Media Advisory April 7

Graduations this Month

This week and next the University of Waikato begins its April graduation ceremonies. There will be 207 qualifications conferred at Te Kohinga Mārama Marae on Wednesday, April 9 at 9.30am and 1.30pm. Tauranga campus graduation, where 174 qualifications will be conferred, is on Friday 11 April at Holy Trinity, 215 Devonport Rd from 2pm. The graduation parade leaves Red Square at 1.15pm to arrive at Holy Trinity at 1.30pm. A total of 1490 qualifications will be conferred at graduation ceremonies at Claudelands Events Centre on April 14 at 2pm, and on April 15 and 16 at 10am and 2pm. There are graduation processions on April 14, 15 and 16 from Garden Place, leaving at 1pm. 

Lecturer Marks Momentous Occasion for University in Tauranga

University of Waikato Tauranga lecturer Nadine Ballam graduates with her PhD this week becoming the first student to have studied from undergraduate to doctoral level entirely at the University in Tauranga. She began her Bachelor of Teaching in 2004. Her PhD focuses on the experiences of gifted and talented young people from low socio-economic environments in New Zealand and seeks to determine how they were able to achieve and succeed despite the often challenging environments in which they grew up. Ms Ballam says the cohort she studied were opportunistic people who recognised opportunities and knew how to make the most of them, but all said that having good relationships with family and teachers was the most valuable factor in being able to identify opportunities to develop their talent. Ms Ballam hopes her research will spur more debate in the area of gifted and talented young people and she already has plans to expand her study in several areas.

Waikato University Gears Up for Open Day

Time travel, bats and tween culture – an odd mixture, but all are part of mini-lecture topics to be featured at this year’s University of Waikato Open Day on May 16. The annual event, which is free and open to the public, is designed to showcase the qualifications, academic excellence, student support, facilities and lifestyle the university offers students. Thousands of students come to the Hamilton campus every year from Taranaki, Gisborne, Northland, Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay regions to attend Open Day. Throughout the day, prospective students will have the chance to try their hand at science experiments, take part in tours around the halls and campus, and talk to staff and students about study options. Open Day is also an opportunity for others who may want to commence their studies in the mid-year intake. For more information about Open Day visit Open Day is followed this year by Community Open Day on May 17.

Waikato University to Host First Community Open Day

The University of Waikato will be opening its doors to young and old on Saturday, May 17 as it hosts its first Community Open Day. As part of the University’s 50th celebrations this year, the Saturday event is a family-friendly public showcase of the University’s facilities, campus, research and history. It takes place the day after University’s annual recruitment Open Day for prospective students and their families (Friday, May 16). Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford says Community Open Day is an opportunity for the public to see first-hand what the University offers. Community Open Day will see the campus sectioned off into ‘themed hubs’ which will feature a variety of activities, interactive exhibits and demonstrations. Mini-lectures and tours around the campus will also be available on the day, which runs from 11am-4pm. It is followed by a function for alumni. More information can be found at 

UK Professor to Speak on the Economics of Biodive

Why should we spend money protecting endangered birds such as the kakapo? What's the point of trying to conserve native forests? University of Waikato’s Distinguished Visiting Academic Professor Nicholas Hanley from the University of Stirling (UK) will present a public seminar on the ‘Economics of Biodiversity’ at the Waikato Management School this week. Professor Hanley suggests one of the main reasons for conserving biodiversity is that it provides very real economic benefits. In his talk, he will address examples of studies which have measured this economic value, from the deep sea to the Scottish mountains and look at the contributions economics has made to helping decide how to protect biodiversity, especially when changing how private land is managed is involved. An environmental economist, Professor Hanley is a Board Member of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists and the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Coastal Zone Forum Convenor for the Scotland Marine Biodiversity Function and Services Steering Group. This free seminar will take place on Wednesday, April 9 at 5.45pm in MSB.1.05.

Charming but Obscure Italian Opera ‘Betly’ on Stage

Voice performance students from the University of Waikato’s music programme will present a production of Donizetti’s opera comica Betly this Wednesday, April 9. The one-act opera is a diverting love story and tells the tale of Betly, a flirtatious, winsome and strong-headed Swiss girl and Daniel, a young villager whom she is quite fond of but doesn’t reciprocate his ardent love for her. Leading roles sit with versatile soprano Beverley Pullon (Betly) and young tenor Phillip ‘Akau (Daniel) and baritone Edward McKnight (Max), with a chorus of first and second year singers accompanied by Francis Cowan. Betly will be performed at the Dr John Gallagher Concert Chamber at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at 7pm on Wednesday, April 9. Tickets are $5 on the door, or free for students with the relevant student ID.

Long Term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury

Researchers from the University of Waikato and AUT are launching a study into the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Staff from the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences (NISAN) at AUT have offices on the University of Waikato campus in Hamilton and have been working with Waikato University and Waikato District Health Board for a number of years on different aspects of TBI. From an earlier study of 1369 people, about half have agreed to be surveyed again, four years after diagnosis of their initial injury. Waikato University’s Associate Professor Nicola Starkey says they want to find what can be done to help adults and children recover better. While most head injuries can’t be stopped, the researchers want to know who are most likely to have ongoing symptoms and what treatments or behaviours have helped others to recover successfully. The study will have its official launch at the University of Waikato on Tuesday, April 15.

Old Knowledge for New Products

In a flagship project under the new Vision Mātauranga placement scheme, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise has allocated $165,000 funding for Waikato scientist Dr Nichola Harcourt to work with the Nga Uri o te Ngahere Trust to translate unique indigenous knowledge into commercially feasible products. The Trust is based in Torere, Opotiki. Dr Harcourt is Innovation Manager at WaikatoLink Ltd, Waikato University’s commercialisation and technology transfer company, and a specialist in the commercialisation of natural products for health and wellness. On this project she’ll work closely with the Trust to identify novel IP, develop commercialisation strategies and assist with the implementation of training schemes to build capability. In turn, the trust intends to use any profits from commercial enterprise to invest in youth training and ecological restoration of tribal lands. The Vision Mātauranga scheme was established to create greater connectivity in and outside the science system, to encourage networking, upskilling and capacity to increase the support needed for growth between the science system and Māori organisations and communities.

Earth and Computer Sciences Collaboration a Success

When Earth Sciences student Gemma Johnson embarked on a University of Waikato Summer Research Scholarship, she didn’t expect to come out of the experience with her first research collaboration under her belt. Under the supervision of Dr Shaun Barker, Gemma worked with Waikato University Computer Science student Anthony Barr-Smith to create software that optimises the manufacture of terrain models created by a 3D printer. Gemma’s project involved researching how to use the 3D printer to create different methods of displaying Earth science-related information, such as topography surfaces through contour data, geological fault and fold models, geological maps and so forth, for 3D printing in first-year labs. Due to the lack of appropriate existing software, Gemma and Anthony collaborated to develop software, later dubbed '3DTM' (3D Terrain Maker) which models elevation data from any area around the world and converts it into a 3D model format which can be then printed.

Masters Research Explores Pasture Pulling in Pumice Soils

University of Waikato Earth Sciences student Emma Bagley has won a C. Alma Baker Postgraduate Scholarship for her agriculture-focused masters research project. The Massy University scholarship, worth $13,000, will go towards Emma’s research into the occurrence and causes of pasture pulling under dairy farming on pumice soils. Pasture pulling occurs when grazing cows pull whole clumps of pasture from the soil. Emma says pasture pulling can be a serious issue because it can diminish pasture production and can result in the pasture becoming less palatable to livestock. Pasture pulling is of particular concern in the central North Island, notably in pumice soils. Emma has selected 15 paddocks located near Mangakino in South Waikato that provide a good spread of different pasture ages, all on pumice soil. The paddocks were made available by the Wairarapa Moana farming group. She will be undertaking a monitoring programme to investigate seasonal changes, measuring parameters such as weather and soil moisture conditions, pasture composition, rooting depth, and presence of grass grub or black beetle.

Researchers Focus on Educational Transitions

Sharing ideas about educational transitions is the focus of a group of visiting international researchers who are collaborating with Waikato University researchers. The Pedagogies of Educational Transitions (POET) project is a platform for sharing skills and expertise between researchers from the University of Waikato, Malardalen University (Sweden), Strathclyde University (Scotland), the University of Iceland and Charles Sturt University (Australia). POET, which has received funding from the Royal Society of New Zealand, is a four-year international research staff exchange scheme. As part of their activities, the group has contributed to a one-day symposium and will be presenting at the POET Indigenous Research Conference to be held on campus on 11-12 April. For further information about this event go to

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