Media Advisory 17 July, 2017

17 July 2017

New public-private research institute for BOP
The University of Waikato will be part of a new horticulture-focused regional research institute in the Bay of Plenty. Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith announced late last week that the government would provide $8.42 million over five years with additional funding to come from industry. The business case was put forward by Tauranga economic development agency Priority One alongside the University of Waikato and a consortium of eight local companies working together as Plantech. The research focus will be on improving productivity and sustainability in the horticulture sector to drive significant economic benefits for the Bay of Plenty. Plantech will initially focus on research to enable digital automation of devices for growers, including robotics and digital sensing.
Contact: Alison Robertson, 07 858 5135, 027 309 4420,

Negligence law and its place today
Did you hear the one about the Scotswoman, the snail and the bottle of ginger? Sir Grant Hammond, Professor of Law and Judicial Studies at the University of Waikato knows it well. The woman pursued a claim against the drink manufacturer to Britain’s House of Lords and won. It’s a story that set the course for negligence law to this very day and Sir Grant will be shedding more light on this famous case at his Inaugural Professorial Lecture this month.Sir Grant is a specialist in judicial remedies and has had an extensive career that’s combined practice with academia. His lecture takes place tomorrow, Tuesday 18 July at 5.15pm at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. It is free and open to the public. Parking is free after 4.30pm in Gate 1 (Knighton Road) carpark.
Contact: Mike Watson, 07 838 4235, or

US Air Force funding to study diamond-copper composites
Dr Fei Yang from the University of Waikato’s School of Engineering has been awarded nearly NZ$250,000 by the US Air Force to research the heat transfer qualities of copper-diamond composites. A materials scientist and processing engineer, Dr Yang says copper and diamond can enable very high rates of heat transfer, which would make them ideal for computers and all devices that have graphic and central processing units (GPUs and CPUs). He says we’re continually asking our devices to do more and more and those machines are power hungry but can’t work to capacity if the units expand and overheat. While diamond-copper composites have good conductivity, they naturally repel each other when heat is applied, but Dr Yang thinks he has come up with a way to make the metal and mineral stick – called “wettability”, and the US Air Force funding will allow him to develop his idea.
Contact: Dr Fei Yang, 837 9417, or

Indigenous children in state care
New Zealand can take the lead to address the impacts of placing indigenous children into state care says Associate Professor Leonie Pihama, Director of Te Kotahi Research Institute at the University of Waikato. She says the issue and impact of the removal of indigenous children is on the agenda of virtually every indigenous nation, and New Zealand has the opportunity to take a lead to make sure the practice doesn’t continue by placing the needs of tamariki and their whānau at the forefront. To begin with, Dr Pihama says we most remove the silence of what has happened to many generations who were placed in the State Welfare system. She says it’s critical that a formal inquiry be held into the abuse of children in state institutions and it must take place before any changes are made to the Investing in Children Legislative Reform outlining legislative changes to Children Young Persons and their Families Act 1989 and related legislation.
Contact: Associate Professor Leonie Pihama, 07 838 4618, 0212741177, or

Psychopathy in the wild and in prison
The University of Waikato is hosting a new public lecture series in Tauranga, kicking off on Thursday with Professor of Psychology and Crime Science, Devon Polaschek, who will explore psychopathy in the wild and in prison. Drawing on her research into high-risk violent prisoners, Professor Polaschek will consider how some people become psychopathic criminals, whether they can be released safely into our communities again, and whether the psychological treatments made available to them are helping them change their psychopathy. This free public lecture will be held on Thursday, 20 July, 5.30pm at Trinity Wharf, 51 Dive Crescent, Tauranga. No registration is required. Light refreshments will be available. The University’s new lecture series will feature a different lecture each month and will cover thought-provoking research from a range of guest speakers. For more information visit
Contact: Anthea McLeary, 022 068 1069, or,

Could an app relieve workplace stress?
If work is stressing you out, there’s an app you can use for relief. It’s called the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) app and Waikato University masters student Deborah Lobo is testing its effectiveness. She says we keep hearing that people are facing a lot of pressure, and if the app helps people to reduce anxiety and stress then surely that’s a good thing, but she wants proof of its effectiveness. She’s after people in full- or part-time work to participate in her research. Anyone interested can email Deborah at
Contact: Alison Robertson, 07 858 5135, 027 309 4420, or

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