Media Advisory April 12



Nine years ago, the prospect of starting her doctorate threw Lesley Murrihy into a spin. This week Friday April 16 the Taumarunui school principal and mother of eight will be surrounded by friends and family at her graduation at the Waikato University marae. “I applied for the Doctor of Education programme and for a principal’s job, and was accepted for both on the same day,” recalls Murrihy. “I had a huge panic attack before my first EdD session at Waikato. And after that first week, I felt I’d jumped off a 100 foot cliff and was still falling.” It’s been a long haul completing her doctorate while taking on a school leadership role and helping her husband home-school their eight children, but Murrihy says she wouldn’t have it any other way. “The EdD has been such a huge bonus for me and I know it’s helped in lots of the work I’ve done as school principal.” The newly-minted doctor is principal at Manunui Primary, a decile one school on the outskirts of Taumarunui with a predominantly Māori roll. Thanks to Murrihy, Manunui has been selected for participation in a number of government initiatives including leading an Extending High Standards Across Schools (EHSAS) Project, and has also been part of Waikato University’s Great Expectations research programme which aimed to develop high expectations of students. Her EdD thesis explored the benefits of coaching for professional development of teachers.



A University of Waikato biology student placed third in the recent National NZBio Student Scientific Poster Competition. Thomas Williams, who was one of 38 participants, presented research that aims to identify microorganisms which are capable of degrading wood so that bioethanol can be produced sustainably from woody waste materials. Currently, this process involves using harsh chemicals and high temperatures, so an efficient biological method is highly sought after, says Williams, who is studying towards a Master of Science degree. Huhu grubs eat and metabolise wood and it is presumed that this is achieved through symbiotic microorganisms living in the huhu grub’s gut. This research involved feeding groups of huhu grubs diets containing either wood, cellulose, or starch and comparing the microbial gut communities of the huhu grubs fed on each diet. Williams hopes his findings will determine which group of huhu grubs are responsible for breaking down wood. The National NZBio Student Scientific Poster Competition is an annual event that aims to promote the research work conducted by tertiary students in New Zealand.



A Waikato University honours student has won a $108,000 William Georgetti Scholarship over three years for doctoral studies at Cambridge University in the UK. Tehnuka Ilanko recently completed the requirements for a Bachelor of Science (honours) and achieved first-class results, specialising in volcanology, in Earth and Ocean Sciences. Rebecca Rose, a management and law student who graduated in 2009 and has been working as a judge’s clerk in the Supreme Court and Crown Law Office in Wellington, won a $45,000 scholarship to study overseas. Only four people were awarded prestigious William Georgetti Scholarships, which were announced last week. The awards, managed by Public Trust and administered by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, total $318,000 for 2010. William Georgetti Scholarships are awarded to encourage postgraduate study and research in a field which, in the opinion of the scholarship board, is important to the social, cultural and economic development of New Zealand. The scholarship was established as a perpetual charitable trust from the estate of William Georgetti who died in 1943.



Three University of Waikato students are taking part in The Secret Garden stage production. Jason Wade, who is studying towards Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Teaching degrees, is producing The Secret Garden for the Hamilton Operatic Society. He was also involved in Broadway on the Boardwalk, a show that featured at the Hamilton Gardens Summer Arts Festival. The other two students involved are current Waikato University Hillary Scholars, Julia Booth and Scot Hall. The Secret Garden begins on April 17 at the Clarence Street Theatre in Hamilton. For more information visit



A Rotorua duo will receive their Master degrees at the University of Waikato marae graduation on Friday. Wiremu Barrett and Edward Biddle of the School of Māori and Pacific Development will receive their Master of Māori and Pacific Development degrees in what can be considered as a lot of hard work finally paying off. Working while studying, it took Barrett nearly two years to complete his degree. “It’s not a matter of balance, it’s a matter of actually having to go and do it,” he says. Barrett and Biddle will join nearly 200 other graduates from all Schools and Faculties at Waikato University’s Te Kohinga Mārama marae on Friday April 16. Celebrations for the day will begin with a pōwhiri at 9.30am.



A University of Waikato lecture series exploring the many aspects of Māori culture is set to take place next week. The four-part lecture series highlights the latest research from the School of Māori and Pacific Development and will cover a range of topics, including death in a changing Māori world, Māori puppetry, a Tainui perspective on waerea (ancient prayer), and adult education. Lectures run 6-7pm on Mondays beginning April 19 and take place at the main University of Waikato Hamilton campus, room S.G.01. All lectures are free and open to the public.



The Prime Minister’s Fellow and Solicitor General of Tonga, Aminiasi Kefu will visit Waikato University Monday April 12. Mr Kefu holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from Waikato University and will return to the university as part of his weeklong visit to New Zealand. His visit to the university will involve meeting with students from the Faculty of Law and he will also deliver a public speech discussing Tonga’s constitutional and electoral reform. The speech takes place Monday April 12 at the University of Waikato main campus, room LAW.G.02. The Prime Minister's Fellowship was established in 2008 and aims to develop leadership and encourage personal friendships between New Zealand and Tonga.



While child driveway runovers have declined in Auckland, there’s been no reduction in the number of children run over in driveway accidents in the Waikato – mainly because of a lack of public awareness and education. That’s the finding of two University of Waikato student researchers who’ve been looking at the data for a research project commissioned by the Child Injury Prevention Foundation of New Zealand. Hayley Mills Poulgrain and John Hunter, who are partway through their social sciences degrees -- and are both parents themselves, conducted the research under the supervision of Dr Maxine Campbell of the Department of Societies and Cultures. Their report is the first to look specifically at the Waikato region – drawing on data from the recently launched Midland Regional Trauma System. “The existing research focuses almost exclusively on Auckland data,” says Mills Poulgrain. “By accessing data from the Waikato DHB trauma registry, we’ve been able to make comparisons with the Auckland data for the first time since studies began in 1992.” The latest figures showed in 2006-9 there were 12 accidents, two of them fatal, in the Waikato region compared to 43 accidents, with four fatalities, in Auckland. In both regions, preschoolers were the most common victims of driveway runovers, which were more likely to happen late in the afternoon or early evening, especially in summer. But Auckland is the only region where driveway runovers have decreased, and that, say the researchers, is down to dedicated publicity and educational campaigns run in the Auckland region by Safekids New Zealand, a service of Starship Children’s Health.



Waikato University’s Management School is one of eight international academic institutions sponsoring a special edition of the Journal of Marketing Research which will focus on marketing dynamics. It’s the outcome of a marketing dynamics conference involving participants from the US Universities of Boston, New York, California Davis and California Los Angeles; Özyegin University in Istanbul, Tilburg and Groningen Universities in the Netherlands, and the University of Waikato. The Journal of Marketing Research is one of the top four academic publications for marketing research. Waikato’s representative on the advisory board for the special issue is Professor Harald Van Heerde, a multiple award-winning international authority on marketing. A call for papers has been issued; the special edition is scheduled to appear in June 2012.



Robyn Rauna is part-way through an MBA at the University of Waikato Management School and is one of eight recipients of this year’s Ngarimu VC and 28 (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Awards. Rauna’s grandfather served with C Company of the 28 (Māori) Battalion, and although he died before she was born, she grew up hearing all the stories of the soldiers’ bravery and achievements. Today she’s drawing on that inspiration to achieve in her chosen field: identifying and analysing what makes a good Maori leader. Rauna is of Rongowhakaata, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, Te Aitanga-ā-Māhaki, Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, Te Whakatohea and Ngai Tahu descent. “It’s an honour to receive this scholarship,” says Rauna, who juggles consultancy work and managing the Tairawhiti Community Law Centre in Gisborne with her MBA studies in Hamilton and caring for her 12-year-old son. She’s also involved in a number of projects and events within her iwi. Rauna plans to use the $5,000 award to complete her MBA thesis analysing the behaviours, attributes and practices of emerging Māori leaders charged with managing collectively owned tribal assets. She’ll be focusing on governance members of her three iwi, Turanga - Rongowhakaata, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri and Te Aitanga-ā-Māhaki, and says iwi interest in her research has been high. Rauna initially completed her LLB at Waikato, and chose to return there for her MBA studies.



More than 20 Waikato University students have received a share of $115,000 in scholarships from the David Johnstone Charitable Trust. The Trust, which aims to help young people expand their knowledge, awarded $5000 to first-year students who demonstrate qualities of character, initiative, enterprise, ingenuity and leadership, and who are also pursuing a science or teaching degree at the University of Waikato. Scholarships are administered on behalf of the David Johnstone Charitable Trust by Guardian Trust. The late David Johnstone was a successful Waikato farmer and also, entrepreneur. He developed a hotel on Norfolk Island and was also a founding member and benefactor to the National Fieldays.



How do science and the media interact? At the next Hamilton and Tauranga Café Scientifiques, Aimee Whitcroft from the Science Media Centre in Wellington will talk about the ways that scientists and the media work together, in a New Zealand context. She will discuss some good and bad examples and outline some initiatives to improve the communication of science by the media within New Zealand. This Café session will take place on Monday 26 April in Tauranga, 7.30pm at the Chapel Café, Chapel St, and on Tuesday 27 April in Hamilton, 7.30pm at The Bank, Victoria St. Café Scientifique is a place where for the price of a coffee or glass of wine, people can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Sessions aim to raise public awareness of science and are supported by Waikato University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering.



A public law seminar examining the South Pacific fisheries regime takes place April 20. The new South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) is the latest in a long line of international organisations responsible for the conservation and management of living ocean resources. While the SPRFMO demonstrates some potential as a more effective steward of fisheries, it faces some important challenges. The seminar, South Pacific Fisheries Regime: Challenges, Problems and Prospects, will discuss these challenges and is presented by Professor Howard Schiffman, a Senior US Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at the University of Waikato Faculty of Law. Professor Schiffman, whose Fulbright research examines the development of SPRFMO, has taught extensively on international law, international dispute settlement, international environmental law and environmental debates. This seminar takes place 11-12noon on Tuesday April 20 at the main University of Waikato campus, room L.G.04. For more information visit

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