Media Advisory May 10


In a New Zealand first, two Native Hawaiian scholars have won top US awards to complete their PhD studies at the University of Waikato. The prestigious Mellon-Hawai’i doctoral fellowships are supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Kamehameha Schools, and are each worth US$40,000 (NZ$56,000) for the 2010-11 academic year, starting in September. It’s the first time the fellowships have been awarded to students studying in New Zealand. Keao NeSmith is completing a PhD in applied linguistics, focussing on how the Hawaiian language is being conveyed to a new generation of Hawaiian speakers, while Noe Noe Wong-Wilson’s doctoral research is looking at strategies for success for Native Hawaiians entering community colleges. Both researchers will be based in the School of Māori and Pacific Development at Waikato. NeSmith says he chose to do his PhD in New Zealand to further broaden his academic and professional experience and training, and to gain a more international view of academia and research methodologies. “I’m impressed with the value of the education I’m obtaining at Waikato. The professionalism of the training is truly world class.” Noe Noe Wong-Wilson plans to spend her fellowship year writing up her thesis “Achieving the Dream: A Native Hawaiian Initiative for Success at Hawai’i Community College”. “Aotearoa is like a second home for me and my family,” says Wong-Wilson. “Our Hawaiian history, language and cultural practices are very similar to Māori in many ways and we Hawaiians feel very comfortable being a part of the New Zealand and Māori communities.”



Justice David Baragwanath will be formally appointed Honorary Professor at the University of Waikato’s Faculty of Law at a special ceremony on Friday May 14. Justice Baragwanath has had a long association with the university and the region. He sat regularly in Hamilton as a judge after his appointment to the High Court in 1995, and was a member of the university’s Te Matahauariki Research Institute, which saw him involved in the writing of Te Matapunenga: a Compendium of References to the Concepts and Institutions of Māori Customary Law. He’s also been a regular speaker at university events and represented Tainui and other Māori iwi in much of the Treaty litigation from the early 1980s to 1995. Justice Baragwanath was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2008 and is a New Zealand member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. He sees universities as having a role to play as New Zealand takes full charge of its legal affairs. “With the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council we have the opportunity to embrace domestic and international dimensions of law, which touches all forms of human activity. Universities have a part to play in this, helping people realise the aspirations of the Treaty, respecting distinctiveness while creating one people. If we succeed with this locally, we can lead the world with an international model for resolution of racial and other differences.”


When Waikato University student Daniel Stevenson finishes his management studies degree he’ll be heading for Sydney to work for Deutsche Bank. The former Cambridge High School head boy and current Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar is completing final papers for his BMS (Hons), majoring in finance and strategic management. He was one of about 900 applicants chasing the handful of positions offered by the bank each year. As part of his induction he’ll be spending time in London and New York. He says strategy and finance are a good combination – they complement each other – and are perfect for a career in the banking industry. “Waikato Management School gave me a passion for business, and during my four years study I’ve taken every opportunity to get different experiences.” For the past couple of years Stevenson has been part of Waikato University’s case competition team, a group of strategic management students who challenge other university teams in a business strategy competition, and this year he’s also co-coach. Waikato won the first round and head to Canterbury later this month for round two. “The case competition is one of the best things that I’ve have had a chance to do at the management school. The practical experience is invaluable and I believe has been a big part of my success,” says Stevenson.


Student research in areas ranging from developing bioplastics to ageing wine will be on show at the University of Waikato this week. The Waikato Sustainable BioEconomy Student Poster Conference will be held at The Playhouse in the WEL Energy Trust Academy of Performing Arts on Thursday May 13. The event showcases student research in the biotech and bioeconomy areas and offers prizes for the best three posters. Among the posters on display is the third place-winner at the National NZBio Student Scientific Poster Competition titled, “The HuHu Grub, a Wood Digesting Machine”, outlining research being undertaken by University of Waikato MSc student Thomas Williams. Keynote speaker is Steven Wrigley, Marketing Manager for BioStart, one of New Zealand's leading agricultural science companies. Steven Wrigley will open the event at 4pm and prizes for poster winners will be awarded at 5pm. Entry is free to the public. The Student Poster Conference is jointly sponsored by the University of Waikato, WaikatoLink and NZBio.


Waikato University’s Professor Bruce Clarkson will speak at the World Cities Summit next month. Prof Clarkson will be part of an expert panel discussing urban biodiversity and ecology for sustainable cities. He will present research on the conservation of native biodiversity, particularly restoration initiatives which have taken place in Hamilton. The World Cities Summit, which seeks to showcase the latest and most innovative solutions to challenges faced by cities in regards to environmental restoration, takes place in Singapore on June 29-July 1. Prof Clarkson will extend his stay in Singapore to attend the second Expert Workshop on the Singapore Index on Cities' Biodiversity from July 1-3. The City Biodiversity Index is a method for monitoring progress towards restoring city biodiversity and is being promoted as part of the Convention on Biological Diversity by the United Nations Environment Programme.


Three promising young engineers are to receive scholarships being offered for the first time at the University of Waikato by leading New Zealand engineering consultants Beca. Peter Leijen (from Hawke’s Bay), Sam Garrett (Paeroa) and Kevin Weller (Katikati) are the winners of the inaugural scholarships, worth $2,500 each. Offered to high-achieving students in their third year of a Waikato Bachelor of Engineering degree, the scholarships are designed to help address the skills shortage in engineering. “As one of the largest engineering companies in the country, encouraging the best and brightest engineering students is part of our business,” says Beca regional manager John Revington. “We have offices in Hamilton and Tauranga so working with the University of Waikato’s School of Engineering is really an obvious fit for us.” Professor Janis Swan, Associate Dean of Engineering at Waikato, says working with potential employers such as Beca helps ensure the Waikato degree is relevant to industry. “By creating these scholarships, Beca recognises that Waikato University is producing high-quality engineering students,” she says.


Professor Pamela Diggle, winner of a NZ Federation of Graduate Women’s Travel Award, visits the University of Waikato May 9-26. Professor Diggle, a plant morphologist from the University of Colorado Boulder, will be collaborating with Dr Chrissen Gemmill from Waikato’s Biological Sciences Department on a new research project focusing on New Zealand divaricating plants. Divaricating plants are highly unusual plants with numerous fine, tangled branches. In New Zealand, the divaricate habit has evolved independently in a diverse array of unrelated plant families. Professor Diggle will also deliver a public lecture on May 14 entitled “A great and curious blunder in dame nature: an evo-devo analysis of the origin and diversification of andromenoecy” which will look into plants that contain both bisexual and male flowers, a topic that is said to have stumped even Darwin. The lecture will be held on campus in A.G.30 from 1-2pm.

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