NZ Initiative James Kierstead 01w v2

Dr James Kierstead

Research Fellow

James is Senior Lecturer in Classics at Victoria University of Wellington, where his research focusses on ancient Greek democracy.

His main focus at the Initiative will be on higher education policy, including academic freedom.

James holds a BA in Classics from Oxford, an MA in Ancient History from the University of London, an MA in Political Science from Stanford, and a PhD in Classics from Stanford.

He is also the co-host (with Michael Johnston) of Free Kiwis!, a podcast dedicated to free speech in a New Zealand context, and he can be found on Twitter at @Kleisthenes2.


Phone: 04 499 0790


Recent Work

Policy rally square

Shameful legacy: NZ’s ‘open society’ takes well-deserved beating

In September 1969, hippies thronged to Auckland’s Albert Park to stand up for free speech, protest the Vietnam War, and enjoy the grass. It was part of a movement for free love and free minds that was sweeping the English-speaking world at the time. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
Dr James Kierstead
The Australian
28 March, 2023
EPS 149 Paul Kilmartin

Podcast: Mātauranga Māori & Science

Recent Ministry of Education publications bring mātauranga Māori concepts into the school curriculum. While concepts like mauri, a Māori term meaning “vital essence” or “life force”, may have something to offer science as a reflection of ecosystem health or the “life-supporting capacity” of rivers, any interpretation that equated mauri with chemical properties, or as “the binding force between the physical and the spiritual”, had no place in the chemistry curriculum and proposals to incorporate traditional knowledge in science curricula need a lot more reflection, with nobody excluded from the conversation. Read more

Dr James Kierstead
Prof Paul Kilmartin
20 March, 2023
Free Speech Union Podcast

Free Speech Union's Podcast: The Roald Dahl Re-Edits and Dignity in Debate

Free Speech Union spokesperson Dane Giraud speaks to James Kierstead, who gives his summary of the failed hate speech laws before they discuss the need for generosity towards your ideological opponents, the woke re-editing of Roald Dahl's books, and the general issue with translations and tampering with texts.

Listen to the podcast Read more

Dr James Kierstead
Free Speech Union
20 February, 2023
EPS 145 Free Kiwis

Free Kiwis! podcast: Emeritus Professor Roger Openshaw

Roger Openshaw is Emeritus Professor of Education at Massey University. We drew on his rich knowledge of NZ educational history as we discussed the changing relationship between central government and NZ schools over the past century or so; the perils and promises of the new history curriculum; and how solid the evidence is for the common assertion that the NZ education system is racist. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
Dr James Kierstead
Professor Emeritus Roger Openshaw
20 February, 2023
silence Copy

On the spectrum

For all those who were hoping that the state would finally get tough on hate, the government’s dialling down of its ambitious hate speech reforms must have come as a crushing disappointment. All is not lost, though. Read more

Dr James Kierstead
Insights Newsletter
3 February, 2023
EPS 140 Free Kiwis

Free Kiwis! podcast: The Coddling of the American Mind

On many American university campuses over the last few years speakers are shouted down, students and professors say they are walking on eggshells and are afraid to speak honestly, and rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide are rising. Deplatforming in universities is also on the rise in New Zealand. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
Dr James Kierstead
2 February, 2023
Eric Crampton

Free Kiwis! podcast: Democracy, online content regulation, smoking and pirates

This week's podcast is a Free Kiwis episode. Drs Michael Johnston and James Kierstead discussed a range of issues with Dr Eric Crampton. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Dr Michael Johnston
Dr James Kierstead
Free Kiwis! Podcast
7 December, 2022

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