Catch the wave of knowledge


Internationally renowned surfer, artist, scientist and explorer Dr Easkey Britton is sharing her experiences as a big wave surfer with a Hamilton audience this month. The co-founder of the #SurfSocialGood hashtag summit and the Fair Surf platform will speak at a free public lecture at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on February 15.

Ireland’s five-times national surfing champion, Easkey learned to surf when she was four years old and her life has revolved around surfing ever since.

Dr Easkey Britton“I’ll be speaking about my own life-long relationship with the sea and how that has influenced what I do,” she says.

“Surfing helps me understand the meaning of connection. It demands a letting go of expectations and requires our total presence in the moment so that we begin to take notice of our surroundings.

“I believe the ocean has tremendous potential to dissolve barriers we put up within ourselves and the world outside, and the boundaries formed by culture, politics, society, as well as sometimes creating new ones. I’ll be sharing some examples from my own direct experience of witnessing this in action in places such as Iran and Papua New Guinea with the non-profit Waves of Freedom.”

Titled ‘Blue Spaces: being in, on, with the sea’; the free lecture is run by the University of Waikato’s Sport and Leisure department and will explore human relationships with the sea.

Dr Kimberley Peters will provide insights into how the sea intertwines with New Zealand’s social and cultural life; and Hoturoa Kerr will delve into how ancestral knowledge and wisdom helps to bring context into the everyday journeys of rangatahi (youth).

A University of Waikato panel discussion will include Dr Belinda Wheaton and Drs Rebecca Olive, lisahunter, Mike Brown and Ed Atkin.

Dr lisahunter, senior lecturer and one of the event organisers, says the evening brings together local and international research in the South Pacific.

Importantly, she says, the University of Waikato is at the forefront of this research.

“Here at this university alone we have a range of scholars working on sea-associated research: Dr Hemi Whaanga on waka navigation, Drs Belinda Wheaton and  Holly Thorpe on surfing and the Olympics, Dr Rebecca Olive on local surfing relationships, Dr Mike Brown on seascapes and sailing, Ed Atkin on surf break management, a visiting professor Dr Barbara Humberstone on seascapes and windsurfing, and I’ve had a number of summer scholarship students working on surfing and coaching, religion, websites, and surfer experiences.”

The ‘Blue Spaces: being in, on, with the sea’ free public lecture is on Monday, February 15, 5.30-7pm, at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato, Hamilton.

Following the surfing theme, UoW leading researchers and international researchers will also speak at the ‘+Surf for Social Good’ Community Day in Raglan.

Hosted at Solscape on February 12, the day is open to members of the public who are interested in surfing culture.

“The day will appeal to anyone interested in thinking critically about contemporary surfing culture and media, as well as for those who want to connect with other like-minded people,” says organiser Dr Belinda Wheaton.

“You definitely don’t need to be a pro-surfer. We will discuss issues like the surfing media, and how surfing can be made into a more inclusive community. Are surfers environmental warriors or are we inconsiderate consumers? What can be gained by networking and collective action? How is New Zealand’s surf culture and experience unique?

“While there will be some really interesting people talking from the surfing industry and media from New Zealand and further afield, there will also be lots of opportunities to talk and to get involved in discussion and debate,” she says.

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