Media Advisory September 24

Restorative justice - the process for resolving crime that focuses on redressing the harm done to victims while holding offenders to account - is the subject for this year’s Harkness Henry lecture taking place at the University of Waikato tomorrow 25 September. The speaker is Judge Sir David Carruthers, new head of the Independent Police Conduct Authority, who’ll cover the history and future challenges for restorative justice. Judge Carruthers says his subject is a good fit because the Waikato Law Faculty has done pioneering work into restorative practices and education and that has now moved rapidly throughout other educational facilities in New Zealand. Sir David Carruthers is a former Chief District Court Judge, former Principal Youth Court Judge and former chairman of the Parole Board. His lecture is open to the public and takes place tomorrow, Tuesday 25 September at 6.15pm at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts.

The University of Waikato is participating in the nationwide ShakeOut earthquake drill taking place Wednesday 26 September at 9:26am. Students and staff across the campus will be encouraged to practice ‘Drop, Cover and Hold’, the correct action to take in an earthquake. They will be helped by videos, photos, demonstrations and loudspeaker instructions leading up to and on the morning.

This year’s annual Margaret Avery Memorial lecture will focus on the political subtexts of the paintings of the 19th century English romantic painter John Constable. Dr Douglas Simes, a 19th century British and Irish history expert, and past Waikato University History lecturer will be presenting. He’ll be looking at “the nature of Constable's beliefs, the influences that shaped him, and the means by which he conveyed them will be examined.” Margaret Avery was the head of the university's History Department for four years and was the first woman to be appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor. In 1993 she was awarded the title of Honorary Fellow of Waikato University for her notable service and leadership in advancing the academic aims of the university. She had wide-ranging and diverse research and teaching interests. The lecture takes place this Thursday, 27 September, in S1.01, starting at 5.30pm. It is open to the public with entry via a gold coin donation which will go to the Margaret Avery Award Fund.

Despite a global shortage of technicians and engineers, attracting and retaining bright students in science and technology disciplines is a worldwide problem, according to Associate Professor Bronwen Cowie of the Engineering Education Research Unit (EERU) at the University of Waikato. Dr Cowie says part of the reason is that students tend to ‘switch off’ from these ‘difficult’ subjects. She’s working closely with Foundation Professor in Electronic Engineering Jonathan Scott to find better ways to teach what are known as threshold concepts – crucial ideas in any discipline that change the way you think. Examples include the concept of opportunity cost in economics and Freud’s model of the mind in psychology. Professor Scott says there are five threshold concepts in electronic engineering – and they’re not easy to grasp. With the help of the EERU, he’s trialling a range of techniques, including student group work and multiple-choice scratchie cards for assessment, to help students master the concepts. More details of this and other University of Waikato research stories are in the latest issue of re:think, now available online.

Global citizenship is a hot topic and one Waikato academic is providing a new approach for becoming a ‘global citizen’. Professor Tina Besley, Director of the University of Waikato’s Centre for Global Studies in Education, says despite the best efforts of various institutions, global citizenship is not yet a reality. “Recent incidents such as the explicit anti-Westernism expressed by much of the Muslim world over one rogue filmmaker’s action, and the simmering issues between Māori and others in New Zealand over the notions of ‘ownership’ and ‘rights’, show that there is still plenty of work to be done in addressing issues of interculturalism and dialogue.” She says schools and universities promote global citizenship to their students through emphasising themes like social justice, diversity, human rights and sustainable development, while corporations emphasise the global marketplace, international management strategy, cultural competencies and business ethics. She will discuss the topic further at her free Inaugural Professorial Lecture next month, 6pm, Tuesday 9 October, at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. Inaugural Professorial Lectures are the university’s way of formally introducing new or recently appointed professors to the wider community.

Waikato University is hosting a range of events during October as part of its annual Postgraduate Month. Kicking off the month is the Postgraduate Information Evening on Wednesday 3 October which is aimed at people considering postgraduate study. The information evening, which begins at 5.30pm and is held in the MSB foyer in the Waikato Management School, is an opportunity for potential doctoral candidates to find out what is involved in postgraduate study at Waikato University. Other events during the month include workshops for students new to postgraduate study, those midway and finishing their research, and those starting their careers outside academia. Staff workshops are also being held for doctoral supervisors and exam conveyors. Back again is the ever-popular Thesis in 3 competition which sees doctoral students outline their theses in just three minutes and carries a $5000 prize to go towards their research. For more information visit

This October the Wallace Corporation University of Waikato Blues Awards celebrate high-achieving students who excel in sports and the creative and performing arts. The Blue is a prestigious award for excellence in sport or creative and performing arts. Blues Awards recognise national excellence through to world champions. Thirty six University of Waikato students will be recognised for their athletic achievements this year, alongside 16 students who are achieving in the creative and performing arts world. Among the awards to be given out will be the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, Māori Person of the Year and Creative and Performing Arts Person of the Year. The Wallace Corporation University of Waikato Blues take place on October 12 at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. For more information visit

Research by a University of Waikato postgraduate student is behind a new health drink being launched in the health-conscious Asian markets by a Hamilton-based company. Developed by New Zealand Yacon Ltd (formerly NZ Biotechnologies), the prebiotic drink is a mix of blackcurrant juice and syrup made from yacon, a tuber originating from South America that has proven digestive health properties. Waikato student Maria Revell spent a year working with New Zealand Yacon analysing the particular sugar that gives the tuber its prebiotic properties as part of her Masters degree in chemistry. Her work was funded by a $20,000 TechNZ government scholarship designed to boost R&D capability in businesses. “My findings are commercially sensitive, but we can say that blackcurrant juice and yacon syrup together provide a health benefit that they don’t separately,” she says. The company’s director Robert Welch says they’re now working on packaging and marketing serving-sized portions of the new health drink, and will initially target the Korean and Japanese markets where yacon is very popular. More details of this and other University of Waikato research stories are in the latest issue of re:think, now available online.

Waikato University music student Lauren Grout took first place at the New Zealand Woodwind Competition, held at Westlake Girls High School this month. Lauren entered in the tertiary section, where she performed a 25-minute programme including an unaccompanied piece which lead the judges to choose her as the winner. The talented musician also claimed Best Performance of a New Zealand Work on the night with her concerto for flute composed by Anthony Ritchie. Her prizes included $2000 for first place in the tertiary section, a $100 voucher, and a 12-month library membership. Waikato University clarinettist Nathaniel Smorti also competed, giving a highly commendable performance and making it to the final round. The music programme will be celebrating its 25 year-anniversary this October and holds a concert on the 13 and 14 October to mark the occasion.

This page has been reformatted for printing.