Media Advisory June 17

University of Waikato Antarctic researchers Professor Craig Cary and Dr Charles Lee have secured $60,000 funding to lead a year-long international pilot study to develop and validate tools that measure how Antarctic ecosystems respond to change. Theirs is one of seven projects awarded funding by the New Zealand Antarctica Research Institute, through support from the Robertson Foundation and Air New Zealand. As leaders in terrestrial biology, Waikato scientists will work on developing an effective way to measure biological changes in Antarctica with new technologies that are sensitive to environmental change. The technology includes equipment to measure and monitor photosynthesis and respiration but that can also withstand year-round operation under the extreme conditions found in Antarctica's Dry Valleys.

Cultural differences are probably the biggest obstacle to being successful in doing business off shore, and having local people "on the ground" was a good way to find out how business was done and how decisions were made. Panellists at a pre-Fieldays event on Agribusiness Innovation and Growth told an audience of agribusiness managers and researchers at the University of Waikato that exporting took perspiration, motivation and collaboration. Dr John Sharpe CEO of CytonomeST, Dr Bert Quin of Quin Environmentals, Geoff Furniss, CEO of BBC Technologies and Stuart Gordon, CEO of Waikato Innovation Park all agreed New Zealand enterprise required a "helluva lot of diligence, patience and good relationships" and said that because of our location we cannot produce the cheapest product, so we have got to be the best, with a distinct point of interest. Earlier, Director General of Primary Industries, Wayne McNee, told the 200-strong audience that the 2025 target for primary industry export earnings was $64 billion, which was an ambitious goal requiring sector growth of 5.5% a year, but it was do-able. He also said the Primary Growth Partnership, where investment came from government and business was working well, but more initiatives were necessary and the government was open minded when it came to innovation in the sector.

Making mistakes is not only a natural part of life, it can lead to new discoveries. That’s according to University of Waikato Professor of Engineering Ilanko Sinniah, whose upcoming Inaugural Professorial Lecture looks at the behaviour of structures - how they move, how they undergo stress and how they vibrate. He says structures, like people, will undergo more stress when they are less flexible - the theme of his lecture and the focus of his research and teaching. When Professor Ilanko mistakenly put a negative symbol in front of a 'mass' in a complex engineering calculation in his PhD thesis, he inadvertently discovered a possible refinement to the 'Penalty method', a common numerical problem that has plagued scientists and engineers for more than 60 years. The resulting calculations led to more than 15 peer-reviewed journal articles and some healthy debate among his Engineering peers. "One reviewer went so far as to call it 'black magic', so in engineering circles 'negative mass' is probably still quite controversial." Professor Ilanko's lecture, Turning negatives into positives: The mistaken negative mass and why it is important to take a flexible attitude to life, will be held at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on Tuesday, 25 June at 6pm. Inaugural Professorial Lectures are the university's way of formally introducing new or recently appointed professors to the wider community. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Maori Language Week - Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori - is now in its 39th year and to celebrate, the University of Waikato is encouraging staff and students to test their skills by ordering coffee in Māori. A range of other activities - including a scavenger hunt with clues in Māori - are planned which underline this year's Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori theme which focuses on correct pronunciation of Waikato Māori place names. Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori Professor Linda Smith says te reo plays an increasingly large role in University of Waikato life. Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori is an opportunity for the university to celebrate its distinctiveness, the language of te reo, and to recognise and embrace the language across the university, she says. Māori Language Week runs from 1 - 7 July. For more information on the University of Waikato’s involvement with Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori visit

Parents puzzled by changes to how children learn maths in today's classrooms are invited to a free maths info day at the University of Waikato in Tauranga this coming weekend. The teaching of maths has changed since parents were at school and short presentations looking at "What's happening in maths classes today?" will run on the hour between 10am-3pm. A longer interactive presentation on how to help your child with their maths will be held at 11am, and maths facilitators will be available during the day to answer questions. The event will be held from 10am on Saturday 22 June at the Learning 4 Store, 142 Durham Street, Tauranga. For enquiries and to register please email

A group of Hamilton Boys' High School students came close to a perfect solution at the annual NZIC Analytical Chemistry Competition last week. The University of Waikato event challenged 88 enthusiastic Year 13 students to spend a day in the university's laboratories. The Hamilton Boys' team of Jack Treloar, Geoff Wilkin, David Lloyd and Samuel McCabe secured the first win for the school since the event’s inception in 1996. Last year's reigning champions, Pukekohe High School, won second place, while Bay of Plenty schools cleaned up the remaining awards. The winning team received $200 and a trophy from sponsor Hill Laboratories.

How do we continue to replenish nutrients in our soil and what is really at the heart of food production in New Zealand? Tauranga's next Café Scientifique will unravel the workings of nature’s complex nutrient cycle and discuss important issues facing the world’s food production unless this cycle is reinvigorated. Dr Terry Smith, Process and Chemicals Manager at Ballance Agri-Nutrients, will discuss the concern that food production is fast becoming a lost science with many people now unaware of the genesis of food and of our heavy reliance on the continued functioning of the nutrient cycle. Café Scientifique is free, and open to anyone wanting to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. It is organised by Julia and Warren Banks and supported by the University of Waikato. The Café is moving to a new venue at Bravo Café, The Strand, Tauranga. It will take place on Monday 24 June, 6.45pm for 7.15pm start. For more information go to

Not many researchers get to take their wife to a Pacific Island for eight months as a research assistant. Roger Briggs did and says it's just one example of how wife Lyn supported him during his long tenure at the University of Waikato. The pair spent months in New Caledonia working with French researchers studying the mineralogy and petrology of the region, and Dr Briggs says while cleaning out his office following his recent retirement, he had come across boxes of notebooks, filled with his wife's writing. Dr Briggs thanked his wife and former colleagues when he was awarded the title of Honorary Fellow at the University of Waikato last week. He started work at the university in 1975 and says he was always proud to be part of the organisation. The title of Honorary Fellow is bestowed on long-serving and senior members of either academic or general staff whose University career has concluded.

Waikato's Te Piringa - Faculty of Law hosts the 11th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium next week from 24-28 June. Hosting international environmental law conferences in New Zealand is a rare event, and the 2013 colloquium will be only the third international environmental law conference to be held in New Zealand since 1991, and the first time that the colloquium has been hosted in this country. The Academy was established by the International Union for Conservation (IUCN) in 2003, and has grown to become a network of more than 500 environmental law academics from more than 160 universities based in more than 50 countries. Trevor Daya-Winterbottom is Associate Dean Research at Te Piringa - Faculty of Law and chair of the organising committee for this year's colloquium. He says for a country that has significant economic focus on primary production, developing a coherent body of sound environmental law is an important foundation for future growth and prosperity. "Hosting the colloquium in New Zealand provides a unique opportunity for thought leadership, exposing our environmental law academics to leading international developments in the field from other countries, and similarly providing an opportunity for overseas academics to learn something from us." For more information go to

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