Media Advisory August 27

Food issues will be put under the microscope and dissected in the final of the University of Waikato Winter Lecture Series this week. From paddock to plate, two academics and long-time chef will look at different aspects of food production, how it impacts the regional economy and people’s pockets.
Professor of Agribusiness Jacqueline Rowarth thinks we should be paying more for food. “As they do in many other countries in hidden ways such as taxation, allowing farmers to invest in technology that improves productivity, efficiency and farm sustainability. Professor Darrin Hodgetts thinks people are paying enough for food already and that food as a human right is increasingly not being realised by a growing number of New Zealanders. Chef David Kerr, currently unable to cook after breaking his arm in six places at Fieldays, says he feels more like a scientist than a chef these days as more and more of his diners have allergies or food intolerance of some kind or other. The lecture is on Wednesday 29 August at 6pm in the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts.
The University of Waikato’s WAND Network Research Group has been awarded just under $1.5 million in government funding over four years to develop models and tools to monitor the performance of internet networks across New Zealand. It’s one of two University of Waikato projects to win funding in the first tranche of results of the 2012 Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment research funding round, announced last week. The network infrastructure monitoring project is led by Dr Richard Nelson, and will involve the first comprehensive measurement of the performance and topology of the network infrastructure across the whole country. “The internet is fast becoming a key infrastructure, and the government is now investing $1.5 billion in ultra-fast broadband and the rural broadband initiative,” says Dr Nelson. “But the internet is only as good as its weakest point – and that’s where we come in. We’re aiming to build a distributed platform to monitor the links between all the different networks, which will allow network operators to detect problems in service without having to wait for users to alert them.” 
A two-year investigation into keeping older people independent and active has been granted $687,000 by the Ministry of Science and Innovation. The grant is one of two University of Waikato’s projects to win funding in the first tranche of results of the 2012 Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment research funding round, announced last week. The Making Active Ageing a Reality project is being led by Professor Peggy Koopman-Boyden at the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis at the University of Waikato and aims to encourage greater independence for older people living alone, increase their productivity, and keep them connected in an increasingly digital age. “Almost half the labour force is already 40 or older and by mid-century the labour force will not be replacing itself,” says Professor Koopman-Boyden. “So we need to be thinking about improving and maximising the potential of older workers. If they can’t contribute to their full economic capacity for any number of reasons, then there are implications not only for their individual futures but for business and society as a whole.” 
In addition to securing MSI funding for the WAND and independent ageing projects, University of Waikato academics are on research projects being led by other universities and CRIs. Earth scientist Professor Craig Cary from Earth and Ocean Sciences will work on a $1 million project with GNS Science to produce the biggest repository of geochemical and genetic data ever collected in New Zealand. In an Otago University-led project, Waikato Law School’s Professor Barry Barton will be working on Part 2 of the Energy Cultures project looking at the future of transport. NIDEA Demographers Professor Natalie Jackson and Professor Jacques Poot from the National Institute for Demographic and Economic Analysis and Waikato Management School economist Dr Michael Cameron will work on Massey University’s Nga Tangata Oho Mairangi: regional impacts of demographic and economic change project, which is worth $800,000 over two years. Dr Cameron will also be working on Waikato University’s independent ageing study, and is part of a four-year $7.2 million NIWA-led project called New Zealand climate changes, impacts and implications.

Geographers Dr Lars Brabyn from the University of Waikato and Associate Professor Greg Brown from the University of Queensland have completed a study of New Zealanders’ landscape preferences in the Southland and Otago regions. The survey of more than 600 participants was conducted to assess how people valued different landscapes. Data was analysed using the New Zealand Landscape Classification system, recently developed by Dr Brabyn. “This is by far the largest survey of landscape preferences conducted in New Zealand and was extremely efficient because of the automated data collecting tools used,” says Dr Brabyn. The results support previous studies that show preferences for mountainous, natural landscapes, and natural coastal regions, but the analysis also reveals subtle landscape relationships. Dr Brabyn says that landscapes are complex since they involve personal perceptions. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, therefore it is important that assessment techniques, such as those used in this survey, capture people’s preferences rather than relying on so called ‘experts’.” The researchers hope that the New Zealand Landscape Classification system will be used by councils throughout New Zealand, so that a comprehensive understanding of landscape preferences can be obtained and the management of landscape resources is informed. 
The University of Waikato’s annual lecture series in Tauranga starts next week with a lecture by Dr Alison Campbell who will examine some of the biological curiosities and strange behaviour from the animal world. Dr Campbell is Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and a senior lecturer in Biological Sciences. Her lecture, she says, will take the audience on an entertaining journey through some of the byways of biology, looking at the science that underlies some of the weird – and sometimes downright kinky – curiosities of the biological world. Dr Campbell’s lecture takes place on Thursday 30 August, 6.30pm, at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Bongard Centre, 200 Cameron Road, Tauranga. Gold coin entry. 
An international expert on language revival says the loss of language is more damaging than the loss of land for indigenous peoples, and governments are likely to come under increasing pressure to compensate indigenous peoples for the loss of what he calls “native tongue title”. Professor Ghil’ad Zuckermann is Chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide. He’ll be giving a free public lecture at the University of Waikato next month, where he’ll discuss the importance of revitalising languages and the establishment of a new universal discipline – revival linguistics – in which he says Oceania ought to play a leading role. Professor Zuckermann will deliver his lecture “Sleeping Beauties Awake - Towards the Establishment of Revival Linguistics” at 12-1pm on Monday 10 September at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at the University of Waikato. 
If you thought opera was all high-brow, then you haven’t heard Sol3Mio. At the first of the University of Waikato’s Winter Lecture Series, soprano Dame Malvina Major brought her favourite “rugby front row” on stage. They may have looked as if they’d just walked off the paddock, but when they opened their mouths, the audience was gobsmacked. The three men, brothers Darren Pene Pati and Amitai Pati, and Moses Mackay sing opera with plenty of humour and are currently fundraising to study at the Welsh International Academy of Voice. The University of Waikato is hosting a fundraising concert, where they’ll perform a mix of their favourite arias and songs - from Samoan to Italian, from Puccini to Adele. The concert will be on Wednesday 19 September at 7.30pm at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts.

Top secondary schools from around the county have been selected to compete in the Head of the Waikato rowing challenge on 9 September. A pre-event to the Gallagher Great Race, the Head of the Waikato will see secondary schools battle it out over 2.7km upstream. The boys’ crews this year are Hamilton Boys' High, St Paul’s Collegiate, St John’s College, Macleans College in Auckland, Auckland Grammar School and St Peter’s Cambridge who will also have a crew competing in the girls division. Also in the girls division are Waikato Diocesan, Hillcrest High School, Sacred Heart (Hamilton) and Craighead Diocesan from Timaru. The University of Waikato partners with the organisers of the Great Race to hold the Head of the Waikato. A formal dinner will be held for the secondary school crews on campus at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on 8 September with senior Waikato crew members also expected to attend.

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