Media Advisory June 13


Vintage wine in an instant? Yeah Right. However, when University of Waikato researchers heard that passing high voltages of electricity through wine could mimic the ageing process and produce a smoother flavour, they built a machine to do just that. Visitors to the University of Waikato Premier Feature Stand at Fieldays this week can taste artificially-aged wine alongside some traditionally aged wine. Meanwhile at the same stand, visitors can ‘shoot pigs’. The University of Waikato’s Institute for Business Research is working with TechNZ to evaluate a suite of proposals from Māori  trust organisations, ranging from greenhouses which exploit geothermal resources to adventure tourism with a unique twist – pig hunting. Come shoot a few pigs at our stand and get the first taste of what could be New Zealand’s next adventure-tourism success story.


Low-value animal protein is being given new life as a high-value biodegradable plastic with the discovery of a new manufacturing process by University of Waikato scientists. The new process, developed by Faculty of Science and Engineering senior lecturer Dr Johan Verbeek, takes bloodmeal, a by-product from meat processing, and puts it through a chemical and biological process turning it into a biodegradable plastic. Dr Verbeek says the bioplastic is ideal for use by people in both the agricultural and horticultural sectors as it’s suitable for seedling trays and plant pots while remaining durable and environmentally friendly. Dr Verbeek will be discussing this process as part of the University of Waikato seminar series at Fieldays. Seminars this week are presented by leading researchers and industry representatives and will cover a range of topics from global animal health and soil testing to sustainability and the use of technology in farming to improve profit. Dr Verbeek’s seminar takes place at 10am on Thursday June 16 and is held at the University of Waikato marquee on D Street, site 25 at Fieldays.


Three companies have been awarded Outstanding Employer Awards for their support of the work placement programme run by the Faculty of Science & Engineering’s Cooperative Education Unit at the University of Waikato. The awards commend the companies for supporting the scheme in which students from Bachelor of Science (Technology) and Bachelor of Engineering degrees spend three to nine months employed with companies, completing paid work experience. The annual awards are a new initiative. This year’s winners are Genesis Energy (Huntly Power Station), New Zealand Starch and the Plant Protection Group at AgResearch. All three companies have been employing work placement students for more than 20 years. “Each company has a very sound picture as to what a student can do and how they can contribute to what the company is doing,” says Professor Richard Coll, Director of Cooperative Education. “They know what our students are capable of and give them work which is suitable. This benefits both the student and the company”.


Conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya and other regions of political unrest will go under the spotlight in Tauranga next week in a lecture by the University of Waikato’s Professor Al Gillespie. His presentation, titled War, Law and the Challenges of the Next Decade will explore the current global conflicts and ask what these conflicts will lead to in the next decade. Professor Gillespie is Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, and a Professor of Law, at the University of Waikato. He is the first New Zealander to be named Rapporteur for the World Heritage Convention, involving international environmental diplomacy. Professor Gillespie is also the legal and policy adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Department of Conservation and provides commissioned work for the United Nations, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and commercial and non-governmental organisations in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. The lecture is at 6.30pm, Tuesday June 21 at the Bongard Centre, 200 Cameron Rd, Tauranga, lecture theatre 106.


Human evolution and DNA were just two of the topics covered at the annual University of Waikato Experience of Biology Days on June 7 and 8, which attracted more than 650 Year 13 secondary school students. The majority of students were from the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, yet attendees also travelled from as far afield as Gisborne, New Plymouth and Maungaturoto. Schools were invited to register their students for the laboratory sessions and lectures which covered topics relevant to the Year 13 curriculum. Laboratory sessions covered DNA techniques, during which students were given the hands-on task of DNA extraction, while lectures covered gene expression, DNA technologies, plants and animals, the skulls of early human ancestors and the processes of evolution.


With National Agricultural Fieldays this week, the country is holding its collective breath to see what spending signals the nation’s farmers will be giving. “Fieldays is the barometer of farmer spending,” says Associate Professor Stuart Locke, Director of the Institute for Business Research at the University of Waikato. Unlike the rest of the economy, the agricultural sector is booming, he says. Payouts to dairy farmers are up, and all agricultural commodities are currently experiencing excellent returns. “So the million dollar question is: Will farmers be opening their wallets at Fieldays, or will they be squirreling away cash to pay off mortgages and other debt?”The annual survey, run in conjunction with the University of Waikato, of Fieldays spending should provide some answers. The economic impact survey tracks purchases and orders taken by exhibitors, and also monitors general sentiment. The survey results will be released the week after Fieldays.


University of Waikato masters student Nadine Huitema is looking at how diet and genetics affect the quality of goat milk produced in New Zealand. More people around the world drink goat milk than milk from any other animal, and 98% of New Zealand’s goat milk production goes offshore. But what if we could further raise the quality of New Zealand goat milk and attract more interest from these global markets? Researchers at the University of Waikato are collaborating with the Dairy Goat Co-operative NZ to find answers to questions like these. It’s the first study of its kind in New Zealand, and Huitema’s focussing on the milk’s functional components – the elements that are beneficial to human health. These include the fat and protein content, and also a number of bioactive elements, such as conjugated linoleic acid and omega 3. “Goat milk has lower levels of alpha-s1-casein and smaller chained fatty acids than cows’ milk which makes it easier to digest,” says Huitema. “Plus goat milk provides better nutrient absorption, so it’s often used for infant formula. There’s growing interest in Asian and Western markets for such high-quality goat milk products, which makes this a really exciting area to work in.” Huitema’s research will be on display at the University of Waikato Premier Feature stand at the National Agricultural Fieldays this week.


The University of Waikato presents the Cellophonics in an afternoon concert at the Tauranga Art Gallery on Sunday June 19. Fresh from a tour of the North Island, this acclaimed group of seven of the country’s leading young cellists, along with their renowned cellist teacher James Tennant, will present a highly varied programme including international flavours from Spain, Japan, Italy, Russia, NZ, France and more. Do not miss this exciting performance from the outstanding cellists of New Zealand's No 1-ranked university Music Department. The concert starts at 2pm, with an entry fee of $5 for adults, and a gold coin donation for those 18 and under.


Waikato University student Sebastian Lowe is packing his viola and travelling more than 6000km to Norway, just to find the perfect teacher. In August Lowe heads to the Grieg Academy in Bergen for a year to complete an international graduate diploma in viola studies under the tutelage of internationally recognised musicians - something he is thrilled to have the opportunity to do. “In music generally speaking you go for the teacher and my idea is to go there and cash in on what I’ve learnt here at Waikato. The idea is to take a year and breathe and really explore myself as a player and a person,” says Lowe. “I want to get over there and experience something fresh. It’s not just music but being young and wanting to travel as well – the opportunity to go is too great to miss.” Lowe already has a Bachelor of Arts in German and Anthropology and a Bachelor of Music in viola performance. During his time at the University of Waikato he has been a regular in performances by Bachelor of Music students under tutelage of Ms Lara Hall. “The graduate diploma in Norway is sort of like a mid-step honours year, then hopefully I can continue on to masters and my goal of a career as an orchestra musician.” Any help he can get to fund the adventure north is appreciated and currently Lowe is in the running for a $10,000 AMP Do your thing! Scholarship where the public can vote for their favourite scholar.


Tauranga Art Gallery director and art historian Penelope Jackson will present a fascinating four-part lecture series, which examines the traditions of New Zealand painting with particular reference to the current exhibitions on display at the Tauranga Art Gallery. The discussions run every Wednesday from June 22 at the Tauranga Art Gallery between 6.30pm and 8.30pm. The cost for all four lectures is $110.


The University of Waikato Secondary School Mooting competition finals take place on Wednesday June 15 at the High Court at Hamilton. The Secondary Schools' Mooting Competition has been developed to give high school students a taste of the law. Just as in a law court, the mooting competition pits teams of "lawyers" against one another to argue a legal case before a judge. A moot is an exercise employed throughout the world as a tool of legal education and provides an opportunity for students to argue over an area of uncertainty in the law. The members of the winning team are each presented with a $3,000 scholarship to assist with the first year of study at Te Piringa - Faculty of Law at the University of Waikato. The competition begins at 6pm at the High Court at Hamilton on Bridge St. In this year’s final is Francis Douglas Memorial College from New Plymouth and Hamilton’s Hillcrest High School.

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