Media Advisory June 07

The University of Waikato is once again a strategic partner of the National Agricultural Fieldays. This year’s Fieldays theme is Breaking Barriers to Productivity - a challenge for all individuals and organisations involved in the agricultural industry. As the key tertiary institution in the Waikato region - New Zealand’s agricultural heartland - the University of Waikato is part of that industry and is heavily involved in research seeking to break down some of those barriers. At Fieldays the university has two stands, the Premier Feature Stand and a marquee with interactive exhibits. The university also hosts the annual seminar series which will feature academics and experts. The seminars are free and take place June 15-17 at the University of Waikato marquee, D Street, Site 25, Mystery Creek.

Two new ventures by the University of Waikato could turn New Zealand tourism on its head. Have you ever wanted to sip vintage wine, but couldn’t be bothered letting it age in a cellar year after year? When University of Waikato researchers heard that passing high voltages of electricity through wine could mimic the ageing process and produce a smoother flavour, they built a machine to do just that. Visitors to the University of Waikato Premier Feature Stand at Fieldays can taste some artificially-aged wine alongside some traditionally-aged wine to see if they can taste the difference. Another venture in the Premier Feature Stand is the artificial “pig hunt”. The University of Waikato’s Institute for Business Research is working with TechNZ to evaluate a suite of proposals from Māori trust organisations, ranging from greenhouses which exploit geothermal resources to adventure tourism with a unique twist – pig hunting. Visitors can “shoot” pigs at the stand and get the first taste of what could be New Zealand’s next adventure-tourism success story.

The University of Waikato has produced graduates, developed research, and partnered with local industries to meet the needs of the local community and the national agriculture sector. University of Waikato staff and industry leaders in agricultural innovation will speak at the University of Waikato seminar series at Fieldays next week. On Wednesday June 15 the public can hear about how new technology can help people manage soil and plant energetics and make a farm more productive. On Thursday June 16 hear about how low value animal-protein can be turned into high value biodegradable plastic, as well as how to better manage a farm and how to increase productivity. On Friday learn about the use of new technology and how this could lead to a more productive farm. The University of Waikato Seminar Series provides an opportunity to engage with people at the forefront of research and development related to land-based industries. Seminars run Wednesday to Friday starting at 10am during Fieldays and are free and open to the public. Visit the University of Waikato marquee, D Street, Site 25.

How does the brain recover after a stroke? Do we all have the same potential for recovery? What factors may play a role in the differences seen? Some say recovery only occurs in the first weeks and months after stroke, others say there is no time limit to recovery; which is it? At June’s Hamilton Cafe Scientifique Dr Robin Sekerak, a stroke rehabilitation specialist from the Waikato Hospital Stroke Service will begin to answer such questions that surround the topic of stroke recovery. Hamilton’s June Café Scientifique takes place at Café Francais, 711 Victoria Street, Hamilton, at 7.30pm on Tuesday June 21. It is supported by the university’s Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Aperahama (Api) Hurihanganui was set to join the navy before encouragement from his school principal pointed him to tertiary study. The decision has paid off for Hurihanganui, who is one of 47 new recipients of the prestigious University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship. Hurihanganui, from Masterton and a former student of Rotorua Boys’ High School, has a challenging year ahead as he combines a double degree with not one, but three sport and performing art disciplines. He has been recognised for his achievements in waka ama, rugby and kapa haka. In 2010 Hurihanganui was part of his school’s waka ama team, which won two gold medals and one silver medal at the national secondary school competitions. Hurihanganui also represented Bay of Plenty in the U16 rugby team and his kapa haka group placed second overall in the national secondary schools champs. The Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship Programme awards scholarships to academic high achievers who show significant leadership qualities and also excel in sport or in the creative and performing arts. The scholarships provide full university course fees while studying at Waikato, comprehensive support for the recipients’ academic, sporting and/or arts activities and additional support in leadership and personal development. “Receiving the Hillary Scholarship will be really helpful to my sport, especially with all the help and guidance from coaches and having access to facilities. It can be difficult to balance everything I have going on so it’s really good to know we have the support from the programme.” Hurihanganui is studying a double degree in Law and Arts.

The latest New Zealand university-led advances in agritech R&D will be on display at afree event next week, hosted by Waikato University and its commercialisation arm, WaikatoLink.Seven universities will be showcasing cutting-edge agricultural technology research at the Agritech Innovations event being held on the eve of Fieldays.Keynote speaker Dr Mark Harris, Global Marketing Manager, Gallagher Animal Management, will discuss current issues affecting New Zealand’s agritech industry, the importance of innovation, and the opportunity for partnering with New Zealand’s universities.Waikato University R&D on show will include electronic farm management systems and broadband solutions for the rural sector, research on soil carbon levels, and the development of technology for turning protein from animal processing waste into biodegradable plastic. The Institute for Business Research will also showcase current research into optimum governance models for the agribusiness sector. Designed to foster stronger working relationships between university researchers and the private sector, Agritech Innovations is one of a series of events spearheaded by Universities New Zealand, and supported by Business New Zealand and the University Commercialisation Offices of New Zealand (UCONZ) with funding from the Tertiary Education Commission. Agritech Innovations will be held on Tuesday June 14 at the Academy of Performing Arts from 5.30pm.
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Students from the University of Waikato were awarded Trust Waikato scholarships at a ceremony held on June 2. The Trust Waikato Student Community scholarships were first established in 2001 and recognise students undertaking graduate or postgraduate research involving the community or voluntary sector in the Waikato region. Among the Waikato recipients are masters’ students Mark Webby and Hannah Cleland and PhD student Clare Browne, who will each receive up to $3200.

One of the major reasons the voyages of James Cook generated so much attention and positive reaction was the visual record that they brought back from the Pacific. Artists from varying capabilities and styles had accompanied Cook and depicted the people, the landscapes, the artefacts, the fauna and flora that they had encountered. Join Pacific Studies librarian John Robson on June 16 at the Academy of Performing Arts as he presents a discussion on the Artists Who Sailed with Cook. Several of the artists such as Sydney Parkinson, William Hodges and John Webber have already been the subject of exhibitions and biographies. Mr Robson will discuss their influence on other artists on the ships and focus on the equally important contributions of Alexander Buchan, Hermann Sporing, George Forster, Henry Roberts, Peter Fannin and William Ellis. The discussion takes place 7-9pm on June 16.

Some of the best budding business brains at the University of Waikato went head-to-head on Wednesday June 1 when the Waikato Management School held the 30th biannual business case competition. Four teams of senior strategic management students competed in the case competition final where they had to examine the forces at work influencing communications giant Telecom, which aspects of the business to prioritise, what to invest in, where to move the corporate strategy and how to guarantee future success for the company. The winning group, Team Unite, said the key to Telecom’s future was not in specialisation, but instead through continuing its dominance in the broadband, mobile and information and communications technology markets. The team of Emma Blake, Cassie Snow, Ella Tappin, David Thomson and Linda Woodham came up with what they called the “triple s threat” strategy, which included setting up retail stores on university campuses around New Zealand to secure students as customers, securing small business with bundle packages that simplified their service and what they called ‘surf the cloud’ - developing new IT technology where all data and computing requirements are stored online. On the night the finalists had to orally deliver their recommended strategy for Telecom and answer questions from a panel of judges comprised of Telecom senior strategist Gavin Lock, Deloitte partner Vina Hari and leader of the Gen-i arm of Telecom, Scott Gemmill.

Work is taking over our lives. New technology means we are never far from an email or voice message, do not have to be in a specific place to work and are contactable at all times of the day. The recession also means it is now common for one person to be doing the work of three, increasing the work load and the pressure. So how do we cope with workplace stress? A new book by University of Waikato Psychology Professor Michael P. O’Driscoll, Coping with Work Stress, examines the pressures that employees face in the modern working environment, what factors are involved, and how individual employee and organisations can reduce workplace stress. “More and more people these days are feeling there is added pressure in their job, which is also putting pressure on their family life,” says Professor O’Driscoll. “Expectations of people have increased as well, which is partly due to technology. At the individual level people can adopt strategies which prevent work from intruding in your personal life. From an organisational point of view, companies need to realise with the recession there is a level of uncertainty in jobs, a lot of people are not entirely clear what is expected of them – employers need to make sure the goal posts are not changing all the time and help better manage the work load.” Coping with Work Stress focuses on how research on this topic needs to develop in order to enhance our understanding of work stress, which is becoming an increasingly important issue. The book is co-authored by Professor Philip J. Dewe from Birkbeck College (University of London) and Cary L. Cooper, Professor of psychology and health at Lancaster University.

A team of students from Waikato University have come up with an idea which could help save people involved in dangerous water sports. The team of Iris Lee, Jo-ellen Powell, Rosa Hughes, and Rebecca Hopkins won the overall prize for their idea of a GPSuit. “We had this idea of building a GPS into a wetsuit so surfers can be tracked,” said Lee. “Rebecca surfs and the reason we won was because of the idea itself, its common sense.” Family members and friends of surfers, divers and others who use the water, could track their position online and be able to find them if an accident occurred. The group planned to sell the GPSuit in surf stores and diving specialty stores. The Waikato Management School Marketing Trade Show is an annual event where students are put into teams and are asked to come up with an idea for a new product, do some market testing, design packaging, formulate a price and plan a marketing strategy - this year’s theme being safety orientated products. The semester long project culminates in an exhibit that showcases the student team’s ideas to a group of judges at the show.

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