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Former MP and Minister to Teach at Georgetown

New Zealand Parliamentarian, Cabinet Minister to Teach at Georgetown

WASHINGTON - Michael Bassett, a historian who has held several senior positions in the Government of New Zealand is teaching at Georgetown this semester under the sponsorship of the Fulbright Program of New Zealand. His course carries the title: "Dreaming of Maxim's, but Settling for McDonald's: Government and New Zealanders' Lives since 1840."

Dean Robert L. Gallucci of Georgetown's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service said, "Bassett brings a rich and varied background to Georgetown. We're very pleased to have with us a distinguished scholar who is also a practitioner of government. That's very much in keeping with our tradition at the School of Foreign Service."

As New Zealand's Minister of Health from 1984 to 1987, Bassett introduced that country's first AIDS-prevention program. Its emphasis on public education and the protection of blood supplies spared New Zealand much of the impact the disease has had in other countries. As Minister of Local Government from 1984 until 1990, he brought about the country's first major restructuring in more than a century; more than 700 units of local government were reduced to 94.

Bassett is seventh in a series of Fulbright Visiting Professors of New Zealand Studies at Georgetown. He's had five terms in the New Zealand Parliament, held ministerial posts in two Cabinets and has served as vice president of the World Health Organization. He's published three biographies and other works and produces a weekly newspaper column.

Today, he sits on the Waitangi Tribunal, a body established by Parliament to deal with land claims of the Maori, New Zealand's indigenous Polynesian people - and has stirred controversy by denouncing those lawyers and historians who've turned the claims process into a profitable "industry" that has no end-date in sight.

Bassett earned his B.A. and M.A. at the University of Auckland and held a James B. Duke Fellowship while working on his doctorate in the United States. He taught at his New Zealand alma mater before entering politics.

Ambassador Richard W. Teare, Director of the Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies where Bassett is based, noted that the New Zealand-United States Educational Foundation (the Fulbright Program in New Zealand) has sent a series of top-flight scholars to Georgetown in the fields of history, government and literature. "Nowhere else in North America is New Zealand the subject of such regular and penetrating academic attention," he said.

Since leaving Parliament, Bassett has concentrated on political biographies, writing about 20th-century Prime Ministers Joseph Ward, Gordon Coates and Peter Fraser. While at Georgetown he will continue to work on his own history of the Labour Party government in which he served in the 1980s.

About the Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies The Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies is part of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. The Center was established in August 1995 with funding from the Governments of Australia and New Zealand. That support continues and has now been bolstered by an endowment grant of $3,171,000 (A$5 million) from the Government of Australia. The Center offers a program of courses about Australia and New Zealand in such disciplines as history, government, international affairs, sociology, literature and fine arts. Georgetown is the only university in North America that offers an undergraduate Certificate Program in Australian and New Zealand Studies. To learn more, visit .

About Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) is the world's largest school of international affairs. It offers interdisciplinary, intercultural and area studies programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The School's faculty includes both experts in their disciplines and practitioners with high-level experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors. SFS graduates represent over 70 countries and are in leadership positions across the globe; to learn more, visit .

About Georgetown University
Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in America, founded in 1789 by Archbishop John Carroll. Georgetown today is a major student-centered, international, research university offering respected undergraduate, graduate and professional programs on its three campuses. For more information about Georgetown University, visit http://

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