I got to be at two nice events in Wellington this week (interrupted by an equally nice Auckland trip for a somewhat less exciting Telecom briefing).
Tuesday evening saw a nice farewell for chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan, hosted by Simon Power at the beehive.
Ros ran the human rights commission for a decade, and won a reputation for asking questions that governments often don't want asked.
In her speech she made a big point I really agree with, one that needs to be made more often.
She noted that in New Zealand, it really isn't popular to disagree with or stand up to the state. Much of public opinion and much of officialdom doesn't like having it's view questioned, and when that happens often responds in what I would call a thuggish way.
She linked that to the importance of strong and fearless human rights institutions that can help in a small way to redress the power inequality between the state and the citizen.
It's so true. The great kiwi clobbering machine is alive and well. We like to pretend otherwise sometimes but the illustration this week of a government trying to ram through thuggish law at no notice is timely.
I admire the work and the views that Ros has and I hope her next adventure is as meaningful & courageous as her stint at the HRC has been.
The second event on Wednesday was the opening of the OSNS exhibition by the College of Creative Arts at Massey Wellington, in the old Museum building.
It is a showcase, "Old School / New School", of design at the college in all its permutations, over the 125 years of its existence.
It was a timely reminder of the massive creativity in this city over time. The head of school (name to come) drew an important connection too — that between design and growth.
Science and technology are the engines of our economic future, no doubt, but without design nobody will want them, and what we do sell will be worth far less.
Without design too, life would just be so much more boring.
Thanks to Clare Robinson from Massey for the invitation.