1997-98: Association with the Development Resource Centre
The network was initially located at Auckland University for its pilot year 1997-98 under the coordination of Ross Bell. The year culminated in the inaugural conference ‘Linkages in Development: Issues of Governance’, again with a focus in the Asia-Pacific region. Generously supported by MFAT, it was a significant and successful event – appealing to a large number of academics, students and development practitioners.
The conference demonstrated the importance of bringing together the wider development community to learn from each other. In November 1998, DevNet’s secretariat was moved to Dev-Zone, a programme of the Development Resource Centre (DRC). Te Amokura lapsed but electronic communication and use of the DevNet website expanded significantly.
1999-2008: Conferences and academic programmes
The strong base established in DevNet’s early years continued to grow. The DevNet coordinator based at the DRC regularly visited universities around the country and also grew the network’s online presence, adding resources to the website and sending monthly updates of development-related research and
learning opportunities around NZ, the Pacific, and the world.
Tony Binns came to Otago in the mid-2000s and initiated a cross-disciplinary ‘Poverty Research Cluster’. Changes also occurred in the leadership of the various Development Studies programmes, with Vijay Naidu then John Overton heading the programme at Victoria, Regina Scheyvens coming on board to replace John at Massey, and Ken Jackson & Yvonne Underhill-Sem heading the programme at Auckland.
Biennial conferences were held, and they were all supported by the semi-autonomous unit NZAID which had been created out of MFAT. Conferences were hosted by Victoria (2000 – Poverty, Prosperity and Progress), Massey (2002 – Contesting Development), Auckland (2004 – Development on the Edge), Otago (2006 – Southern Perspectives on Development) and Victoria (2008 – Peripheral Vision). In 2007, a joint NZAID and DevNet Symposium was also held on ‘Civil Society and Governance’ with an emphasis on complementing the more wide-ranging DevNet conferences.