Media Advisory November 21


When container ship Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe reef in early October, New Zealand was plunged into dealing with one of its biggest environmental disasters, the full extent of which is only now being quantified. The impact on the Bay of Plenty coastal environment will be the focus of tonight’s November 21Café Scientifique in Tauranga. Waikato University’s Chair in Coastal Science Professor Chris Battershill will address some of the issues around the particular impacts on the ecosystem of the coastline and the clean-up processes. He will be accompanied by Andrew Berry who leads the salvage operations for Maritime New Zealand and who will provide an update on the salvage operation. Also in attendance will be visiting Geophysics Professor Mal Heron from James Cook University, who can comment on Australia’s recent ship grounding incidents. This Café is an opportunity to hear more about the impacts of heavy oil on the ecosystem, and the nature of cleaning up spilled oil. Café Scientifique is a forum for debating science issues. It aims to promote public engagement with science and to make science accessible and is supported by the university’s Faculty of Science and Engineering. Café Scientifique is today Monday November 21, 7.30pm, Alimento Café, 72 First Avenue, Tauranga. For more information visit


Councils, government organisations, and community and iwi groups will benefit from a new University of Waikato research centre being launched next week. The Centre for Environmental, Resources and Energy Law brings together leading expertise to tackle environmental law issues. The centre will undertake multidisciplinary research across all aspects of environmental law, including energy law, sustainable development and natural resource management, Māori and indigenous governance, and international environmental law. The new centre is headed by Professor Barry Barton. The Centre for Environmental, Resources and Energy Law will be launched at three events. The first is in Tauranga on November 29, followed by Hamilton on November 30 and then in Wellington on December 1. All three events will include a keynote address by Professor Rob Fowler of the University of South Australia. Professor Fowler is an international leader in environmental law and confounded the Australian Centre for Environmental Law. Other keynote speakers include environment court and district court Judge Melanie Harland and financial journalist Rod Oram.


A University of Waikato oceanographer says the Bay of Plenty has dodged a bullet with oil from stricken ship Rena washing up in the best possible places. Dr Willem de Lange from the Waikato University Coastal Marine Group says oil from Rena is far better being washed up on the beaches and rocky coastline, than in areas where it will do permanent damage such as estuaries. Dr de Lange has been studying the effect of winds and currents on the dispersal of 350 tonnes of oil that leaked from the ship after it crashed into Astrolabe reef in early October. “With Tauranga, so much oil in such a small place tends to overwhelm the natural ecosystem for a while, but the ecosystem is equipped to handle this. Oil floats on top of the water so it affects the upper parts of the tidal reaches, so high up on the beaches, on rocks and into estuaries.” Oil from Rena first began to hit Bay of Plenty beaches on October 10, and while the main beach is open beaches continue to be monitored and could be closed again at short notice if fresh oil is found. Clean up is continuing on the worst affected beaches. Work completed by Coastal Marine Group and other Waikato University staff in the days following the Rena grounding will provide a platform to monitor recovery. The University of Waikato Coastal Marine Group has more than 30 years’ experience in state-of-the-art sampling, measurement and monitoring of shallow water environments.


University of Waikato musicians playing live in Hamilton used high-speed Internet2 and IPv6 format to link digital video and audio to open this year’s Asian Telemusic Concert at the Musicacoustica festival in Beijing. Composer, Associate Professor Ian Whalley, and research assistant Hannah Gilmour played with musicians who were based in Singapore and China. They used five digital video channels and multiple stereo channels, to link the performers in the three countries. The work also used data control from Singapore to trigger instruments in Hamilton and the performance was watched on a big screen by the audience in Beijing. Dr Whalley says this latest performance builds on work he did last year that uses acoustic instruments in combination with intelligent machine applications. The new work is based on digital instrument software and sound programming, which is then played through real-time controllers. Dr Whalley says with high-speed broadband, one’s physical location becomes of less importance than telepresence. “It’s about what one can do in the new physical/virtual space, and how one can combine the input of others in a meaningful way across countries.”


Mau Moko: The World of Māori Tattoo keeps on gathering awards. The French translation of the book written by Waikato academics has just been named the students’ favourite text book at the University of French Polynesia. Mau Moko was published in 2007, won its category in the Montana book awards in 2008 and Māori Book of the Decade in 2009. In Paris, the French version sold out in three days. “And out of the blue we receive this lovely award from the University of French Polynesia,” says one of the authors, Associate Professor Linda Waimarie Nikora. “Their undergraduate and graduate students have used the text for courses in English, anthropology, art history and Pacific history.” Mau Moko looks at moko from pre-European times to the present day and lead author Professor Ngahuia Te Awekotuku has been invited to present at next year’s Etonnants Voyageurs International Book Festival in St Malo, France.


A bunch of German engineering students are hoping for fine weather during the next few weeks as they drive their solar powered car SolarWorld GT the length of New Zealand. Joining the students from Bochum University of Applied Sciences will be a team of engineering students from Waikato University who’ll be taking their battery electric vehicle (BEV) on the road. Both cars will leave Auckland Domain for Hamilton at 10.30am on Thursday November 24 and travel to Hamilton where a collaboration agreement will be signed by the two universities before the teams move on to Taupo on Saturday November 26. The German team is endeavouring to set a round-the-world record for a solar powered car. Waikato University’s BEV is an electric single seat commuter car powered by a bank of 10 lithium-ion batteries. It has a range of 150km travelling at about 80km/h then needs between two and four hours recharging. It’s taken about three years to build with different groups of students working on it for their major fourth-year project. Student Tim Mason says BEV’s first test run was a 64 kilometres drive from Hamilton to Morrinsville and back where it reached 100km/h and performed flawlessly.


University of Waikato Hillary Scholar Oliver Shaw has just returned home after coming second in the World Xterra Under 25 champs recently held in Hawaii. The former Western Heights High School prefect and Bachelor of Sport and Leisure Studies student is one step closer to his dream of becoming a professional Xterra athlete, with the placing being his best result to date. Xterra is an off-road triathlon, with a 1.5km swim, 32km mountain bike and 12km run. Oliver, 19, is the New Zealand Under 25 Xterra champion, and the trip to Hawaii was his fourth in a sport that sees him prepare for two big races each year. “There aren’t many Xterra races in New Zealand so I race mountain bike, duathlon and anything else during the year to keep my fitness up. I try and build up for the New Zealand champs, which are in April, and then start training for the October World competition, Oliver says. “It was very hot and humid over there but I had a good swim this year and felt really good on the bike and made the most technically of the ride – just focusing on keeping a good rhythm.” Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarships are the University of Waikato’s most prestigious scholarships and are awarded to students who are high academic and athletic achievers and are achieving in the arts or sport. Scholars have their course fees covered, receive specialist coaching and mentoring and take part in personal development and leadership programmes.


When University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary scholars took part in a writing programme recently, they let their pens do the talking. Twenty-four Hillary scholars took part in a nine-week writing programme which involved writing weekly letters to Year 5 and 6 students from Tamahere Model Country School. The programme aims to encourage students to understand the importance of writing by developing their grammar, punctuation and proof reading skills, and building their confidence in writing. Among the Hillary scholars involved was law and management student David Dela Rue who says, “We were each partnered up with a buddy who had been identified as a student who has trouble with reading and writing. After the first two or three letters I became quite close with my buddy and I found myself wanting to know more about him and how he was getting on with writing and other stuff.” Each week for nine weeks the Hillary scholars received and responded to letters from the Tamahere students, who then used the letters as examples for punctuation, grammar and word use. Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarships are the University of Waikato’s most prestigious scholarships and are awarded to students who are high academic achievers and who are achieving in the arts or sport. Scholars have their course fees covered, receive specialist coaching and mentoring and take part in personal development and leadership programmes.


This question will be answered at the 2011 New Zealand Institute of Chemistry conference being held at the University of Waikato this month. Among the international academic and industrial chemists coming to the conference is keynote speaker Dr Joe Schwarcz, Director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society. Dr Joe, as he is known to his fans and students, is well known for his informative and entertaining public lectures, as well as his best-selling books and Discovery Channel series. He will deliver his keynote speech Are Cows more trustworthy than Chemists? on November 29. The inspiration for the topic comes from a Time Magazine article about the merits of conventional and organic produce which featured a curious quote from a professor of nutrition education at Columbia University. When asked if she preferred butter or margarine, she replied, ‘I would rather trust a cow than a chemist.’ “Unfortunately such negative comments about chemistry are not unusual these days as the lay press often focuses on ‘toxic chemicals’ in our air, water, food and even in our blood,” says Dr Joe, who wrote the best-selling book Brain Fuel. The conference starts on November 28 and during its five days covers analytical and environmental, industrial and material, inorganic and organometallic, organic, physical, biological and educational chemistry among its many topics. There will also be a variety of local and international presentations, covering all areas of chemistry and related scientific pursuits. For information visit


People wanting more information about the University of Waikato’s Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies – PGDip (MgtSt) – can attend an information evening in Tauranga. Run through the internationally-accredited Waikato Management School, the PGDip (MgtSt) is ideally suited to people with management experience wanting to develop their skills. This is a highly interactive programme that focuses on the integration of theory and practice through practical coursework, case studies and class discussion. It is offered in Tauranga as a two-year programme held on alternate Saturdays from 8.30am - 5.00pm, and begins in February. A free information evening will be held on Wednesday November 23, 5.30pm at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Bongard Centre, 200 Cameron Road, Tauranga. To reserve a place, email


A study on the feeding behaviours of possums and a look into the identity of New Zealand music were winning topics at the Annual Interdisciplinary Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Postgraduate Conference held late last month. The conference ran over two days and judges picked a winning presentation for each day. Music Masters student Nick Braae impressed judges on day one with his presentation titled: ‘New Zealand Music? Place and Identity in Songs by the Herbs and Don McGlashan’ and Kristie Cameron, a PhD candidate from the School of Psychology won on day two with her presentation titled: ‘Assessing Possums’ Food Preference and Demand’. Each winner received $500 for their efforts and the judges commented on their level of confidence, passion for their topics and engagement with the audience. “The winners showed mastery of their research topics, and an ability to present their research to a non-specialist audience in an accessible way,” says conference co-convenor Kirstine Moffat.


The University of Waikato Centre for Continuing Education presents its annual Tauranga Public Lecture Series this week. Museums not Mausoleums is a four part series which examines the cultural significant and relevance of museums in the 21st century. The fourth and final presentation called From Te Papa to Te Puia: A Cultural Journey of Healing and Reconciliation features cultural consultant Te Taru White. The free lecture takes place tomorrow, Tuesday November 22, at the University of Waikato Tauranga Campus Bongard Centre, 200 Cameron Rd, starting at 6.30pm.


A free seminar offered by the University of Waikato department of policy, culture and social studies in education will examine raising the school leaving age in a free public lecture being held next month. Professor Gary McCulloch, a visiting lecturer from the University of London, will examine the gradual raising of the school leaving age over time and the many contentious economic, political, social and cultural issues that go with it. The seminar will look in particular detail at the increase in the school leaving age in postwar Britain from 1945 to 1983, and the current planned raising of the ago to 18. The hour-long seminar takes place at the Faculty of Education, Hillcrest Rd on Thursday December 15, starting at 4pm.

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