Media Advisory November 10

University receives Marsden funding for four projects

Four projects led by University of Waikato researchers have been funded in the latest round of Marsden grants. The grants total $2.8 million (including GST) and were announced on November 4. The projects are: 'Maintaining stable mangrove swamps', Associate Professor Karin Bryan, Dr Julia Mullarney - $816,500; 'Will 'sin' taxes reduce consumption?', Professor John Gibson - $805,000; 'Te Mauria Whiritoi: the sky as a cultural research', Dr Rangi Matamua - $816,500, and 'The Terrestrial carbon cycle in transition: tracking changes using novel tracers on multiple timescales', Dr Adam Hartland - $345,000. In addition, Professor Vic Arcus is Associate Investigator on a University of Canterbury Marsden project looking at "Allosteric regulation and the dynamics of a molecular pendulum that controls a catalytic clock". That project is worth $874,000. 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.

Visiting author to give lecture

Journalist and author Richard Louv will be giving a free lecture entitled "The Hybrid Mind: The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need" at the University of Waikato on November 13. The lecture is hosted by the Environmental Research Institute and Faculty of Science and Engineering Dean Professor Bruce Clarkson. Mr Louv is the author of eight books about the connections between family, nature and community. His book "The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder" offers a new vision of the future in which our lives are as immersed in nature as they are in technology. This future, available to all of us right now, offers better psychological, physical and spiritual health for people of every age, he says. He has received numerous awards including the 2008 San Diego Zoological Society Conservation Medal, the 2008 George B Rabb Conservation Medal from the Chicago Zoological Society, and the 2009 International Making Cities Livable Jane Jacobs Award. He also serves as Honorary Co-chairman with artist Robert Bateman of Canada's national Children and Nature Alliance. The lecture is in the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts from 12-1pm.

Flood risk management in the 21st century

How do societies manage uncertain environmental risks? Why is flooding so hard to manage? And how can we make water-proof buildings? Professor Iain White, from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, is an international expert in the field of environmental planning. His work takes an interdisciplinary perspective that aims to better understand the nature of environmental problems and how they can be addressed. In his upcoming inaugural professorial lecture 'The more we know, the more we don't know: Flood risk management in the 21st century', Professor White will provide insights into the difficulties in managing the risk of flooding and the new approaches to keeping water out of buildings. His Inaugural Professorial Lecture will be held on November 18 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.

University's FLAX software a winner in Italy

Software designed at the University of Waikato and used all around the world has won a major international competition. FLAX, or Flexible Learning Acquisition, has taken first place at the Linked Vici Competition, held to acknowledge development in open and linked data for educational purposes. The win was announced at the 13th International Semantic Web Conference, in Riva del Garda, Italy, with FLAX taking first place from 10 shortlisted candidates. FLAX, which can be freely downloaded and used online and in the classroom, was developed by the Digital Libraries Group at the University of Waikato and allows language teachers to create a variety of practice exercises from 'real' language texts and multimedia available in digital libraries. The judges said FLAX provides data for language learning in a new and innovative way by combining corpora (samples), varying from TED (technology, entertainment and design) talks to academic collections. It also supports teachers in creating automated exercises and assessments with these corpora.

Software up for more awards

The award-winning WEKA software, designed by University of Waikato researchers, is a finalist in two categories at the New Zealand Open Source Awards in Wellington. WEKA (Waikato Environment for Knowledge Analysis) is a collection of machine learning algorithms used for data mining, enabling a computer programme to automatically analyse large bodies of data. It is freely downloadable and is widely used around the world. WEKA was the subject of the New Zealand's first university MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) held earlier this year. The New Zealand Open Source Awards celebrate the contributions of New Zealanders to free and open source projects and the use of open source by New Zealand organisations. WEKA is a finalist in the Open Source in Education category and the Open Source Award - Creating the Commons, which recognises the ethos of open source. The winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 12.

Jolly hockey sticks

Midlands Hockey, partner to five hockey associations in the region, is teaming up with the University of Waikato to sign a Memorandum of Understanding. This will enable talented hockey players to keep their training at optimum levels and achieve academically at the same time. Elite hockey players who choose to study at Waikato University would be awarded Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarships to enable them to take a dual pathway of sport and learning, and at the same time undergo training for leadership and personal development. The associations covered by the MoU are Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Tauranga, Counties Manukau and Thames Valley.

Founding Dean for Fulbright lecture

Nationhood, Māori-Pakeha relationships and the place of Māori in New Zealand's future will be addressed in a lecture by the University of Waikato's founding dean of the School of Māori and Pacific Development tomorrow. Sir Tamati Reedy, also the university's founding Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori and its first Māori emeritus professor, will deliver his free and public Fulbright Lecture on November 11. Sir Tamati (Ngāti Porou) is a Fulbright alumnus and one of New Zealand's leading educationalists, academics and linguists, along with being a former top public servant. His lecture, Nga Wai Whakaata o Hine-Kauorohia: The Reflecting Waters of Hine-Kauorohia, will be held in S Block at 6pm on November 11 and will cover our sense of nationhood, which, he says, is the mauri, the life-essence, of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Snake Robot to the rescue

University of Waikato Master of Engineering (ME) student Pinwei Jin has designed and built a remote control robotic snake, which he hopes will be used in the future for rescue operations. He says earthquakes and other natural disasters happen frequently in New Zealand and when it comes to the big ones, many lives could be saved if search and rescue operations were conducted more effectively and efficiently. Differing from the existing mobile rescue robot systems currently in the market place, his Snake Robot provides the flexibility of movement needed in cluttered and irregular environments created by disasters. The Snake Robot features a wireless camera on its head and is controlled by a wireless joystick to move forward, backwards, left and right. It has 16 degrees of freedom from the eight joints, nine segments, 16 motors and nine passive wheels. Essentially it can move along the ground like a snake.

Grappling with copyright

Traditional laws of copyright are under threat from 21st century technology. Visiting Law Foundation Distinguished Fellow Professor Jane C Ginsburg will be giving a public lecture at the University of Waikato on issues of copyright and access to information. Professor Ginsberg says access to "all the world's knowledge" is an ancient aspiration, but equally important is the protection of authors' rights. If all works are to be found in a universal digital library, that threatens the incomes of copyright holders, so what's needed instead may be a universal bookstore. Professor Ginsburg is the Morton L Janklow Professor of Literary and Artistic Property Law at Columbia University School of Law in New York, and Faculty Director of its Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts. The free public lecture will be at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato today at 5.45pm.

Conference of interest to policymakers

The International Association for Contemporary Ethnography Across the Disciplines' third biennial hui will be held from November 25-28 at the University of Waikato. This methodological and methods conference circulating around the broad field of ethnography offers cultural understandings to policymakers. The conference theme is 'Sensual Landscapes in Ethnography', and many papers will explore the connections between lived sensory and sensual experiences and the contemporary world, between the personal and the public. Pre-conference presentations will include papers delivered in Spanish and Portuguese, workshops ranging from working with Harakeke plants, history, and context of Māori weaving; site-specific performance of research; participatory research; video ethnography practices; and civic engagement and study of sub-groups. Keynote presentations will discuss political engagement and performance; waka travels and rediscovery of ancestral knowledge; and a creative, participatory demonstration will show how performance can connect us to the land, traditions, and local sites. For more information, and to register, visit 

Campus fun run continues at university

Keen runners and walkers have been making the most of the warmer weather by taking part in the Campus 5km Fun Run and Walk at the University of Waikato. The event, hosted by the university in association with the Hamilton City Hawks Running Club and UniRec, sees participants making their way around a marked course on the university grounds. This is the second time the series has been held. Businesses on campus, including ANZ, Bongo Sushi and Dezigner Hair, have donated spot prizes for the event. The Campus 5km Fun Run and Walk takes place every Monday until December 15, and will start again in February. Registrations start at 5pm outside Momento Café, next to the lake on the Village Green. Walkers start between 5pm and 6pm, while runners start at 6pm. Registration is $6 and entitles participants to a beer, cider or non-alcoholic drink. Spot prizes are also awarded on the night. The Campus 5km Fun Run and Walk is held in association with the Hamilton City Hawks running club, UniRec, Momento Café and Good George. For more information, email

Our Futures: Te Pae Tawhiti Public Discussion in Hamilton

The authors of Our Futures: Te Pae Tawhiti review are touring the country and presenting its findings. The public is invited to hear about what an evolving New Zealand society might look like, what is underlying these changes, and the challenges and opportunities from a panel of local experts including University of Waikato academics Dr Tahu Kukutai, Professor Richard Bedford, Professor Natalie Jackson and distinguished alumna Parekawhia McLean and who will also share their views about the potential impacts of the changes in the region, and take part in an audience discussion with the Review's authors to discuss the trends and future implications of these changes. Our Futures: Te Pae Tawhiti Public Discussion is at 6pm on Thursday, November 20 at Waikato Museum, 1 Grantham St, Hamilton. For more information visit

More firsts for cyber security

A Vanuatu student has contributed to the ever-increasing list of firsts being achieved by the University of Waikato's cyber security programme. Jeff Garae initially came to the University in 2013 as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) NZ Aid programme to complete a Masters in Computer Science and during that time developed an interest in cyber security, one of the fastest growing IT sectors in the world, so changed to a Master of Cyber Security. He is currently completing that and is the first University of Waikato student to be granted an extension under changed MFAT guidelines and he will carry out a further three years' study to complete his PhD, likely becoming the first Pacific student with the qualification.

Waikato student's design a trail-blazer

University of Waikato engineering student Luke Sinclair has designed an ultralight wood-fired stove that can boil a litre of water in less than 10 minutes. The tramping enthusiast came up with the idea earlier this year when he and class mate Kendall Bristow completed a 100-day, 3000km trek from Cape Reinga to Bluff. During a year-long research and design project, as part of his final year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), he completed extensive research and testing. His initial idea has been developed into a highly efficient, lightweight and functional backpack stove, which he says is perfect for campers, trampers, extreme adventurers or any outdoor enthusiast. The prototype was on show last month at the University of Waikato's Carter Holt Harvey Pulp & Paper Engineering Design Show.

Hillary Scholar selected for Triathlon NZ development squad

Pathway to Podium Athlete and Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar Nicole van der Kaay is one of nine athletes selected for the Triathlon New Zealand 2015 high performance podium and development squads. High performance squad triathletes must show a proven record of tracking towards either Rio or Tokyo Olympic Games. HP Director Graeme Maw says the smaller group of athletes allows for an intense focus on their campaigns as well as a continuation of the work being done with the next tier of developing athletes. The squads will be based at the sport's high performance centre in Cambridge, with the development squad living and training in Cambridge on a fulltime basis while the podium squad will split their time between Cambridge, their home bases and the time spent overseas preparing for and competing in ITU World Series events.

Gender roles and romantic relationships

Indian women born in New Zealand can face conflicting values when it comes to defining gender roles and establishing romantic relationships. The issue is being studied by University of Waikato masters student Ishta Singh. She says it can be difficult for young Indian women to align the values and culture of their families with the ideas they've picked up living in a more liberal New Zealand environment. For her study Ishta would like to talk to New Zealand-born Indian women aged between 18 and 25 through a series of focus groups to find out how they deal with issues such as arranged marriages and living in patriarchal relationships. She says her research may clarify why some women stay in abusive relationships. Ishta's supervisor, Dr Neville Robertson from the university's School of Psychology, says the research may also assist different service providers better deal with situations of family and culture conflict.

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