Media Advisory May 17


The man behind a programme to address underachievement among Māori students in mainstream schools has received an award from the US for his work. Waikato University’s Professor Russell Bishop has been awarded the Paulo Freire Democratic Project Award for Social Justice from Chapman University in California for his Te Kotahitanga project that’s now running in 50 New Zealand schools. Paolo Freire was a Brazilian educator who spent much of his life focussing on educating oppressed peoples and as an advisor on education reform. He died in 1997 and Chapman University gave the first Paolo Freire award in 2002. Professor Bishop is only the third person to receive it. “I was blown away,” he says. “I’d turned up at Chapman’s College of Educational Studies to give a lecture and wondered why they were cutting into my speaking time by presenting awards. I was a bit shocked to hear my own name being called.”


Three winners were named at the Waikato Sustainable Bioeconomy Student Poster Conference at the University of Waikato last week. The poster conference provided a focus to draw together young emerging researchers with an interest in biotechnology and the bioeconomy, and an opportunity to meet others who shared their passion. Guest speaker was Steven Wrigley, Marketing Manager of BioStart, one of New Zealand’s leading agricultural science companies. The three winners were Ho Ying Yuen, who is doing a Bachelor of Science (Tech) in chemistry at Waikato University. She was researching combining polymer with beeswax to use as a controlled release for drug delivery in animals. Another winner was Pathik Trivedi, who is doing a Masters of Science in biology at Waikato University. He was studying a way to accelerate the aging of the seeds of the white bryony plant, a hardy environmental weed whose seeds can lie dormant in the ground for a long time. By understanding the seed’s germination process, the weed can be better controlled. The third winner was Jamaine Fraser, who works for Scion in Rotorua. She researched the design of marae seating using engineered biocomposite plastic.


A Waikato University scientist is proposing water mining though cloud seeding as an alternative to conventional mining of New Zealand’s national parks. Associate Professor Earl Bardsley says it’s a sustainable process that has no evident impact on the environment other than enhanced water yield. “A well-known approach is to add small amounts of silver iodide crystals into high cloud tops where liquid cloud droplets exist at temperatures less than 0ºC. This triggers off a freezing reaction and frozen particles clump together to form snowflakes which fall under gravity and either melt to form raindrops or accumulate as enhanced snowfall in mountain regions.” Dr Bardsley says portions of Tasmania have been cloud seeding for nearly 50 years to increase hydro output and figures suggested that rainfall in seeded catchments is about 5% up on unseeded catchments. “Tasmania has similarities to New Zealand’s South Island with westerly winds creating high rainfall in the western ranges and lower rainfall in the eastern lowlands. This suggests the possibility of enhancing Canterbury water supply by increasing winter snowfalls through seeding Norwest clouds as they pass over the Southern Alps. The melting snows in spring and summer would then increase the river flows for irrigation and power generation.” Prof Bardsley says there’d also be a need for some storage dam construction to gain maximum benefit of the new water and hold it back for use.


Waikato University’s Associate Professor Geoff Lealand has been appointed a Trustee of New Zealand On Screen, New Zealand’s premier online film and television archive. Dr Lealand, from the University’s Screen and Media Studies Department, was invited to become a Trustee by Jane Wrightson, Chief Executive of New Zealand on Air, and will take up the position in August. New Zealand On Screen was launched in 2008, as part of New Zealand On Air’s digital strategy as the primary online site for accessing New Zealand produced television, film, music video and new media. Dr Lealand is well known for his expertise in New Zealand media and was recently the keynote speaker at a NZ Screen Director’s Guild forum, speaking on the changing shape of television, both globally and locally, as well as providing strategies for responding to the Television New Zealand Amendment Bill.


Back in the days when New Zealand answered to Britain, a raft of official correspondence went back and forth covering social developments, major military uprisings and minor skirmishes, political activity, in fact, just about everything that was going on in the colony. The material has been available in bound and printed form for a long time, but now Despatches from Down Under: The papers of the New Zealand colony from and to the British Colonial Office are going to be available in digital form. The Waikato University Library has been awarded a $10,000 grant from The National Library’s DigitalNZ to make 14 volumes of the ‘Despatches’ available on line. They cover the years 1830-1855 and include maps from the period too. “There’s such wonderful detail, right down to Governor Hobson being told off by his superiors back in Britain for spending too much,” says NZ Collection Librarian Kathryn Parsons. “We learn about land sales, military clothing allocations for pensioned soldiers, and in 1841 a ‘protector of Aborigines’ goes on a journey and provides what must be one of the earliest detailed descriptions of the Waikato region.” Waikato University has a good track record in the area of digitisation. Its Index of Māori Names – all 987 pages of it – gets a lot of use from all over the world, and in collaboration with Computer Science, the library used its Greenstone software to digitise all the New Zealand content in the Illustrated London News from 1842 to 1902.


The success of Waikato University Professor Russell Bishop’s Te Kotahitanga programme has reached the ears of Associate Education Minister Dr Pita Sharples who’s asked to attend a leadership training session being held next week. Te Kotahitanga has been introduced into 50 schools to date. It’s a programme designed to address the underachievement among Māori students in mainstream schools. School principals and staff facilitators will be attending sessions throughout this week. Dr Sharples will attend a training session on Tuesday May 25 at the Tainui Endowed College at Hopuhopu north of Hamilton. He’ll arrive for a powhiri at 4.30pm, meet people, and then attend a professional development session before speaking to attendees. 


The University of Waikato’s Management School is sponsoring a series of talks in the Bay of Plenty next week by US Angel Investor Bill Payne. Mr Payne, who is also the BNZ Auckland Business School’s Entrepreneur in Residence, will be in Tauranga on May 24 and 25, giving a free public talk on Investment Funding for Entrepreneurs, as well as a dinner address on Business Investment Trends and Implications for New Zealand and a workshop and seminar titled Power of Angel Investing. Angel Investing involves wealthy individuals providing capital for businesses to get off the ground. Mr Payne’s talk takes place at Baycourt, Tauranga at 12pm on Monday May 24. The university is sponsoring the talks as part of its ongoing presence in the Bay of Plenty region.


Waikato University’s first Inaugural Professorial Lecture for 2010 looks at the looming threat of accelerated population ageing. The free public lecture tomorrow, May 18, is delivered by Professor Natalie Jackson, Director of the Population Studies Centre. The lecture will focus on Prof Jackson’s research into how accelerated population ageing will threaten the existence of New Zealand’s welfare state. Her lecture will propose the need for a society shift which prioritises children and redistributes access to age pension according to whether or not one has been a parent. Inaugural Professorial Lectures are the university’s way of formally introducing new and recently appointed professors to the wider community. Prof Jackson’s public lecture takes place at 6.30pm tomorrow in the WEL Energy Trust Academy of Performing Arts at Waikato University.

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