Dr Heather Kavan staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 83969

Dr Heather Kavan B.A. Hons, PhD

Senior Lecturer

School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing

I teach Speech Writing. Students explore footage of great speeches from real-life and film, and learn how to incorporate powerful techniques into their own speeches. The Speech Writing courses take two forms: university degree courses and customised courses for organisations.

On the research front, I'm fascinated by existential questions, and spend every spare moment researching religion, spirituality, and transcendent states of consciousness. I'm the 'go to' person for information on religious groups and unconventional manifestations of spirituality, and I've helped film makers, lawyers, scholars, and ordinary people who need specialist information in these areas.


Contact details

  • Ph: 06 3569099 ext 83969
    Location: 2.17, Social Science Tower
    Campus: Turitea


  • B.A. Hons (first class) - Victoria University (1989)
  • PhD - Victoria University (1996)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Religion and spirituality

Altered states of consciousness

Joan of Arc

Speech writing and rhetoric


21st Century Citizenship

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Languages, Communication And Culture (200000):
Philosophy And Religious Studies (220000): Religion and Religious Studies (220400)


Speech Writing



Joan of Arc

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 0 1

Supervision and Teaching

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
CoSupervisor 0 2


Teaching and Speech Writing Awards

Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2008
National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award for Sustained Excellence, 2009
Cicero Speechwriting Award (education category), 2010

Completed Doctoral Supervision

CoSupervisor of:

  • 2013 - Wayne Gordon Macpherson - Doctor of Business and Administration
    An examination of Kaizen drift in Japanese genba: Implications for business in the anglosphere
  • 2013 - Judith Lee Bernanke - PhD
    Interfield antagonisms: An examination of the New Zealand journalistic and visual arts fields in the case of the mainstream media coverage of et al. and the 2005 Venice Biennale.

Media and Links


  • 27 Jan 2015 - Online
    Anniversary of Tiananmen Square Self Immolations
    Interviewed for article on the Anniversary of Tiananmen Square Self Immolations. Chinese media outlet 'Facts.org.cn'.
  • 25 Jul 2015 - Other
    "Belief: The possession of Janet Moses"
    Interviewee in documentary/drama telling the story of Janet Moses who died by an exorcism.
  • 25 Jan 2015 - Newspaper, Online
    Interview for Sunday Star Times’ Sunday Magazine: a feature entitled "CrossFit – cult or community".
  • 21 Nov 2013 - Radio
    Profile interviews
    Profile interview on my research Radio NZ; interview on seduction techniques of cult leaders Coffee and Aspirin, Radio Active.
  • 21 Jul 2014 - Newspaper
    Los Angeles Daily News
    Quoted in “Why China fears the Falun Gong” by James Griffiths.
  • 13 Jul 2013 - Newspaper, Online
    Interviewed for Sunday Star Times’ Sunday Magazine: a feature article on the Gloriavale community
  • 02 Dec 2012 - Newspaper, Radio, Online, Television, Magazine
    Quote of the Year
    Annual radio and print media interviews for the Massey University Quote of the Year competition. Generates public discussion on social issues and memorable rhetoric.

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