Media Advisory March 15


When do most arson attacks occur in the Waikato? And are you more likely to be assaulted in Hamilton or Whitianga over the summer? For hi-tech help in pinpointing where and when crime happens, best turn to a geographer. One University of Waikato geography student has been looking at ways to help police better visualise crime patterns by using different software packages to reveal the spatial and temporal geographies of crime. “If we can identify key crime ‘hot spots’, then the police can better allocate resources to fight those crimes,” says Geoff Hughes, who’s just completed a Summer Research Scholarship project analysing police crime data in the Waikato region over a 10-year period. Hughes works in the field of geographical information systems (GIS), an up and coming area of study that uses mapping software to capture and analyse data relating to location. For the summer research project, Hughes worked with Associate Professor Lex Chalmers and Dr Lars Brabyn of the Department of Geography Tourism and Environmental Planning (GTEP) to look at distribution in time and place of three different offences – burglary, assault and arson. It revealed some interesting patterns - a link between poorer areas of Hamilton city and a higher incidence of burglary and assault. There was also a higher occurrence of assault in the Coromandel Peninsula beach towns over the summer holiday period, compared to elsewhere in the Waikato, and the fact that most arson attacks occur in October and November.


A University of Waikato Faculty of Law public lecture exploring the intersection between law and technology takes place on March 17. Internet Service Providers and International Safe Harbour Provisions will cover a range of topics which may include open innovation, intellectual property rights, software licensing and biotechnology law. The lecture is presented by Professor Mark Perry of the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Professor Perry specialises in the fields of computer science and law. This lecture is open to the public and takes place 1-2pm on Wednesday March 17 at the University of Waikato main campus, room LAW.G.02. For more information visit


Raglan surfer Alexis Poulter of Raglan is looking to add a law degree to her impressive surfing achievements, and to do so she’s become the first competitive surfer ever to win a prestigious Hillary Scholarship at the University of Waikato. Poulter has been winning surfing competitions since she was 13 and last year won the women’s U18 national competition. She’s one of about 50 new scholars on the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship Programme, which awards scholarships to academic high achievers who show significant leadership qualities and also excel in sport or in the creative and performing arts. Poulter found out about the scholarships from a teacher at Raglan Area School, where she studied at the Surf Academy. Waikato seemed the obvious choice as she can continue to live in Raglan and commute to classes. The Hillary Scholarships provide full university course fees while studying at Waikato, comprehensive support for the recipients’ academic, sporting and/or arts activities, and additional support in leadership and personal development. Under the Hillary programme, Poulter will work with Larry Fisher, former New Zealand team member, now New Zealand Junior Team Coach and also Raglan Surfing Academy coach.


The University of Waikato Faculty of Law presents a public seminar that examines climate change. Fact and Fantasy in the Science and Politics of Climate Change addresses the physical and human forces underlying climate change and its implications on the environment and development. This seminar is presented by Dr Barry Smit of the University of Guelph in Canada. Dr Smit is internationally recognised for his work on climate change impacts and adaptation. He has advised governments and organisations across Canada and internationally and was a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. The public seminar, sponsored by the Association for Canadian Studies in Australia and New Zealand and the Government of Canada, takes place 1-2pm on Tuesday March 23 at the University of Waikato main campus, room S.1.05. For more information visit


Actress and playwright Geraldine Brophy’s new play The Merry Wives of Windsor Ave will have its world premiere in Hamilton in April. Waikato University theatre studies student Liz Buick, who also works full time at the university as a student recruitment adviser, is directing the play being staged by Hamilton Playbox Repertory Society. “I was driving along one day and listening to Concert FM when I heard Geraldine Brophy being interviewed and talking about her play that had been originally commissioned by Downstage, but not performed. I contacted Geraldine’s agent to see if I could have the rights to the play.” It took a month or so, but the answer was positive. The cast of 10 began rehearsing in February for the show that opens on April 10 and will run for two weeks. It’s the fifth play that Buick’s directed. The Merry Wives of Windsor Ave is a farce, “but it also has some very touching human moments,” says Buick. She says it’s been a challenge to direct because the text moves in and out of modern and Shakespearian sequences. “And the Shakespeare has got to be bad because the play is about a bunch of people in the American Embassy putting on the play, The Merry Wives of Windsor.”


The University of Waikato Management School hosts a lecture this week that focuses on the social aspects of sustainability. Achieving Sustainability Through Community Development will address the challenges faced by not-for-profit and community benefit organisations. Lecture topics include discussions on governance, planning and resource development. The lecture is presented by Hildy Gottlieb, whose credentials include teaching, writing and consulting in the community benefit sector in America. The discussion takes place 3-5pm on Tuesday March 16 at the University of Waikato main campus, room MSB.1.05. For more information visit


New Zealand’s community and voluntary organisations have become more computer savvy since 2005 but many still aren’t taking full advantage of some ICT opportunities. Professor Ted Zorn and Dr Margaret Richardson from Waikato University Management School refined and repeated their 2005 survey and found that there are now more organisations with computers and many more with websites and using broadband. Prof Zorn and Dr Richardson surveyed 757 organisations and perhaps not surprisingly found respondents from organisations with budgets over $100,000 more inclined to see their use of ICTs as extensive and sophisticated than respondents from organisations with smaller budgets. Overall, the purposes for which ICTs were most used were: internal communication, external communication, recordkeeping, internal information sharing, accessing government information, promotion of the organisation, and researching funding sources. The least used purposes were: conducting fund raising, conducting advocacy campaigns, and accessing the Webguide. Organisations that participated in the "Engage Your Community" conferences were more knowledgeable about and more likely to use new internet tools compared to organisations that did not attend which would show such knowledge sharing/training events as important. And the survey also showed that there’s a time lag between implementation and receiving the benefits of ICT adoption, since the benefits increase and the "costs" decrease over a period of months. For a full copy of the survey and results go to


An intelligent battery meter for electric vehicles could prevent drivers running out of charge and coming to a standstill at inappropriate times. Waikato University electronic engineering student Philip Rowe has been working on producing an intelligent battery meter, part of an honours project that won the annual design competition sponsored by the Waikato branch of IPENZ (Institute of Professional Engineers NZ). “We were set a challenge: to replace something that’s flawed,” says Rowe. “The voltage method of measuring battery power levels is only any good when the machine isn’t moving. We wanted to develop a meter that worked more like a petrol gauge on any lead acid battery.” The battery meter project was started by Kyle Pennington who created a bench prototype, and a working model has since been installed and tested on a motor scooter belonging to Professor Jonathan Scott – Rowe’s supervisor. “The idea is that the meter gets to ‘understand’ the battery so it can give an accurate indication of how much power remains,” says Rowe. “We combined three different measuring methods found they complemented each other and by switching between them we could get a meaningful read out.” Professor Scott says battery meters have been a weak point in the world of electric vehicles for many years. “So much so, people are sceptical about our claim to have a practical, workable solution to the problem. It’s time for this technology to cross the divide into the commercial arena, with serious investment and rigorous testing.”


There’s plenty of research out there analysing the drivers for small business, but not a lot that includes insights from small business operators themselves. A new study of 40 owner-operators of small businesses in the Hamilton area by researchers at the University of Waikato aims to fill that gap. Finance Masters student Ben Flay spent the summer visiting small businesses in Hamilton, Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Whatawhata to gather information on the challenges facing SMEs from the horse’s mouth: the managers themselves. The interviews focussed on their goals and aspirations in setting up the business, challenges they face, coping strategies, where they turn for support, and the successes they are most proud of. “One of the big trends we found was that typically people underestimated the differences between working for someone else and running your own business,” says Flay, who won a Summer Research Scholarship to embark on the project with Dr Helen Samujh and Dr Linda Twiname of Waikato Management School. Flay also found that many owners-operators had set up their own businesses to achieve a better lifestyle, work flexibility and more independence but ended up working long hours. Business coaches and mentors got a big thumbs up from business owners. “And a lot of people raved about Opportunity Hamilton which seems to be a great way for people to get the business basics with training in marketing and record keeping.”


The University of Waikato Continuing Education kicks off its first café artistique session on March 18. Demystifying the Arts is a series of presentations that is designed to help people broaden their knowledge and understandings of art in a friendly and non-overtly-academic environment. The first session, presented by Beryl Fletcher, will explore the myths associated with becoming a writer at the age of 50. Each café artistique session is designed to be informal with discussions and social interaction encouraged. Demystifying the Arts costs $5 a session and takes place at 7-9pm on Thursday March 18 at the Waikato Museum, Grantham St, Hamilton. For more information visit

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