Media Advisory May 14


The University of Waikato celebrates Kīngitanga Day this week. Kīngitanga Day is an annual event that recognises the university’s unique and distinctive connection with Waikato-Tainui and the Kīngitanga. The day-long event has a range of activities including seminars, panel discussions and presentations from guest speakers and leading academics. This year the university’s Te Kotahi Research Institute will host guest speakers including Dame Claudia Orange, Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru, Moana Jackson and University of Waikato law lecturer Linda Te Aho for a symposium discussing the status, place and relevance of the Treaty of Waitangi in a constitution for Aotearoa. Kīngitanga Day takes place 9am-3.30pm on Wednesday 16 May, with all activities free and open to the public. For more information visit


University of Waikato law graduate and human rights lawyer Marianne Elliott was newly in charge of the United Nations office in Herat, Afghanistan when a tribal leader was assassinated. She had to defuse the situation before it led to widespread bloodshed. The incident was just the beginning of Elliot’s story from Afghanistan. She’s written a book – Zen Under Fire - about living and working in the world’s most notorious battlefield and will talk about her experiences at a public lecture tomorrow 15 May at Waikato University. As well as sharing the details of her UN role, Elliott will tell her personal story of the shattering effect the high-stress environment had on her and her relationships, and asks what it really means to do good in a country that is under siege from within. The lecture takes place at 1.10pm on Tuesday 15 May in L4 at the University of Waikato.


A strange and rare plant has been successfully cultivated at the University of Waikato. Dactylanthus (a Greek name meaning finger flower) is a threatened parasitic plant which occurs only in New Zealand. This is the first time that the dactylanthus has been successfully cultivated at an educational institute. It is part of a wider collaborative project between the University of Waikato, the Waikato Botanical Society, and the Department of Conservation (DOC). University of Waikato PhD student Elizabeth Overdyck of the Waikato Botanical Society and DOC’s Dr Avibhakta Holzapfel sowed the dactylanthus seed in 2007 next to the university’s campus greenhouses. “It normally takes at least four years for dactylanthus to flower after seed-sowing in the forest. Because it grows underground the only way to know whether the plant has been successfully established is when it blooms,” says Overdyck. The collaborative project has also seen the establishment of a new Threatened Plant Garden outside the university’s Faculty of Science and Engineering. Seeds from threatened species all over the Waikato region are obtained from DOC and sown by the Waikato Botanical Society whose members maintain the site with regular working bees. “Although the Threatened Plant Garden is not directly related to my PhD, it is part of the wider concept of bringing conservation to people in urban areas,” says Overdyck.


The University of Waikato Debating Society will host the North Island Novice Debating Championships next weekend. About 150 students from Waikato, Auckland, AUT, Massey and Victoria universities are expected on campus to contest the McLeod Thropy – called this since 2002 when an engraver misspelt the word trophy. The students compete in teams of three and have only 30 minutes to prepare their arguments, with successful teams moving through the four preliminary rounds to semi-finals and finals. Debates cover a wide array of social, political and ethical issues and are open to the public. Waikato Debating Society past president Chamanthie Sinhalage, who is now an accredited adjudicator, says after a drop-off in the mid-2000s, there’s been a resurgence in university debating societies in the past few years. At the end of the tournament a North Island team comprising the three top debaters will be selected.


Natural history, marine conservation and filmmaking will be the focus of the next Cafe Scientifique in Tauranga being held next week. Documentary filmmaker Andrew Marshall, from Tauranga, is the founder of Ocean International, an organisation being established to facilitate marine conservation through filmmaking and education. During his presentation he will discuss the opportunities for online learning as well as marine-focused, educational field-trips in the Bay, and his goal to instigate a filmmaking expedition vessel to roam globally. He will also recount some of his experiences during expedition cruises to Greenland, Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific. Previously Mr Marshall received international recognition with his first short film, Plunge of the Penguins, which was selected to screen at film festivals around the world. Café Scientifique is a forum for debating science issues, where for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. The Café Scientifique series is organised by Julia and Warren Banks and supported by the University of Waikato. It is being held next week on Monday 21 May, 6.45pm for 7.15pm start at Alimento, 72 First Avenue, Tauranga. For more information visit:


University of Waikato Religious Studies Professor Douglas Pratt will shed light on why religion can lead to extremism during his Inaugural Professorial Lecture being held at the university next week. “Previously there was a broad view, adopted by many academics in the 1960s, that religion was on its way out. It turns out they were wrong. Globally speaking, religion is on the rise,” says Professor Pratt. “So religion persists, but it also presents a number of problems in the modern world.” Professor Pratt has researched religion for many years and will be discussing what Anders Breivik, the Christchurch Cathedral, and the Taleban might have in common, while presenting his model for understanding the persistence of religion and contemporary problems with it. Professor Pratt’s lecture, titled The persistence and problem of religion, takes place next week on Tuesday 22 May at 6pm at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. Inaugural Professorial Lectures are the university’s way of formally introducing new and recently appointed professors to the wider community. Lectures are free and open to the public.


The University of Waikato Orchestra winter concert takes place this week on Sunday 20 May. Featuring the New Zealand Chamber Soloists, the Orchestra will perform Beethoven's magnificent Triple Concerto under the baton of assistant conductor, Adam Maha, before Musical Director James Tennant leads the orchestra through one of the great romantic symphonic scores, Schumann's D minor Symphony. The performance takes place at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on Sunday, beginning at 2.30pm. Tickets are available from and the Academy box office.

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