The New Zealand Polymath: Colenso and his contemporaries

  • The New Zealand Polymath: Colenso and his contemporaries

November 16 & 17, Te Pūnaha Matatini’s Executive Manager Kate Hannah and Principal Investigator Dr Dion O’Neale are presenting at a conference on William Colenso and his contemporaries.

What: The New Zealand Polymath – Colenso and his contemporaries
When: Conference runs from 16-18 November
Where: National Library of New Zealand, Molesworth Street, Wellington


Opening address: Dabbling Dilettantes and Renaissance Men: colonial polymaths and New Zealand’s science culture.
During the opening session, Kate will present “Dabbling Dilettantes and Renaissance Men: colonial polymaths and New Zealand’s science culture.” The presentation will explore the hero narratives regarding the network of polymath-scholars who established the institutions of New Zealand’s scientific culture. Such narratives permeate New Zealand’s history and contemporary public discourse, but actively exclude the impact of those participants who are exceptions to the hero narrative, rendering them invisible.

The lecture is free and open to the public. More details>

Panel discussion: Colonial polymaths and New Zealand’s science culture
Following the address, Kate will chair a panel discussion that will problematize the impact of centering national identity within a group of ‘Renaissance men’, exploring those whose scholarly contributions are framed as dabbling distractions, and those others whose labour enabled the expansion and sharing of knowledge that typified colonial New Zealand.

The panellists are:

  • Nicola Gaston, University of Auckland
  • Angela Middleton, University of Otago
  • Linda Tyler, University of Auckland
  • Daniel Hikuroa, Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, University of Auckland

Presentation: Colenso’s correspondence network
Thursday 17 November Dion and Kate present on Colenso’s correspondence network.

View the full conference programme>

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