Professor Peter O’Connor is an internationally recognised expert who has created theatre and researched the possibilities of the arts in schools, prisons, psychiatric hospitals, in disaster zones and with the homeless.

O’Connor is the Director of the Centre for Arts and Social Transformation at the University of Auckland. He led the creation of Te Rito Toi, an online resource to support the return to school by children during COVID-19. The site has gained international recognition and has been used in 114 countries.

In this talk O’Connor will convincingly argue for the importance of art in our society, and the extraordinary power of art to heal and promote wellbeing. He will illustrate this with examples of recent projects, including his work creating theatre together with homeless communities in Los Angeles and Auckland, and working with children after the Christchurch terror attack. O’Connor believes that art is vital to a thriving community for both adults and children alike. Art has the power to bring joy, colour, wonder and fun to our lives and help us to make meaning.

O’Connor explains, “every human is an arts maker. We are all born as creatives so we can begin to understand and then shape the world in which we live. Our connection to the arts sits at the heart of our shared humanity. We all know instinctively that when the world is in a mess, the arts are there for us. When we were very little we used them to learn, to develop relationships, to begin defining who we are and who we might become.”

The Monica Brewster Evenings (MBE) in association with Govett Quilliam – The Lawyers bring an impressive array of national and international artists and cultural thinkers to New Plymouth. For a different kind of night out, join the Govett Brewster for talks, presentations and performances in a casual and intimate atmosphere.


  • Friends $10 | General $15


  • Tue 10 Aug


  • 6:00 pm — 8:00 pm


  • 42 Queen Street
  • Ngāmotu New Plymouth