Media Advisory June 24

The latest Times Higher Education rankings place the University of Waikato among the world’s Top 50 tertiary institutions under 50-years-old. Its 46th spot is an improvement of 12 places on last year, a result University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford says is a huge achievement and further confirmation the university is making its presence felt on the world stage. The new ranking showed the University of Waikato’s focus on sustained improvement was paying dividends. “This is a tremendous credit to all the staff in the university,” he says. The rankings were particularly important for the university’s efforts internationally and would be well received both by international students and the growing number of tertiary institutions the University of Waikato has developed close relationships with, he said. “We look forward to continuing our progression on the world stage and cementing our reputation as one of the exciting new breed of global universities.”

A new course aimed at giving senior managers the skills and confidence to take a meaningful part in Māori functions, ceremonies or rituals has been launched at the University of Waikato.

Irikura, Suspended Treasures, runs over six evenings from the end of July and is being led by one of New Zealand’s foremost tikanga and te reo Māori experts, Professor Pou Temara, from the university’s School of Māori and Pacific Development. Professor Temara says the course will enable senior managers to engage with Māori ritual and ceremony in a meaningful way and allow them to “do the right thing” when the situation arises, both in the workplace and the community. The course will teach participants to be proficient enough in the use of te reo Māori and tikanga to competently take part in occasions such as marae visits, tangi, powhiri and other situations where Māori protocol is adhered to. Irikura, Suspended Treasures runs from 4-7pm on Mondays from 29 July until 2 September.

More than a million New Zealand adults don’t have the literacy and numeracy skills they need for daily life. The National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults, based at the University of Waikato, is hosting a national symposium this week that focuses on adult literacy and numeracy learning. The Centre works in partnership with Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi to build professional capability in adult literacy and numeracy across New Zealand through research and evidence-based professional development, with a particular focus on educators of Māori, Pasifikia and youth. Speakers at the symposium will highlight research in that area, along with coping with dyslexia in the workplace, work being done in prisons and ESOL learning. The keynote address will be given by Dr Timote Vaioleti from Waikato’s School of Māori and Pacific Development/Faculty of Education. The symposium runs Thursday and Friday this week at Waikato Management School. Find out more information about the 2013 symposium.

A Waikato University PhD student is researching jury decision-making to explore how juries arrive at verdicts. A barrister by trade, Fraser King will interview jurors from jury trials to determine the reasoning behind a verdict, interviewing jurors from mostly violent crime trials and other criminal trials such as serious fraud. “My aim for this research is to contribute to the present review of jury trials in New Zealand,” says King. “I think we will be seeing some changes to the jury system in the near future, particularly in respect of the instructions that jurors are given during trials and before the jury retires to deliberate.” A wider Australasian study run by Monash University and Victoria University is reviewing the jury system in New Zealand and Australia, which is where, along with discussions with his chief supervisor Dr Tracy Bowell and co-supervisor Judge Peter Spiller, King forged his PhD topic. Judge Spiller speaks highly of the immense practical implications of King’s study for the New Zealand judicial system. “Juries are responsible each year for deciding the guilt or otherwise of hundreds of people throughout the country. Any insights that Fraser can discover into juries' reasoning processes have the potential to assist judges and lawyers in making the jury system a more just and effective system in our community.”

The Government wants New Zealanders to improve their financial literacy and in response, the University of Waikato is offering a paper on financial literacy in semester B starting Monday 8 July. Finance Professor Stuart Locke from Waikato Management School says Finance 101, Financial Literacy and Wealth Management, is aimed at everyone who wants to better understand financial decision-making. Professor Locke will be taking most of the lectures which are being held at 6 o’clock for two hours on Monday nights to enable people working full-time to attend. He says no matter what age or stage you are – student, just starting work, starting a family or thinking about retirement - it’s wise to be financially literate, to have options and be aware of the different risks and rewards associated with different financial options. He says Finance 101 will cover savings and investment, purchasing and consumer credit, risk management and insurance, financial markets and schemes such as KiwiSaver. For more information about studying at Waikato for B Semester.

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Waikato has awarded the first of six $10,000 postdoctoral writing awards for emerging academics to psychology PhD student Derek Riley. Derek’s PhD research focused on the longitudinal relationship of work-life balance, and resilience between work and family conflict and psychological well-being among New Zealand health professionals. He looked at many factors including perceptions of work-life balance, levels of psychological resilience and social support from work (supervisor and colleagues) and non-work (friends and family) members. Advertised as the Postdoctoral Stipendiary Awards 2013, the awards were available to recent PhD students in the Faculty who could show plans for publishing in collaboration with academic staff. From June 1 to August 31 this year, the dairy farmer-turned-academic will be producing a publication following on from his PhD research that will be submitted to the International Journal of Stress and Health. Riley’s research stemmed from a wider international work-life balance project which University of Waikato Professor Michael O’Driscoll, Riley’s supervisor, is involved in.

Waikato’s Te Piringa – Faculty of Law hosts the 11th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium from 24–28 June. Hosting international environmental law conferences in New Zealand is a rare event, and the 2013 colloquium will be only the third international environmental law conference to be held in New Zealand since 1991, and the first time that the colloquium has been hosted in this country. The Academy was established by the International Union for Conservation (IUCN) in 2003, and has grown to become a network of more than 500 environmental law academics from more than 160 universities based in more than 50 countries. Trevor Daya-Winterbottom is Associate Dean Research at Te Piringa - Faculty of Law and chair of the organising committee for this year’s colloquium. He says for a country that has significant economic focus on primary production, developing a coherent body of sound environmental law is an important foundation for future growth and prosperity. “Hosting the colloquium in New Zealand provides a unique opportunity for thought leadership, exposing our environmental law academics to leading international developments in the field from other countries, and similarly providing an opportunity for overseas academics to learn something from us.” Find out more information about the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium.  

The University of Waikato's Te Kotahi Research Institute is hosting its inaugural indigenous research conference - He Manawa Whenua - at the Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton. The conference features more than 150 presentations from international and local speakers, including Waziyatawin, a Dakota writer, teacher and activist from the Pezihutazizi Otunwe (Yellow Medicine Village) in south-western Minnesota, Aboriginal rights activist Nala Mansell-McKenna from Tasmania, Dr Jo-Ann Archibald, Associate Dean for Indigenous Education and Director of the Native Indian Teacher Education Programme at the University of British Columbia and Dr Debra Harry, a Northern Paiute woman from Nevada who is a global leader in the movement to protect the rights of indigenous peoples to their genetic resources and indigenous knowledge. Keynote sessions also include Moana Jackson, Dayle Takitimu, Meihana Durie, Ani Mikaere and Pania Papa. Each presenter brings to the conference knowledge and challenges related to key issues that are currently facing Māori and Indigenous communities, including discussions related to wellbeing, Kaupapa Māori theory and research approaches, environmental issues, challenging research paradigms, the impact of colonisation and the revitalisation of te reo Maori. The conference opens with a powhiri at Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia on Sunday June 30 and continues from Monday July 1 to Wednesday July 3 at the Claudelands Event Centre.

The University of Waikato is offering new doctoral and masters scholarships worth more than $200,000 through its six flagship research institutes. The university’s research institutes support world-class research in environmental science, demography and economic analysis, business and leadership, professional learning and development, education, and Māori and indigenous development. Each institute is offering a doctoral scholarship worth $22,000 a year plus fees for three years’ full time study, and a masters scholarship worth $12,000 including a fees component of $3,500. “Our Research Institutes all support major research platforms that have been successful in winning contestable research funding, so this is an exciting time for postgraduate research at Waikato University,” says Pro Vice-Chancellor Postgraduate Professor Kay Weaver. “This gives 12 students a fantastic opportunity to work with some of Waikato’s best researchers on relevant and topical issues.” Applications close on 31 July, 2013. Find out more information about the University of Waikato Research Institute Scholarships.  

Māori Language Week – Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori - is now in its 39th year and to celebrate, the University of Waikato is encouraging staff and students to test their skills by ordering coffee in Māori. A range of other activities – including a scavenger hunt with clues in Māori – are planned which underline this year’s Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori theme which focuses on correct pronunciation of Waikato Māori place names. Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori Professor Linda Smith says te reo is playing an increasingly large role in university life. Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori is an opportunity for us at this university to celebrate our distinctiveness, the language of te reo, and to recognise and embrace the language across the university, she says. Māori Language Week runs from 1 – 7 July.

University of Waikato composer Michael Williams premiered a live performance of his multi-media opera The Juniper Passion in Italy last Friday. The opera is set around the Basilica at Italy’s Monte Cassino during World War II and the CD was launched on Anzac Day last year. The story is based on fact but the characters are fictional – a Benedictine monk, a German officer and a New Zealand soldier. Michael Williams is a well-known figure in New Zealand composition and has received commissions from most of the country's major musical institutions including the NZSO, NBR New Zealand Opera and Chamber Music New Zealand. His music is regularly broadcast on Radio New Zealand’s Concert programme. The Juniper Passion features singer Julia Booth, a University of Waikato alumna, and university staff members David Griffiths and Rachael Griffiths-Hughes. The tour continues with further performances on 22, 23, 25 and 26 June throughout Italy. The premiere performance can be viewed online. Find out more information or to buy your ticket.  

Two University of Waikato law students are heading to the United States as New Zealand representatives at an international negotiation competition, with financial support from the New Zealand Law Foundation. Rob Davies and Darren Adams, who completed their Waikato law degrees earlier this year and are both in their early 30s, won last year’s New Zealand law students’ negotiation competition to earn their place at the international event at Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California. Rob now works in Auckland for the Health and Disability Commissioner and Darren works in Tauranga as a police officer in Youth Services. The pair met as students in Tauranga and remained friends while completing their third and fourth years of legal studies at Waikato’s Hamilton campus. Dispute Resolution is a compulsory third-year paper for law students and includes a negotiation competition. The pair found they negotiated well together and say they can read each other pretty well, almost knowing what the other is thinking and what direction they’re going to take. During the competition they will represent a party or client to negotiate either an international transaction or the resolution of an international dispute against an opposing team of two law students from another country.

A group of Waikato University students has won the Hamilton final of the Rialto Channel 48HOURS film-making competition with their short film The Empath. The Elysium Exit team’s made up of media masters students Jordan Browne, Jake Ngawaka and Daniel Trainor, Bachelor of Music student Jade Browne and Bachelor of Media and Creative Technologies student Moehau Hodges-Tai. The Empath was an abstract, non-dialogue short film with a converging storyline. Daniel says the film’s main character feels the emotions of others in a physical sense, hence the film title. “We wanted to make a film that would leave the cinema with the viewer, a film that wasn’t too obvious about everything. The meaning of our film is open to interpretation, which we hoped would create discussion amongst members of the audience.” The budding film-makers had just one weekend to make a short film including writing, filming and editing; the catch is that they didn’t know what genre they would be shooting until the start of the competition. Elysium Exit went home with four other category titles: AUT Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Art Direction and Cannon Regional Best Cinematography. From this competition, the best 12 films from across New Zealand are selected by judges to compete in the national grand finals, with three of those films being selected by Sir Peter Jackson and entered as wildcards.

University of Waikato Antarctic researchers Professor Craig Cary and Dr Charles Lee have secured $60,000 funding to lead a year-long international pilot study to develop and validate tools that measure how Antarctic ecosystems respond to change. Theirs is one of seven projects awarded funding by the New Zealand Antarctica Research Institute, through support from the Robertson Foundation and Air New Zealand. As leaders in terrestrial biology, Waikato scientists will work on developing an effective way to measure biological changes in Antarctica with new technologies that are sensitive to environmental change. The technology includes equipment to measure and monitor photosynthesis and respiration but that can also withstand year-round operation under the extreme conditions found in Antarctica’s Dry Valleys.

How do we continue to replenish nutrients in our soil and what is really at the heart of food production in New Zealand? Tauranga’s next Café Scientifique will unravel the workings of nature’s complex nutrient cycle and discuss important issues facing the world’s food production unless this cycle is reinvigorated. Dr Terry Smith, Process and Chemicals Manager at Ballance Agri-Nutrients, will discuss the concern that food production is fast becoming a lost science with many people now unaware of the genesis of food and of our heavy reliance on the continued functioning of the nutrient cycle. Café Scientifique is free, and open to anyone wanting to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. It is organised by Julia and Warren Banks and supported by the University of Waikato. The Café is moving to a new venue at Bravo Café, The Strand, Tauranga. It takes place Monday 24 June, 6.45pm for 7.15pm start. Find out more about Café Scientifique.

Making mistakes is not only a natural part of life, it can lead to new discoveries. That’s according to University of Waikato Professor of Engineering Ilanko Sinniah, whose upcoming Inaugural Professorial Lecture looks at the behaviour of structures – how they move, how they undergo stress and how they vibrate. He says structures, like people, will undergo more stress when they are less flexible - the theme of his lecture and the focus of his research and teaching. When Professor Ilanko mistakenly put a negative symbol in front of a ‘mass’ in a complex engineering calculation in his PhD thesis, he inadvertently discovered a possible refinement to the ‘Penalty method’, a common numerical problem that has plagued scientists and engineers for more than 60 years. The resulting calculations led to more than 15 peer-reviewed journal articles and some healthy debate among his engineering peers. “One reviewer went so far as to call it ‘black magic’, so in engineering circles ‘negative mass’ is probably still quite controversial.” Professor Ilanko’s Lecture, Turning negatives into positives: The mistaken negative mass and why it is important to take a flexible attitude to life, will be held at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on Tuesday 25 June at 6pm. 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.

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