LATE 2018 - CRISPR – Utopian or Dystopian? Post-Nature

WED 10 OCT 5.30PM - 9.30PM  

Just because something is bad, doesn't mean it isn't good – would it be a ‘tragedy’ not to take advantage of CRISPR gene-editing? Or does the real tragedy lie in creating a genetic upper caste?

This LATE we explore the fast pace change of our ethical landscape when it comes to genetic science and how its developments influence our society.

Will the ‘slippery slope’ of technology seduce society into going places it shouldn’t? Is there such a thing as a slippery slope and what are the checks and balances? Can CRISPR help all of us or just the most privileged? How do we decide where to stop and where to carry on the journey? Where do we draw a moral line, for how long and why? Have we truly arrived to a space where things are not black and white and are we questioning what it means to be human?

LATE is back for 2018 with historic and contemporary ideas, in dynamic interplay with our celebrated building, offering unexpected experiences and inspiring new perspectives.

LATE at the Museum is series of curated evenings that include panel discussions, live performances, and late-night exhibition openings. Food and bar available.

Our special exhibition Are We There Yet? Women and Equality in Aotearoa will be open late.


Moderator: Russell Brown


Russell Brown has made a career out of explaining complicated things – from information technology to drug policy – in simple terms. He is the owner of the Canon-award-winning Public Address website, the former host of Media7, Media3 and Media Take, a journalist, broadcaster, and commentator on a range of topics. When he’s not working, he’s usually cooking, listening to music and riding his e-bike.



Tim Dare

Tim Dare is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Auckland. He worked briefly as a lawyer before doing his PhD in the philosophy of law and starting his academic career in the early 1990s.

His publications include books and articles on the philosophy of law, legal ethics, immunisation programmes, the significance of judicial disagreement, parental rights and medical decisions, the proper allocation of the burden of proof, and the use of predictive analytics in child protection.

Employed by New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development his role is to provide data ethics advice and to develop privacy, human rights, and ethical review processes for proposed uses of client data. He has provided ethical reviews of a number of predictive risk modelling tools in New Zealand and the US.

Tim is principal investigator on a NZ Royal Society Marsden Grant (2018-2020) investigating the ethics of using predictive risk modelling tools in social policy contexts. He sits on a number of local and national research and clinical ethics committees.

Peter Fineran

Peter Fineran is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Otago. Peter has established an international reputation for his research on the interactions between bacteriophages and other mobile elements and their bacterial hosts.

A major focus of his lab are the CRISPR-Cas adaptive prokaryotic immune systems. He is recognised as a world leader in the CRISPR-Cas field and was the keynote speaker at the CRISPR2017 conference in the USA. He completed his PhD and post-doctoral training at the University of Cambridge, UK. He has made critical contributions to understanding CRISPR-Cas systems, such as how these systems acquire new immune memories and uncovering the mechanisms of CRISPR-Cas regulation.

Peter has received many awards in recognition of his research contributions, such as a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship from the Royal Society of NZ and the Ross Crozier Medal from the Genetics Society of AustralAsia.

Dr Heather Hendrickson

Dr Heather Hendrickson completed her PhD work studying bacterial evolution and horizontal gene transfer at the University of Pittsburgh. She was then awarded a prestigious Human Frontier of Science Program Long Term Fellowship to work in the Biochemistry Department at Oxford University.

Heather is currently a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Bioscience at Massey University in Auckland. Her research group works on how bacteria evolve with an eye towards understanding what innovations we can expect from them in the future. They are currently pursuing projects that involve the evolution of symbiosis and pathogenicity in bacteria.

Her research group and her undergraduate students at Massey University are also phage hunters. Phage hunting involves discovering and studying new bacteriophages, the viruses that infect bacteria.

Maui Hudson

Maui Hudson is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Maori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato. He co-authored the Te Ara Tika Guidelines on Maori Research Ethics, Te Mata Ira Guidelines on Genomic Research with Maori, and He Tangata Kei Tua Guidelines on Biobanking with Maori.

Maui is currently working on projects looking at Genomic Research on Taonga Species, and Maori views on Gene Editing. He has previously been a member of the Ethics Committee for Assisted Reproductive Technologies, and the Advisory Committee for Assisted Reproductive Technologies.

His interest is in the intersection of matauranga Maori and new technologies is around how they can be harnessed to reduce inequities.

Entertainment: Giggly Gerties 

In the spirit of futurism and CRISPR, comedy duo Chris Parker and Thomas Sainsbury invite us to playfully imagine the world in the post-human context with Giggly Gerties, a comedy techno-thriller.

Giggly Gerties, the brain child of Chris and Tom, is where Black Mirror meets French and Saunders. Stephanie, an AI Robot, has been created by Kiwi Tech Genius, Devon, and is about the take the world by storm. He's going to launch his creation at a Tech Convention in Seoul, South Korea. But will Devon be able to give up his beautiful machine? And will free-thinking Stephanie just go along with someone else's plans for her?

Chris Parker is the 2018 winner of the Fred award at the New Zealand Comedy Festival. He is a regular contributor to Jono and Ben and Funny Girls and has traveled the country playing Kiwi Icon, David Hall, in the theatre show Hudson and Halls.

Thomas Sainsbury has acted in Shortland Street, Pork Pie, Hamish and Andy: True Story, Filthy Rich and Wellington Paranormal. He is also known for his snapchat channel satirising New Zealand politicians amongst other kiwi archetypes. 

Click here to see the programme

Media partners The Spinoff and Radio New Zealand National.