Media Advisory December 12


Two US academics have “outed” New Zealand in an international journal as not so clean and green. Drs Kenton Bird and Gundars Rudzitis from the University of Idaho, visiting scholars at Waikato University last year, have published an article in Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development that examines the New Zealand government’s rationale for mining, identifies risk areas, assesses public reaction and political implications and suggests alternative strategies. The article is titled Myth and Reality of Sustainable New Zealand: Mining in a Pristine Land. The authors say that while we have magnificent natural wonders, the clean, green image is not always consistent with government policies – such as the proposed mining of national parks and Schedule 4 lands. They advocate New Zealand adopt a quality-of-life model, where people choose to live in a place because of its scenic beauty and other amenities, and the jobs follow, not the other way around. Rudzitis and Bird quote a study of 100 US towns and found towns those that relied on 20% of their labour income from mining did less well than other rural communities. From more information visit


Sustainability research at the University of Waikato will be given a boost with the establishment of a new endowment fund. A bequest made by the late Zena Daysh will see the university receive $500,000 to support research related to sustainability and establish the Dr Zena Daysh Doctoral Fellowship in Sustainability. Zena Daysh was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2009 from the University of Waikato in recognition of her international contribution to human ecology and sustainable communities. Although New Zealand born, she lived in London for more than 50 years and founded the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council, which aimed to influence Commonwealth governments to create policies that would support sustainable communities and a sustainable world. The Dr Zena Daysh Doctoral Fellowship in Sustainability will be available to postgraduate students across a wide range of subject areas. The bequest will be acknowledged at an event held at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on Wednesday December 14.


University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary scholar Santiago Canon Valencia has won the supreme prize at the finals of the 2011 Gisborne International Music Competition. The 16-year-old Colombian cellist impressed the judges who said he “alarmed us with his consummate ease around his instrument and his sheer technical ability”. This year was the first time Santiago was old enough to enter the competition, which is open to orchestral musicians 16-25. According to competition co-manager Mark La Roche, Santiago’s formidable talent had already earned him a “legendary” reputation. “Everywhere you go people are saying ‘have you heard about this kid from Hamilton?” Santiago won $8,000 and earned himself a concerto date with the Vector Wellington Orchestra.


Waikato University’s main man for interactive digital music has joined an international team to explore the relationships between musicians and interactive computers. Composer, Associate Professor Ian Whalley from Waikato’s Music Department, will work with academics from Queensland Conservatorium at Griffith University, Goldsmiths University of London, and Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Paris on the project that’s being funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Project. This builds on prior work by Whalley building computer based intelligent-agent systems for interactive performance. Whalley's recent composition using Internet2 and IPv6 opened the Asian Telemusic Concert at the Musicacoustica festival live in Beijing. While he and fellow musician Hannah Gilmour played in Hamilton, they linked with musicians in Singapore and China using five digital video channels, multiple stereo channels, and data streams to link the performers in the three countries for the performance. The composer says there is huge potential for new genres of music to emerge as technologies change, but a deeper understanding of nature of human interactions through music and the possibilities of transferring this knowledge to computer systems needs to be more fully explored.


University of Waikato Professor Diana Coben has been awarded an Emeritus Professorship from King’s College London. This honorary title was given in recognition for her services to the College and adult literacy and numeracy education. Professor Coben is currently the Director for Research and Policy at New Zealand’s National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults (NCLANA), which is based at the University of Waikato Faculty of Education. Prior to coming to Waikato she was based at King’s College London and was involved in projects designed to improve adult literacy and numeracy. During this time she co-founded England’s National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC) and was the Founding Chair of Adults Learning Mathematics (ALM), an international research forum of researchers and practitioners committed to adult numeracy and mathematics education. The National Centre (NCLANA) is hosting the 19th international conference (ALM19) in June 2012, alongside the Centre's Annual Symposium.


Waikato University students have won three of the four top honours in the 2011 Coastal Society scholarships. Amir Emami from the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences won a PhD scholarship of $5000 for his investigation of beach processes at Auckland’s Muriwai Beach. Shawn Harrison, also from Earth and Ocean Sciences, received an honourable mention for modelling sediment exchange in and around ebb-tidal deltas in meso-tidal zones. Lisa McCartain, from Waikato’s Department of Biological Sciences, received an honourable mention in the Master scholarship category. Scholarships are awarded to students conducting research with the potential to lead to solutions for some of New Zealand’s most challenging coastal issues. From Iran, Amir says the news about the scholarship was the best he has had during his time in New Zealand. The aim of Amir’s thesis is to develop a conceptual model for the interaction between beach groundwater table, beach processes and beach face volume.


University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar Josh Blue is this year's winner of the Simpson Grierson Environmental Law Prize. Josh achieved an A grade in the University of Waikato's Environmental Law paper and was recently presented with a cheque for $1,000 by Simpson Grierson.The prize was established in 1992 to encourage excellence in the study of environmental law. Josh is already getting a taste of life as working lawyer, spending summer as a clerk at law firm Russell McVeagh in Auckland. “I got the summer clerk job at Russell McVeagh through gaining the Russell McVeagh Scholarship. As part of the scholarship you’re given some financial support each year and a guaranteed spot as a summer clerk with them before your final year of university.At the moment I’m working in both the Property and Resource Management teams and am gaining a good mix of experience across a range of jobs.”Josh completes his conjoint degree in Law and Social Sciences next year and in the second semester will be heading to Copenhagen on a student exchange, which will be partly funded by his prize money.


This January the University of Waikato is hosting Bubble Dome summer education programmes in robotics and computer animation and game design. Bubble Dome is a niche children’s educational publishing company that offers school holiday programmes and after school training workshops for both children and teachers. The courses, aimed at between 6-15 years, take place at the university between January 18 and 20. In the robotics class students will learn how to wire circuits for alarms and amplifiers and explore radio controlled racing and flight and create and program their own robots. Computer animation and game design students will be taught the skills behind design, animation and game making while being exposed to the art of character animation, games design and 3D world creation as they create industry level software. Registrations can be made online.


A free seminar offered by the University of Waikato Department of Policy, Culture and Social Studies in Education will examine raising the school leaving age in a free public lecture being held this week. Professor Gary McCulloch, a visiting lecturer from the University of London, will examine the gradual raising of the school leaving age over time and the many contentious economic, political, social and cultural issues that go with it. The seminar will look in particular detail at the increase in the school leaving age in postwar Britain from 1945 to 1983, and the current planned raising of the age to 18. The hour-long seminar takes place at the Faculty of Education, Hillcrest Rd on Thursday December 15, starting at 4pm.

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