Media Advisory September 13


Two Waikato University cellists have been selected to take part in a major international competition in Beijing in October. Fifteen-year-old Colombian Santiago Canon-Valencia and 20-year-old honours student Aucklander Edward King are the only two cellists from Australasian music schools to have been selected for the six day event. Their audition required sending a twenty minute unedited DVD of unaccompanied work and their selection puts them with cellists from institutions such as the Julliard School and Moscow and Paris music conservatories. Their trip is being paid for by the University with assistance from the Hillary Scholars programme for high achievers. “You have to say having two Waikato musicians featuring is a remarkable achievement,” says their teacher James Tennant. “These two young men come from completely different backgrounds but are alike in their drive and ambition. They want to be international soloists and will do whatever it takes to get there.”


Waikato University’s free public lecture series on our city, our region looks at smart electricity grids and the developing smart city concept. The CEO of WEL Networks, Dr Julian Elder, will give the third lecture in the series on September 15, entitled Smart Grids and Smart Cities. Dr Elder will examine new global initiatives aimed at making better use of resources and improving services. He is followed on September 22 by Waikato University’s Population Studies Centre director Professor Natalie Jackson. Lectures take place from 6.30pm to 7.30pm each Wednesday evening until September 29 and are held at the university’s Academy of Performing Arts, with parking available in Gate 2B off Knighton Rd, Hamilton.


The University of Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regional Council have appointed Dr Chris Battershill as the inaugural Chair in Coastal Science for the Bay of Plenty. An expert on marine ecology and environmental science, Dr Battershill is currently Principal Scientist and Research Team Leader (Supporting Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity) at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford said the establishment of the position is evidence of the university’s commitment to working with key stakeholders in the Bay of Plenty to deliver world-class teaching and research. “The appointment of Dr Battershill will serve to further strengthen ties between the university and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council by addressing issues such as the pressure on Tauranga Harbour as more people live in and do business in the area,” Professor Crawford said. Bay of Plenty Regional Council Acting Chief Executive Mary-Anne Macleod said the appointment is the result of a joint memorandum of agreement between the Council and the University to establish the role, prioritising coastal science in the Bay of Plenty. “We made a careful decision to contribute funding for this role as we see sound science as very important for the development of our region and in particular the management of Tauranga Harbour,” Ms McLeod said. The new Chair is an integral part of the INTERCOAST programme, established by Waikato University and Bremen University in Germany to create a major centre of marine research excellence in the Bay of Plenty.


Two Waikato University law students are to represent New Zealand at the World Negotiation Championships in Copenhagen next year. Ben Gilbert and Andy Cameron of Waikato’s Te Piringa Faculty of Law were winners of the National Negotiation Championships, sponsored by law firm Buddle Findlay and held earlier this month in Dunedin as part of the New Zealand Law Students Conference. They beat a team from Victoria University of Wellington in the finals to qualify for the international competition. The annual Law Students Conference includes competitions for negotiation, client interviewing, witness examination and mooting, each sponsored by a major law firm. Competing teams from each university law faculty are judged by legal academics and legal practitioners; the winners go on to compete internationally. Gilbert, who is president of the Waikato Law Students Association, says the competitions offer a chance to represent your university – and are good for your CV. “The major law firms have an eye on who competes at a high level,” he says. “And it’s a great way to network because you’re meeting best and brightest from each university, as well as judges and practitioners in the corporate field.”


Former attorney general and parliamentary speaker Margaret Wilson has been appointed to join an international Social Protection Floor Advisory Group. Wilson is professor of law and public policy at Waikato University and was invited by the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to join the group that’s an ILO/WHO initiative. The Social Protection Floor Initiative comes from the United Nations and is to encourage the various UN organisations to work together to provide practical programmes of action to address the impact of the financial and economic recession on social welfare provision. “For example,” says Wilson, “the policy to cut back on assistance which will have long term consequences and impede the economic and social recovery. Economic recovery cannot be achieved without adequate social protection. The recent discussion paper from the Welfare Reform Forum chaired by Paula Rebstock is an example of an initiative that may or may not enhance social protection.” The Advisory Group has a year to produce a report that indicates an action plan for the way forward and meets from time to time in Geneva. Professor Wilson has also been awarded the first NZ-UK Link Visiting Professorship to the UK and next month takes up this three month professorship at the University of London's School of Advanced Study.


A Holocaust survivor, English literature professor, poet and organic orchardist has been profiled in an hour long documentary made by Waikato University academics. Peter Dane, born to a Jewish mother and German father honed his English language and literature skills while interned as an enemy alien during the Second World War. He later became professor of English literature at the University of Auckland. Waikato University senior lecturer in German Norman Franke says he wanted to capture Dane on film because his life has been such a varied adventure. Dr Franke worked with Elaine Bliss from Geography and Jake Ngawhaka from Screen and Media Studies to produce the hour long film called Past Present. He says Peter Dane is a rare breed in that he successfully immersed himself in two distinct cultures, wrote poetry that was accessible, but at the same time tackled complex subjects and profound themes. In the documentary, Dane laughingly says many of the good poets were half crazy, but says poetry helped him through the breaking points during his life. The film premieres at Waikato University on September 16.


Applications for next year’s University of Waikato Writer in Residence close on October 1. The position is jointly funded by the university and Creative New Zealand and pays an emolument of $45,000. The residency is open to poets, novelists, short story writers, dramatists, and writers of serious non-fiction, with the appointment made on the basis of a record of publications of high quality. This year’s writer in residence is Auckland playwright Albert Belz and previous recipients have included Tessa Duder, Ken Catran, Catherine Chidgey and Peter Wells.


Waikato University doctoral student Fiona Martin heads to Australia to present her PhD in three minutes. Ms Martin will be competing in the inaugural Australasian Three Minute Thesis competition, which requires her to outline her thesis to a general audience in just three minutes. Her research looks into the death speeches of characters in early modern English dramas, including plays by Shakespeare and lesser know writers, such as Thomas Middleton, John Marston and William Sampson. Ms Martin, who won the university’s version of the competition last year, will take on doctoral students from 33 universities in New Zealand and Australia. The Australasian Three Minute Thesis competition runs September 20-21 and takes place at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. Meanwhile, Waikato University is preparing for Postgraduate Research Month, which will run during October. The month will feature a range of events and activities aimed at building awareness of postgraduate research and to further develop a strong postgraduate culture on campus.


Waikato University Emeritus Professor Ian Pool presents the lecture entitled Human Capital and Economic Development: Squandering Our Demographic Dividend as part of the Royal Society talk series. In his lecture, Professor Pool will propose the need for New Zealand to invest in educating and training our young resident New Zealanders and be pro-active in employment strategies that create the work environment of an industrialised state. The role of these young residents will be in highly skilled industries, and in industries to service the baby boomers as they age. Professor Pool is an elected member of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population and has held positions at Waikato University from 1978 until retiring in 2009. This free public lecture takes place at 7.30pm tomorrow, September 14, at the University of Waikato Hamilton campus, room S.G.01.


Two Waikato University PhD students won prizes at the recent Queenstown Molecular Biology conference. Jo McKenzie and Emma Summers received Biochemical Journal Poster Prizes at the main meeting. At a special two-day satellite conference on tuberculosis, Emma scooped the pool by winning the 'best student poster' prize while Jo won best oral presentation by a young researcher.

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