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Nicholas Drake



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I'm a doctoral researcher in philosophy at the Australian National University and have MAs in philosophy from Victoria University of Wellington and Washington University in St. Louis. I go by the name "Nicky," and my Māori friends and family call me "Nīkora." I specialize in wellbeing, public policy, disability, and ethics, and have published on moral bioenhancement, Mill's metaethics, utilitarianism, and metaethics and love. 

I recently submitted my dissertation, which is about the theory and practice of government approaches to promoting wellbeing and using the tools of conceptual engineering to develop accounts of wellbeing and disability for public policy and other practical contexts. My current research topics include identifying ways to improve Australia's new government measure of national wellbeing and the role of the concept of wellbeing in public health. 


Before beginning university study I studied and taught classical piano, founded and ran Te Whiti-o-Rongomai House, which provided accommodation for homeless people, and for some years lived a subsistence lifestyle in a hut in the bush in Hokianga, New Zealand. While in Hokianga I gained certificates in Māori studies and in horticulture at the small local branch of a technical institute. I've worked with children as a teacher's aide, as an educator for the Wellington Zoo, and in out-of-school programmes, including on a holiday programme for autistic children and as the manager of a group of three out-of-school centres. I've also organized free camps for at-risk children in Te Tai Tokerau, New Zealand.


For Māori, where you and your people are from is more important than what you do for a living. On my mother's side, my family is from the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, and before that from England and Ireland. On my father's side, my family is of the Māori tribe Ngāi Tahu and the subtribe Kāti Kuri, of Kaikōura on the East Coast of the South Island, and from England and Ireland. The photos on this website are of Kaikōura . It's a very good place to walk in the mountains or go to sea to see whales, dolphins, albatrosses, seals, and penguins.

I am very lucky to be married to a wonderful woman called Hannah Simpson, from Wellington, New Zealand. I like to go to wild places when I can, and have done quite a lot of alpine trekking. I very much like seeing and meeting wild animals. The best animals are penguins.

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