Media Advisory March 29


More than 200 Waikato University students at the Tauranga based campus will be capped during a ceremony on Friday April 9 at the Holy Trinity Event Centre in Tauranga. The ceremony, which features MP Simon Bridges as guest speaker, begins at 1pm. Students will march in a graduation parade from Red Square to the event centre from 12noon. Friday April 16 will see students from all schools and faculties graduate on the marae at the University’s main campus in Hamilton, and from Monday May 3 to Thursday May 6, the remainder of students will graduate at Founders Theatre in Hamilton. Seven ceremonies will take place at Founders Theatre, and students will parade every day at 12noon from Garden Place to Founders Theatre.



American Fulbright senior scholar Professor Dan McNeil is a specialist in anxiety and pain, but he’s spending a semester at Waikato University researching cultural interaction. McNeil is a professor of psychology at West Virginia University and, given his interests in anxiety and pain, also is a clinical professor in the School of Dentistry. But he says there are a couple of things that have nudged him towards researching aspects of social psychology. “First, I found out that one of my forebears was a Native American, (something that wasn’t talked about in my family) and I wanted to find out about that, and secondly, one of my areas of study is anxiety, which often leads to avoidance, so I wanted to study anxiety and how it impacts cross-cultural interaction.” Back in the US, McNeil frequently takes undergraduate students on to Native American Indian reservations and he’s currently organising to host a group of American students in New Zealand. He thinks New Zealand could teach other countries a thing or two about cultural interaction. “Not that the situation is perfect by any means, but it’s more common to look at how a new and dominant culture impacts a minority group. Here, it’s interesting to see how a numerical minority culture is influencing a numerical majority culture and other minority cultures.”



The University of Waikato celebrates Kīngitanga Day next month. Launched last year, Kīngitanga Day is an annual event that recognises the university’s unique and distinctive connection with Waikato-Tainui and the Kīngitanga. The daylong event has a range of activities including seminars, panel discussions and presentations from guest speakers and leading academics. Weaving and craft workshops, Māori merchandise and food stalls and a range of entertainment are also planned, including live kapa haka performances and the Waikato Student Union Kīngitanga Royal Carnival. Kīngitanga Day is held on the King’s birthday; he and his whānau are due to spend the day on campus. Celebrations for Kīngitanga Day take place 9am-3.30pm on Wednesday April 21, with all activities free and open to the public. For more information visit



A University of Waikato Faculty of Law lecture that puts the spotlight on marine conversation takes place this week. Reservations in Marine Conservation Treaties examines the extent to which objection procedures, such as vetoes, have been utilised in the history of key marine conservation and management regimes, and the impact these objections have had on marine conservation. This lecture is presented by Professor Howard Schiffman, a Senior US Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at the University of Waikato Faculty of Law. Professor Schiffman has taught extensively on international law, international dispute settlement, international environmental law and environmental debates. This lecture takes place 1-2pm on Wednesday March 31 at the main University of Waikato campus, room LAW G 02. For more information visit



University of Waikato student Amrita Sahay has been selected to take part in the Know India Programme, a three week internship for diaspora youth, run by the Indian Government. Amrita, a Waikato University Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar who has just completed her Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design with honours degree, left for India on Saturday March 27 and will see her join 37 other participants from all over the world. She says the trip is a chance to learn more about her culture and religion. Amrita’s trip includes visits to historical places, tertiary institutions, government organisations and industry, an introduction to the Indian media and film industry, and a possible meeting with Indian President Pratibha Patil and other dignitaries. The Know India Programme aims to promote awareness of India among youth of Indian descent.



A brush with mortality set University of Waikato student Ēnoka Murphy on the path of delving into the history of tangihanga, and he’s now won a Māori Battalion scholarship worth $50,000 to support his doctoral studies over the next two years. Murphy, who’s of Ngāti Manawa and Ngāti Ruapani descent, spent three years in and out of hospital and underwent several operations in his battle against cancer and other illnesses, but now has the all-clear. He’s now embarking on a PhD looking at the traditions of tangihanga during the 19th century. “Three years in and out of hospital is a long time,” he says. “During that time I met and befriended many people who have passed on, so when this research opportunity came up I felt I could handle it because of my past experiences.” Murphy will focus on the major tangihanga between 1800 and 1900, and his research will cover the ōhākī, or dying wish; the tuku wairua, or act of sending off the spirit; the tangihanga itself, burial or alternative practices, the hiding of the deceased, and the final exhumation and scraping of the bones. He says many of these cultural practices have disappeared. Murphy is the only PhD student among the eight recipients of this year’s Ngarimu VC and 28 (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarships, awarded annually to enterprising, innovative and influential Māori in tertiary education. Murphy’s grandfather went off to war in his teens, and was the last surviving member of his iwi to serve with the Maori Battalion before his death last year. “It’s extremely humbling to receive this award,” Murphy says. “I now have to step up to the mark and do an excellent job in my research.”



New research out of the University of Waikato suggests one way to keep children safe but active on their way to school is to introduce supervised ‘cycling trains’ like the successful ‘walking bus’ initiatives already in place in several Hamilton schools. The research, “Pedalling to safety: schoolchildren and safe active transport” by social sciences honours student Kylie Fisher, identifies hazards and barriers to children biking to school and suggests initiatives (local, national and international) that might provide solutions to some of those problems – or at least make active transport a safer option. The research was commissioned by the Child Injury Prevention Foundation of New Zealand under its Summer Research Scholarship scheme. “Even though many children tell us that they would like to walk or cycle to school, a chauffeuring culture has increasingly come to dominate our transport choices,” says Fisher. “There are many negative consequences of this choice, such as health problems, traffic congestion, and air pollution. More cars on the road also make it more dangerous for children who do walk or cycle to school.” Fisher says 18 Hamilton schools currently have variable speed zones around the school, and it makes sense to extend these traffic calming measures to make it safer for children who walk or cycle to and from school. One novel idea she recommends is cycle trains - similar to walking school buses except the children are on bikes on the road, or on dedicated cycle routes if they are available.



A PhD thesis on where and when koi carp move around in the lower Waikato basin should help the future control of the pest fish, says Waikato University’s Associate Professor Brendan Hicks. PhD student Adam Daniel, who has just passed his PhD examination, used a combination of radio and acoustic tracking of adult koi carp to establish that carp move freely between the lower lakes and the main river in the Waikato basin, occasionally also travelling long distances up the Waipa River. Increasing water flow and the onset of spawning (in mid August) stimulate carp to move to spawning locations in lakes and wetlands. Dr Hicks says Adam's study has important implications for controlling koi carp numbers in the Waikato River and its lakes and wetlands as migrations can be targeted for fish removal. The PhD thesis is part of larger work by the university on how to best deal with pest fish and toxic blooms in waterways.



Waikato University senior voice lecturer David Griffiths launched a new CD on Friday March 26. The CD, called Charms & Knots, features poetry by Charles Brasch, ARD Fairburn and George Herbert, performed by Mr Griffiths (baritone) and Christine Griffiths (piano). All the music was composed by Mr Griffiths, who works in the Music Department at the university’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Production and engineering was done by Wayne Laird of Atoll Records. The CD was launched at the university’s Academy of Performing Arts.



Teaching and research in industries such as aquaculture, tourism and IT will strengthen the Western Bay of Plenty’s competitive advantage, according to a study of the region’s tertiary education needs over the next 10 years. Economic development organisation Priority One partnered with the University of Waikato and the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic to commission the study which had a particular focus on science and research, and used demographic and business information when considering the drivers of future needs. The study found there were opportunities for higher level tertiary training and research in several sectors that would strengthen the region’s competitive advantages. These included science-based studies (including food processing, horticulture, aquaculture and powder metallurgy), logistics and supply chain management, information and communications technology, health and tourism.



The University of Waikato will again host the Te Amorangi National Māori Academic Excellence Awards, on Friday April 9 at Tūrangawaeawae Marae, Ngāruawahia. The awards are an annual event to acknowledge Māori PhD graduates across the country who have had their doctorates conferred in the last calendar year. A Lifetime Achievement Award is also presented. This year, there are 25 recipients of the awards from across New Zealand tertiary institutions. Their areas of study and expertise include tourism, entrepreneurship, human resources, biological sciences, biochemistry, health sciences, computer science, arts and social sciences. The 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Ngarongo Iwikatea Nicholson of Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Toa Rangatira descent. A respected kaumātua for Te Wānanga o Raukawa, Mr Nicholson is a long-time teacher of Mātauranga Māori and a key member of the Ngāti Toa Rangatira negotiating team for Treaty settlements.



A new composition on Parihaka by a University of Waikato student has had its premiere in Perth – thanks to a chance meeting of musicians at a prestigious US summer school. Composer Lizzie Dobson, a Hillary Scholar who’s now embarking on a PhD at Waikato, met Perth-based professional percussion player Louise Devenish in Massachusetts last year at the Bang On A Can summer festival, the foremost professional development programme in contemporary music. Devenish is a member of eclectic percussion group Tetrifide, which regularly performs works by world-renowned composers, and she also teaches at the University of Western Australia. “Louise combines singing with her performance, and was just perfect for my piece which is written for kalimba (thumb piano), vibraphone and voice,” says Dobson, who was one of just nine composers worldwide to be selected for the Bang On A Can programme for young musicians – and the only Kiwi. Dobson, who’s from New Plymouth, based her composition on Apirana Taylor’s poem Parihaka. “I had an instant connection with the poem,” she says. “We were never taught about Parihaka at school even though it was just down the road.” She sought Taylor’s permission to set the poem to music, and the result, says Dobson, is a gorgeous sound. “It relates back to Māori oral tradition -- Louise sings the text of the poem while she’s playing, and it’s quite simple and repetitive.”



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