This seminar, part of a PPI monthly series, includes presentations from Simon Wilson, senior writer at the New Zealand Herald, and transport researchers Professor Kim Dirks from Engineering and Professor Alistair Woodward from Population Health, the University of Auckland. Together they share research findings on Auckland’s transport challenges, some possibilities and necessities for improved urban mobility and perspectives gathered during the 2022 local election campaign trail.

Watch the seminar on YouTube here and learn more about the presenters below.

You can also access the slides and linked resources from the seminar here.


Professor Kim Dirks grew up in a rural town outside of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She completed a BSc in Physics and Meteorology before immigrating to New Zealand where she completed her postgraduate studies at The University of Auckland. Kim brings a multidisciplinary lens to both her teaching and research having held academic appointments across science, medical and health sciences and engineering. Kim’s research focuses on the ways in which urban civil infrastructure impacts on the health and wellbeing of urban residents, in particular air pollution and noise from road transport. In air pollution, her work includes the measurement of human exposure using portable sensors and the modelling of air pollution levels in response to changes in local meteorology and transport infrastructure. In the area of noise, her research focuses on the impact of road traffic and community annoyance. She also has interest in the role of urban green space in promoting community health and wellbeing.

Professor Alistair Woodward is an epidemiologist and public health medicine specialist. He was Head of the School of Population Health at Auckland from 2004-2012 and previously led departments of public health at the University of Otago Wellington and the University of Adelaide. His research and teaching are concerned primarily with environmental matters and the social determinants of health. He has been closely involved with the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for more than 20 years. Examples of current work: climate change impacts in the Pacific; the effects of street changes on health and safety; pathways to sustainable, healthy and fair transport systems; the future of the bicycle.

Simon Wilson is a senior writer with the New Zealand Herald. He is a former editor of Metro, Cuisine and Consumer magazines, and has also been chief subeditor for the New Zealand Listener and a commissioning editor for book publishers AH & AW Reed. Simon was chair of the non-fiction judges panel at the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. His novel The Age of Light was published in 1994. He is the winner of many journalism awards, both as a writer and an editor, including magazine of the year (for both Cuisine and Metro), feature writer of the year (twice), first-person essayist of the year, opinion writer of the year and reviewer of the year. He is a recipient of a President’s Award and the Auckland Cup from Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects.

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