A lifetime of discovery

A lifetime of discovery

Geologist, science communicator and PSA member Hamish Campbell can look back on forty years of “exploration, adventure and discovery” as he retires this year.

As a curator of the hugely popular Awesome Forces exhibition at Te Papa Museum, and co-presenter of TV show, Coast New Zealand, he has also helped bring science to a wider audience.


“What’s the point of doing any science unless we communicate it to society,” Hamish says. “Especially when we are running on taxpayer funding.”


He joined the New Zealand Geological Survey back in 1978, which became a Crown Research Institute in 1992, and was rebranded as GNS Science in 2006.

“The biggest change was becoming a CRI. The politicians asked what are scientists doing, and encouraged us to sell our expertise.”

Initially Hamish wasn’t sure about the change, but he says GNS scientists have gone on to gain revenue and rich experiences working everywhere from Oman to Indonesia.

“Because of our unique geology on a highly active plate boundary we are in demand wherever there are serious seismic hazards and wherever there is geothermal energy potential.”

When GNS Science became a founding sponsor of Te Papa twenty years ago, Hamish became the museum’s geologist and a GNS science communicator.

“There was a noble reason for the sponsorship, to help the public understand the relevance of earth science to our economy and society.”


In the last year though, Hamish has become a victim of restructuring at GNS Science.

“They were looking for ways to ‘modernise’ and cut costs, allegedly, and I fell through the cracks between the science and corporate functions.”

Hamish is also critical of the governance structures of CRIs, with boards that seem to have “vast powers that are coloured by risk-averse ideological or political whim rather than any objective science imperative ”.

“They tend to stifle science and creativity, while also being a financial drain. As a union we need to be making efforts to raise some of these issues.”

He is also concerned by the appointment of managers who appear to “know almost nothing about science and are hopelessly ill-equipped to lead scientists”.


But despite the recent restructuring at GNS Science and Te Papa, Hamish has “huge faith” in the next generation of scientists to continue to preserve and communicate scientific knowledge to New Zealanders. He is now an Emeritus Scientist at GNS Science, and in recent years has enjoyed a role co-presenting Coast New Zealand, a programme which has screened in 26 countries.

“It’s been immensely successful and great fun. The key message from the series is that ‘New Zealand is so beautiful!’”

Also in this issue:

President's Message

In October I was fortunate to attend the Council of Trade Unions Conference along with other members of the PSA delegation.

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Obituary: Lynn Middleton

PSA members and staff are deeply saddened by the recent and sudden death on November 13 of former PSA national secretary Lynn Middleton.

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Working for Free

For Pasefika women the statistics are even more damning – they’ve been working for free since September 29 due to a 25.5% pay gap. The pay gap is almost as dire for wāhine Māori – a 22.1% pay gap left them working for free since October 12.

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Kindly leading the way to Equal Pay

For Pasefika women the statistics are even more damning – they’ve been working for free since September 29 due to a 25.5% pay gap.

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Stand Up for Library Workers

At the launch delegate Chantalle Smith spoke of how research for their equal pay claim had found the skills required to do their job could be broken down into 22 separate categories.

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Mana Wahine: ‘Our passion is perceived as a threat'

A survey of wāhine Māori in the PSA has drawn a fantastic response - with more than 900 members taking the time to tell us about their employment experiences.

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Stark statistics help fight for equal pay and transparency

Your salaries generally reflect the gender and ethnic pay gaps seen in the wider workforce with Pākeha men well out in front of other groups.

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Fair Pay Agreements will give workers a fairer deal

That’s why we’ve made a submission on the Government’s new discussion document on FPAs and have been encouraging members to make sure their voices are heard.

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Honours for workers on frontline

The inaugural Public Service Day – Te Rā Kāwanatanga was held last year so this is the second year the awards have been handed out.

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PSAY Hui Inspires Success

After joining the PSA earlier this year, the DOC worker decided to attend the PSAY Hui in August.

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Pasefika Voices on Climate Strike

The PSA proudly supported the School Strike for Climate in September. For some of our Pasefika members the effects of climate change are already hitting home. They tell us why they took part in the rally on Parliament.

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“It opens their eyes”: Sector Māngai elected at Hui

Their role is to organise and advocate for Māori members in their sectors. They also represent their sectors on Te Kōmiti o Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Awhina and on sector committees.

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Reducing Māori Health Inequities

The convenor of Te Tira Hauora Kōmiti, a committee of Māori delegates across the DHB sector, presented their submission to the inquiry in November.

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‘It’s important to have Māori and female voices at the table’

Staff from the Ministry’s policy teams have attended UN indigenous rights forums in Geneva and New York.

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100 Years On - Labour is still not a Commodity

Its constitution still strikes a chord for those of us fighting for workers' rights:

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Your voice, our system

The forums will focus on mental health & addiction services, Māori health inequities, and disability services.

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Fearsome fighter

That’s because when she’s not involved in a tough round of negotiations, or doing her day job as a forensic technician, Kelly is likely to be found in the Muay Thai kickboxing ring.

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Unity in Diversity

In the workplace union members seek to be visible, vocal and valued but for some workers being visible is a risk - not a right they are afforded.

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