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Happy Valley Debate Essential

Debate Essential To Public Understanding

The attendance of a small group of protesters at this week’s Hopkins Lectures was welcomed by Steve Abley, Chair of the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand’s (IPENZ) Canterbury Branch.

Jointly hosted by IPENZ and the University of Canterbury, the 2006 Hopkins Lecture featured CEO of Solid Energy, Don Elder. On Tuesday evening, Mr Elder presented “The Economy and Energy: are both sustainable?” which discussed providing a sustainable economy and energy future for New Zealand.

Protesters and hecklers from Save Happy Valley Campaign had earlier distributed a release describing the association of IPENZ and the University of Canterbury as ‘socially irresponsible’. But Mr Abley says he encourages debate and discussion.

“The Lecture is held each year in Christchurch and is always well attended,” says Mr Abley. “It covers broad and social engineering issues rather than being purely technical. We believe the Hopkins Lectures provides a platform for discussion from opposing views and we welcome it.”

“The purpose of the Hopkins Lectures is to encourage discussion of engineering and encourage public understanding of engineering issues and we are confident that this week’s presentation satisfied these objectives”, he says.

“The audience of about 400 people was very supportive”, says Mr Abley. “At one point, Don asked our guests if they would like to listen to his presentation or the protesters. The audience clearly expressed their wish to hear what he had to say and later four people were ejected”.

The Hopkins Trust Fund was set up in recognition of the major contribution to Canterbury University and the engineering profession by the late Professor Harry Hopkins, who retired from the University in 1978 after 27 years as head of civil engineering.

ENDS

Notes to journalists

About IPENZ: The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) is the professional body which represents professional engineers from all disciplines in New Zealand. The Institution sets internationally bench-marked qualifying standards for degree qualifications in engineering, and serves engineers by securing formal recognition for their professional standing. IPENZ provides services for about 9000 members.

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