• When: 10.00am Third Wednesday of each month
  • Where: Cooperating Church Hall, 124 Comries Road, Chartwell.

February 2024

Our first speaker for 2024 is Susan Paris, School Journal Editor

Remember the old annuals? BuntyBoy's OwnGirls' Crystal? Well the good news is annuals are back so your grandchildren can enjoy them too. Finally, something to compete with their phones!

Come and hear School Journal editor Susan Paris talk about her latest side project: Annual 3, a book published with the help of her business partner, Kate De Goldi. The pair's third annual is a New Zealand spin on the much-loved classic, with original content commissioned from some of our best authors and illustrators. Kids will find stories, comics, poetry, essays, recipes, crosswords, games, a song, and even a knitting pattern so they can knit their own brain! There's plenty of fun, but the annual editors are on a serious mission: to satisfy a young audience that's curious, discerning, and up for anything, with content that reflects the diversity of experience across Aotearoa New Zealand so they can reach as many readers as possible.

November 2023

Our speaker will be Harmen Van Weerden who has been involved with St John for over 35 years in both paid and volunteer management roles, lastly as the Property & Facilities Manager for 12 years before retiring in July 2020. I have continued to be involved as a volunteer on the Hamilton & Ngaaruawaahia Area Committee as the chair since September 2020. This has enabled me to have significant experiences and overviews of the organisation as the most trusted charity in New Zealand. St John provides services from operational ambulance services down to Penguins at the entry level of St John at 5-6 years of age, with a range of community and commercial services supporting the emergency and health needs of our communities. I have also worked at the St John Eye Hospital in East Jerusalem in 2012 where the foundation of the Order of St John was established some 1,000 years ago. Our modern day Order re-established in the mid 1800's with Queen Victoria and continues as a Royal Order to this day.


October 2023

Our speaker was Dr Ann McEwan, Heritage Consultancy Services Her presentation is titled ‘The Future of Heritage’
Dr Ann McEwan is an independent heritage consultant with a national practice. Born in Oamaru, which might be where the interest in architecture comes from, Ann studied at the University of Canterbury and lectured at the University of Waikato for ten years before setting up her own business. She has been writing an article for the Waikato Times’ history page since 2011 and is moving home to Christchurch next year.

For more details on the work Anne does, click HERE

For a recording of an interview with Ann on RNZ, click HERE

September 2023

Our speaker on 20th September was Richard von Sturmer.

He is a former Writer in Residence at Waikato University and will be speaking about his recently published book "Walking with Rocks, Dreaming with Rivers: My Year in the Waikato".

Richard von Sturmer is a New Zealand writer. He was born on Auckland’s North Shore in 1957. His recent books are the acclaimed memoir, This Explains Everything (Atuanui Press, 2016), Postcard Stories (Titus Books, 2019), Resonating Distances (Titus Books, 2022) and the recently published Walking with Rocks, Dreaming with Rivers: My Year in the Waikato (Titus Books, 2023). He is well-known for writing the lyrics of ‘There is No Depression in New Zealand,’ which has become the country’s alternate national anthem.

In 2020 he was the University of Waikato’s writer in residence. During his residency he explored the Waikato region, writing on its towns and geographic features. The result is now a book, Walking with Rocks, Dreaming with Rivers: My Year in the Waikato.

‘This beautiful object, this dream set down on paper, is travel writing regained, and put to rights. The first person invested in it is the reader. You are about to go on a journey. You are in good hands: great travel writing picks you up and swings you along like luggage.’ – Steve Braunias

‘An extraordinary meditation on settings across the Waikato – museums where he’s the only visitor, lifestyle blocks where “you can feel history evaporating,” lakes where the only images reflected are clouds.’ – Tracey Slaughter

Click HERE for a 2023 RNZ interview with Richard about his Waikato book.

The Waikato book is available from Poppies Hamilton, click HERE

August 2023

Our speaker was Dave Owen aka Space Dave from the Te Awamutu Space Centre at Kihikihi. Dave will share his passion for space and astronomy with us. Click HERE for more information

July 2023

At our July meeting, our speaker was Viv Leonard, on the topic of Antiques.
Viv is the proprietor of Arkwrights Antiques in Paeroa and she will share her knowledge of old items of interest with us.

June 2023

At our June meeting, our guest speaker was Dr Richard Vipond who is a Medical Officer of Health with Te Whatu Ora Waikato.
His presentation focused on his research findings in relation to the Delta variant of the Covid epidemic.
He has worked across DHB incident management team, regional Covid response, National response and working groups, and Waikato incident management including managed isolation facilities, developing close working relationships across multiple sectors. Waikato Delta response (Oct 2021 to Jan 2022) was the peak of the Waikato public health service response, following the Waikato Way - Manaakitanga, mahi tahi, and kawea ake.

May 2023

Our guest speaker was Fiona George from the NZ Red Cross. Fiona George is an ex-bank manager who has found her passion working in the not- for-profit sector. She is very proud to work for the largest humanitarian organisation in the world and being part of “Doing Good” in the world. Fiona was living in Christchurch for 20 years including during the Canterbury earthquakes. She talked about the formation of the Red Cross by Henri Dunant in 1863 right up to current times with the NZ Red Cross helping  those effected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

The NZ Red Cross website has information about their hazard app, volunteering, first aid courses and meals-on-wheels:


April 2023

At the April 2023 meeting, our guest speaker was Ellie Wilkinson who is the Community Development and Support partner for the Hamilton Multicultural Services Trust, with oversight of the key services which support the successful settlement of migrants and refugee communities in Hamilton. Ellie is also the chair person for Te Whare O Te Ata - the Fairfield community house - which is based at the refurnished community hall on Fairfield Park. She spoke of her and the team's work with migrants and refugees at the start of their living in Aotearoa and Kirikiriroa.

If you are interested in this topic, a good read is the book by one of the Tampa refugees Abbas-Nazari:


March 2023

At the March 2023 meeting, our guest speakers were Sandra and Barry Payne, two adventurous Third Agers. In 2019, Sandra and Barry completed an adventure of a 58,945km round-the-world trip in a single-engine, four-seater Piper Comanche, registration mark ZK-BAZ. Also known also as The Bazflyers, they are New Zealand’s first official Earthrounders – a term for pilots who circumnavigate the planet. The trip lasted 6 months, from April to October, 2019.

For further reading on their adventures, click HERE to go to the Online Learning posting.

February 2023

Our guest speaker in February was Ross Hargood who updated us on the development of the new regional theatre at the southern end of Victoria St. Ross is an experienced engineer and construction manager and Chairperson of the Waikato Regional Property Trust, which was established four years ago to ultimately own both the Theatre and its operating company. For further information on the theatre and its development click HERE for the posting in our U3A online blog.