Media Advisory November 28


The University of Waikato will hold two ceremonies to officially open its coastal research field centre in Tauranga next week. Based at the harbour’s edge in Sulphur Point Marina, the new field centre will provide a base for university staff as well as students doing field research in and around Tauranga Harbour. A dawn ceremony and official opening unveiling the centre take place on Wednesday December 7. University Chair in Coastal Science Professor Chris Battershill says “This is the first time a lab has been put together in Tauranga. To date a lot of the field work we’ve done has had to be taken to Hamilton to be processed. It'll be great for the students to have a dedicated lab to process their field work in. Due to the nature of coastal work, now they have a base where they can do useful stuff when their research is hampered by bad weather.” The base will be formally opened with a dawn blessing planned for 5.45am, and an official opening at 4pm where University of Waikato Dean of Science and Engineering Professor Bruce Clarkson and Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chairman John Cronin will be guest speakers. The Tauranga field centre is part of the university’s recently launch Environmental Research Institute, of which Professor Clarkson is the director.


The University of Waikato Te Piringa-Faculty of Law launches a new research centre to tackle environmental law issues this week. The Centre for Environmental, Resources and Energy Law brings together leading expertise to provide interdisciplinary research to councils, government departments, corporations, and community and iwi groups on environmental issues. The new centre is headed by Professor Barry Barton who says the centre will be organised around the themes of water, energy efficiency, petroleum and minerals, Māori and indigenous environmental governance, coastal and marine environment, and international environmental law. “We will focus strongly on natural resources law, which is concerned with how we make a living from the environment, and energy law, which has to do with energy sources, but also how we organise supply and demand and how we can influence the way that energy is used.” The Centre for Environmental, Resources and Energy Law will be launched at three events. The first is in Tauranga tomorrow 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. He also co-founded a similar centre in Australia. Other keynote speakers include environment court and district court Judge Melanie Harland and financial journalist Rod Oram.


Engineering students from Waikato University and Bochum University of Applied Sciences in Germany are heading down the North Island in their solar powered cars this week. The Germans are attempting a round-the-world trip, the Waikato students just want to make it to Bluff in their electric single seat commuter car that’s powered by a bank of 10 lithium-ion batteries. The teams are due to travel from Taihape to Levin on November 28 and are expected in Wellington the following day. The president of Bochum University has joined the team on the New Zealand leg of the journey and signed a collaboration agreement with the University of Waikato last week in Hamilton.


Chemists across the country have knitted a giant periodic table of the elements in celebration of the International Year of Chemistry. The 3.7m by 1.9m knitted periodic table will be unveiled at the University of Waikato during the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry conference taking place this week. The project was initiated by the Wellington branch of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry and took more than three months, approximately 8km of pure wool and 162 knitters to piece together. Waikato University staff and students were among those worldwide who took part in the knit, many picking elements with a special meaning to them. University of Waikato Chemistry Department technician Wendy Jackson knitted the Xenon square as it is a noble or inert gas whose name means strange and whose atomic number has a connection to her age - while MSc student Jane Spenceley knitted Protactinium as her third year inorganic essay involved that element. The conference started on November 27 and during its five days, will have a variety of local and international presentations, covering all areas of chemistry and related scientific pursuits.


A team of researchers at the University of Waikato is working with older people and businesses to develop a framework that will assist older people to function more effectively and confidently in their communities. Local businesses have come on board in this government-funded study, including New World Glenview and three Westpac branches in Hamilton. Dr Margaret Richardson from Waikato Management School says older people often struggle to stand in queues, read the numbers on the key pads of mobile phones or ATMs, understand business jargon, and reach products on high or low supermarket shelves, yet businesses aren’t always aware of these sorts of issues. “Many older people don’t like to complain or find it embarrassing to ask for help,” says Dr Richardson, “and therefore things that might be easily fixed can be overlooked.” Dr Richardson would like to talk to shoppers over the age of 65 and will be at Glenview New World from Monday to Friday this week, 10am – 1pm. She has a brief questionnaire she’d like customers to fill in.


A Waikato University doctoral student is researching the recovery time for kaimoana in the Bay of Plenty following the Rena oil spill. Julien Huteau, a Coastal Marine Group student, plans to do his PhD on ecology changes in the Tauranga harbour and in the wake of the Rena added a case study to find out when seafood in the Bay of Plenty will be safe to eat again. A keen diver, with previous experience as a researcher for Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Environment Bay of Plenty, Julien found himself stuck on dry land as 350 tonnes of oil spilled from the Rena and began to wash up on beaches in early October. “My research topic comes from the heart, and from wanting to give iwi and people around Tauranga some hope that sea life can recover. What I wish to find out is the recovery time for kaimoana and how it will recover following the oil slick around Rena.” Julien plans to take samples from Motiti, White Island, Astrolabe Reef, Papamoa and Mt Maunganui, and move them to clean water and monitor the length of time it takes for them to recover.


The list of books penned by former Waikato University academic John McCraw is a long one so his latest, at the age of 86, is fittingly about New Zealand’s longest river - the mighty Waikato. The Wandering River is the Geoscience Society of New Zealand’s 16th guidebook and is subtitled Landforms and Geological History of the Hamilton Basin. Emeritus Professor McCraw, a former Dean of Science at the university, says the book is aimed at the general public rather than academics and a technical audience, and was a long time in the pipeline. “To be honest, I started it many years ago but other projects got the better of me,” says Emeritus Professor McCraw. “So when the society went on record a few years ago saying it would be finished by the end of the year I had to get cracking.” The book explains how the Hamilton Basin was formed and how the Waikato, which broke into the basin about 22,000 years ago, built a series of alluvial fans that partly buried the existing hill and valley landscape of the basin floor. His other books include The Siren’s Call, a personal account of his service with the Alexandra Fire Brigade (some of which was spent as its chief), Early Days on the Dunstan and 10 others, most of which are about the history of gold mining in Central Otago.


Two emerging young Māori leaders are this year's recipients of Waikato Regional Council's Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarships, designed to help promote education of rangatahi (youth) in the region who are studying at the University of Waikato. Tama Hata-Tipene and Jasmine Whanga were presented with their scholarships for $1500 and $1200 respectively at a ceremony at the regional council offices in Hamilton. The Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarships were established in 1991 to mark the 25th anniversary of Te Atairangikaahu becoming the Māori queen, to pay tribute to her leadership and to help Māori studying at the University of Waikato. Tama - from the Waikato-Tainui Ngāti Mahuta hapu - is in his second year of study at the university, completing level 2 and level 3 environmental planning papers. Jasmine, of Ngāti Maniapoto's Ngāti Pourahui hapu, was dux of Ngāruawāhia High School in 2006, and is now in her third year of study completing applied terrestrial ecology, mammalian physiology and public relations practices.

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