Media Advisory May 16


University of Waikato Sport and Leisure Studies senior lecturer Dr Holly Thorpe released her first sole-authored book last week. ‘Snowboarding Bodies in Theory and Practice’ was released on May 11 and provides an in-depth analysis of the snowboarding phenomenon and introduces social theory concepts to provide academic backing for why a sport that was banned from the slopes a little over 30 years ago for being “rebellious” is now one of the world’s biggest winter sports. Before completing her PhD at Waikato University, Dr Thorpe spent about four years pursuing her dream of becoming a professional snowboarder.


Professor Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, from the University of Waikato School of Māori and Pacific Development, presents a discussion on the arts of the ancient Māori world as part of the 2011 Demystifying the Arts Series. He mana tangata usually follows the phrase, he toi whakairo, meaning that a people's dignity is reflected in their aesthetic; art and pride go together. This lecture introduces early Māori art, illustrated by significant examples in fibre, wood, stone, bone and shell, collected or provenanced before 1840. He mana tangata: arts of the ancient Māori world will be presented by Professor Te Awekotuku on May 19 starting at 7pm. The cost is $5. A bar facility is available from 6pm. Demystifying the Arts presentations are held at the University's Academy of Performing Arts on the third Thursday of every month.


An inaugural professorial lecture delivered by Professor Richard K Coll tomorrow, Tuesday May 17, will stress the benefits of how cooperative education can help Waikato graduates. In his lecture, called ‘A journey from science to science education: Moving to the dark side, or the attainment of enlightenment?’ he will talk about the benefits of cooperative education and in particular his personal experiences entering the workplace with a theory-based degree behind him. Professor Coll joined the university’s Cooperative Education unit in 2000, where he works to make sure Waikato graduates are workplace-ready. Cooperative education is the combination of study and work. The lecture takes place at 6.30pm at the university's Academy of Performing Arts. The next inaugural professorial lecture features Dean of The Faculty of Computing and Maths, Professor Geoff Holmes, on Tuesday June 21.


Associate Professor Eva Collins will be the guest speaker at the Waikato Environment Centre AGM on May 24. Her topic ‘Sustainability - Not Just an Add-on’ will discuss the change from where traditionally, people who wanted to make the world a better place would start a charity or found a non-profit group to sell the idea of change, whereas today, a growing group of people are using a new business model to sell products that change the world while making a profit. “Ecopreneurs know we can’t follow the same models and expect to find better solutions. They are the necessary critical change agents using the power of commerce to create a sustainable future.” The AGM is held at the Environment Centre on 25 Ward Street, starting at 5.30pm.


They’re slimy, widespread and every year they cause millions of dollars of damage to crops throughout the world. Why are slugs so successful? One reason is that they are extreme generalists in terms of what they eat. Gardeners know that slugs damage a wide range of flower and vegetables. Commercial growers of lettuce, strawberry, peas, potatoes, wheat and oilseed crops to name a few, also suffer from slug problems. In this Hamilton Café Scientifique, Mike Wilson from AgResearch will present ‘Slugs - the final frontier’ and try to give an overview of the unique biology of these animals and reasons for why they have become more important over the last few decades. The presentation will take place at Café Français on 711 Victoria Street, starting at 7.30pm. Cafe Scientifique is a place where for the price of a glass of wine or a coffee, anyone can be involved in discussing science. The Cafes are supported by Waikato University's Faculty of Science and Engineering.


The University of Waikato Chamber Orchestra’s annual winter concert on May 29 will feature the Conservatorium of Music’s “Golden Boy” of cello, Santiago Canon Valencia. At the Beijing International Cello Competition last October, the 15-year-old shared the top prize for his performance of Tchaikovsky’s highly virtuosic Variations on a Rococo Theme. This performance marks the third time Santiago has been featured as a soloist with the University Chamber Orchestra. The Orchestra’s Director and the Conservatorium’s cello lecturer, James Tennant, feels the young student is “on a pathway that will take him to the heights of a career similar to a Yo Yo Ma or Pieter Wispelwey". Along with the Tchaikovsky work, the orchestra will open the concert with Mozart’s Don Giovanni Overture and conclude with Brahms’ monumental Second Symphony. Tennant admits that this symphony is “the ultimate test for a university orchestra.” The University of Waikato Chamber Orchestra plays on Sunday May 29 at the Academy of Performing Arts from 7pm. Tickets are available from


Research by a University of Waikato scientist could prove that removing pest fish from lakes around the Waikato may improve water quality. Dr Adam Daniel has designed and installed a barrier on an outlet stream coming from Lake Ohinewai – near Huntly – which will prevent pest fish from returning to the lake once they have left. His hypothesis is that by removing pest fish, the quality of lakes will increase without forcing farmers to drastically reduce their fertiliser use. Dr Daniel says it’s well known pest fish such as koi carp have played a key role in the a collapse of aquatic plants, loss of native biodiversity, algal blooms and reduced waterfowl production and believes that by removing pest fish, the water quality may improve. “It’s a really simple system really,” says Dr Daniel. "These metal ‘fingers’ hang in the water and are weighted so the koi can push through, but they only open one way so once the carp have pushed through they’re locked out of the lake.”


This New Zealand Music Month the Faculty of Education staff at the University of Waikato are showing off their musical chops. On May 20, students from the faculty will be busking around the university as part of the Big Busk, with hopes of each student raising $500 for child cancer. On May 31 staff and students from the faculty will take part in the Hook, Line, and Sing-a-Long, alongside hundreds of other schools and institutions around New Zealand, to sing ‘Huarahi Tika’. “Music and the Arts are on the back foot in schools and here’s a chance for us to sing a song together and build our community,” says senior tutor Catherine Short. “The Hook, Line, and Sing-a-Long has become quite a feature of the music scene nationally and it’s a chance to get the staff and students to get together.”


A study looking at vitamin D levels in patients admitted to hospital with pneumonia has shown that patients with severe vitamin D deficiency are more likely to die from the disease. Researchers at Waikato University collaborated with doctors at Waikato Hospital to study the blood samples of 112 patients all admitted to Waikato hospital with community acquired pneumonia during the winter. They found that those with severe deficiency - 15% of patients – were more likely to die within a month, when compared to the group of patients with normal or slightly low vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is known to be involved in the innate immune response to infection and Dr Ray Cursons from Biological Sciences at Waikato University says this research enhances our understanding of the apparent importance of vitamin D in combating respiratory infections. However, the researchers don’t yet know whether supplementing patients admitted to hospital with respiratory tract infections with vitamin D will alter the outcome. It may be that vitamin D helps avoid infection rather than cures it. Dr Cursons says the best source of vitamin D is sunlight as dietary sources such as fatty fish and cod liver oil do not include enough vitamin D.


Canadian digital artist Alex McLeod is coming to New Zealand for a week, and most of his short time here will be spent at the University of Waikato where he’ll give a public lecture and lead a workshop for invited students from the university and other selected institutions. His visit coincides with an art educators’ conference being held in Hamilton. The 24-year-old’s work is also featuring in the Another Universe exhibition which opens on June 24 at the Calder & Lawson Gallery at the university’s Academy of Performing Arts. University art curator Karl Chitham says it’s a coup to get the young Canadian here. “His works are all computer generated and often look like models. He creates hyper-realistic 3D fantasy worlds.”


Andrew Newton is the first Waikato University student based at the Tauranga campus to receive a prestigious Hillary Scholarship for his achievements in surf life saving. This is his first year at university where he is studying a Bachelor of Teaching. Originally from Dunedin, where several generations of his family have been involved in the sport, Andrew came to Tauranga five years ago to progress his surf life saving career. This year he received a PM Scholarship as part of the New Zealand High Performance Squad. His main event is the Open Men’s Board Race and he now has his sights firmly set on the World Championships in 2012. Andrew is one of 47 new scholars on the University’s Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship Programme, which awards scholarships to academic high achievers who show significant leadership qualities and also excel in sport or in the creative and performing arts. The scholarships provide full university course fees while studying at Waikato, comprehensive support for the recipients’ academic, sporting and/or arts activities and additional support in leadership and personal development. Before starting university this year, Andrew worked locally for Kiwi Can, which offers a values and life skills programme aimed at low decile primary schools. Armed with his Bachelor of Teaching, Andrew is looking forward to having his own class of students so he can help make a positive difference to young people’s lives.


Brayden Lissington from Napier has become the first futsal player to receive a prestigious Hillary Scholarship at the University of Waikato. The former William Colenso College student began at Waikato last year and is studying towards a Bachelor of Communications Studies. Brayden, 19, started playing futsal at 14 when a league was established in the Hawkes Bay. Futsal is a variation of football that is played on a smaller surface and mainly indoors. Last year he played in the Oceania Tournament in Fiji and has his sights set on making the team to contest the 2012 World Cup to be held in Thailand. Brayden is one of 47 new scholars on the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship Programme, which awards scholarships to academic high achievers who show significant leadership qualities and also excel in sport or in the creative and performing arts. The scholarships provide full university course fees while studying at Waikato, comprehensive support for the recipients’ academic, sporting and/or arts activities and additional support in leadership and personal development.

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