband, in establishing a charitable surgical service in Auckland to assist those who have fallen between the cracks in our health system.

Learn more about Fiona by clicking here.


Friday August 23rd, 2024 - SPECIAL PARTNERSHIP HISTORY LECTURE - Richard von Sturmer - Walking with Rocks - Dreaming with Rivers - My Year in the Waikato

Richard von Sturmer is a New Zealand writer. He was born on Auckland’s North Shore in 1957. His recent books are the acclaimed memoir, This Explains Everything (Atuanui Press, 2016), Postcard Stories (Titus Books, 2019), Resonating Distances (Titus Books, 2022) and the recently published Walking with Rocks, Dreaming with Rivers: My Year in the Waikato (Titus Books, 2023). He is well-known for writing the lyrics of ‘There is No Depression in New Zealand,’ which has become the country’s alternate national anthem.

In 2020 he was the University of Waikato’s writer in residence. During his residency he explored the Waikato region, writing on its towns and geographic features. The result is now a book, Walking with Rocks, Dreaming with Rivers: My Year in the Waikato.

‘This beautiful object, this dream set down on paper, is travel writing regained, and put to rights. The first person invested in it is the reader. You are about to go on a journey. You are in good hands: great travel writing picks you up and swings you along like luggage.’ – Steve Braunias

‘An extraordinary meditation on settings across the Waikato – museums where he’s the only visitor, lifestyle blocks where “you can feel history evaporating,” lakes where the only images reflected are clouds.’ – Tracey Slaughter


Friday November 8th, 2024 - Max Rashbrooke - Title TBC

I write about two of the biggest issues in the modern world – democratic renewal and economic inequality – and their potential to shape our societies for better or worse.

New Zealand based but globally engaged, I carry out original research and bring it to a wide audience through my books, my collaborations with artists and data visualisation experts, and public lectures including my talk on upgrading democracy, which has had 1.5m views.

My writing and commentary appears in outlets such as the Guardian and Prospect magazine, and I write a fortnightly column for Stuff, New Zealand’s largest news site.

Threaded through everything I do is a profound belief that for societies to flourish, everyone needs their fair share of a country’s wealth and the opportunity to fully participate, as an equal, in the democratic process.



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