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

Friday April 14th, 2023 - Dr Gavin Wallace - Nuclear New Zealand (from a scientists perspective)

Dr Gavin Wallace QSM

Gavin joined the Institute of Nuclear Sciences of DSIR in 1968, specialising in nuclear physics. 

After completing his PhD, he developed a technique for elemental analysis of samples using X-rays and semiconductor detectors, then helped to design and build an accelerator mass spectrometer. This was primarily used for radiocarbon dating, and was the first AMS facility in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Once this was routinely processing samples commercially, Gavin switched to developing industrial applications using radioactive sources, both domestically and overseas. This was commercial work covering research, design, building and installation on-site. 

Gavin managed a group of 20 people he fondly refers to as the ‘Toy Factory’. 

He was also engaged as an Expert in this field by the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

Gavin retired from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences after 41 years. He doesn’t glow in the dark! 

Since then he has continued to work on contract for GNS, touring the country to deliver radiation safety courses to industry. To date, 225 courses, training over 2,100 people. 

Aside from science, he completed 50 years as a volunteer firefighter, and currently heads the local historical society.

Friday May 12th, 2023 - Jackie Smith - You can (and should) craft the life you want, but there will always be surprises

Jackie Smith, Co-founder of Caci Clinics, and Registered Nurse. Caci is a brand that constantly works to understand its customer needs, with a view to helping people feel confident in their skin. Caring about how you look is not superficial or trivial, and Caci has played an important part in legitimising self-care for New Zealanders.

Caci has grown from a single clinic started in Newmarket in 1994 to 84 franchised clinics across NZ. In addition to delivering treatments and services directly to the consumer through its franchised clinics, the Caci group imports and distributes equipment and products. More recently has been the development of their own skincare range Skinsmiths. This is about to be re-released in the UK and will be the second push to grow into an international business.

Who would have thought that a decidedly mediocre student from Cambridge High School could build an organisation that provides livelihoods for nearly 700 people across NZ?  It has certainly been a journey, the outcome of which was not predicted – or was it? 

I had parents who believed in me; who told me I could be whoever or whatever I chose to be. That makes all the difference. 

Having sold part of my business in 2020 and reaching my 60’s I have now had a chance to reflect on how I got to where I am now and think about what’s next. 

I’m happy to share the tale of my journey and how I have become increasingly deliberate about what I want out of my life.

Friday June 9th 2023 - Judi Jacobsen - Child Centered Play Therapy: The Heart of Relationship for Every Child

Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) is a form of child counselling for children from ages 3 through to 12.

The most natural means of communication for tamariki is through play. Play therapists enter the child’s play world to communicate with them and help them understand and resolve psychological and psychosocial challenges, e.g. trauma, separation of parents, loss of a loved one, chronic illness, etc.

In play therapy, tamariki are able to express their experiences and feelings through a natural, self-guided and self-healing process. They are helped towards healthier and better social integration, growth and development - Te manawa whanaungatanga mō ngā tamariki katoa: the heart of relationship for every child.

Friday September 8th, 2023 - Dr Roger Hill - The excitement of analytical chemistry - an oxymoron?

Roger was born in Te Aroha and grew up on a dairy farm, before attending Auckland University between 1969 -1976, graduating with a PhD in Chemistry.  His first and only employment was with a small company called Analytical Services Ltd domiciled in Cambridge, which involved setting up and then managing the privately owned soil testing laboratory.  After eight years, he left to start Hill Laboratories, in partnership with his wife, Anne.  The new laboratory was immediately successful, and the ongoing growth has resulted now with the employment of over 300 people in Hamilton (450 people nationwide), with satellite branches in Christchurch, Blenheim, Wellington, Tauranga and Auckland.

Roger and Anne have two sons and five grandchildren, and their elder son, Jonno, is now running the business.

Friday October 13th, 2023 - 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 December 8th, 2023 - Fiona George - The Past, The Present and The Future of New Zealand Red Cross

Fiona George is an ex bank manager who has found her passion working in the not for profit sector. She is very proud to work for the largest Humanitarian organisation in the world and being part of “Doing Good” in the world.

Fiona was living in Christchurch for 20 years including during the Canterbury Earthquakes. It was seeing the amazing work the humanitarian organisations did during this time that inspired her to use her skills for good and she left banking to work in the charity sector.

In 2014 Fiona went to live and work in the United Kingdom which was a fabulous experience, and she thoroughly enjoyed her two years there.

In 2016, Fiona returned to live in the Waikato after 25 years away and takes great pleasure in being back in the most beautiful part of NZ.

The favourite part of her role with New Zealand Red Cross is getting out to speak with groups in the community to share stories of the variety of work undertaken by New Zealand Red Cross, both here in New Zealand and around the world.

POSTPONED - Speaker to be rescheduled - 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.



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