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

Tēnā koutou e te whānau

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Obituary: Lynn Middleton

PSA’s first female national secretary and equal pay leader

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Working for Free

From November 18 New Zealand women effectively began working for free until the end of the year because of the 11.9% pay gap between men and women.

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Kindly leading the way to Equal Pay

As women began working for free in New Zealand on November 18, the PSA was working hard on a number of fronts to close the gender pay gap.

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Stand Up for Library Workers

Local government library assistants launched a campaign on November 22 to raise awareness of their equal pay claim and the work they do.

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Stark statistics help fight for equal pay and transparency

More than a third of PSA members or 27,291 of you shared your pay information with us in our first union-wide pay survey in September.

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CTU Conference: “We are delivering, but we have so much more to deliver”

The CTU Biennial conference in October was an opportunity to reflect on the significant gains made for working people during the Government’s first two years in power - and to challenge it to go further.

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Fair Pay Agreements will give workers a fairer deal

The PSA and other unions believe Fair Pay Agreements will offer a fairer deal for many of this country’s most vulnerable workers.

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Honours for workers on frontline

PSA members were to the fore as the Public Service Day awards
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PSAY Hui Inspires Success

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Pasefika Voices on Climate Strike

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

There’s a mix of old and new amongst the Sector Māngai elected at Public Sector, DHB and Combined sector hui in August and September.

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Reducing Māori Health Inequities

Appearing before the Māori Affairs Select Committee to speak to the Inquiry into Health Inequities for Māori was “awe-inspiring” for Allan Franks.

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

From small town Aotearoa to the United Nations – it’s been a big year for one PSA member from Te Puni Kokiri.

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100 Years On - Labour is still not a Commodity

The 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organisation this year is a timely reminder of its continued relevance.

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Your voice, our system

The PSA is hosting regional and online health forums in December to give members another opportunity to have their say in the reshaping of services.

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Fearsome fighter

PSA delegate Kelly Broerse says her colleagues at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) in Auckland are used to her showing up at work with black eyes and bruises.

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Unity in Diversity

Out@PSA is getting active at Pride celebrations and beyond

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