Media Advisory Oct 1 2009

13 January 2010



Waikato University’s School of Education Dean Professor Alister Jones has been made the first honorary member of Technology Education New Zealand (TENZ). The honorary TENZ membership publicly recognises Prof Jones’ wide involvement in and his significant and on-going contribution to the organisation. His involvement with TENZ includes establishing the original TENZ Trust Board in 1997 with the aim of supporting the establishment of Technology Education in New Zealand Schools. Chair of the National Council for TENZ, Wendy Fox-Turnbull, says during that time Prof Jones has worked tirelessly to ensure that technology education has a place in the New Zealand curriculum. As a recipient of the honorary membership, Prof Jones receives a plaque, free life membership to TENZ and registration to TENZ conferences and awards. Recipients are chosen for their forward thinking innovation, leadership and ability to promote the profile of TENZ to the technology and education communities. TENZ is a professional network that fosters the development of technology education in New Zealand schools.



The government introduces its electricity reform bill to Parliament on Thursday but Waikato University hydro expert and energy research fellow Earl Bardsley is not confident the reforms will constrain power increases. He says the biggest issue facing New Zealand is the lack of storage capacity to offset dry years. He says future dry years will still require energy conservation campaigns and cause price spikes and imposing penalties on the generators will do nothing to change that.  “Perhaps it is time for the private sector to take matters into its own hands and Contact Energy and the major electricity users could come together to build a major pumped storage scheme in the South Island to finally end the era of conservation campaigns and price spikes in the spot market.” Associate Professor Bardsley also questions why carbon-neutral Meridian has to take over diesel-powered crown-owned Whirinaki and how Meridian and rival Genesis will sort out supply once Genesis takes over Meridian’s Tekapo A and B stations.



A University of Waikato graduate has been named the supreme award winner at the recent annual Attitude Awards, which celebrate achievements of people with disabilities. Robbie Francis, who wears a prosthetic limb, wants to make a difference on a world scale. “I just love people, and want to serve people in every way possible,” says Francis, who’s just completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at Waikato, majoring in world religions and human development. Last summer, she spent two months in Kolkata, India, where she volunteered at a slum school and a school for children with disabilities. Francis has also visited the child she sponsors in Bangladesh who, like herself, is an amputee. Francis has phocomelia syndrome, a congenital condition where the bones in the lower half of the body fail to develop properly before birth. She had her left leg amputated at age 12, and may yet lose the other despite numerous surgeries. Meanwhile she has her sights set on easing religious conflict. “I’ve been awarded a one-year Rotary ambassadorial scholarship for post-graduate studies in conflict resolution and peace studies,” she says. “I’m looking at going to Tel Aviv or Europe, as my passion is religion, specifically relations between Islam, Christianity and Judaism. I want to work with people caught up in extremism and conflict.”



What makes fish stress? Rainbow trout in particular. Waikato University PhD student Grant Tempero has received a $4000 Claude McCarthy Fellowship from the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee to assist his study into changes in fish haemoglobin under different environmental stressors. “Humans have three different forms of haemoglobin to take oxygen around the body, but trout have 14, so I’ve been applying different stress tests, such as temperature, light and oxygen availability, then measuring the changes in the different haemoglobin forms.” Tempero, who’s bred a stock of fish for his experiments, says at this stage it appears haemoglobin levels change with the seasons and his study could help us understand how fish adapt to changes in their environment. Long term, studies like this could help us understand impacts of climate change on fish. With his scholarship, Tempero will travel to Barcelona to present a paper at The International Congress on the Biology of Fish next year.



More than 200 past employees, friends, family and supporters gathered at the University of Waikato last week for the launch of a new book on the pioneering plastics manufacturing companies established by the Foremans, a distinguished Hamilton family. The Foremans: Plastics Manufacturers of Hamilton, 1940-1995 is authored by Dr David Coy, formerly of Waikato Management School, and chronicles the development of Plastic Products and Trigon, started by Morton (Mortie) Foreman and his son Bill in the 1940s and 1970s respectively.  The two companies put Hamilton – and New Zealand - firmly on the map in the development of the plastics industry in the 20th century, and were major local employers. In the book, Dr Coy skilfully combines the personal stories of the Foremans with the history and development of the two companies as they went from making plastic dolls in a converted garage to manufacturing some of the world’s most advanced packaging in state-of-the-art plants in three countries. Speakers at the launch included the Waikato University Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford, whose primary research interest has been in the mechanical properties and processing behaviour of plastics. Prof Crawford has ongoing research and business interests in New Zealand associated with the establishment of a new polymer research centre, and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Also speaking were Russell Cassey, former Technical Director of Trigon and publisher of the book, and David Hunter, who started at Plastics Products as a junior accountant in 1958 and worked closely with both Mortie and Bill Foreman. Mr Hunter ultimately became chief executive of the Carter Holt Harvey Pulp & Paper Group. Among the members of the Foreman family present were Bill Foreman; Yvonne Foreman, widow of Mortie Foreman, who co-hosted the event with Russell Cassey, and Diane Foreman, who was recently named Ernst and Young 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year. The book is available from Russell Cassey for $30 by emailing [email protected]



Researchers at Waikato University’s Psychology Department are conducting a study of pregnant women and their partners to understand prenatal stress and gain insight into stress management techniques. Recent overseas findings suggest high stress and anxiety could lead to health and developmental problems for the baby. Waikato University clinical psychologist and senior lecturer Dr Carrie Barber says there is very little documentation available in New Zealand to devise a strategy to help expectant mothers to cope with stress. “The goal is to figure out how to help people who are struggling cope with stress. We hope to describe the levels of stress, and how different people cope with various kinds of stressors,” says Dr Barber. One component of the study will be to see if a computer-based biofeedback programme can help pregnant women relax. Biofeedback computers are designed to measure small physiological changes and convert these signals into visual graphics which help train self-relaxation by using techniques such as guided imagery or deep breathing. Dr Barber says biofeedback programmes are applied to help individuals combat a range of problems including migraines and high blood pressure. However, the idea of using it with pregnant women to help them to manage stress is a novel one.



Senior academic and research staff from Waikato University’s Computer Science Department are this month meeting with Western Bay of Plenty companies with business interests in ICT to explore mutual research and training interests. The December 16 meeting in Tauranga has been organised with the assistance of Tauranga’s business development organisation, Priority One, and its network of ICT and related industries, the Western Bay of Plenty ICT Cluster. The University of Waikato will discuss its research capabilities and its capacity for delivering graduate IT training in Tauranga, and will seek feedback on what demand there is for both research and specialist training within the ICT industry in the region.

The University of Waikato boasts New Zealand’s best Computer Science Department. For example, the department is in the top five in the world for search engine optimisation research, and one of its graduates, Craig Nevill-Manning, is Director of Google Engineering in New York.



Waikato University Continuing Education workshops looking into traditional Maori medicine are set to begin early next year. Rongoa 1: An Introduction to Traditional Maori Medicine is the first of three workshops which focus on plant identification, tikanga (customs) surrounding Maori medicine and the preparation and uses of various native plants. Rongoa 1, runs 9am-5pm and takes place at Aokete Lodge in Katikati on February 20-21 and is followed by the final two workshops, Rongoa 2 and Rongoa 3, which are both overnight weekend-stays. Rongoa 2 takes place at Waitaia Lodge in Tauranga on April 17-18 and Rongoa 3 takes place at Te Kauri Lodge in Kawhia on May 8-9. All three workshops are presented by Rob McGowan from Nga Whenua Rahua, Department of Conservation. The aim of these workshops is to give participants a good foundation towards developing an understanding of Maori medicine. For more information on these workshops visit