Media Advisory February 21

New students at the University of Waikato are welcomed onto the Hamilton campus this week. First-year students and their families will be welcomed on at the university’s Te Kohinga Mārama Marae and also given briefings about what to expect of life and study on campus. The pōwhiri will be held from 11am on Wednesday February 23. Students then gather on the Village Green on Thursday February 24 for a welcome from the Vice-Chancellor and other speakers including Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker. Waikato University still has places available to study in Semester A, which begins on Monday February 28. For information visit


Waikato University’s Māori Student Recruitment Adviser Carey Collier was part of kapa haka group Te Whānau-a-Apanui, which placed third at this year’s Te Matatini – New Zealand’s national kapa haka competition. The biennial competition, which dates back to 1972, had 42 teams from 13 regions across New Zealand and Australia competing in the four-day event. Rotorua-based kapa haka group Te Mātārae i Orehu took out the competition with Auckland-based kapa haka group Te Waka Huia placed second overall. A strategic partner of Te Matatini for the past two years, the University of Waikato had a number of students, staff and alumni taking part as performers, tutors or judges. Te Matatini was held at Wai O Hika in Gisborne on February 17-20.


One of a pair of high-flying twins has for the second time won the Capital Markets Student Dissertation Prize, sponsored by Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the Treasury and the Ministry of Economic Development. Management graduate Simon Wilkinson was awarded the prize for his Masters dissertation which compared macroeconomic determinants of stock market development in Australia and New Zealand. The prize recognises advances that further our understanding of New Zealand's capital markets. Last year, Simon and his twin brother Mark shared the prize for their Bachelor of Management Studies honours dissertations. The pair, who have just completed their Masters in Management Studies, also won places on the National Bank of Australia’s graduate trainee programme, and have started work together in Sydney in wholesale banking. “It’s an ongoing joke with our new colleagues that they employed the both of us, and we’ve already had some funny cases of mistaken identity in the lifts,” says Simon. “But we are well used to that, so it's okay.” 


Waikato University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Waikato Tainui College for Research and Development. The signing, which took place in early February, is another step towards the fulfilment of the late Sir Robert Mahuta’s dream of a world class educational facility. Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai, Academic Director of the Waikato Tainui College for Research and Development, said the signing of the MOU around delivering an MBA programme in conjunction with the Waikato Management School formalised a long standing relationship between the two tertiary institutions. University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford said the agreement was fitting, given the University’s connections with Sir Robert, Tainui and the Kīngitanga. “Providing strong educational channels for Māori students is of great importance to the University of Waikato so I am especially pleased we are signing this Memorandum of Understanding. It reinforces our distinctiveness, our links to Tainui, and our constant drive to produce the next generation of leaders.”


Ground-breaking research that could help in the fight against tuberculosis has earned two Waikato research students fellowships worth $4,000 apiece. Waikato biologists Joanna McKenzie and Emma Littlejohn are among the 23 New Zealand doctoral students awarded 2011 Claude McCarthy fellowships. Funded by income from a bequest by the late Claude McCarthy, the fellowships enable the recipients to undertake original work or research in literature, science or medicine. McKenzie and Littlejohn are looking at how proteins within the bacteria responsible for causing tuberculosis regulate the bacteria’s growth, which may hold the key to combating the deadly disease. One-third of the world’s population are carriers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but treatment of tuberculosis is difficult due to the capacity of this bacterium to enter a dormant state. Other Waikato recipients of Claude McCarthy Fellowships were Celia Kueh and Michael Pingram. Kueh is researching the mechanical behaviours of corrugated paperboard structures such as the boxes used in the packing of fruits and vegetables, creating models which help evaluate the weak points of a packaging design and how it might be improved. Pingram is researching aquatic food webs in the lower Waikato River, looking at the ecosystem functions and roles of different species and habitats in the river. His research could be used to inform future restoration initiatives.


Two new Bachelor of Social Work lecturers have joined the University of Waikato’s Tauranga campus as the programme’s growing popularity has pushed student numbers up. Kelly Smith and Sonya Hunt – both registered social workers – began with the university last month. Programme convenor Trish Hanlen says the new “strengthened” team is well resourced to manage the growing popularity of the four-year Social Work programme, which has seen student numbers increase from 33 students in its first year of operation in 2009 to 74 this year. “We’re into the third year of this new degree so as the number of first year students increase each year, the total number of students moving through the degree also increases,” she says. “Each year we have also broadened the range of elective papers on offer and last year were able to offer placements for our third and fourth year students for the first time.” She says recent SEEK job figures for January showed social workers made the top five list of most sought-after employees in New Zealand for the first time. The Bachelor of Social Work was the first programme jointly developed as part of the university’s partnership with the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic.


Up-and-coming speed skater Ben Squires has been named to the New Zealand squad for the Oceania Speed Skating championships after a stellar performance at the national competition earlier this year. Squires who is a computer science student at Waikato, won three gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the New Zealand Roller Sports championships in Auckland in January. Squires trains six to seven days a week, alternating training nights at the Melville skating rink with road and bike work and sessions at the Hamilton cycle track. The training and the events are ideal preparation for the Oceania championships, being held in Brisbane in April. Squires, who only took up the sport 18 months ago, says he’ll be one of five senior men in the 30-strong New Zealand speed skating squad. “I’ll be racing in the A grade at Oceanias, so I’m expecting some very tough competition.”


Our lakes and rivers are becoming increasingly ‘dirty’ and keeping them clean or restoring them to their previous glory is a growing and potentially very expensive problem for local and central government. At Tauranga’s first Café Scientifique for 2011, Associate Professor Chris Hendy from the University of Waikato will share his insights into the geochemistry of natural waters. Dr Hendy will discuss the problem of oversupply of nutrients, compounds containing phosphorus, nitrogen and silicon. “Unfortunately our investment in land and water use intensification has not been matched by investment in understanding how the nutrients operate in these water bodies. Territorial authorities are then faced with angry demands to ‘do something’, but with little guidance in regards to what is likely to succeed.” Tauranga’s Café Scientifique takes place at Alimento, 72 First Avenue, Tauranga, at 7.30pm on Monday February 21. It is supported by the university’s Faculty of Science and Engineering.

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