Media Advisory May 3


After a 120-year absence, bellbirds will be reintroduced into Hamilton on Sunday May 9 as part of an urban restoration project. Their reintroduction complements the achievements made by the university’s urban restoration project, which has helped restore many Hamilton gullies to their original environment through the replanting of indigenous plants. Calum Ninnes, a research assistant at Waikato University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, has been co-ordinating the bellbird component of the urban restoration project and says bellbirds are a good species for first introduction. “The habitat they’re being released into should be adequate for the birds, with a selection of native and exotic plants. Bellbirds are generalist feeders, eating insects, fruit and nectar, so they should be able to find plenty of foods,” says Mr Ninnes. The birds are also a great disperser and pollinator of native species and this will in turn help the urban restoration scheme, he says. The bellbird component of the project is co-led by the University of Waikato and Landcare Research, and is supported by Environment Waikato, the Hamilton City Council, Ngā Mana Toopu o Kirikiriroa, and the Department of Conservation. The release ceremony for the 50 bellbirds takes place on Sunday May 9 in the Te Parapara Garden at the Hamilton Gardens.


Peace campaigners are known to use big business as a means to resolve political conflict and change government behaviour. Waikato PhD student Nicky Black was asked by a peace-building organisation to investigate how it could engage with business as potential partners in transforming the conflict in Myanmar. Black took up the challenge and studied corporate citizenship in the oil and gas sector in Myanmar. Her doctorate took four years to complete as she interviewed 125 people in seven countries. Myanmar has a history of conflict and political repression, and the gas sector is the main source of foreign income for the military government. “This means companies in the oil and gas sector with investments in Myanmar are targeted by international human rights campaigners, who call for them to divest from the country, or otherwise use their influence to put pressure on the government.” Black analysed the strategies used by these campaigners, and their effects on gas companies. “Specifically, as the majority of investors in Myanmar are now from the Asian region, I was interested in how these companies could be encouraged to be more 'responsible'.” Black, a New Zealander who was born and raised in South East Asia, also has degrees from Oxford and McGill (Montreal) universities. Based in London, she works across the private, policy and civil society sectors as a research consultant to promote corporate citizenship, particularly in conflict-affected and high risk areas. She is back in New Zealand this week to receive her doctorate from Waikato University.


Top regional economist Professor Philip McCann has been appointed as one of two Special Advisers to the Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy. During the one-year appointment he will provide expert counsel to Commissioner Hahn on matters relating to the reform and future development of European Cohesion Policy, with an annual budget of close to US$80 billion (NZ$120 billion). Professor McCann will work alongside Fabrizio Barca, Director-General of the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, and author of the 2009 independent report An Agenda for a Reformed Cohesion Policy. Professor McCann holds The University of Groningen Endowed Chair of Economic Geography and is also Professor of Economics at the University of Waikato. One of the world's most highly cited and widely recognised economic geographers and spatial economists of his generation; he is also an Academician of the UK Academy of Social Sciences.


As the balance of power between the genders becomes more equal, many boys are struggling socially and intellectually to find their place in the different worlds they operate in. The University of Waikato in Tauranga presents Issues in Boys’ Learning, a public course ideal for teachers, parents and caregivers of boys. The day-long course will cover a range of strategies examining the best practice for engaging boys in learning in and outside the classroom. Guest speakers include Susan Hassall, headmaster at Hamilton Boys’ High School, and Alison Derbyshire and Nicola Jacobson who are both experts in the field of boys’ learning. This course takes place 9am-3pm on Thursday June 10 at the University of Waikato campus in Tauranga, 142 Durham St. For more information visit


A Waikato-wide study of head injuries is off to a busy start with about 50 new notifications a week. “There are a lot more cases out there than we’d thought,” says researcher Dr Nicola Starkey of the University of Waikato’s Department of Psychology. “We had expected around 30 cases a week, so it’s an indication that these injuries often go unreported. The cases we’ve seen so far range from mild to severe, and about a third of them are children under 16.” Launched last month, the study aims to record and assess every person who has suffered a brain injury in the Hamilton and Waikato district in the 12 months beginning from March. The area being surveyed includes Franklin County, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia, Raglan and Hamilton. The research project is funded by the Health Research Council and is being conducted by researchers at the University of Waikato and the Auckland University of Technology. Dr Starkey says traumatic brain injury (TBI) as it’s technically termed is very common; mild or moderate injuries – concussion - affect about 24,000 New Zealanders each year. Sports, assaults, falls and motor vehicle accidents are common causes, and the effects can be long-lasting. “It’s very important we get as much information as we can on these injuries so we can plan the best ways to help families with rehabilitation and support,” she says. “We’re particularly interested in why Māori and Pacific people have a higher rate of TBI than the general population.”


Waikato University researchers have developed a model linking extra liquor outlets with increased police activity. The researchers have applied the model to Manukau City and found the addition of a single extra off-licence resulted in an extra 60 to 65 police events or incidents in the year to June 2009. Each additional club or bar resulted in an extra 98 to 101 police events or incidents, while each additional restaurant or café resulted in an extra 24 to 29 police events or incidents. The research also showed that in Manukau, off-licence liquor outlets tended to locate in areas of high social deprivation and high population density. Higher off-licence density was in turn associated with lower alcohol prices and longer opening hours. On-licence liquor outlets tended to locate in main centres and areas of high amenity value. The research was carried out by the Population Studies Centre at Waikato University. It was commissioned and funded by the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC), and supported by Manukau City Council. Waikato University research associate Dr Michael Cameron said although the Manukau results were specific to that area, the model that had been developed could be used in other areas to determine what impact extra liquor outlets would have on a district. The research showed higher liquor outlet density of both on and off-licences was associated with higher numbers of total police events. In particular, off-licence density was associated with higher levels of anti-social behaviour, drug and alcohol offences, family violence, property abuse, property damage, traffic offences and motor vehicle accidents.


Waikato University senior biology lecturer Dr Alison Campbell has again been involved in the training camp and selection of the New Zealand International Biology Olympiad team. Four of New Zealand’s most talented secondary school biology students have been chosen for this year’s International Biology Olympiad competition in Korea in July. The team is Geoffrey Hoggins (King’s College); Susan Sun (Burnside High); Yuenye Xu (Westlake Boys’ High School); Jack Zhou (Auckland International College). Dr Campbell says the calibre of secondary school students on the nine-day training and selection camp this year (hosted by Victoria University) was extremely high. Both Auckland and Waikato universities were actively involved in the teaching programme at the camp. The International Biology Olympiad brings together top secondary school biology students from about 60 countries around the world to challenge them and encourage careers in science. Last year New Zealand picked up silver and two bronze medals at the competition.


Twin sisters Neomai and Sela Pole do most things together – and uni has been no exception. They’ll graduate this week from the University of Waikato with Bachelor of Social Science degrees. The Tongan-born South Auckland sisters are the latest in their family to graduate from Waikato, following in the footsteps of their three older brothers. At Waikato, Neomai and Sela found there was life outside Auckland.”We really got into Māori culture, something we weren’t really exposed to in Auckland,” says Neomai. “We visited places we’d never been to like Rotorua, Tauranga and Te Kuiti, and we got to know the culture of New Zealand which is what Waikato University is all about.” Both young women have a strong commitment to their community and have returned home to Ōtāhuhu to spend some time with their parents. Neomai is currently working as a community mentor for a Māori urban authority, while Sela – who majored in human development and psychology -- plans to go on to a Masters degree in social work.


Bhanu Sharma finished her Waikato University engineering degree and found herself spoilt for choice. On the same day, within 10 minutes, she was offered two jobs (in the same company but at different sites) and a place at Monash University in Australia to study for a PhD. She chose one of the jobs, which came with company car, phone and laptop. Sharma is now working for Sita Environmental Solutions in Melbourne which takes care of and recycles organic waste for the northern region of the Australia’s second largest city. She returns to Hamilton this week for capping when she’ll graduate with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) degree in Biochemical Engineering. “My job title is technical supervisor, so I’m dealing with any technical problems the site is having. The main job deals with analysing the soil and compost and getting them up to Australian standards. I have to ensure that the site is running under OH&S standards, carry out risk assessments and ensure tall the operators on site follow proper procedures.” Sharma is Indian by birth, coming to New Zealand about seven years ago, completing her secondary schooling at Rotorua Girls’ High School before enrolling at Waikato University. She was one of five girls and 70 boys in her year.


St John national internal communication co-ordinator Warren Rosser is this year’s recipient of Waikato Management School’s Ted Zorn Waikato Award for Management Communication. The award is presented annually to Waikato management communication graduates who are excelling in their field and who have a strong focus on ethical practice. Rosser left university with a Bachelor of Communications, a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Relations and finally, in 2006, a Master of Management Studies. He also tutored during his time at Waikato and worked on a major biotechnology research project that was investigating public discussion on genetic modification. From that he developed a framework to show the ways that community groups can participate in public discussions. “While I was studying, I never envisaged myself in an internal role like this. Most communication graduates probably imagine themselves in what’s perceived to be the more glamorous world of PR, events and advertising, but effective internal communications is where good communication really begins; it should be part of your strategic planning. If you’re doing things right in-house then your staff becomes fantastic ambassadors for your business.” During the past year at St John, Rosser has seen the introduction of an intranet site and assisted with the implementation of several new channels to deliver a variety of messages to staff. The Ted Zorn award will be presented at a special function on May 5.


Waikato University’s contemporary music ensemble Okta holds a concert on May 7 at the university’s Academy of Performing Arts. Music at the Edge will feature an array of musical genres, compositions and artists. Guests Sonic Wrap return, with techno maestro Jeremy Mayall lending his musical expertise. Mayall also joins traditional Māori instruments exponent Richard Nunns, in the new work Nebula Puoro. Waikato University Associate Professor Martin Lodge’s latest piece Locus Iste, meaning ‘this is the place’, mixes live video feeds, improvisation and digital dissemination with input from members of the New Zealand Chamber Soloists. The premiere of Phillippa Ulenberg’s Moon Mountain fuses together the traditional Chinese instrument the guzheng with traditional Maori and western instruments. Internationally recognised Hamilton composer Hannah Gilmour’s electronic piece Cricket completes the concert, along with Hillary Scholar Lizzie Dobson lending her talents to Janet Frame’s poem Wrong Number. The concert starts at 7.30pn. Tickets $10 adults and $5 students.

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