Media Advisory March 1


Turning the sounds of chirping crickets into music and venting built-up frustration on the piano have earned Waikato University students Hannah Gilmour and Peter McKinnon a trip to New York the Electroacoustic Music Festival later this month. (25-27 March) Electroacoustic music is made using electronic technology, which allows composers to create sounds not usually heard from traditional acoustic instruments. Gilmour, a recipient of a $12,000 Waikato University Masters Research Scholarship, says she pre-recorded cricket noise, loaded it on to computer and then manipulated the sounds to create a piece of music. The five and a half minute composition is called Chill Before Dawn, part of a bigger work called Ode to a Cricket that will be played in New York. McKinnon, who’s just wrapped up his Bachelor of Music (Hons) has composed a work called Pianosophagus that uses electroacoustic and live music sounds. “When it was performed at the Lilburn awards my performance teacher had a good laugh. The piece has touches of aggression and frustration and that’s often how I feel when I’m practising performance pieces.”


A Waikato University PhD student is searching for a suitable location to dispose of Auckland’s dredged material. Disposal has been a longstanding environmental problem that’s caused public concern and resulted in the closure of some formerly used disposal sites in the Hauraki Gulf. Bryna Flaim, an American from the University of California in Santa Barbara, is being supported in her Waikato doctoral study by marinas in the Auckland area. Currently, dredged materials are being disposed of at an old navy munitions site situated off the continental shelf, but it’s difficult to monitor. A proposed site, 25km east of Great Barrier Island and 140 metres deep, has been identified as a potentially more suitable location. Flaim’s study involves assessing the suitability of this new site and monitoring the effects of test disposals. So far numerical models have been carried out that simulate conditions at the site but the real testing begins soon when a split-hulled barge will travel out and deposit material onto the sea floor. The site will then be monitored long term to test movement and impacts. 



Waikato University’s Professor Janis Swan has been appointed to head a panel for the Marsden Fund Council which considers research projects for funding. Prof Swan is the Associate Dean Engineering and recently oversaw the IPENZ accreditation of the university’s five engineering programmes. She was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to engineering last year, and chairs the New Zealand Council of Engineering Deans. Prof Swan says she’s looking forward to the challenges of the Marsden Fund Council where she will convene the Engineering and Interdisciplinary Science Panel. “Having engineering as a discipline in its own right within the Marsden Fund recognises that understanding, developing and converting engineering research into reality is the basis for continued prosperity and well-being of New Zealand.”


An economist who advises the Gates Foundation on agricultural research funding has won the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Emerging Scholar at the University of Waikato Management School. Dr Graeme Doole divides his time between Perth and Hamilton – he’s a research fellow at the University of Western Australia, where he completed his doctorate, and is also an honorary lecturer at Waikato. His research focuses on how best to manage agricultural and natural systems. He is currently looking at ways to improve water quality in the Waikato River and in Australian lakes, and is part of another research project to find ways to ensure mine sites are revegetated by mining companies. He’s also a consultant to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, advising on ways to improve the allocation of funds to agricultural research. “My research involves the use of mathematical modelling to improve insight into best-practice management,” he says. “So I’m looking at cost-effective ways to decrease nitrate leaching from farm run-off into the Waikato River and to reduce phosphorus enrichment of Australian lakes in low-rainfall areas. With the mining project, we’re looking at improving the ways that mining companies are regulated through the use of bonds – a difficult problem because these firms often face high bankruptcy risk due to highly volatile commodity prices.”


New Zealand stories feature strongly in a new book about sexuality written by two Waikato University geographers. Associate Professor Lynda Johnston and Professor Robyn Longhurst were commissioned to write Space, Place and Sex for an American publisher but have used many New Zealand stories to explain how our bodies, where we live and how we live all influence our sexuality. Among the New Zealand stories are Mystery Creek Fieldays’ Bachelor of the Year, the Middlemarch singles’ ball, Air New Zealand’s Pink Flight to Sydney Mardi Gras, asexual Gerald off TV’s Shortland Street and former MP Georgina Beyer. Dr Johnston says sexuality is often studied from psychological and political perspectives but it’s only recently the influence of geography has become a popular area for study. “Where we are and the places we have an emotional attachment to clearly impact the way we experience our sexual lives.” She says they wanted to write a book that was well researched and rigorous but also accessible to a broad market. “We started small – with the body as a place – it’s a site of pleasure and pain, and it’s public and private. Then we moved to sexuality in the home and community, considered the differences found in rural and urban environments and studied aspects of ethnicity, culture and country.” The pair has also looked at cyber-sex and online dating, mail-order brides, the history of the church in relation to weddings, and sex, romance and beaches. They say they wrote the book to unravel some of the diversity and complexity that surrounds and inhabits the embodied experiences of sex and sexuality.


After trading in his chef’s hat for a lab coat, University of Waikato chemistry student Sam Pachal has won a Te Tipu Putaiao Fellowship to begin Masters-level research on ways to add value to the titanium by-products of iron sand mining. Up to 20 TTP Fellowships are offered by the Foundation for Science, Research and Technology each year with the aim of strengthening Maori knowledge, people and resources. Pachal, who’s of Ngaiterangi descent and has just completed a chemistry degree, will be working with the Maori-owned Taharoa mine site, south of Kawhia, where currently the titanium content of the iron sands is not being used. “The Taharoa iron sands contain relatively high levels of titanium – 7% - which actually causes some trouble during the steel-making process,” he says. “Currently it’s too expensive to extract, so in this project we’re focusing on ways to add value to the titanium so that it becomes worthwhile to extract – which in turn will boost the Taharoa mine’s potential.” Titanium is used commercially in high-value products such as medical implants, and Pachal’s project aims to enhance its use in these and other applications. Working under the supervision of Dr Graham Saunders, who has pioneered technology in this field, Pachal will look at ways of coating titanium and titanium dioxide to make the surface super water-resistant (superhydrophobic).


A talent for improvisation and outstanding results in his NCEA Scholarship exams has won a Hamilton student a prestigious Hillary Scholarship to the University of Waikato. Calvin Petersen is one of about 50 new Hillary Scholars at Waikato. The Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship Programme, offered since 2005, awards scholarships to academic high achievers who show significant leadership qualities and also excel in sport or in the creative and performing arts. Petersen is also one of just 24 students selected from among 5500 competitors to join the 2010 New Zealand Young Shakespeare Company which will visit London’s Globe Theatre and Stratford-upon-Avon later this year. Petersen has won several awards for his acting: at the national Sheilah Win Shakespeare competition for secondary schools last year, he won a prize for the best recovery when a fellow actor ‘corpsed’ during a scene from Twelfth Night, and he’s also the recipient of an Outstanding NCEA Scholarship for drama. But his main interest lies in directing, so going to drama school didn’t appeal. He chose the University of Waikato because it’s close to home and has what he believes is the best academic theatre programme in New Zealand. “The programme is more centred towards my goals as a creative individual, and Waikato has fantastic, world-class lecturers.”



To recognise Seaweek 2010 the University of Waikato is offering free evening lectures, from this week. Run in collaboration with Environment Waikato, Changing Coastlines: Challenges and Solutions is a series of lectures that aims to raise public awareness around issues relating to Waikato coastlines such as the affects of rising sea-levels and the role of fish in healthy oceans. Lecture topics include discussions on the importance of our harbours as fish nurseries and the devastation caused by tsunamis across the globe. Participants will hear directly from experts who are involved in researching and assessing the implications and management options for the Waikato region and its coastal communities. Seaweek is an annual event run by the NZ Association for Environmental Education as an opportunity for people to learn more about New Zealand’s marine environment. Lectures run on March 2, 4, 9 and 11 from 7-8pm and take place at Waikato University’s main campus in room A.G.30. For more information visit



Former Waikato farmer and property developer Bill Flower has made a generous gesture to Waikato University. Ninety-year-old Mr Flower is offering a postgraduate student $30,000 a year for three years to study an aspect of New Zealand agriculture. “Bill’s had a long association with the university, he was active in getting it established, and he’s given various donations and prizes to Waikato Management School students over the years,” says the University’s Director of Development, Christine Brabender. “Bill believes that agriculture is the key to New Zealand’s economic success and has decided to offer a doctoral fellowship in economics to someone interested in enhancing New Zealand’s position on the global stage.” When the idea for a university in Hamilton was proposed, Bill Flower was one of the first to volunteer his services to get it off the ground. He became friendly with founding Vice-Chancellor Don Llewellyn and for nearly 50 years has supported building projects at the university as well as his ongoing prizes for economics students. Mr Flower says he would like the doctoral fellowship to go to a student who is interested in New Zealand’s agricultural future and the role we can play in feeding an increasing world population. “I’m not going to dictate the area of focus, it may be something that focuses on the need for greater food production, free trade agreements, New Zealand’s natural advantages in global agriculture, farm ownership and labour issues, or the impact of government policy and social ideology that shapes New Zealand agriculture.”



An internationally acknowledged expert on the economics of immigration from the University of Waikato is to co-lead a $4.5 million international research project looking at the impacts of immigrant diversity in Europe. Professor Jacques Poot of the Population Studies Centre will spend three months each year over the next four years at VU University in the Netherlands, which is co-ordinating the Migrant Diversity and Regional Disparity in Europe research project. He will be working with researchers from the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland and Estonia to assess how the scale and diversity of migrant populations in Europe affect socioeconomic outcomes. “We’re aiming to get a better understanding of how cross-border population flows into, within and out of Europe affect regional socioeconomic development and disparity,” says Prof Poot. “The results may help design the social safety net, the education system and taxation structure in an efficient and just way in the presence of increasing streams of diverse migrants in Europe.” His research group is one of just 12 selected out of 240 to receive funding from the European research funding body, NORFACE, to study immigration in Europe.



Yotam Levy and his cello are en route from a small settlement in Galilee to the concert halls of the world – via a prestigious Hillary Scholarship at the University of Waikato. Levy, whose family migrated to New Zealand from northern Israel when he was 12, is one of about 50 new Hillary Scholars at Waikato. The Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship Programme, offered since 2005, awards scholarships to academic high achievers who show significant leadership qualities and also excel in sport or in the creative and performing arts. “I’m very lucky to be part of the Hillary programme,” Levy says. “As well as covering tuition fees, they give you the best help for your music, art or sport.” He will be working towards a Bachelor of Music degree at Waikato, studying under American cellist and senior lecturer James Tennant in the performance stream. The former Hillcrest High School student has already won several honours for his cello playing. Last year he was selected for the University’s Accelerando programme for promising high school musicians, and the Psyrtos trio he formed with Hilary Hayes and Cherry Ngan went on to become a national finalist in the New Zealand Community Trust National Chamber Music Contest. In 2007, Levy received the Hamilton Civic Choir Associate Artist Award, and was also a section leader in the Auckland Philharmonic’s National Student Orchestra.



The Labour Party bus is set to roll in to the University of Waikato Monday March 1. The visit is part of the Labour Party’s campaign against the National Government’s plans to increase GST to 15%. Waikato Student Union President Deni Tokunai says the visit will give Waikato students an opportunity to voice their concerns directly to Labour MPs as an increase in GST will have a significant impact on students. Among the visiting Labour MPs is Hamilton-based MP Sue Moroney. Labour’s Axe the Tax bus will be located by the University shops, off Gate 1 on Hillcrest Road from 9am. Labour's bus trip began in Auckland on Sunday and will travel throughout the country over the following fortnight before finishing in Dunedin.

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