Brian Easton,

On 17 December, 2003 the University of Canterbury conferred a D.Sc. on Brian Easton for studies in the Political Economy of New Zealand.

The public citation stated:

The Doctor of Science was awarded for research on the political economy of New Zealand and assessed on the basis of four recently published books:
The Nationbuilders: a description of new Zealand economic policy and the economic debate since the 1930s around biographies of some of the key players;
In Stormy Seas: an analysis of the New Zealand economy since the war;
The Commercialisation of New Zealand: the development of policy from 1984;
The Whimpering of the State: policy development after the introduction of MMP.

(The Origins of the Four Books)

The event was celebrated by attendance by many family and friends (‘whanau’ as the Vice Chancellor put it). About twenty of them.

When I was capped forty years ago there was my grandmother, her sister (great-aunt Rhona) and my father. Alas they were not there except in spirit, for I wore a rose in my lapel from Dad’s bush …

… and Nana’s daughters – Dad’s sisters – Aunt Betty and Aunty Joan were there.

The conferment (capping) is a formal process in which one walks bareheaded across the stage …

… to shake hands with the Chancellor, who gives one a certificate. At this point the cap (in my case a bonnet or beret) may be put on.

But first I turned to the stage an acknowledged my teachers and academic colleagues (for I taught at the University of Canterbury).

Sitting in the audience was Wolf Rosenberg, my oldest surviving teacher. (Homeric, here with Ann.) I have not always agreed with everything he has argued, but I shall forever value the conversations where his courtesy has enabled us to converse with passion on issues which are important to us, without the breakdown that so often happens in our profession. Oddly, though, I did not learn enough from Wolf’s very first lecture, at Curious Cove in 1962, on the topic of ‘the dangers of being an economist’. Oh, if only I had listened, I’d have done something else – I was attracted to astronomy at the time. Perhaps he is glad that on this one occasion he did not get his message across.

I turned to the audience and acknowledged them,

then put my cap on,

but took it off at the bottom of the stairs to acknowledge the whanau in the balcony, especially Mum, my first teacher, who should wear the cap too.


These pictures were taken by Rob Bowie.