Media Advisory July 16

What are difficult conversations and why do they occur? How does communication have positive and negative impacts? What are some core messages about having effective difficult conversations? In his Inaugural Professorial Lecture, taking place tomorrow, University of Waikato Management Communication Professor John Oetzel will discuss the prickly topic of difficult conversations and why it is important not to avoid them. The lecture will focus specifically on difficult conversations that occur in teamwork and in health care services, particularly when people come from different cultural backgrounds. Professor Oetzel will draw on examples from his own and others’ research, both locally and internationally, which are poignant, interesting, and often funny. Inaugural Professorial Lectures are the university’s way of formally introducing new or recently appointed professors to the wider community. All lectures are free and open to the public. The lecture starts at 6pm tomorrow night, Tuesday 17 July, in The Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts.

Mike Pohio, CEO of Tainui Group Holdings (TGH), will speak at a free public seminar at the Waikato Management School on Friday, 20 July, as part of the School’s Excellence in Practice Series. Tainui Group Holdings Ltd is the commercial arm of Waikato-Tainui Te Kauhanganui Incorporated (WTTKI), the tribal division of Waikato-Tainui, and delivers commercial returns for the Waikato-Tainui people through its business of property investment and development. The public is welcome to come along and hear Mr Pohio speak on the commercial journey of Waikato-Tainui and the recent successes of the Novotel Auckland Airport and The Base retail development in Te Rapa. Find out how TGH has overcome many hurdles on its journey and what the future might hold for the company. Mr Pohio will also spend some time discussing the proposed Ruakura Inland Port and Logistics Hub - a game-changer for the Waikato and New Zealand. The seminar takes place at the Waikato Management School, room MSB 1.02, Friday 20 July, from 1pm. RSVP to

The revitalisation of te reo comes under the spotlight at the University of Waikato during this month’s Māori Language Week which runs 23-29 July. The University of Waikato hosts two free public lectures during the week, one entirely in te reo and one in English, but both address the issue of the revitalisation of te reo. The university’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori, Professor Linda Smith, says it is fitting the university is strongly supporting Māori Language Week as many university staff – past and present – have played vital roles in the revitalisation of te reo. The first lecture is Tuesday 24 July from 10am-12noon at the university’s Te Kohinga Mārama marae with three speakers who are all experts in te reo. They are Māori language expert and School of Māori and Pacific Development lecturer Dr Rangi Matāmua, former Waikato University lecturer Pānia Papa and Koro Ngapo, a Faculty of Education lecturer who recently fully defended his PhD thesis in te reo. The second lecture is on Thursday 26 July from 6-7pm in the university’s Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. That lecture is presented by School of Māori and Pacific Development’s Associate Professor Winnie Crombie and Te Piringa – Faculty of Law honorary lecturer Dr Richard Benton. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Sirocco, the famous kākāpō caught on camera trying to mate with a zoologist’s head, will be the subject of a discussion at the Waikato Management School this month. Chris Smut-Kennedy, an ecologist for Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, will talk about internet-sensation Sirocco visiting the ecological Island during a free public lecture at the University of Waikato on 23 July. Sirocco rose to fame courtesy of a documentary made by British filmmaker Stephen Fry, who captured Sirocco trying to mate with a nearby zoologist. The footage, now on YouTube, has been viewed over 4 million times. Sirocco soon became an internet sensation. The resulting fame has led to him being New Zealand’s first spokesbird, commanding his own seat on aeroplanes, and having 11,000 Facebook fans. He’s also critically endangered, one of only 126 kākāpō left in the world. The lecture takes place in MSB1.05, Waikato Management Building, on 23 July, beginning at 5 pm.

University of Waikato post-doctoral fellow Dr Te Raukura Roa will spend a year at the University of Hawai’i as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence where she’ll be teaching classes in Māori language and Māori performing arts and traditional song poetry.  The Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence award assists US higher education institutions to expand programmes of academic exchange. Dr Roa (Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Haua) studied traditional Māori chants for her PhD and says she’d like to do a comparative study of Māori and Hawai’ian music and dance. “They’re a lot more gentle in their music and movement than we are. They move differently; Māori are a lot louder and aggressive and I’m curious to know how that’s evolved if we had the same origins.” Dr Roa leaves for Hawai’i on 1 August.

The National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis at the University of Waikato will be holding a seminar focussing on the social impacts and experiences of childfree couples living in New Zealand at the end of July. At the centre of the topic is key research looking into the social pressures and stereotypes placed on those couples who choose not to have children. Theresa Riley who is currently in the final year of her PhD in Health Science at Auckland Māori will be presenting the seminar based on her own research, which involved interviews with 10 heterosexual ‘childfree’ couples living in Hamilton and a focus group. Theresa completed her Masters degree at Waikato University in 2008, where her thesis was published as a book title “Being Childfree in New Zealand: Couples who choose to not have children”, and since has appeared in multiple publications. The seminar is scheduled for 1.10pm on Thursday 26 July and will be held at the University of Waikato, Room I.1.01. RSVP to Dr Yaqub Foroutan (
One of the country’s most high-profile lawyers, Mai Chen, will give a public lecture at the University of Waikato later this month. Ms Chen, a founding partner of specialist public law firm Chen Palmer will talk about issues featured in her book The Public Law Toolbox. She has based her book on her 25 years’ experience in public law, and written it as a resource for business people, lawyers, advocates, industry associations, citizens, Māori and non-governmental organisations to more successfully interface with government. Ms Chen says it will also help people wanting to resolve disputes around administrative and government decision-making, and advise businesses on how to resolve disputes with competitors. The book lays out the government’s legal obligations and the risks it faces when interfacing with business. The lecture will take place at Te Piringa – Faculty of Law on 31 July at 1.10pm in room G.04.

Mathematics Professor Ernie Kalnins from the Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Sciences is one of the three winners of the Journal of Physics A Best Paper prize for 2012. The Journal of Physics A is a peer-reviewed scientific journal, contributed to by academics world-wide. Professor Kalnins, together with Willard Miller Jr (University of Minnesota) and Sarah Post (University of Montreal), wrote the prize-winning paper Coupling constant metamorphosis and Nth-order symmetries in classical and quantum mechanics. All original research papers published in Journal of Physics A in 2010 and 2011 were eligible for the prize. “This recognition supports the notion that work can be done here at Waikato that gets the attention of the scientific community world-wide,” says Professor Kalnins. “The award has enabled this work to continue and be of continuing interest.” Nominations for the prize were received from readers of the journal. These nominations were then assessed by the Section Editors using the criteria of novelty, achievement, potential impact and presentation. Their winning paper was considered to have excelled in all of these categories.

A group of University of Waikato students will head to Washington DC to represent New Zealand in the Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) World Cup later this year. SIFE is a global organisation for university students where teams create sustainable projects in the community to teach business finance, market economics, business ethics and entrepreneurship.  It’s the second year running that the SIFE Waikato team have taken out the national title. The Waikato students won the national SIFE competition in Auckland over the weekend, competing against teams from AUT and Massey Palmerston North, and now go on to compete in the global competition in the United States on September 30 - October 2.

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