Media Advisory April 23

University of Waikato composer Mike Williams launches his opera, The Juniper Passion, on Anzac Day at the university’s Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. Williams composed the opera with former university staff member John Davies as librettist. Almost four years in the making, the World War II opera has been produced in remembrance of New Zealand’s armed forces. The Juniper Passion is set in the Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944, and University of Waikato Distinguished Alumnus historian Dr Chris Pugsley provided valuable historical insights about the battle. The opera also features University of Waikato alumna singer Julia Booth, and staff members singer David Griffiths and orchestral conductor Rachael Griffiths-Hughes. The multi-media opera will be performed at a free public session at 6pm on Anzac Day, Wednesday 25 April, in the academy’s Dr John Gallagher Concert Chamber. It features choreography by Atamira Dance’s Artistic Director Moss Paterson and 3D graphic visual sets by animation designer Sean Castle.

The University of Waikato kicked off the graduation season this year with marae and Tauranga graduation taking place last week. Next week graduation continues at Hamilton’s Founders Theatre from Monday 30 April to 3 May. More than 1000 students are set to graduate over the four days. Details of the ceremonies can be found on the graduation website.

Waikato University student Deborah Versluys has been named as a HRINZ student ambassador. Deborah was one of six student ambassadors picked by the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand to help encourage the study of human resources in universities around New Zealand. HRINZ is the professional development body for human resources professionals in New Zealand. Deborah is the first Waikato University HRINZ ambassador and hopes to raise the awareness of HRINZ among her fellow Management School students. “The main thing I want to achieve this year is promoting human resources and representing HRINZ at the Management School. It’s early days but I’m thinking about setting up an HR club and organising a few mixing and mingling events for HR students and HRINZ institutions from around the region.”

A University of Waikato graduate is taking what she learnt while at Waikato home with her, and hopes to have a big impact on the quality of teacher education. Patricia Rodie came to Waikato University from the Solomon Islands to complete her PhD on the professional learning and development of new secondary school teachers and explore how their experiences could be improved. She graduated at a ceremony at the University of Waikato Te Kohinga Mārama marae last week. “My interest in the topic was based on my previous experience as a teacher educator and an education administrator, and seeing how new teachers would sometimes have difficulty adjusting to life as a teacher. When teachers first start in the classroom they only have little practical experience so are often in a sink or swim situation. How they perform as teachers has a direct result on students' learning, so we want our new teachers to be the best they can be - to bring about positive learning outcomes in our students.” Now back in the Solomon Islands, Patricia is the deputy director of the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education and is in a position to put some of her theory into practice.

There aren’t many graduating teachers who can tell their students they used to have a giraffe in the back yard. University of Waikato graduand Amondi Ouku-Mowbray is looking forward to sharing her story and teaching children about difference and different cultures. Originally from Kenya, Amondi graduates with a Bachelor of Teaching in early childhood education at Hamilton’s Founders Theatre on 1 May. As well as studying, Amondi has been working with children since she came to New Zealand in 2006. She has been a volunteer for GirlGuiding New Zealand as a Pippin leader in Cambridge, taught preschool children at Country Crèche in Matangi and has worked with Congolese and Somali refugee families in Hamilton. “When I came to New Zealand from Africa I began doing social work and working with kids and saw I could contribute more when working with children. The volunteer work enabled me to interact a lot with Kiwi children and their parents which has been a big plus for me in learning about my new country. I bring my story from Africa, like how back home I had a giraffe that would come to the back of my property and eat the leaves off the trees.”

The latest book offering from Professor Dan Fleming of the Screen and Media Studies programme at the University of Waikato has seen its way into a London Exhibition of the top 10 moving image books of 2011. Making the Transformational Moment in Film will sit alongside nine other books selected for the Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards which were founded in 1985 to acknowledge and celebrate excellence in photography and moving image publishing. Professor Fleming says he is very pleased to have his book picked to be among the top 10 moving image books. “It is essentially a stand-alone exhibition at a high-profile central London arts venue and I am privileged to have a book that is to be included in the exhibition.” The book itself is an exploration of the transformational process that turns a film’s raw material into moving experiences. It takes key moments in films as examples of this process and examines how the moment is staged, how visual composition is used, how narrative is structured, how colour, light and music are handled, and how to get inside what it is like to be a fictional character that we care about. The winner of the award will be announced on 26 April but the exhibition runs from 27 April - 20 May 2012.

Brian Bullas and Joe Honeyfield had extra reason to celebrate last week. Not only were they rewarded for three years of intense study, they were also among the first five people to graduate with the University of Waikato’s new Tauranga-based computer science degree. Brian and Joe have both secured permanent work in Tauranga and say the three-year pathway gave them the skills and knowledge they needed to find sought-after positions in their areas of interest. “We covered a lot of different areas of computing which meant we could move into a variety of IT roles,” said Joe. “I’m interested in computer networking, while others have moved into software development or website design.” Offered in partnership with Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, the new Bachelor of Science (BSc) programme allows Polytechnic students, who complete the two-year Diploma in Applied Computing, to pathway through to their third year with the University of Waikato and graduate with the BSc, with a major in Computer Science, and with a specialisation in Applied Computing. The degree can be completed entirely in Tauranga.

Not everyone gets the opportunity to graduate alongside their brother, but last week Alister and James Moran of Te Puke did it for the second time with the same degree. Best mates as well as identical twins, the Morans, 26, graduated last Friday in Tauranga with their Bachelor of Laws Degree from the University of Waikato – Alister with first-class Honours and James with second-class, first division Honours. The graduation tops off a gruelling eight years of study, which only ended after Easter when they sat their “professionals” exams. Alister and James first went to Otago University, where they both completed their Bachelor of Commerce in 2007. Now they’re heading in different directions with James starting with Tauranga law firm Sharp Tudhope while Alister is in the process of applying for positions. Despite marking a significant turning point in their lives, the brothers are not fazed by a possible parting of the ways. “We just want to see each other do well,” says Alister. “We’re competitive people, but rather than competing against each other, we push each other to succeed.”

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