Media Advisory June 3

Making, shaking and breaking - Professor Pickering talks materials

From the houses we live in and the cars we drive, to the computers and smartphones we use, much of our daily activity, comfort level and even happiness relies on our interaction with materials. In her Inaugural Professorial Lecture this month, Professor Kim Pickering from the University of Waikato’s School of Engineering will use examples from her career to demonstrate how materials science and engineering is a key driver for technological development and national economic success. Professor Pickering’s background is in electronic materials and composites, including modelling the failure of composite materials and natural fibre composites. Her research includes projects such as the quick repair of carbon fibre epoxy aircraft structures, infra-red thermal imaging systems, natural fibre composites (wood, hemp, harakeke, wool and feathers) and 3D-printing with composite material. Her lecture will focus on elements of past and current research, as well as some “crystal-ball gazing” for future developments. Professor Pickering’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture, Making, Shaking and Breaking, is on Tuesday, June 17 at 6pm in the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. The lecture is free and open to the public. Inaugural Professorial Lectures are the University’s way of presenting new or newly promoted professors to the wider public.

Ideas for improving water quality

Providing incentives to farmers not to pollute could be more effective than fining them when they do, a leading economist says. Waikato Management School Professor Les Oxley, who’ll be speaking at this year’s National Agricultural Fieldays, says one way to tackle fresh water pollution would be to create a set of incentives that encouraged people not to pollute waterways. He says rather than punishing farmers for polluting, we might consider paying them not to. He says if it’s profitable for them not to pollute, we could then make it even more profitable by giving them a subsidy. It might sound radical, but it’s incentive-compatible with what we want farmers to do, he says. Meanwhile another Waikato economist is working with DairyNZ to assess whether cap and trade schemes could be used to improve water quality. Dr Dan Marsh says some regional councils have set across-the-board limits for allowable nitrate leaching. He’s found that if farmers were to trade allowances, then in theory, leaching reductions could be achieved at a lower cost. For more on the University’s involved in Fieldays, visit

Waikato Science & Engineering Open Days - registrations open

Registrations are open for the University of Waikato’s Science Open Day and Engineering Open Day, to be held in the July school holidays. Both full-day events are suitable for Year 11, 12 and 13 school students as well as adult learners. Attendees will spend the day on campus with staff and students, and experience hands-on workshops and lab demonstrations. Science Open Day is on Wednesday, July 9 and covers the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Science (Technology) degrees, including the major subjects of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Physics and Earth Sciences. Engineering Open Day is on Thursday, July 10 and covers the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree, including the programmes of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Materials and Process Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Software Engineering. Numbers for each event are limited and registration is essential. Register online at: 

Waikato Uni internships attract French biology students

Research into Antarctic springtails, the ecology of tree functional traits, PSA and drought resistance of conifers has kept three visiting French students busy over the past few months. Solène Knipping, Manon Lelarge and Miguel Riviere travelled to the University of Waikato to undertake internships with the University of Waikato’s School of Science. The trio’s research will credit towards their respective masters degrees in France. Solène Knipping is studying at Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon in France. At Waikato, she is working with Antarctic researcher Dr Ian Hogg, looking at the relationship between the genetic diversity of terrestrial (land-based) springtails and the Antarctic landscape. Miguel Riviere has recently finished the first year of a forestry masters at AgroParisTech, Paris Institute for Life sciences. Miguel chose to complete an internship at Waikato under the supervision of plant ecologist Dr Daniel Laughlin. Manon Lelarge is studying towards a masters degree in eastern France at AgroSup Dijon, an institute that specialises in agriculture and the environment. Her research here is with plant biologist Dr Michael Clearwater, and has included working on kiwifruit infected by PSA, as well as helping a PhD student with her field work on urban forest restoration. 

Aiming high in the footsteps of Sir Ed

Four University of Waikato students will be off to Nepal when uni finishes at the end of the year to do volunteer work for the Himalayan Trust and, weather permitting, to tramp on the lower slopes of Everest. The students are all Waikato University Sir Edmund Hillary Scholars and recipients of 2014 Step Higher Awards, which are given annually to scholars who meet the selection criteria of excellence in their academic work and specialist sport or art, and demonstrate strong leadership skills. The students are doctoral candidate and composer Jeremy Mayall, music student and soprano Blaire White, middle distance runner Timothy Stewart who is studying management, and Kristie Baillie, a Commonwealth Games 4 x 400 relay squad member who is studying for a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Hons). They will travel to the Khumbu Valley in Nepal where they see the work started by Sir Ed and work on projects run by the Himalayan Trust. Before they go, the students must each meet a fundraising target of $1000 for the trust. The Step Higher Awards are sponsored by the Compass Group which provides catering services to the university halls of residence.

Getting rid of the bad apples

Diagnostic technology commonly used in the medical field is now being used to test food quality. Associate Professor Rainer Kunnemeyer from the University of Waikato’s School of Engineering is working with Plant and Food Research and a private company on a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment contract to develop sensing systems for quality assessment in fruit. He uses spectroscopy, biophotonics and optoelectronics to find the quality of food. It means food no longer needs to be cut open to test for things such as moisture content, dry matter and sugar content. With laser technology, the light interacts with the fruit to deduce different quality parameters; you can see the condition of the fruit without destroying it. Dr Kunnemeyer and his colleagues have also used non-invasive technology to test the quality of eggs, meat and milk, and to measure the amount of grass in a paddock. They are currently developing instruments that can assess fruit on the vine.

Artist Max Gimblett’s generous donation

As part of the University of Waikato’s 50th jubilee, internationally acclaimed New Zealand artist Max Gimblett will launch an exhibition of works he has donated to the university. The 22 works on paper and two hand-made books make up a collection titled The Universe and will be launched by Mr Gimblett at the Academy of Performing Arts on June 9. That same night Mr Gimblett will give a free public lecture to talk about the Western and Eastern influences in his art. From June 10-13 Mr Gimblett will run a series of two-hour sumi-ink workshops which are also open to the public, costing $80 per person. Sumi-e is an ancient form of Japanese ink brush painting that developed from the practice of Japanese and Chinese calligraphy and is rooted in Zen Buddhism as a meditative practice. To register for the workshops go to

Issues of Māori Governance

An extensive literature review focussing on issues of Māori governance has been published by Te Mata Hautū Taketake, the Māori and Indigenous Governance Centre (MIGC) at the University of Waikato. Ka Takahia ano o tātou Tapuae: Retracing Our Steps is intended for government departments, iwi, academics and the lay community. The publication provides an overview of Māori governance - the structures, processes and systems that incorporate tikanga and mātauranga Māori. MIGC Director Dr Robert Joseph and co-editor of the publication says he saw a need to gather together the disparate articles, book chapters, theses and conference papers on the subject to help promote a new approach to Māori governance that deals appropriately with Māori values, institutions and aspirations. The publication is available from MIGC for $35 + pp.

Our Country's Good

Australia’s colonial past is the focus of a play being performed by third-year University of Waikato Theatre Studies students. It’s called Our Country’s Good, written by Timerlake Wertenbaker and based on the best-selling Thomas Keneally novel The Playmaker. A boat full of Royal Marine officers and convicts arrives on Australian shores in 1789 and are forced to create a community in the new penal colony. One of the marines volunteers to direct the convicts in a comedy, but circumstances, such as the leading lady’s imminent execution, threaten the performance. Directed by Gaye Poole, the play shows what it means to live without hope and how theatre might be an important agent in the process of forging a civil society. Twenty-one Theatre Studies students are involved in the play, which they say is a layered work about crime, punishment and the redemptive power of artistic practice and pursuit. They also warn that there is strong language and brief nudity. Our Country’s Good runs for four nights at the Academy of Performing Arts, June 4-7 at 7pm.

Voice students to put their best notes forward

The annual Waikato University Opera Aria contest will see voice students from the music programme putting their best notes forward in an attempt to impress judges and take the coveted first prize. With the university vocal programme larger than ever, this competition will be keenly contested. The Aria Competition will be held at 7pm on Friday, June 6 in the Concert Chamber, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato. The competition is open to the public, tickets are $5 at the door or free for students with a valid ID. 

Transforming Business as Usual with Sustainable Business Network

The University of Waikato and the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) will host two events this month in Hamilton and Tauranga, to show the pre-recorded keynote speech by renowned sustainable business leader John Elkington. The Transforming Business as Usual presentation, which was originally shown at the 2013 SBN Conference, will be followed by an opportunity to participate in a facilitated discussion on business transformation ideas. John Elkington is a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainability, and famously coined the phrase ‘Triple Bottom Line’. He is co-founder of UK think tank SustainAbility and has written or co-authored 17 books. The event will take place in Hamilton on Tuesday, June 10, 5.30pm-7pm at the Waikato Management School, Gate 7, Hillcrest Rd, room MSB.1.02. Please register at The Tauranga event is on Wednesday, June 11 from 5.30pm-7pm at the Bongard Centre, 200 Cameron Road. Please register at Gold coin donation.

Waikato University recruiters at career expos 

Student Recruitment Advisers from the University of Waikato will be at the Waikato Careers Expo at Claudelands Event Centre, Hamilton on Sunday, June 8 from 10am-4pm andMonday, June 9 from 9am-3pm. The advisers talk to potential students about the flexibility of study at the University of Waikato, the lifestyle and the academic choices.

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