Hilary Bracefield, a Ballance House volunteer, recently gave a paper at the 22nd annual conference of the New Zealand Studies Association at Franklin University, Lugano, Switzerland.
"As the chef said at breakfast the first morning, “Why would people from New Zealand come here to have a conference on New Zealand?” Well, as I keep having to explain, the conference was set up for academics living and workingin UK and Europe whose research is on New Zealand and the Pacific. At first, in the 1980s, it was a one-day seminar held in the UK, but it has gradually expanded into a major four-day conference held in a different European city each year, hosted by a university in that city. More and more scholars from New Zealand and the Pacific also attend. What is special about the conference is that it is interdisciplinary, so you can hear papers on anthropology, geography, economics, history, politics, literature, art, film, and music, and pick up on some of the latest research. Inrecent years anthropologistshave announced some of the latest news on the arrival and settlement of Maori in New Zealand – it seems fairly certain that settlement started near Blenheim at the top of the South Island early in the 1300s. Another trend in recent years has been the number of Polynesian and Maori scholars coming to give papers.
Current members of the Ulster New Zealand Trust may not know that the 1998 seminar was held at Ballance House! The one-day seminar on September 24 was preceded by a reception on September 23 in the Europa Hotel attended by the New Zealand High Commissioner Richard Grant and the Lord Mayor of Belfast, and hosted by Jill McIvor, and followed by a dinner in the Europa, at which Mr Grant spoke. Five of the papers were published in the British Review on New Zealand Studies no.11, a journal now superseded by the Journal of New Zealand and Pacific Studies. My paper in 1998, published in BRONZS, was on the New Zealand poet Fleur Adcock and her poems about her Northern Irish ancestors. Appropriately, although I have given papers on other topics over the years, this time I also spoke on Fleur Adcock, a paper on her latest book TheLand Ballot.
The conference is always very friendly and enjoyable. I look forward to next year in Strasbourg."
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