Society Salon: In Pursuit of Happiness Event as iCalendar

04 July 2017



The University of Auckland Society is delighted to announce the first Society Salon for 2017 - In Pursuit of Happiness: What is happiness and how can we have more of it?

This salon will continue on the conversation from the “Taking Issue” segment of the just-released Autumn Ingenio magazine, where two academics respond to the recently-published World Happiness Report.

Read the Ingenio article



Society Salon

What is happiness?  Is the World Happiness Report reliable?  How happy are we really?  How can we be happier?  Does our happiness come at a price?

Join our award-winning panel of academics as we explore the topic further:

Event Details:

  • Date: Tuesday 4 July 2017
  • Time: 6pm – 7.30pm

(Guests are welcome to arrive from 5.30pm onwards, purchase a drink from the Buttery Bar, and enjoy some complimentary nibbles before the salon officially starts at 6pm)

  • Venue: Old Government House, Cnr Waterloo Quadrant and Princes Street, Auckland
  • Cost: There is no charge to attend this event
  • Details: Cash bar (Complimentary platters will be served)
  • Queries: Natalie Newton,, 09 923 4653


Click here to register


This event is open to University of Auckland Society members, alumni, staff and students, and their guests. 

Places are limited so bookings are essential. 




The World Happiness Report

The Report on the state of Global happiness ranks New Zealand as eighth in the world out of 155 countries.  It was released at the United Nations at an event celebrating the International Day of Happiness – 20 March.  This is the 5th report to come out since 2012, and it continues to gain global recognition as governments, organisations and civil society increasingly use happiness indicators to inform their policy-making decisions.  With New Zealand about to head to the polls, the mood of the nation could not be more important.

Read the 2017 World Happiness Report


Meet the panel


Dr Antonio Fernando

Dr Antonio Fernando

Dr Fernando is a psychiatrist and senior lecturer in Psychological Medicine at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.  He obtained his medical degree from the University of the Philippines and his psychiatry and sleep training at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been awarded multiple teaching awards by medical students and the faculty of medicine in Auckland. In 2012, he was awarded by President Aquino of the Philippines for his services to sleep medicine and medical education. In 2015, he received the Chair’s award by the New Zealand Medical Association, the highest recognition given by the association to any doctor in New Zealand for his work on physician wellbeing. In January of 2017, he received temporary ordination as a Buddhist monk in Chanmyay Myaing monastery in Myanmar.   His work on the science of happiness and the importance of mindfulness has brought him a considerable public following. 

Dr Niki Harre

Dr Niki Harre

Dr Harre’s research is in the area of community psychology and the psychology of sustainability. She teaches at both undergraduate and graduate level, and has received a university award for sustained excellence in teaching. Her most recent research addresses issues of sustainability, citizenship, values and political activism - how to engage people in creating a more sustainable and equitable society. She is intrigued by the lives of those who are (or at least appear to be) dedicated to the common good.  Her book - Psychology for a Better World  explores strategies to inspire sustainability.

Dr Ross McDonald

Dr Ross McDonald

Ross McDonald is an experimental educator whose work in teaching values and ethics has won institutional, national and international awards for creativity and impact.  He has a BA in Social Psychology, an MSc in Religious and Political Psychology and a PhD in Organisational Behaviour and Business Ethics. His interests focus on trying to prepare young people for significant social and economic change as we look towards the future. Dr McDonald’s recent work includes extensive consultations with the Government of Bhutan – the only country in the world to have adopted a post-GDP model of social progress. His books include Money makes you Crazy, Eleven Dialogues on Gross National Happiness and Educating for Responsibility: A Practical Guide for Teachers.

Meet the Chair


Dr Renee Liang - photo by Jeff McEwan

Dr Renee Liang

Renee Liang is a poet, playwright, paediatrician, medical researcher and fiction writer. Most recently she has written the libretto for an opera, The Bone Feeder (based on her play of the same name) which premiered in March 2017 at the Auckland Arts Festival. 

Renee has collaborated on visual arts works, film, digital storytelling games and music, produced and directed theatre works and worked as a dramaturge.  She organises community arts events such as New Kiwi Women Write, a writing workshop series for migrant women, and is about to publish the eighth anthology of work from this course. She contributes to The Big Idea which links New Zealand's arts community. Renee has written, produced and toured seven plays and three chapbooks of poetry. Her next work will be Dominion Rd The Musical, premiering in August 2017.

She won the Royal Society of NZ Manhire Prize for science writing in 2012, and a Sir Peter Blake Trust Emerging Leadership award in 2010. She has also won awards for her plays, and most recently a game design award for Golden Threads, an interactive historical narrative commissioned by Auckland Museum. 

Renee, a graduate of Auckland Medical School, has worked as a consultant at Hutt Hospital for the last few years and is currently a locum paediatrician. She is part of the core research group for Growing Up In New Zealand, a major new longitudinal study of New Zealand children.