Back in the winter of 1958, historian Sir Keith Sinclair proposed the University of Auckland follow Canterbury University’s lead in establishing a special series of lunchtime lectures on topics that could be addressed by speakers from a range of departments and faculties. The original aim was to introduce students to points of view from other academic disciplines – or at least give them a warm, dry place to sit over lunch1.
One year later the University held its first Winter Lecture Series with the topic ‘Man’.
By the 1980s the Series was well established, and the scope had grown, with the target audience expanding to include the general public. The lectures were now seen as an opportunity to express a university point of view on areas of current topical interest, and lecturers from other institutions and industries were also invited to participate.
Initially certain lectures were published in print form (and can be found in the General collection), but from 1984 recordings of the lectures were made on audio cassette. These first recorded lectures were somewhat fittingly on the theme of ‘Manufacturing minds: strategies for control in 1984’2, and featured speakers such as Sidney Moko Mead, Peter Aimer and John Werry.
Lectures continued to be recorded, using various technologies, largely uninterrupted right up until the most recent Winter Lecture Series, forced online, in 2020. Over this time topics range from introspective and reflective – such as 1998’s The University in the 21st Century3 with the likes of Ruth Butterworth, Jane Kelsey and Hirini Mead, to covering broader themes like Charms and harms of natural medicine4 in 2013.
The various recordings in the Library collection have now been digitised and brought together into a single archive resource. The content is accessible to all and can be searched and streamed through the ‘Manuscripts and Archives’ database.
So, make a cup of tea and begin to explore almost 40 years’ worth of free public lectures.
William Hamill, Media Services
1. Sinclair, Keith, McNaughton, Trudie, and University of Auckland. Library. A History of the University of Auckland, 1883-1983. Auckland, N.Z.]: Auckland UP : Oxford UP, 1983. Print.
2. MSS Archives MS 2020/01. Series 26, 1984. Manufacturing minds: strategies for control in 1984. University of Auckland Winter Lecture Series recordings, MSS-Archives-MS 2020/01. Media Services, The University of Auckland. https://archives.library.auckland.ac.nz/repositories/5/archival_objects/150989
3. MSS Archives MS 2020/01. Series 40, 1998. The University in the 21st century. University of Auckland Winter Lecture Series recordings, MSS-Archives-MS 2020/01. Media Services, The University of Auckland. https://archives.library.auckland.ac.nz/repositories/5/archival_objects/151003 Accessed June 30, 2022.
4. MSS Archives MS 2020/01. Series 55, 2013. Charms and harms of natural medicines. University of Auckland Winter Lecture Series recordings, MSS-Archives-MS 2020/01. Media Services, The University of Auckland. https://archives.library.auckland.ac.nz/repositories/5/archival_objects/151017 Accessed June 30, 2022.