Media Advisory May 31


Northland’s long summer drought has brought benefits for international climate change researchers, says the Director of the Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, Dr Alan Hogg. When they can be found, New Zealand swamp kauri provide a unique source of information about past climate change unmatched in the world, and the drought has made these ancient trees visible from the air. Seventy to 80 sub-fossil kauri have been discovered over the past summer providing an invaluable resource for climate records. Dr Hogg of Waikato University is collaborating on dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) research being led by Dr Gretel Boswijk of Auckland University and assisted by Dr Jonathan Palmer of the Gondwana Tree-ring Lab in Christchurch, with funding of $500,000 from the Foundation of Research, Science and Technology. The New Zealanders are also working alongside a team of UK scientists from Exeter and Oxford Universities led by Exeter Professor Chris Turney with funding from Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council. Dr Hogg says tree rings from swamp kauri reveal climate change information including annual rainfall and temperatures from thousands of years ago. The most long-lived kauri found by the New Zealand researchers is a 25,000-year-old sub-fossil kauri with growth rings spanning 2,200 years. The Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory has developed techniques to stretch the limits of radiocarbon dating from 50,000 years ago to upwards of 60,000 years – although other methods have had to be used to date older sub-fossil kauri forests, Dr Hogg says.



The next Tauranga Café Scientifique, on June 14, looks at how pest control has moved away from simply killing animals such as possums, rats or stoats to identifying ecological benefits from pest control that considers the biodiversity benefits. Guest speakers Alastair Fairweather from the Department of Conservation and Greg Corbett from Environment Bay Plenty will highlight how increased community ‘ownership’ and buy-in of pest control will achieve real biodiversity gains; and talk about what new pest control technologies are on the horizon and whether there is a silver bullet. The cafe takes place on Monday June 14 at 7.30pm at Alimento, 72 First Ave, Tauranga. Cafe Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a glass of wine or cup of coffee, people can gather to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. The cafes are supported by Waikato University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering.



Seven Waikato University students have been awarded prestigious New Zealand Universities Blues Awards for the 2009 academic year. Laura Langman (netball), Stephen Donald (rugby), Oliver Leydon-Davis (badminton), Victoria Hill (BMX), Nikki Cox (surf life saving), Michelle McCarthy (table tennis) and Mita Graham (touch rugby) are among the 60 talented student athletes receiving the award. The Blues Awards Ceremony will be held on Friday June 25 in Wellington.



Earth scientist Professor David Lowe visited Japan this month for an international tephra meeting ‘Active Tephra in Kyushu’, his trip funded by an Invitation Fellowship awarded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). The JSPS Fellowship allows for highly qualified researchers from around the world to travel to Japan and conduct joint research activities with colleagues at Japanese universities and research institutes. While in Japan Dr Lowe delivered a public lecture on using tephras in archaeology in Kirishima City to start the conference, as well as other conference contributions. He also gave seminars at Kagoshima University, Kyoto Prefectural University, Tokyo Metropolitan University, and Meiji University (Ikuta campus) during his two-week trip. Dr Lowe’s main host was Prof Hiroshi Moriwaki of Kagoshima University, who was a Royal Society of New Zealand-sponsored visitor at the University of Waikato in 2007.



The University of Waikato will celebrate Matariki, the Māori New Year, with a special concert at the WEL Energy Trust Academy of Performing Arts on Friday June 4. Matariki with Hineraukatauri will feature performances by acclaimed singer/songwriter Hinewehi Mohi, Waikato University Hillary Scholar Kararaina Walker, Hamilton musician Reti Hedley and will also showcase poi and taonga puoro performers. The concert is free and open to the public. Matariki with Hineraukatauri, 10am – 12pm, Gallagher Concert Chamber, WEL Academy of Performing Arts. Matariki is the Māori name for the small cluster of stars known as Pleiades. It is visible in New Zealand on the north-eastern horizon, appearing in the tail of the Milky Way in the last days of May or in early June. It will appear this year on June 14.



The University of Waikato’s annual first-year engineering student boat race is Friday June 4 on the campus lake. First-year students have designed boats as a class project, which they will race, with the best team racing against the engineering staff, fourth-year and graduate student boats. Racing is due to start at 10.30am and carry on into the afternoon.

WHEN I’M 64, 74, 84...

Getting more from older people and finding ways of letting older people do more is the focus of a major three-year study into ageism by a team of Waikato University researchers. Led by Professor Ted Zorn from the Management School, the project has received Foundation for Research Science and Technology funding to study older people’s dealings with organisations and businesses. The researchers will look at how interactions are impacted or affected by ageism, study ageism’s negative affects and how they might be counteracted. As part of the study a memorandum of understanding was signed between the researchers and Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust earlier this month and this week another will be signed with Hamilton’s Age Concern. “We need research that that can be used to inform ageing policy and practice,” says Professor Zorn, “and for it is to be valid and practical then partnerships with end users are important. As part of our research, we’ll be asking older people to keep journals of their experiences in a variety of roles, such as employees, customers, investors, and volunteers.”

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