Media Advisory February 25

Research by a University of Waikato scientist into how to turn bloodmeal into biodegradable plastic has won investment from the Wallace Corporation, New Zealand’s largest service rendering business. Hamilton-based Aduro Biopolymers is a spin-off company formed by WaikatoLink Limited, the technology transfer office of the University of Waikato, and was formed to develop and market materials and biopolymers for use in the manufacturing sector. The company is currently developing a novel material based on an unconventional idea; turning bloodmeal into bioplastic, which was created by University of Waikato scientist Dr Johan Verbeek. Aduro Polymers aim is to develop environmentally conscious materials for the manufacturing and construction sectors. The company’s first product is Novatein, a bioplastic that will be price competitive with petrochemical plastics. The global plastics market is worth over a trillion dollars and currently bioplastics represent 5-10% of that market, with a compounded annual growth rate of almost 20%.

The University of Waikato made its presence felt both on and off stage at Te Matatini, the national kapa haka championships held in Rotorua last week. The University is a strategic partner of the competition and several staff members and students performed in the more than 40 teams vying for the title. University Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford was among staff members who attended the four day competition and says it was an “absolutely unique” experience. “The level of dedication and excellence that is displayed by many of our staff and students at Te Matatini are standards that we encourage across the university.” Waikato staff member Carey Tuhaka’s group Te Whānau a Apanui finished second overall.

A free public lecture in Tauranga this week will discuss how tephras, or volcanic ash layers, can be used as a dating tool in archaeology. University of Waikato Professor David Lowe will explore how the use of tephra layers to connect evidence obtained from both archaeological and natural sites (such as peat bogs and lakes) has been a key tool in helping to establish the date of initial settlement of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Professor Lowe is Chair of the University’s Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences. His talk is the second of two public lectures being held in Tauranga during a two-week visit by the University of Bremen as part of the Intercoast programme, which was set up in 2010 between the two universities to focus on marine research in the Bay of Plenty and North Sea in Germany. Professor Lowe will speak this week, Thursday 28 February, 5.30pm, at the University’s Coastal Marine Field Station, Cross Road, Sulphur Point. For more information call Rowan Marsh on (07) 578 5927.

Former Hamilton International Airport CEO Chris Doak has been appointed to the position of Executive in Residence at the University of Waikato Management School. The Executive in Residence has a goal of facilitating greater engagement with the business sector, and in particular seeks to provide resource for the development of a strategy in Supply Chain Management, Transportation, and Logistics. Mr Doak says collaboration between the University, other learning facilities, and industry could provide the potential for greater efficiencies for funding research and applied learning outcomes on real industry projects of importance. As part of the role, Mr Doak, who spent seven years at the airport, will be lecturing stage two students in Supply Chain Management and Logistics, and assisting with research outcomes associated with the Institute of Business Research, headed by Associate Professor Stuart Locke. Before becoming Airport CEO Mr Doak spent nine years working at WEL Energy Group (now WEL Networks) the last four years as general manager growth and development and has previous experience in manufacturing, energy, telecommunications, property, tourism, and airport sectors.

Intercoast students from the University of Bremen in Germany are at the University of Waikato preparing for their New Zealand based Coastal Science projects. Intercoast is a multidisciplinary collaboration between the University of Waikato and University of Bremen, and brings doctoral students to New Zealand to study the marine systems of the Bay of Plenty and better understand the changes taking place in our coastal environment. Waikato students conduct similar research around the North Sea in Germany. The 12 Bremen students and their advisers are currently in Hamilton for the New Zealand leg of the Intercoast academic exchange, and will spend two weeks familiarising themselves with the region and meeting academics involved in the exchange. In Tauranga last week, the University of Waikato’s Environmental Research Institute hosted the opening session of the two-week visit. The session was attended by the German Ambassador Dr Anne-Marie Schleich and senior representatives from the New Zealand and German governments. While here the students have been on a field trip to Mayor Island before heading inland to Hamilton to attend and present at a number of coastal science workshops. They are in Hamilton until 28 February.

Pianist Michael Houstoun will play the first of this year’s lunchtime concerts at the University of Waikato this week. Houstoun, a household name in New Zealand since the beginning of his successful international career in the 1980s, will perform Bach’s Goldberg Variations at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on Wednesday 27 February. It’s a work that many pianists aspire to in their careers and Houstoun says the masterpiece requires immense stamina and concentration. The lunchtime recitals are open to the public for a small donation and the 2013 series will see a large variety of musical talent. On the first Wednesday in March, singers Dame Malvina Major and David Griffiths are joined by the New Zealand Chamber Soloists, for a concert of opera gems and piano trios. The concerts are held in the Concert Chamber at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, every Wednesday at 1pm. A $5 donation gains entry to Michael Houstoun’s performance this Wednesday 27 February.

Japanese food-writer and sweets specialist Chikako Tada will be visiting the University of Waikato this week, Orientation Week, to share her food adventures from around the world and perform a cooking demonstration. Tada will demonstrate how to make Gan-zuki, an old-fashioned Japanese steam cake with black sesame seeds. “Gan” means 'wild geese' and “zuki” translates to 'moon'. A journalist turned food writer, Tada has spent the past few years travelling the world learning about foods from different cultures. Her presentation and cooking demonstration is free and open to the public, and will be held on Wednesday 27 February, 1-2pm at the University of Waikato. The venue is room S.1.01.

Five University of Waikato students will share their experiences after travelling to Japan in December to see the results of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Japanese language students Murray Bowden, Tracy Lee, Haley de Rijk, Andrew Greed and Christa Row were selected to take part in the Kizuna Project, funded by the Japanese government and designed to promote understanding about the situation and recovery efforts after the earthquake and tsunami. Haley de Rijk remembers only too well the day the tsunami hit. “My aunty and uncle and their two kids live in Ibaraki which is one of the affected areas, and I was in absolute shock watching the images on television.” Thankfully they were fine. Others weren’t so lucky. The Great East Japan earthquake, as it is called, claimed the lives of 15,873 people and 2,768 are still missing today. The students visited Japan for nine days, staying with host families during their visit. They travelled some of the worst affected areas, seeing regional development, visiting schools, talking with disaster sufferers and participating in community activities. They will share their stories during a free and open presentation next Wednesday 6 March, 1-2pm at the University of Waikato in room S.1.01.

A team of University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary Scholars and supporters are continuing their trek through Khumbu Valley in Nepal, follow in the footsteps of Sir Ed. The team consists of Inaugural Step Higher Award recipients Caitlin Easter, Alex Hitchmough, Josh Blue, and fellow Hillary Scholars Shannon O’Donnell and Sami Flay. The Step Higher Award is sponsored by the Compass Group, a supplier on campus for a range of hospitality services. The team arrived in Kathmandu on 12 February and will spend 17 days trekking through Khumbu Valley, stopping at Lukla-Phakding, Monjo, Namche Bazaar, Khumjung, Pangboche, and Thyangboche before returning to Kathmandu. Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarships are the University of Waikato’s most prestigious scholarships and are awarded to students who are high academic achievers, who are also achieving in the arts or sport and have leadership qualities. They are blogging about their experience in Nepal at

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