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Power of the Butterfly Effect


Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?

Probably not, but meteorologist Edward Lorenz's chaos theory, the Butterfly Effect, has evolved in popular culture to describe the ability of a small action to create a larger effect.

Nowhere in New Zealand was this more evident than in Dunedin last week. This Little But Mighty city hosted a kaleidoscope of EVents during Tech Week—a huge effort by local volunteers and guests. Here’s the roundup.


First EVent of the week was held at the Barton Theatre, Otago Museum on the Wednesday. Henrik Moller, of Flip the Fleet, was on hand to present “Electric Vehicles: Clean & Green Computers on Wheels?”


Locals weren’t put off by the rain and chilly 2°C with standing room only in the theatre. Pam estimated a whopping 75% of the crowd were contemplating purchasing their first EV.

In addition to discussing recent findings from Flip the Fleet, Henrik explained technical issues with EV in a palatable format. He was very well received with lively questions fielded from the audience.

Henrik Moller presenting

This popular event was followed on Saturday by TEXpo, a public open day at Otago Polytech and Otago University Business School.

Local EV owners were encouraged to join the annual Park-Up at the Polytechnic carpark where Rides and Drives were offered until 1pm. This event saw seven different models of EV, including two 40Kwh Nissan LEAFs and the new Toyota Prius PHEV with a total of 27 vehicles parked up. Always popular at these events, onboard diagnostics were demonstrated and offered to participants.

Real world questions were the order of the day. As well as the usual “how much does it cost to charge”, etc, people wanted to know “How many bars to get to Milton?”, “Can we get to Christchurch?” and “Is it more economical to go over the back way to Waitati or via the motorway?” Incidentally, Pam says it has been proven to be 18% more efficient to go the back way.

Meanwhile adjacent to the park-up, Otago Polytechnic Senior Lecturer, Hamish Miller, held a “What’s Under the Bonnet?” hands-on seminar. Hamish brought along a stripped out Nissan battery courtesy of the Automotive Engineering Department.  Pam says this was a well worthwhile demonstration, not just for the technically minded, but for any EV owner who wishes to know what goes on under the bonnet. The audience included EV owners and parents of tech students, amongst the general public.

Pam McKinlay was speaker at Techweek’s final EV event. Appropriately held at Otago Pioneer Women’s Memorial Hall, Pam spoke about the history of EV and Women and EV in a talk entitled “Miss Daisy Can Drive Herself.”

Indeed, like many woman drivers in the early 20th century, Clara Ford (wife of Henry Ford) drove herself in a Detroit Electric. Women preferred them as they were simpler to operate with no cranking required or gears.

This is a theme that seems to continue, Pam says. Historically, EVs were sometimes styled with fake radiators to make them appear more like the “masculine” gasoline powered vehicles.  Although current early adopters and advocates of EV are equally likely to be men and women, the most vocally dismissive tend to be older and male. The young ones really get it, she says.

There were a reasonable number of attendees in the hall when she commenced her talk, but it continued to fill as more and more people were intrigued by Pam’s entertaining and informative narrative. They would never have guessed that this was Pam’s first time giving a talk and we certainly hope she goes on to continue sharing her knowledge.


Pam is not just an EV Enthusiast. She is an artist with a passion for sculpting, ceramics and weaving, and a keen photographer to boot. The McKinlay Nissan LEAF, nicknamed Luxray, sports a roof rack for her family kayak missions to Taieri Mouth and has been used in exhibitions as a media player or connected to electronic work in exhibitions by blue tooth to the EV’s speakers.

Keep an eye out for the June edition of Down in Edin magazine which promises to have an in-depth article on Pam’s “Miss Daisy Can Drive Herself.”

So the many small events in Dunedin last week did bring our collective EV knowledge to the public. And every incremental increase in EV awareness brings the likelihood of change to a Fossil-Fuel Free Future for New Zealand. To that end the Better NZ Trust wishes to thank Pam McKinlay and the OEVsoc volunteers; Henrik Moller, Alan Wilden, Hamish Miller and sponsors: Signal ICT, Otago University, Otago Polytechnic and NZTech for generously giving their time and resources to promote EV.