Media Advisory November 5


The sport horse industry in New Zealand is worth more than $1 billion annually according to a University of Waikato student’s study. Masters of Business Administration student Alex Matheson has performed what is one of the first investigations into the size and scope of the sport horse industry in New Zealand. A graduate of the agricultural and horse-industry based Marcus Oldham College in Australia, Alex decided to undertake the study after finding there was no information available on the collective economic impact of the industry. Sport horses are defined as all horses that are not being used for racing or breeding horses for the purpose of racing. “I wanted to get a better understanding of the sport horse industry in New Zealand. The actual size of this sector of the industry is not widely known and before this has not been studied collectively.” He carried out an online survey of more than 150 participants, asking questions about everything from the grazing costs for their horses, transportation, vet bills and more. This data was then compared to the Agribase Biosecurity database. Of the estimated 80,000 sport horses in New Zealand, the average total annual spend per horse was $12,500, meaning the sport horse industry is worth more than $1 billion or 0.5 per cent of New Zealand’s annual GDP.


Te Mata Hautū Taketake - the new Māori and Indigenous Governance Centre at Te Piringa-Faculty of Law at the University of Waikato is holding its official launch this week. The Centre has been established to explore cutting edge research themes that are practical, effective and culturally relevant for improving Māori governance generally. The Centre plans to apply this research by assisting Māori organisations and communities through the provision of quality governance courses, workshops, publications and symposia and will also work to facilitate a network of partner organisations to explore opportunities for mutual benefit. The launch will be held at three locations – Hamilton, today Monday 5 November, Rotorua tomorrow, Tuesday 6 November and in Wellington on Wednesday. Guest speakers will include Professor Mick Dodson (Director of National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Australian National University, Canberra), Chief Judge Wilson Isaac of the Māori Land Court, Judge Stephen Clark, Judge Craig Coxhead, Leith Comer (Chief Executive, Te Puni Kokiri) plus representatives from the Law Faculty.


A University of Waikato researcher is working on a model to predict where plant species grow and how they will react to climate change. “The potential of predicting species abundances has generated tremendous interest, inspired vigorous debate, and has been heralded as the Holy Grail of ecology,” says Waikato ecologist Dr Daniel Laughlin. “Predicting species abundances is crucial given the urgent need to understand the rate and direction of species migration in a rapidly changing world.” He received a $345,000 Marsden Fund research grant and will spend the next three years collecting data in collaboration with Landcare Research. His team will initially test the model at Puketī Forest, near Kerikeri, by measuring leaf and wood properties and then compare model predictions to what they observe in the bush. In the second stage his team will collect leaf and wood trait data from common trees around the entire country, to gain a better understanding of how trees may respond to shifts in climate from the coasts to the mountains. The Marsden Fund is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Marsden Fund Council, and funded by the New Zealand Government. It supports projects in the sciences, technology, engineering and maths, social sciences and the humanities. This year the University of Waikato received six grants, totaling $3.6 million.


Professor Lynda Johnston is not your typical geographer. A long-standing activist for gender and sexual equality, her research looks at the links between place and sexual identities. To mark her promotion to professor, she’ll be giving a free public lecture later this month on how gay pride parades and festivals transform the usually taken-for-granted heterosexual spaces of cities. “Gay pride parades and festivals make visible bodies that don’t tend to fit heterosexual norms,” she explains. In her lecture Professor Johnston will draw on the experiences of cities such as Hamilton, Sydney and Edinburgh in coming to terms with the public expression and celebration of sexual diversity, and she warns that the audience can expect a few surprises. Professor Johnston’s inaugural professorial lecture, ‘Proud people and places or just more Riff Raff? The spatial politics of Gay Pride’, takes place on Tuesday 20 November at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at the University of Waikato. The lecture is free and open to the public, and begins at 6pm.


A University of Waikato researcher is looking at the bio-psychological link between ‘love-hormone’ oxytocin and the sharing of food. “As a society we share resources even when they are extremely scarce,” says biological scientist Dr Pawel Olszewski. “Remarkably, almost on a daily basis - in the family or in other social groups - mammals are willing to share one of the most crucial resources; food.” Most animals share food, but to date there has been little research exploring the role of oxytocin on what is seen as entirely social behaviour. Dr Olszewski has received a three-year, $760,000 Marsden Fund research grant and will undertake a series of experiments involving the application of oxytocin and its influence on the willingness to share food. “We speculate that the hormone oxytocin, a hunger suppressant that also increases social interactions and feelings of altruism and love, is responsible,” says Dr Olszewski. The Marsden Fund is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Marsden Fund Council, and funded by the New Zealand Government. It supports projects in the sciences, technology, engineering and maths, social sciences and the humanities. This year the University of Waikato received six grants, totaling $3.6 million.


The Bachelor of Environmental Planning degree at Waikato University has achieved accreditation from The New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) after being introduced as a new qualification in 2011. Convenor of the programme, Pippa Wallace, is delighted with the accreditation. “Not only does the NZPI accreditation confirm our degree as a professional degree, it means that our students will have a rapid track to gaining their own professional recognition with NZPI once they graduate.” To gain accreditation, Environmental Planning at Waikato had to meet a number of criteria, and underwent a rigorous review in terms of the structure, content and delivery of the degree. “Our degree is unique in that it offers a multi-disciplinary research-led programme in Environmental Planning consistent with the changing needs of contemporary planning theory and practice,” says Wallace. More than 60 students currently enrolled in the degree will now graduate with the NZPI accreditation attributed to their study.


Seventeen-year-old Waikato University cellist Santiago Cañón Valencia will give his final performance recital at the University of Waikato on Thursday 8 November before he heads overseas to continue studying and cement his international career. The performance will be his final exam recital for the Bachelor of Music soloist specialisation degree he is completing and will also act as a fundraising concert, with all proceeds going to Santiago to help with his overseas study fees. “It’s a really bittersweet feeling. On the one-hand I’m really sad to leave and say goodbye to all the wonderful people that have supported and influenced me over the past seven years, while on the other hand, I’m excited to begin a new chapter of my life,” says Santiago. The performance will be held at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on Thursday 8 November at 8pm. Tickets will only be available on the door, cash only; $20 adults, $10 students and children, $50 family (2 adults, 2 children). For more information contact or phone Kim Johnson, (07) 838 4380.


University of Waikato Engineering student Kenneth Sichone has won a Claude McCarthy Fellowship. Kenneth came to the university from the metal processing industry, and is using his real-world experience to help him finish his PhD. His PhD is focusing on the production process for titanium, looking at removing as many steps from it as possible. “Titanium is a very important metal because of its favorable properties – it can be used medically, for aerospace design, mechanically, for recreational sport applications and many others.” However its applications are limited on account of its cost. “My PhD is based around the TiPro process, a novel technological process that has been developed at the University of Waikato that has the potential to reduce the production costs by using low cost inputs and removing a number of steps from the traditional production process." The Fellowship allows Kenneth to present his research at The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society conference being held in San Antonio Texas, in March next year. Kenneth joins fellow Waikato students Timothy Walmsley and Megan Grainger who also received Claude McCarthy Fellowships.


University of Waikato swimmers Shayne and Dayna Kiekebosch have just returned from a successful series at the recent New Zealand Short Course Championships. Both managed to set a number of personal bests in the pool, and each broke six Waikato records. Shayne improved his personal best in the 200m breaststroke heats by a massive five seconds. In the Open Final he shaved off another 1.5 seconds, winning fifth place in New Zealand. Among a number of personal bests he broke six Waikato men’s records. His sister Dayna, who has been injured for two years, came back to swimming in January and also set a series of personal bests. She swam a personal best in the 50m breaststroke, winning silver in the 17/18 age group 50m race as well as gold in the 100m and 200m, and got another silver in the Opens Final. She also broke six Waikato records. “The ultimate goal for both of us is the Olympics. But before that there’s the Commonwealth Games and before that there’s the next nationals,” says Dayna, who is in her first year of a social science and sport and leisure degree.


What’s successful in the workshop doesn’t always work when put on show. This was the lesson learnt by second year engineering students at Waikato University’s Carter Holt Harvey Pulp & Paper Engineering Design Show recently. The task over the course of the semester was to create a machine which could travel quickly between two points, collecting four balls from one end of a ramp and depositing them at the other end. The machines battled it out at the Design Show as part of the proceedings. The winners on the day were a team ironically named Tortoise, whose ball-collecting machine collected the most balls in the shortest amount of time. The show gave engineering students the opportunity to showcase their prototypes, posters and design projects.


St Paul’s Collegiate has snatched back the title as the winners of the University of Waikato’s ChemQuest challenge. Since 1997 St Paul’s Collegiate has won the competition eight times, but never more than twice in a row. First place went to Paul Newton-Jackson, Hannah Clare and Mark Davis from St Paul’s Collegiate. The students were awarded the James and Wells trophy, $150, and a gold medal each. The annual chemistry quiz gives Year 12 students the chance to put their chemistry knowledge to the test in a pop quiz-style challenge. “ChemQuest is always a fun event for everyone involved,” says event organiser Professor Bill Henderson. ChemQuest was held at the University of Waikato late last month.

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