2020 No Barriers – Small Island, Big Ideas NEW DATE 26 SEP

September 26, 2020

Claris Conference Centre


This well loved event is now in it’s sixth year and it’s going to be a good one. After 2019’s deeply moving topic of death, organisers have decided to focus on LAUGHTER for this year’s event.

The event will be Moderated by Michele A’Court – renowned comedian, write, social commentator and mum. Winner of multiple awards for comedy. You may know her from… well, everywhere really – radio, television, theatre, clubs and pubs up and down the country.


Nick Holm: Senior Lecturer in media studies at Massey University. Nick will discuss the role humour plays in advertising, politics, popular culture and the media, and look at parody, satire, irony and comedy. Nick’s twitter handle reads: “pursued a PhD in media and cultural studies. Caught it.” Make sure you catch him on September 12.

Alex Taylor: Senior Lecturer in psychology and leader of the Animal Minds Lab at Auckland University. Alex will answer one of the most pressing questions of the day – do animals laugh? Alex studies the minds of humans, dogs, kea and crows, using theoretical and experimental approaches to figure out if our furry friends see the funny side of life.

Barbara Plester: Senior Lecturer in Management and International Studies at Auckland University. Barbara is an expert on workplace humour. Can banter and a chortle at work improve performance? Barbara will also explore kindness and cruelty in laughter.

And no panel on laughter would be complete without a comedian. How do these guys go about making people laugh? What’s funny and what’s not? And what happens when it all goes wrong? Jeremy Elwood, award winning comedian, and regular panelist on TV3’s 7 Days and RNZ’s The Panel, will reveal all.


Breakout sessions for this year’s No Barriers event

Breakout Session 1 – 9.30am – 10.45am Claris Conference Centre
Barbara Plester – Jokers wild. The role of the workplace joker.

This session explores: Who wants to be the joker? How is such a role won? What does it mean for
career progression? How is the joker seen by colleagues? What other roles are there in workplace
humour interactions?

Nick Holm – Controversial Humour / Comic Offense
What is it about humour that means comedy and comedians so often land themselves in hot water
(or worse)? This session will explore how and why humour seems drawn to controversial and
offensive topics, how that shapes the way we laugh, and what we can make of outraged, offended
and even violent audience responses.

Breakout Session 2 – 10.15am – 12 noon Claris Conference Centre
Alex Taylor- Analysing animal behaviour
Do animals do what we think they are doing?

Breakout Session 3 1pm – 2pm Claris Club
Jeremy Elwood and Michele A’Court – Speaking Truth to Power

Why is comedy important in dark times, and what is comedy’s role in helping us deal with serious
issues in the news? Plus the challenges of trying to perform comedy during Covid-19 gathering
restrictions. The “why” and the “how” of comedy. And obviously some laughs!

Dinner with the experts

7pm – 10pm (Limited to 30 guests $65pp- Email gendiesr@hotmail.com for tickets)

The No Barriers team would like to thank Awana Rural Woman for being the event partner for the past five years, and welcome Destination Great Barrier Island as the new No Barriers umbrella organisation.