On this page:
- Traditional Māori instrumentalist featured in new documentary
- Distinguished alumni to be honoured
- Using mathematics to understand volcanoes
- Fiction and reality collide for graduate writers
- Can commuting times affect house prices?
- Te reo Māori now part of online sign language dictionary
- Researcher helps give children with autism the chance to communicate
- Paving the way for female Māori graduates
- Twin architects celebrate double success
- Newest Victoria graduates celebrate success
- Student bringing technology to traditional Samoan houses
- Lessons from Chile's troubled education system
- Don't worry, be happy
- Victoria University scores well in international ranking system
- Wood burning fires a winter health hazard
- Could coral reefs become sponge reefs in the future?
- Honorary Doctorate for business leader
- Victoria graduate awarded defence force scholarship
- Victoria rejects Monckton complaint
- Pacific success in tertiary education
- Plunged into the realm of the visual
- New study shows kiwi call in perfect harmony
- Victoria University deeply saddened by death of Pablo Etchegoin
- Tiny brains with big effects: the world of ants, bees and wasps
- New Head of School of Te Kura Māori
- Exploring the impact of poverty on children’s learning
- Climate change scientists tell their story
- Where to from here for New Zealand’s defence force?
- Victoria student gets ticket to Cambridge
- Public lecture places complex workplace interactions in the spotlight
- Victoria University tops New Zealand in research rankings
- Leading American poet visits Wellington
- Victoria to host public lecture by political philosopher
- Best New Zealand Poems now online
- 2013 Regional Public Lecture Series
- Former Prime Ministers to take part in Constitutional Review debates
- Victoria part of international bid to understand hearing defects
- Victoria’s Neil Quigley receives honorary doctorate in Vietnam
- Governor-General declares Hub officially open
- University to expand research in fisheries science
- A record of state crime and resistance
- First New Zealand India Research Institute seminar
- New book explores youth justice in New Zealand
- Film profiles scientists in the front line of climate change
- New professors at Victoria University
- Crunching numbers—experts to discuss tax policy and accounting standards
- Climate science and future climate governance
- Is it lack of rights or the pull of home that prompts Māori return migration to NZ?
- Poetry reading by international poet Karen Solie
- What would you like to know about the past?
- World-class lab opens its doors for a day
- Curriculum responses to the Christchurch earthquakes
- Research at Victoria
- Loss of trust in business—and what this means for the global economy
- Design students show off their green fingers
- Katherine Mansfield unmasked
- New appointment delivers opportunities for New Zealand
- Symposium: The inspiration of Sir Paul Callaghan
- Master’s student explores sound through movement
- Contrasts in punishment
- Vice-Chancellor announcement
- New programme to create technology entrepreneurs
20 May 2013
Traditional Māori instrumentalist Dr Richard Nunns is the subject of a new documentary feature film produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker and Victoria University academic Dr Paul Wolffram.
Of Pakeha heritage, Dr Nunns has been researching and performing with taonga pūoro (traditional Māori instruments) for more than 40 years.
“Richard’s journey with these instruments and his reflections on what he has learnt is being filmed as he travels through some of Aotearoa’s most resonant landscapes,” says Dr Wolffram.
“Richard has been widely recognised as a ‘living treasure’. His careful and sensitive research continues to be an important contribution to the revival and preservation of these instruments and traditions, unique to this country.”
The film also documents Dr Nunns’ on-going struggle with Parkinson’s disease, which threatens his ability to continue performing and presenting these instruments to international audiences.
“Richard is remarkable for his energy and tenacious determination to continue to perform,” says Dr Wolffram.
“When he lifts an instrument, his concentration, ability and musicality continue to astound audiences. Despite his challenges, Richard is in good health and remains passionate about sharing his knowledge and insights into the deep relationship between taonga pūoro and the landscapes of Aotearoa.”
Filming on ‘Nga Reo O Te Whenua – Voices of the Land’ continues into September this year, supported by funding from Victoria University. Dr Nunns was awarded an honorary doctorate of music from Victoria in 2008.
A trailer to the film can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/63877868.
Contributions towards the film’s production can be made via a pledge me page: https://www.pledgeme.co.nz/978.
During New Zealand Music Month a concert is being organised at Te Papa Tongarewa in honour of Richard’s contribution to music in Aotearoa.
In 2012 Dr Wolffram received the Jean Rouch prize from the Society for Visual Anthropology in San Francisco for Stori Tumbuna: Ancestors’ Tales, his feature-length documentary about the Lak people of Papua New Guinea.
20 May 2013
Six of New Zealand’s most influential and inspirational leaders and entrepreneurs will be honoured with a Distinguished Alumni Award from Victoria University of Wellington.
The University will present awards in July to alumni who have made an outstanding contribution in their field. They are Claudia Batten, John Campbell, Georgina te Heuheu, Brian Roche and Jeff Tallon. Rugby player Conrad Smith will be presented with the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award for a Young Alumnus.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says the recipients illustrate the high calibre of Victoria’s alumni and the University is proud to be celebrating their achievements.
“This year’s recipients highlight the diverse contribution our alumni make both globally and here in New Zealand.
“The awards illustrate the steps to success that Victoria graduates undertake and all the winners portray the qualities that we aim to instil, including leadership, critical and creative thinking and a commitment to excellence.”
Victoria has presented Distinguished Alumni Awards since 2006, introducing the accolades as a way of recognising and honouring the contribution made by its graduates. The following synopses provide a brief insight into the achievements of the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award winners.
Claudia Batten (BCA, 1996; LLB (Hons), 1998) is known internationally for her innovative contributions combining marketing and information technology. She was a founding team member of two innovative digital media companies in the United States. Claudia’s passion for media, digital innovation and businesses of the future has seen her appointed to numerous boards.
John Campbell (BA (Hons), 1988) is one of New Zealand’s most respected television journalists. The presenter of TV3’s nightly current affairs show Campbell Live is known for a unique and effective communication style, and a determination to seek answers on a wide range of issues. John has won multiple industry awards for investigative journalism.
Georgina te Heuheu
Georgina Manunui te Heuheu QSO (BA, LLB) is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa and Tuhoe descent. She was the first Māori woman in New Zealand to graduate in Law and gain admission to the High Court as a Barrister and Solicitor in 1972. She is Chairman of Māori Television, and Deputy Chair of the Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board.
Brian Roche (BCA, 1978), CEO of New Zealand Post Group, has had a significant impact on New Zealand society through his contribution to both the public and business sectors.
During a successful career with PricewaterhouseCoopers, he held leadership roles and led major initiatives for successive governments. He also played a pivotal role in ensuring New Zealand hosted the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Conrad Smith (LLB (Hons), 2004) is an outstanding sportsman whose skills and leadership qualities are recognised internationally. He has 55 All Blacks Test caps to his name and was part of the team that won the Rugby World Cup in 2011. He also captains the Hurricanes squad in the Super 15 Rugby.
Conrad fits practising as a solicitor at Gibson Sheat around his rugby commitments.
Jeffery Tallon (PhD in Chemistry, 1977, and DSc, 1997) belongs to an elite group of internationally recognised New Zealand physical scientists.
He has been at the forefront of developing a world-leading portfolio of patented high temperature superconducting (HTS) materials. Jeff has also been a leader in developing the physical sciences in New Zealand.
About the Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner
The winners will be presented with their awards at a gala dinner at the Wellington Town Hall on Wednesday 31 July. Sponsors of the event are The Dominion Post, the Wellington City Council and Woolf Photography. Members of the public are welcome to attend. Tickets are available from www.victoria.ac.nz/alumniandfriends/
20 May 2013
Unravelling the mysteries of the world around us is all in a day’s work for Victoria University researcher Dr Mark McGuinness.
This week, the applied mathematician will give a lecture in Hamilton titled ‘Erupting rocks and dusts’ where he will explain how mathematical equations are helping scientists understand the behaviour of rock and dust in the ‘throat’ of volcanic eruptions.
Dr McGuinness, whose career has involved analysing the unique properties of Antarctic sea ice and helping solve industry-related mathematical problems, such as accurately measuring the weight of fruit on conveyor belts, says he accidentally became interested in volcanoes.
“It all started by chance during a sabbatical at the University of Limerick where I met a German volcanologist, Dr Bettina Scheu, who was giving a talk about her experiments with exploding rocks.
“During some eruptions, rocks and gases are subjected to incredibly high pressures which cause them to rip apart. But, when scientists replicated this scenario in lab experiments, they found that the rocks didn’t explode as expected.
“That’s when I became interested because, by using a high speed camera which films at 10,000 frames per second, the experiments revealed that the rocks were fragmenting in layers or slabs, rather than exploding into many tiny pieces.”
To figure out why, Dr McGuinness and fellow mathematicians from Limerick and Oxford Universities developed equations to explain how gas moved through the rock during periods of extreme pressure.
These showed how gas flow interacts with magma in volcanoes and demonstrated how changes in the gas pressure at the surface of volcano penetrate through the rock inside.
When Dr McGuinness returned to Wellington, a conversation with volcano expert Professor Colin Wilson, who mentioned that dust behaves in the same way but at much lower pressures, added an extra element to the research.
“It’s very interesting work,” says Dr McGuinness.
“Although volcanic eruptions don't occur with the same frequency as other natural phenomena, such as earthquakes, the impact they can have is enormous.
“For example, the Icelandic volcano eruptions in 2010 caused massive disruption to air travel in the Northern Hemisphere.
“Here in New Zealand, geological evidence shows areas of the North Island have experienced eruptions which generated pyroclastic flows. These types of eruptions can have a devastating impact on the immediate environment, as currents of hot gas, rock and volcanic ash fall from the sky, or travel along the ground at speeds of up to 700 kilometres per hour.
“So, gaining a better understanding of the processes which occur during eruptions is important and it’s exciting to be able to contribute to that knowledge.”
Dr McGuinness’s Hamilton lecture is part of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s 10x10 lecture series.
Public lecture: ‘Erupting rocks and dusts’
7.30pm, Wednesday 22 May 2013.
Room S.G. 01, S Block, Gate 8, University of Waikato, Hamilton 3240
Further details are available through the Royal Society of New Zealand website: http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/events/10-x-10-lecture-series.
As part of the Royal Society lecture series, Dr Dillon Mayhew, also from Victoria University’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research, will give a talk on his research in the field of codes and ciphers. His lecture takes place in Rotorua on Thursday, 20 June.
15 May 2013
What do World War I nurses, indigenous people and biographical fiction have in common?
They are the topics three graduating Victoria University students have focused on for the past three years as part of their PhD research at the International Institute of Modern Letters.
Wellington writer and editor Lawrence Patchett examined the field of biographical fiction, a genre that blends biography and fiction. He was particularly interested in the period of early colonial settlement in New Zealand and in stories that looked at the inner life of writers such as Katherine Mansfield and Henry James.
“I found the best fiction was when the story didn’t pretend to tell the whole truth, but acknowledged that it is just one version of the truth,” says Lawrence.
To test this theory, the graduand used a variety of narrative techniques in his collection of 12 short stories, I Got His Blood On Me, which was published by Victoria University Press in 2012.
Dunedin writer and lecturer Maxine Alterio turned her literary gaze onto the emotional legacy of the First World War for nurses, tracing the experiences of two New Zealand nurses working in Egypt and France for her novel, Lives We Leave Behind, which waspublished by Penguin last year.
Running in tandem was Maxine’s research project which focused on WWI nurses from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, England and the US who made sense of their often tragic experiences by writing their memoirs.
“The research project underpinned the novel and helped me bring to life the complexities of military nursing,” says Maxine, whose interest in WWI nurses was fostered by a story about 10 New Zealand nurses who died when their ship was hit by a German U-Boat in 1915.
“I found that nurses who formed emotional connections with patients, friends and colleagues coped better with the relentless work, worry and weariness. Those who remained hopeful about the future were also more likely to fare better after the war.”
Maxine, who teaches part-time at Otago Polytechnic, is about to start work on her third novel.
For Wellington writer and tutor Tina Makereti, telling the real story of the Moriori in a fictional context was the focus of her PhD study and her novel Rēkohu Story, due to be published by Random House in early 2014.
“Many people still believe inaccurate stories about Moriori and their place in New Zealand’s history,” says Tina. “Because not everyone reads academic texts or historical books, the complexity of what really happened hasn’t filtered through to everyone. I thought fiction might make the histories more accessible.”
Her research also focused on two indigenous writers—New Zealander Patricia Grace and Australian Kim Scott—who use fiction as an important tool in the reclamation of histories and identities. “They present a point of view which hasn’t been presented before. It’s what I want to do with my writing.”
Tina, who is of Māori, Moriori and Pākehā descent, weaved together three distinct narratives to tell the story of a young man who died during the invasion of the Chatham Islands, a Moriori slave and his mistress who ran away together in 1882, and a contemporary woman who discovers a hidden family history.
Lawrence, Maxine and Tina will graduate today, 15 May at 6pm, each with a PhD in Creative Writing.
15 May 2013
Research carried out at Victoria University shows that the commuting distance from Wellington City influences house prices in the region.
Dr Toby Daglish, Research Director at the New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation (ISCR), says a recent study into decisions made by Wellington commuters shows that travel times have a significant effect on house prices in Wellington and Lower Hutt.
“Taking into account factors such as the size of a house and its age, we found that an extra minute by public transport to Cuba Mall reduced the value of a house by $6,700. So a house that was 10 minutes further from town was $67,000 cheaper, all other things being equal,” says Dr Daglish.
The research focuses on commuting decisions made by Wellingtonians, the intensity of car ownership and how these factors impact on house prices. It is a collaborative project between Drs Toby Daglish, Yigit Saglam and Mairead de Roiste. The project has benefited from the employment of a Summer Scholarship student jointly funded by Victoria University and Wellington City Council.
Dr Daglish says researchers used data from the NZ Household Travel Survey, which is prepared by the Ministry of Transport (MoT), to gauge nationwide decisions about car ownership and transport modes. “This data allows us to see where people live, where they work and how they commute between work and home locations. It allows us to explore which characteristics make a commuter more likely to choose a particular commuting mode and level of car ownership.
“Our model provides some insight into the types of things that could stimulate a change in how people commute, such as the drop needed in public transport prices and/or commute times in order for commuters to stop driving to work.”
Dr Daglish will be presenting the research findings on Wednesday 15 May 2013 from 12.30pm-1.30pm at Rutherford House, Lecture Theatre 2 (RHLT2), Lambton Quay, Victoria University.
14 May 2013
Deaf New Zealanders now have access to te reo vocabulary in the Online Dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), thanks to Victoria University’s Deaf Studies Research Unit.
Dr Rachel McKee, Director of Deaf Studies at Victoria and one of the dictionary editors, says the online dictionary is one of the first in the world to feature three languages.
“To have English, Māori and sign language alongside each other in an online dictionary is quite an advance. Te reo Māori and sign language are official languages of New Zealand, so we are pleased to have been able to bring them together in the dictionary,” says Dr McKee.
The Online Dictionary of NZSL was launched in 2011, and features 4,500 signs alongside English language definitions. Work on including a te reo translation for each entry started in early 2012, and was recently completed.
Dr McKee says the work was funded by Mā te Reo, through the Māori Language Commission, which also checked the translations. A professional Māori translator was employed to provide te reo translation of dictionary entries.
“This is a fantastic resource for all Deaf New Zealanders who want to access Māori vocabulary, as well as for hearing speakers of te reo who want to learn NZSL. Feedback also suggests it will prove useful to Deaf students, their whānau and teachers at Kura Kaupapa or Māori language immersion schools who can now find NZSL examples that correspond with Māori vocabulary.”
Dr McKee says the addition of Māori to the online dictionary is especially welcomed by Māori Deaf people who form a large proportion of the NZSL community, and identify with both Deaf and Māori cultures.
The revised Online Dictionary of NZSL is being launched by the Māori Language Commission Chief Executive, Glenis Philip-Barbara, as part of New Zealand Sign Language Week which runs from 13-19 May.
To view the online dictionary: http://nzsl.vuw.ac.nz/
14 May 2013
Research by Victoria University PhD education graduand Larah van der Meer highlights the importance of understanding the communication preferences of children with developmental disabilities such as autism.
Larah’s study investigated ways of teaching alternative communication methods to children with autism and related developmental disabilities, who don’t use speech.
Her research has led to a new approach for assessing children’s communication preferences, which could help improve treatment outcomes.
Part of Larah’s study involved looking at individual children’s preferences for using specific communication systems, and measuring the effect these had on developing their communication skills.
Eight children from Wellington and four from Nijmegen, in The Netherlands, took part in the study, learning how to ask for snacks and toys using three alternatives to speech: sign language, pointing to or exchanging pictures, and using new speech-generating technology.
In her study, Larah used an iPad equipped with a new speech-generating software programme. She found that eight of the children in the study preferred to use the speech-generating technology to communicate.
Larah’s results also showed that children were better at learning and maintaining the communication skills when using their preferred communication option.
“Giving children the opportunity to choose their preferred type of communication can be viewed as promoting an important sense of self-determination, which might also increase their progress in learning to communicate,” says Larah.
“It’s exciting because the results are providing empirical evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of new technologies, such as iPads loaded with speech-generating software, as alternative communication options for children with autism.”
To ensure that all the children who took part in her research could continue in their communication development after completing the study, Larah fundraised to buy an iPad for one of her research participants, Izack Halvorson. Larah describes him as a charismatic young boy who has the desire to communicate, but whose speech is mostly unintelligible.
The iPad proved to be Izack’s preferred mode of communication. Amongst teaching a range of communication skills, Larah worked with Izack’s family to use the iPad to take photos of his friends, family, and teachers, and programmed the software so he can touch the photos and create voice-output with individualised greetings for each of the people important to him.
“It really is incredible. The iPad has given him the gift of being able to express himself and be understood by others for the first time,” says Larah.
Larah is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy and will graduate with a PhD in Education on Wednesday 15 May at 6pm.
13 May 2013
Miria Royal doesn’t see herself as a trail blazer for Māori women but, as the first Māori female to be accepted into Vodafone’s Graduate Technology Programme, it’s a concept the Victoria University graduate is getting used to.
Miria, who will be awarded a Bachelor of Engineering tonight, says she feels a responsibility to other Māori women in the engineering and telecommunications field.
“It’s a bit intimidating to be set up as an example, but if I can open the door for other Māori women to come into this career then that would be fantastic.”
Miria, who is one of 10 in the Vodafone Graduate Technology Programme, started working in Vodafone’s Auckland-based optimisation team in February. “I’m working to maintain, manage and optimise the network to improve the customer experience in terms of coverage, speed and reliability.”
However, she almost missed out on a place in the programme, which has been running since 2008.
“I attended a tech users event, where Vodafone’s Chief Technology Officer, Sandra Pickering, was speaking. I introduced myself and told her I was looking for a job and even though applications for the graduate programme had closed, she told me to send in my CV.”
Four days later, the job was hers. “I was surprised at getting in, because I always thought graduate placements were for A+ students.”
Amy Oding, Leader of the Technology Graduate Programme at Vodafone, says Miria is “a star in the Technology Group”.
“She has displayed a high standard of engagement and her team leaders are confident she will make a success of her career at Vodafone. We are very pleased to have a female Māori graduate of this calibre,” says Amy.
Miria, who was born and raised in Wellington and is of Ngāti Raukawa descent, is following in the footsteps of her engineer father. “I did a two-month internship at 2degrees in Wellington which really cemented my enjoyment of technical engineering and the telco industry. The industry is so fast-paced and varied, it’s exciting to know that there’s always something new around the corner.”
After finishing the two-year graduate programme, Miria hopes to gain overseas experience in her field before returning to New Zealand. “I want to give back and technical engineering is one way I can do that.”
Miria will graduate with a Bachelor of Engineering tonight, Monday 13 May at 6pm. She will also attend Hui Whakapūmau, a celebration for Māori graduands at Te Herenga Waka Marae at Victoria University on Tuesday 14 May at 9am.
13 May 2013
Twins Sunil and Nilesh Bakshi have done everything together for the last 25 years—working, teaching and studying side by side until 2am in the morning.
Tomorrow they’ll celebrate the effort when they cross the stage together at a Victoria University graduation ceremony. Both are receiving double degrees in Architectural Studies and Building Science, and Masters of Architecture.
The twins’ knack for detailed drawings was recognised by a family friend who describes them as “born architects”. Their shared passion for drawing buildings and structures became a career choice in their final year of high school when Sunil and Nilesh decided to enrol for a Bachelor of Architectural Studies.
Sunil, the older of the two by five minutes, says by the end of their first year of study they understood the difficulty of being able to design ethical and environmentally friendly architecture without also incorporating building science.
No strangers to hard work, Sunil and Nilesh enrolled for a second qualification adding a Bachelor of Building Science to their workload, studying throughout their summer breaks, in addition to tutoring a number of classes at the University.
Sunil says by the end of second year, they could deconstruct a building in their minds. “We’d sit on the bus looking at buildings and deconstruct them, figuring out what’s wrong and how we could do it better”.
Nilesh says the brothers have always been close, sharing the same interests and tastes.
“We’ve always been in a diplomatic battle—going head to head—but never in a negative way. I want to do better than my brother, but I don’t want to see his failures be my successes,” says Sunil.
Nilesh says he doesn’t think he would have achieved what he has, without Sunil. “I was up for seven days straight when submitting my building science thesis and all I kept thinking was, I couldn’t have ever done that had Sunil not been present, doing the same sort of work.”
Later this month, the twins will separate for the first time in their lives when Sunil moves to Auckland to take up a new role practising architecture. Nilesh is staying in Wellington to embark on PhD studies.
“Nilesh is happy to keep studying, and that’s where his strength comes across. I’m going to be out there working. And when we come back to each other we’ll bring different levels of knowledge,” says Sunil.
“Any distance now is appropriate because of professional development. Right now, this is what we want to be,” says Nilesh.
“Both of us getting into Victoria, both of us doing the double degree, both of us doing the Master’s, and now, together we get to graduate and cross that stage together—that’s momentous for me. It’s been my dream since the first day we stepped through the door,” says Nilesh.
13 May 2013
More than 2,100 students will mark the successful completion of their studies this week at Victoria University of Wellington’s biggest ever graduation.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says graduation is a time to celebrate the culmination of months, or years, of study, dedication and effort.
“A Victoria qualification is not won lightly—a century’s pursuit of excellence and rigour in academic thinking means our staff and students alike expect the highest standards.
“Our students can feel particularly proud to be graduating from the university that has been officially ranked the most research-intensive in New Zealand.
“With their diverse range of skills and attributes, our graduates make a valuable contribution to New Zealand’s economy and society, and I wish them every success for their future endeavours.”
During graduation week, 35 PhDs will be awarded, along with 2,415 degrees, diplomas and certificates.
Exploring the worlds of fiction and reality has earned three students from Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) Doctorates of Philosophy in Creative Writing. Tina Makereti focused on the “real story” of the Moriori in a fictional context for her novel Rēkhou Story, while fellow graduand Maxine Alterio traced the experiences of two New Zealand nurses working in Egypt and France during WWI for her novel, Lives We Leave Behind. Wellington writer and editor Lawrence Patchett examined the relationship between biography and fiction and used a variety of narrative techniques in his collection of 12 short stories, I Got His Blood on Me.
Another graduand taking the stage this week is Carinnya Feaunati, who will receive a Bachelor of Architectural Studies, one of only a handful of Pacific women to earn this degree from Victoria University.
Engineering student James McVay will receive a Bachelor of Engineering with First Class Honours and will also be awarded a Victoria University of Wellington Medal for Academic Excellence. James designed and built the MechBass robotic bass guitar, an innovation which attracted almost 500,000 views on YouTube in just two weeks.
An honorary degree of Doctor of Commerce will also be awarded to one of New Zealand’s most accomplished investment bankers, Rob Cameron.
The traditional street parades of staff and graduands will depart from the Law School in the Government Buildings Historic Reserve at noon on both Tuesday and Wednesday, and will take around 30 minutes to parade along Lambton Quay and Willis and Mercer Streets to finish in Civic Square, where they will be welcomed by Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.
Parade one—12 noon, Tuesday 14 May
Faculties of Engineering, Science, Architecture and Design, Law, Victoria Business School and Toihuarewa.
Parade two—12 noon, Wednesday 15 May
Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences, Education and Te Kōkī, New Zealand School of Music.
If a graduation parade is cancelled due to wet weather, notification will be given on
Newstalk ZB from 11am on the morning of the parade, and on the Victoria University of Wellington website: www.victoria.ac.nz.
Ceremony 1: 6pm, Monday 13 May
Faculties of Engineering and Science
Ceremony 2: 1.30pm, Tuesday 14 May
Victoria Business School
Honorary Doctorate and graduation address Robert Cameron, Cameron Partners Limited
Ceremony 3: 6pm, Tuesday 14 May
Faculties of Architecture and Design, Law and Toihuarewa
Ceremony 4: 1.30pm, Wednesday 15 May
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Ceremony 5: 6pm, Wednesday 15 May
Faculties of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences and Te Kōkī, New Zealand School of Music.
10 May 2013
Using modern technology in the construction of traditional Samoan homes is the aim of research by Victoria University architecture student, Carinnya Feaunati.
Carinnya, who graduates with a Bachelor of Architectural Studies next week, is one of only a handful of Pacific women to earn this degree from Victoria. Although born in Wellington, she is a frequent visitor to Samoa where flooding regularly threatens homes.
“Our family fale (house) is on the beach and every year we have to sandbag it against floodwaters. It’s a result of temporary thinking—people want fales that are cheap to build but aren’t necessarily functional.
“I come from a perspective of finding ways to honour culture and traditional, while also providing a more practical housing solution. Things like raising the fale, building retaining walls, using steel and better use of concrete in construction are some of the issues I’m interested in.”
Carinnya, who is now studying for her Masters of Architecture, admits a “strong streak of social responsibility” runs through her.
“My main interests are humanitarian work, disaster relief construction and low cost housing design. I have a huge love for the Pacific and our people and hope to direct my thesis towards research into stronger infrastructure and architecture that retains and embraces cultural traditions.”
In 2012, she spent a month in Nepal working with Leprosy Mission New Zealand, an experience that helped foster her passion for improving the housing stock of third world countries.
Carinnya also recently completed a three month internship, with Fletcher Construction in New Plymouth, on the rebuild of the Taranaki Base Hospital. “That was an interesting project because I got to see things from the contractors’ perspective. Plans would change daily and the contractors had to adapt. It was useful for my work as an architect.”
Her dream job would be to work for the UN Humanitarian Development sector but, until then, she is busy mentoring young Māori and Pacific architecture and design students as part of Victoria’s Te Rōpū Āwhina programme, supporting the Pasifika Students’ Council and singing in the University’s Pasifika ensemble choir.
Carinnya believes she wouldn’t have progressed so far without the support of her family, church and wider community.
“It’s one of the reasons I want to focus on Pacific housing issues for my thesis, to give something back to my community.”
Carinnya graduates with a on Bachelor of Architectural Studies on Tuesday 14 May at 6pm.
9 May 2013
Those looking to change the New Zealand education system should take heed from what has been occurring in Chile, says a Victoria University researcher.
Colin Kennedy, who will graduate with a PhD in Development Studies next week, has been researching the local and global consequences of socio-economic inequality in Chile’s education system from 1964 to 2010.
“It is argued that Chile has the most privatised educational system in the world, as well as a rigid class system, so the school you go to determines the universities you have access to and, ultimately, the job you get.
“What that has led to is having whole sections of society being blocked from educational and career advancement, which creates disparity of opportunity.”
The graduand warns that current suggested changes to New Zealand schools could have similarly negative outcomes.
“We’ve recently seen teachers protesting against the proposals to further privatise New Zealand’s education system, which could see the introduction of charter schools, performance-based pay for teachers, national league tables for primary schools and ‘super boards’ which would govern several schools.
“There is a clear comparison here with the Chilean example, where students have been holding massive street protests for two years. Recently, an estimated 200,000 students continued the on-going demonstrations against the inequalities in their education system.”
Colin’s research is set within the context of Chile’s changing political background over almost half a century – the neo-liberal laboratory of Pinochet, Allende’s socialist path and two decades of neo-structural governments, which have been labelled ‘capitalism with a human face’.
His findings suggest the variety of policy approaches have proved ineffective in reducing levels of educational disparity and that focusing on social relationships could lead to a better understanding of the mechanics of inequality.
Colin believes his findings can be applied to other areas, such as access to quality healthcare. “I’m hopeful my research will lead to policies that can prevent the creation of, and the maintenance of, uneven social relationships, and contribute to real progress in achieving equality of opportunity for all.”
Colin combined his PhD research with managing Victoria University’s student recruitment programmes, which he says allowed him to “walk the talk”.
Now a Postdoctoral Fellow in Social Design Innovation at Victoria’s School of Design, Colin comments: “When I started part-time PhD study, I was already the Manager of Student Recruitment Programmes at Victoria, which is a hectic, time consuming role. However, it was also a great opportunity to experience life from both sides of the fence and, as I also had the opportunity to guest lecture in Development Studies, I felt I was able to fully represent Victoria.”
Colin will graduate with a PhD in Development Studies on Monday 13 May at 6pm.
8 May 2013
To most of the Western world, happiness is the number one goal, and a happy life is seen as a good life. But is it as simple as that?
Not according to Dan Weijers from Victoria University’s School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, whose PhD research focuses on a range of issues – from happiness-seeking hedonists to the role of happiness in climate change.
“Hedonism is the theory that a happy life, with many positive emotions and little suffering, is a good life. But when most people think of a hedonist, they think of someone who pursues immediate gratification with no thought to the consequences for themselves and others.
“In my research I explain why this view is mistaken: hedonism is a theory about what is good for people, not who we should seek to provide this good to. The common view of hedonists really applies to hedonistic egoists, who think the right thing to do is to pursue their own happiness, even at the expense of others.”
The graduand’s research revealed that, in general, young people tend to the hedonistic perspective.
“My research included several experiments in which students were asked whether machine-generated lives full of pleasure were better than real lives. Contrary to existing philosophical opinion, the results showed that many young people endorse the hedonistic view that experiencing pleasure was more important than living in reality.”
Dan also believes happiness can be viewed in a much wider context than personal experience, including informing policy issues such as distributing the burden of climate change.
“The whole debate about climate change began because people rightly worried the future poor would suffer more due to extreme climate change events and rising sea levels. By focusing on suffering, we see that the burdens of the future poor far outweigh the minor benefits to the (already happy) wealthy people provided by the unnecessary portion of their carbon emitting.”
He also believes happiness has a key role to play in informing public policy.
“Research shows that happiness is about more than just money. Relationships and mental health contribute much more to our sense of wellbeing. Part of my research is aimed at encouraging policymakers to use happiness research as a constructive complement to existing policy measures.”
Dan, who claims to be a “very happy person” co-founded the academic journal, International Journal of Wellbeing, to provide open access to happiness research. He has also advised policymakers on happiness and wellbeing, including being invited by the King of Bhutan (the only country to make Gross National Happiness its key objective) to attend the United Nations Meeting on Happiness and Wellbeing.
Dan is currently working as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Victoria University. He is hoping to author a book based on his findings.
Dan will graduate with a PhD in Philosophy on Wednesday 15 May at 1.30pm.
8 May 2013
Victoria University is continuing its success in university rankings, being named one of the top 50 universities in the world in four subjects.
The 2013 QS World University Rankings rank Victoria at number 19 in Law. Other subjects in which Victoria is in the top 50 are Politics and International Relations (41), English Language and Literature (44) and Psychology (49).
Victoria was also ranked in the top 150 in the world in eight other subjects: Modern Languages, Philosophy, Computer Science and Information Systems, Earth and Marine Sciences, Geography, Communications and Media Studies, Education and Economics and Econometrics.
The QS World University Rankings cover the world’s top 700 universities and ratings are based on a range of measures including peer review, citation rates and employer surveys.
The results follow the recent Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) Evaluation, which ranked Victoria first among New Zealand universities for research.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says the QS World University Rankings are further external confirmation of the calibre of research and teaching at Victoria.
“The various ranking systems use different measures and different methodology but the overall message is consistent: Victoria is a university of high international standing.”
7 May 2013
Research by a Victoria University student shows that particulate matter from wood burning fires is a winter health hazard in New Zealand.
The research by Canadian-born Travis Ancelet, who graduates from Victoria University with a PhD in Chemistry next week, has implications for health and safety both in New Zealand and overseas.
“If we can better understand what’s driving air pollution, then we can significantly improve air quality and health outcomes,” says Travis.
“On the totem pole of environmental responsibility, people think burning wood is better than other options, such as electricity or gas central heating, particularly when they don’t involve deforesting huge amounts of habitation. But wood burning is a significant contributor to air pollution,” says Travis.
Travis didn’t expect his research results to show that, particularly in Auckland, wood burning fires contributed more particle pollution than vehicle emissions in the winter months.
“That was a surprise, especially because most people think road transport is the leading cause of air pollution.”
Travis’s research also identified the time of day that the worst pollution from wood burning occurs.
His study focused on airborne particle emissions in four New Zealand centres – Masterton, Alexandra, Nelson and Auckland – over two-month periods during winter to assess how air pollution changed by the hour.
A number of samplers were used to record results, mainly at sites where local councils were already monitoring air pollution.
“We also located samplers about a kilometre upwind and downwind of these sites, as well as at height, to assess how particle concentration varied according to where people lived.”
While he anticipated results would show an upswing in the evening when residents got home from work, he didn’t expect particle concentrations to increase in the morning.
“It indicated that some people light the fire when they get up.”
Travis hopes his research will make a tangible difference to air quality in New Zealand. As part of his job at GNS Science, he is working alongside a number of regional councils to help them better understand air pollution issues and meet their environmental commitments set by the Ministry for the Environment.
He is also expanding his research to include the sources and impacts of other toxic pollutants on air quality in other New Zealand locations.
Travis will graduate with a PhD in Chemistry on Monday 13 May at 6pm.
7 May 2013
International research has suggested that many coral species won’t survive beyond the end of this century, but marine biologists at Victoria University are offering an alternative scenario.
Dr James Bell, who specialises in sponge ecology, is the lead author of an article published in Global Change Biology which suggests that sponges may become the dominant organisms inhabiting coral reefs when the effect of climate change and ocean acidification sets in.
“Coral reefs face an uncertain future as a result of global climate change and other stressors which have a negative impact on reefs,” says Dr Bell.
“It has been predicted that many reefs will end up being dominated by algae rather than corals, which will have negative effects on biodiversity and ultimately on the ability of humans to derive protein from reefs.”
“However, we propose an alternative scenario—as sponges and corals respond differently to changing ocean chemistry and environmental conditions, we may actually see some coral reefs transforming into sponge reefs.”
As part of the study, the group of scientists from Victoria University, the University of Auckland and the Australian Institute of Marine Science considered evidence from a range of sources including the geological record. Paleontological evidence from over 200 million years ago suggests past ocean acidification events were followed by a mass extinction of coral species and subsequent proliferation of sponges.
The scientists have also observed several sites, including places in the Caribbean, Atlantic and Indo-Pacific, where sponges have already increased in abundance as corals have declined.
Despite the important functional roles sponges play on coral reefs including filtering nutrients and providing a habitat for other species, Dr Bell says most research to date has focused on the future of corals.
“Coral reefs provide a home for around one quarter of the world’s marine species, so understanding their future is incredibly important.”
“Further research on the impacts of ocean acidification and ocean warming on coral reef sponges is urgently required, so that we can help better protect reefs and understand how they might function in the future,” says Dr Bell.
Dr Bell has carried out research on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, which has some of the most extensive and diverse coral reef systems in the world.
The study has been funded by Victoria University of Wellington, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Operation Wallacea.
The full article ‘Could some coral reefs become sponge reefs as our climate changes?’ can be viewed on the Global Change Biology website: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12212/full
6 May 2013
One of New Zealand’s most accomplished investment bankers, Rob Cameron, will be awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Commerce during Victoria University’s May graduation.
Mr Cameron is a Victoria alumnus who, during a distinguished career, has influenced national economic policies and advised on some of New Zealand’s largest commercial transactions.
Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says Mr Cameron’s drive to succeed in his chosen field epitomises the attributes the University seeks to instil in graduates.
“Rob has pursued his career with energy, passion and determination and he has made significant and influential contributions to both the public and private sectors in New Zealand, as well as being a positive influence in the growth and governance of Victoria University.”
After graduating from Victoria University with a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration with First Class Honours in the 1970s, Mr Cameron received a prestigious Harkness Fellowship to complete postgraduate studies at Harvard University.
On his return to New Zealand, Mr Cameron worked at the Treasury as a Section Head in the Economics Division and was a principal architect in the development of the state owned enterprise model during the early 1980s.
He went on to hold senior positions at Jarden & Company and Fay Richwhite & Company, before establishing Cameron Partners Limited in 1995, a business which has become one of New Zealand’s foremost investment banks.
Mr Cameron has received numerous accolades for his economic and financial expertise, including being made a Fellow of the Institute of Financial Professionals New Zealand. He recently chaired the Capital Markets Development Taskforce, which made recommendations that have led to major policy changes in areas affecting New Zealand’s capital markets.
Throughout his career, Mr Cameron has supported not-for-profit organisations including serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of Special Olympics New Zealand. He currently sits on the board of KEA, which encourages expatriate New Zealanders, and friends of New Zealand, to increase their contribution to the country.
Mr Cameron has also supported Victoria University for many years, through roles such as Advisory Board membership for Victoria Business School and Board Chair of the Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation. He was a member of the University Council between 1998 and 2001 and received a Hunter Fellowship in 2003, in recognition of his ongoing and valuable contributions.
Mr Cameron will receive his honorary degree during the Victoria University graduation ceremony for Victoria Business School which takes place on Tuesday 14 May at 1.30pm.
6 May 2013
With a family tree dominated by the armed forces, it’s no surprise that Ben Schaare has been awarded a Defence Force Freyberg Scholarship.
The Victoria University student, who graduated with a BA in International Relations, French and European Studies last year, has won a Freyberg Scholarship to study at the prestigious John Hopkins University (JHU) in Washington DC.
Freyberg Scholarships are awarded for graduate study into areas relevant to national security at a recognised institution in an Asia-Pacific Country, including Canada and the United States. Ben will start a two-year Masters in International Relations at JHU in August, with a focus on international law and economics.
Currently teaching English in France, Ben says the scholarship is “incredibly important” to him, not least because his family has a long, proud history of involvement with New Zealand’s defence force.
“My great-grandfather, grandfather, father and uncle all served in the army and my younger brother is considering joining,” says Ben. “This scholarship is a chance to make a positive contribution towards the debate and analysis of defence issues when I return home, and means I am able to contribute in a small way to their important work.”
The scholarship, named after the late Lord Freyberg, who had a distinguished career with the New Zealand Armed Forces, also means Ben is able to live in the US for two years.
“Studying there is expensive so, on a practical level, the Freyberg eases my financial burden. It also allows me to pursue my educational and career goals. I genuinely enjoy studying International relations, and the chance to learn at an elite university is a dream come true.”
The Freyberg Scholarship provides $35,000 for one year’s tuition. Ben says he applied to four US universities but chose JHU School of Advanced International Studies because of its “formidable international reputation and because the faculty has world-renowned academics and policy professionals”.
The 22-year-old is also excited about immersing himself in the global epicentre of foreign policy.
“Washington DC is where it all happens and there are innumerable opportunities for internships in a range of areas from politics and economics to non-profit and development.”
When his two years are up, the new New Plymouth native is hoping to land a job with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) in Wellington.
“MFAT does important work around the world and represents New Zealand admirably in advancing our interests. The work is hard and often under the radar, but it’s very rewarding."
3 May 2013
Victoria University has rejected allegations made against three of its academic staff by prominent British climate change sceptic, Viscount Monckton.
Victoria’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says an investigation into the complaint, lodged last month against Professor Jonathan Boston, Dr James Renwick and Professor David Frame, has found Viscount Monckton’s allegations were not substantiated.
Professor Walsh says the investigation was carried out by a senior University professor with expertise in science and in University processes and policy.
“The matter is now closed and no further action will be taken,” says Professor Walsh.
He says the investigator took a range of factors into account. That included the University’s role as critic and conscience of society and academic freedom, under which academic staff are expected to speak publicly on matters in their area of expertise, even if their opinions are controversial or unpopular.
“I want to state clearly that I have faith in these academic staff. By speaking publicly in their field of expertise, they were doing exactly what we expect.”
3 May 2013
Why do some Pacific students do well at tertiary education, while others find it more difficult to complete their qualifications?
This was one focus for Victoria University researcher and education lecturer Dr Cherie Chu, who looked at identifying, understanding and sharing educational practices in tertiary institutions that benefit Pacific learners.
The research, which was funded by the Ako Aotearoa National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence, identified three key factors that led to success for Pacific in tertiary settings.
“This included family support and personal commitment, positive teaching and learning relationships that recognised cultural identity, values and aspirations,” says Dr Chu, “as well as commitment from the particular institution to provide significant Pacific role models, a strong and supportive leadership and actively engagement with the Pacific community.”
Dr Chu spent two years talking to 51 staff and 119 students at five tertiary institutes around New Zealand, including Victoria and Otago universities, the Manukau Institute of Technology, Pacific Training Institute and Whitireia New Zealand. Along with two PhD students, Ivy Samala Abella and Seann Paurini, Dr Chu interviewed staff and students of varying ages and gender from a range of academic disciplines in both degree and diploma courses.
Her research focused on the positive. “So much of the research over the past 30 or 40 years has been about the negative, looking at non-participation rates of Pacific students, those who drop out of tertiary study or who don’t complete their qualifications. I wanted to understand and appreciate what tertiary institutions are doing well for Pacific learners.”
Data was gathered using the Talanoa research tool, which allows for a more informal, unstructured interview format by developing collaborative relationships between people.
“The Talanoa process allows for participants to share their stories, realities and aspirations in a more culturally appropriate way than if they were in structured focus groups. Talanoa is increasingly being used as a research method by Pacific researchers across New Zealand.”
Dr Chu says the research has far-reaching implications for both students and tertiary institutions.
“The one-size-fits-all approach to education doesn’t work anymore. Institutions need to ensure their staff, policies and teaching better reflects students’ culture and relationships. When Pacific learners are empowered as confident learners, they are successful.”
1 May 2013
Visually lush art works infused with the raw materials of pop, trash, queer and fashion culture, unite in the latest exhibition at the Adam Art Gallery, opening 3 May.
‘Beautiful Creatures’ brings together the work of three artists—American Jack Smith (1932-1989), Australian Bill Henson and New Zealander Jacqueline Fraser.
Working respectively in film, photography, collage and installation, each artist uses the technical tools of their media—staging, lighting, cutting, and framing—and the powerful pull of looks and poses, to draw the viewer in and produce a potent atmospheric.
“There is a visual intensity to this exhibition that defies easy interpretation,” says Adam Art Gallery Director Christina Barton. “Each artist uses the human body as an object of attraction but also as a vehicle for thinking, in ways that seem to bypass words.”
Curator Michelle Menzies says these artists hover between pop and high culture. Edgy, glamorous or camp, the scenarios they create lift us out of our ordinary or humdrum existence.
“The allure these artists produce is surprisingly affirming. These ‘beautiful creatures’ are not just marketing tools or sexual objects. They are granted an affecting and unexpected agency that overturns our expectations and makes us want to join them. Knowing we can’t is part of their power” says Menzies.
This is the first time Jack Smith’s classic underground film has been seen in an exhibition in New Zealand. “Bringing it together with Bill Henson’s compelling photographs and Jacqueline Fraser’s immersive installation is a rare opportunity to re-draw the recent history of the figure in art.”
‘Beautiful Creatures’ will be accompanied by a film series titled Evening Flix, co-presented with the student magazine Salient and VBC 88.3fm.
What: Beautiful Creatures: Jack Smith / Bill Henson / Jacqueline Fraser
Where: Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington, Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
When: 3 May–7 July Tuesday–Sunday, 11am–5pm (closed on Monday)
1 May 2013
A group of researchers at Victoria University studying the little spotted kiwi are uncovering surprising results about our national bird’s behaviour.
Dr Andrew Digby, Dr Ben Bell and Dr Paul Teal have conducted the first ever acoustic study of little spotted kiwi, New Zealand’s second rarest kiwi. Over a period of three years, they measured hundreds of calls made by a population of the birds living at the Zealandia sanctuary, in Wellington.
Their research has found that the kiwi, which live in pairs and are thought to mate for life, call in harmony with each other using a previously unknown form of vocal ‘cooperation’.
Dr Digby says the analysis demonstrates that, in contrast to what has previously been thought, size differences between male and female kiwi are not the sole cause of the differences in the frequency, or pitch, of the calls the birds make.
“Instead, male and female kiwi appear to call for different reasons, with male kiwi using their calls for long-range purposes, such as defending their territory from other kiwi, and female birds using calls for close-range purposes, like staying in contact with their partners.”
The researchers also discovered that male and female little spotted kiwi can synchronise their calls and have complementary call frequencies, meaning that when they call together they are more effective at repelling intruders. This is the first time such cooperation in frequency and time has been reported in bird ‘duets’.
The research has made up the focus of Dr Digby’s PhD, which is using kiwi calls as the basis for revealing more about kiwi behaviour and to help provide new tools for their conservation, and has recently been featured in the world’s leading ornithological journal, Ibis.
He is also investigating whether little spotted kiwi have a call ‘signature’ which can be used for identifying individuals, and is studying kiwi in different locations to see if unique regional dialects are developing.
“Calls are an important part of kiwi conservation since they provide an inexpensive, efficient and non-invasive way to monitor these mysterious birds,” says Dr Digby.
“But, we actually understand very little about why kiwi call, and the calls of most kiwi species have never been studied, so this research is important for helping us gain a better understanding of one of our national icons.”
Research collaboration between Victoria University and Zealandia has taken place over many years, and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations in 2011 has established closer links. Areas of research have included native birds such as the little spotted kiwi, the breeding of tuatara and the study of biodiversity restoration and management.
1 May 2013
Victoria University is deeply saddened by the death of one of its leading scientists, Professor Pablo Etchegoin, this week.
Professor Etchegoin was an Argentinean-born physicist, who arrived at Victoria University in 2003 to take up a position as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences.
His academic achievements saw him promoted to Associate Professor in 2006 and to Professor in January 2007, and he was closely involved with the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology as a Principal Investigator.
Professor Etchegoin was widely regarded as one of the world’s most successful condensed matter physicists. He, and his research team, established a world-class experimental facility that allowed them to contribute much to the field of single molecule detection.
During his time at Victoria, Professor Etchegoin was a close friend and colleague of many people in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, the Faculty of Science and the wider university community.
He also maintained strong international research links with Imperial College in London, as well as with groups in France and Switzerland.
Professor David Bibby, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Science, says Professor Etchegoin established an impressive reputation as a physicist working on world-leading research.
“Professor Etchegoin was at the forefront of the first-class research our scholars are undertaking in the area of physics and nanotechnology.
“He made many significant contributions in his specialist areas of study, and hoped to make a positive difference to the world through his research. He will be very much missed,” said Professor Bibby.
Professor Etchegoin studied electronic engineering and physics in Argentina, before moving overseas to complete doctoral studies. In 1990, he became a Fellow of the Max-Planck Institute and, in 1994, completed his PhD in Physics at the University of Stuttgart. He then moved to Cambridge University as a Marie-Curie post-doctoral Fellow of the European Union.
Before arriving in New Zealand in 2003, he had been a Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London and had also returned to his country of birth to work at the National Commission for Atomic Energy of Argentina.
Professor Etchegoin’s contributions to science were recognised through a number of awards, including, in 2004, the T.K. Sidey Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand, which also elected him as a Fellow in 2011.
29 April 2013
Wellingtonians will have the chance to delve into the world of insects during Professor Phil Lester’s inaugural professorial lecture at Victoria University on Tuesday 7 May.
Professor Lester will explore the behaviour of social insects such as ants, bees and wasps, discussing the vital pollinating role they play in our food production, as well as the damage they can cause to entire ecosystems.
He will demonstrate some of the incredible behaviours insects have adopted in order to survive in different situations. For example, scientists have recently discovered a new behaviour in the common wasp when it is competing for food with native ants. Picking their opponents up in their mandibles (or jaws), wasps have been seen to fly backwards and drop ants away from the disputed food resource, dealing efficiently with their competitors.
Professor Lester will also explain how successful insect populations can occasionally collapse and disappear, and discuss why now, more than ever, we need to manage social insects for conservation and biodiversity benefits.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says Victoria University’s inaugural lecture series is an opportunity for professors to share insights into their specialist areas of study with family, friends, colleagues and the local community.
“Inaugural lectures are also an excellent way for the University to celebrate and acknowledge our valued professors,” says Professor Walsh.
Professor Phil Lester is based in the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University. He is an authority on invasive insect species and is recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading insect experts.
He has previously received a Marsden Fund grant and Fulbright Senior Scholar Award to support his research, and received a Victoria University Research Excellence Award in 2009.
Last year, Professor Lester served as President of the Entomological Society of New Zealand and was also named as the 2012 recipient of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Charles Fleming Fund, which supports senior scientists to carry out research.
Inaugural lecture–Professor Phil Lester
‘Tiny brains with big effects: the ecologically dominant but fragile world of ants, bees and wasps’
Tuesday 7 May 2013, 6pm
Hunter Council Chamber, Level 2, Hunter Building, Gate 1 or 2, Kelburn Parade, Wellington.
RSVP by Friday 3 May. Phone 04-472 1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Lester’ in the subject line.
Click on this link to view a video of wasps picking up and dropping ants: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DILNPkA9vwY.
24 April 2013
Victoria University welcomes Professor Cindy Kiro as Head of School of Te Kura Māori, within the Faculty of Education.
Professor Kiro is of Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahu and Ngāti Hine descent and her recent roles have included Head of the School of Public Health at Massey University and Children’s Commissioner.
For over 20 years, she has worked in a wide range of community organisations promoting Māori well-being, and the well-being of children and young people, indigenous health, health systems and health policy.
Professor Kiro has a PhD in Social Work and Social Policy at Massey University, and has published a range of book chapters, journal articles, and reports, as well as delivering a large number of keynote conference addresses.
Professor Kiro is one of three senior academics joining Te Kura Māori in 2013. She sees the new appointments as a strong signal from the University that it is committed to improving learning for Māori students.
“It creates a critical mass for change in a way that can raise the stakes around Māori scholarship within a University,” says Professor Kiro.
Professor Kiro says she is looking forward to creating dynamic change, leadership and momentum around Māori scholarship within a university setting but one “which reaches out to Māori communities, iwi leadership and real life problems in health, education, justice and social development in ways that contribute to making a positive difference for Māori”.
“I am looking forward to developing positive relationships with academic colleagues that contribute to this kaupapa and to a supportive University which wants to genuinely leave a legacy of such a contribution.”
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Māori), Professor Piri Sciascia, welcomed the appointment of Victoria's first Māori woman Professor of Education. “I look forward to working with Professor Kiro to continue to grow the University's contribution to Māori education.”
Other senior academics joining Te Kura Māori in 2013 are Dr Craig Rofe and Dr Adreanne Ormond.
Dr Rofe is a Senior Lecturer with a PhD in Physics, which was supervised by the late Professor Sir Paul Callaghan. He is passionate about increasing Māori achievement by teaching others best evidence-based practice with current research methodologies.
Dr Adreanne Ormond joins Te Kura Māori in June from her position as Director of Te Rongo Haeata Research Centre. Dr Ormond has a long history of teaching and research at the University of Auckland and her research interests include youth, education, health and Māori development.
23 April 2013
Some schools have developed new initiatives to reduce the impact of child poverty on learning, and Victoria University is bringing together experts to discuss these innovative approaches.
Accent Learning, a division of Viclink, will host the symposium in Wellington on 24 May 2013.
Topics will include the impact of child poverty on society and education, who owns the problem, multi-agency solutions, the perspectives of different groups, and proactive solutions already found by schools.
Geoff Todd, Managing Director of Viclink, says these subjects are topical and timely. “This event provides an opportunity for dialogue between community leaders, school leaders and other interested parties to help find solutions.”
Deidre Vercauteren, Viclink Education Programme Manager observes: “We too often hear of the barriers created for learning when children are hungry, or tired, or worse.”
Guest speakers includes Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, an advocate of Māori language education and the Kōhanga Reo movement; Professor Jonathan Boston, Co-chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty and Director of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University; and Donna Provoost and Kirsten Sharman, Principal Advisors to the Children’s Commissioner.
Primary school principals Kiri Smith and Eddie Uluilelata will talk about the practical steps their schools have taken including activities such as Zumba and math clubs, parents/teacher ‘cuppa and catch-up’ and students and parents involvement in the Waka Ama (outrigger canoes) competitions.
Taita College Principal John Murdoch will talk about how focusing on students and moving away from the traditional classroom have impacted on student achievement and Julia Milne, from the Community Unity Project Aotearoa, will discuss a pilot scheme based at Epuni School which is teaching food growing and cooking to students, parents and the wider community.
For more information please contact Deidre Vercauteren on (04) 463 9612, 027 563 9612 or visit: http://accent.ac.nz/school-support/news/discussion.
18 April 2013
There is growing international interest in a new film to be screened around the globe on Earth Day (22 April) which shows the astonishing range of human activity and scientific endeavour going into the race to understand the world’s changing climate.
Thin Ice – the Inside Story of Climate Science will screen first at Te Papa in Wellington and, subsequently, as Earth Day dawns around the world, on every continent with close to 200 screenings confirmed to date. Venues range from the Waitomo Caves in the Waikato to the US South Pole Station, with other screenings taking place at university campuses and institutes throughout Europe and North America and on the weather channel of the Chinese Meteorological Association.
The non-English speaking world is catered for with subtitles available in Mandarin, Spanish, German and French.
More than six years in the making, Thin Ice is a response to climate sceptics and a compelling look at the changes taking place in the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and ice sheets. It documents the hopes, fears and sense of urgency driving scientists studying these changes.
The makers of the film—Victoria University of Wellington, Oxford University and London-based DOX Productions—want as many people as possible to see Thin Ice immediately after its launch.
In addition to a host of free screenings at public venues worldwide, the film will be available for viewing online at no charge for 48 hours from the beginning of Earth Day.
The Thin Ice project was conceived over a cup of coffee at a climate change conference several years ago. One of its executive producers, Professor Peter Barrett from the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University, suggested to fellow geologist Dr Simon Lamb, then at Oxford University, that he make a film about climate change with his friend David Sington from DOX Productions. Dr Lamb has been closely involved in television science documentaries including the BBC Horizon programme The Man who Moved the Mountains and the eight-part BBC Earth Story series.
The resulting film sees viewers taken on a personal journey of discovery by Dr Lamb as he meets and interviews 40 scientists working at the front line of climate change research in the Arctic, Antarctic, Southern Ocean, New Zealand, Europe and the United States.
Dr Lamb spent 22 years at Oxford before moving to Victoria to take up a position as Associate Professor of Geophysics.
“I was motivated to make the film by a determination to hear from climate researchers themselves,” he says.
Professor Barrett says he still enjoys the film after many viewings and is impressed by the coherence of the picture that emerges from a diverse group of scientists, covering fields from palaeontology to modelling and atmospheric physics.
He sees the film as both realistic and hopeful, giving clear insights into options for effectively addressing climate change.
Professor Philip England, former Head of Earth Sciences at Oxford and also an executive producer, says the film breaks new ground in movies about climate change.
“It is distinct from other productions in that it relies entirely on the testimony of scientists while also telling a very compelling visual story.”
A number of the scientists who feature in the film will attend the first global screening at Te Papa in Wellington which will be followed by a panel discussion chaired by columnist, commentator and broadcaster Finlay Macdonald.
Many of the scientists interviewed in the film, along with climate change experts, will also take part in a global discussion via Twitter and Facebook on Earth Day.
Thin Ice will continue to be available for screening online from the 24th April for a small fee.
The film is part of a wider Thin Ice climate project which is supported by a comprehensive website that includes more than four hours of film footage (http://thiniceclimate.org).
• The film will be available for viewing online at no charge for 48 hours from the beginning of Earth Day. Visit http://thiniceclimate.org
• There will be free screenings of the film at venues around New Zealand and around the world on the 22nd and 23rd April. Visit http://thiniceclimate.org/launch for further details
• A free screening will be held at the Victoria University Student Memorial Theatre on the University’s Kelburn Campus at midday (12.00pm) on Tuesday, 23rd April.
17 April 2013
A symposium to be held in Wellington next month will review the role New Zealand’s defence forces have played in Afghanistan, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste and discuss their future in a new security environment.
Called After the Missions, the event, to be held on 22 May, will be co-hosted by Victoria University’s Centre for Strategic Studies and the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs.
Professor Robert Ayson, Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies, says the return of New Zealand’s forces from overseas deployments requires a rethink of their role.
“The conclusion of these commitments brings home to us that New Zealand is entering a new security period in which we should test our assumptions about the role of our defence forces and how they work with other agencies,” says Professor Ayson.
At the symposium, leading analysts from Australasia will consider the lessons from recent long deployments of New Zealand forces, the views of New Zealand’s friends and partners, the shape of the future security environment, and the role New Zealand’s forces might play in it.
Professor Ayson says that it is also timely to ask questions when New Zealand is campaigning for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
“If New Zealand wants to remain active in international and regional security,” Professor Ayson says, “we need to be thinking about our new options.”
After the Missions, which is supported by Victoria University, will be held at the James Cook Hotel from 9.00am to 5.00pm on 22 May. Prices are $65 per person and $30 for students.
To find out more and register for the symposium, visit:
15 April 2013
A Victoria University student is the only New Zealander this year to be awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, to study at a postgraduate level at the University of Cambridge.
Wellingtonian Felix Barber, who is graduating in May with a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours (majoring in Mathematics and Physics), was one of 51 students from 24 countries to be awarded the Gates Scholarship, which will allow him to study for his Master’s in Applied Mathematics. Globally, more than 3,500 students applied for the scholarships, which assess intellectual ability, leadership capacity, academic fit with Cambridge and the applicant’s commitment to improving the lives of others.
Barber’s award comes after recent success with the William Georgetti Scholarship, which awarded him $180,000 over three years to support the PhD study he hopes to begin at Cambridge after his Master’s degree. The William Georgetti Scholarship is aimed at encouraging postgraduate study and research in a field that is important to the social, cultural or economic development of New Zealand.
“It’s exciting to be awarded these two scholarships and I am very grateful,” says Barber. “I am keen to take full advantage of any opportunities that come my way in the UK to do interesting and exciting work, so that I can one day give back to New Zealand.”
Barber, who originally planned a career as a journalist before realising he was “actually quite good at physics”, plans to focus on research into condensed matter physics or biophysics.
“I want to expand my knowledge base into these areas because I think they will allow me to do work that will have the greatest impact on the lives of others. My hope for the future is to produce research in a dynamic area of physics that can have a positive impact on serious world issues, such as the development of technologies to facilitate sustainable human existence.”
Outside of study, Barber sings in the Wellington Youth Choir, is a keen mountain biker and is learning Spanish. He was also responsible for co-founding the Victoria University Science Society to provide both a social and academic focus for students in the wider science community.
12 April 2013
Would you behave more ethically in the workplace if your boss was watching you closely?
It’s one of the questions being posed by Professor Nick Lee, Professor of Marketing and Organisational Research at the UK’s Aston Business School and a 2013 Victoria Business School International Visiting Scholar. Professor Lee will be speaking at Rutherford House, Bunny Street, Wellington on Monday 15 April at 6pm.
Focusing on the environment where we spend most of our waking hours—the workplace—Professor Lee’s research looks at the social psychology of work and how actions which may seem like the ‘right’ thing to do can actually lead to unintended negative effects.
“We observed sales teams in the UK and Europe, and particularly the nature of the sales function as a link between the firm and its customers, to see how staff behaved when they felt they were closely supervised—for example if the manager spent lots of time with them observing sales calls. In such circumstances, employees tended to behave better,” says Professor Lee.
However, throw a conflict into the mix—ie. responsibility for the company versus responsibility to the customer—and the results skewed towards the unethical.
“When closely monitored, employees were conflicted between making money for the company and providing good customer service. They tended to behave unethically, putting their organisation’s needs ahead of the customer.”
Uncovering such counter-intuitive outcomes requires an approach that goes beyond the notion of “common sense—of what we think should or shouldn’t work in the workplace,” says Professor Lee.
“Different drivers of behaviour require different managerial remedies. For example, our research found that a more caring manager resulted in higher job satisfaction from employees, whereas a more aggressive manager produced lower commitment from employees and greater emotional strain. But at the same time, we found employees actually valued a certain amount of aggression from their managers, because it helped clarify the appropriate standards of behaviour and role responsibilities.”
Born in Cardiff, Professor Lee graduated with BCA in 1996 and a BCA (Hons) in 1997 from Victoria University. He completed his PhD at Aston University in Birmingham in 1999, where he is currently based.
International Scholar Lecture: The Good News Is, You’re Fired…
When: Monday 15 April 2013, 6pm
Venue: Victoria Business School, Rutherford House, Lecture Theatre 2, Bunny Street, Wellington
RSVP to email@example.com or phone 04-463 5330
11 April 2013
Victoria University of Wellington was today ranked first among New Zealand universities based on the research performance of its academic staff.
“Today’s release by the Tertiary Education Commission of the latest PBRF Evaluation ranks Victoria as number one in New Zealand. This validates the commitment of our staff to undertaking and disseminating world class research,” said Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh.
“With 678 staff actively involved in research, and 70 percent of them operating at the highest levels (ranked as either an A or B), we now have external confirmation of our status as New Zealand’s most research intensive university.
“In 2009 the University Council set an ambitious goal to dramatically improve our research performance and staff have been very focused on achieving this. That commitment has certainly paid off and we are very proud of what we have accomplished.”
The Chancellor, Ian McKinnon, said he is delighted by the results and congratulates the leadership of the University, its Vice-Chancellor, and of course its staff, on the focus given to the importance of research and its value to New Zealand society.
“The Council has been quite clear in its strategic direction in this area and the University has not just responded but has done so at an outstanding level.”
Victoria ranks first or second in 24 of the 36 subject areas offered, an increase from 11 in 2006.
Victoria ranks number one in New Zealand in the following subject areas:
Communications, Journalism and Media Studies
Computer Science, Information Technology, Information Sciences
Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour
English Language and Literature
History, History of Art, Classics and Curatorial Studies
Music, Literary Arts and Other Arts
Political Science, International Relations and Public Policy
Sociology, Social Policy, Social Work, Criminology and Gender Studies
Theatre and Dance, Film, Television and Multimedia
In addition to the success in the broad subject areas which can be taught across faculties, Victoria’s Faculty of Law was the number one ranked law school in New Zealand for research quality.
The subject areas which Victoria ranked second in are: Foreign Languages and Linguistics; Human Geography; Pure and Applied Mathematics; Law; Māori Knowledge and Development; Molecular, Cellular and Whole Organism Biology; Philosophy; and Statistics.
9 April 2013
Award-winning American poet Mary Ruefle will appear in conversation with Bill Manhire next week, at a one-off event presented by Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), in partnership with City Gallery Wellington.
Ruefle is the recipient of numerous honours, including the William Carlos Williams Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim fellowship. She currently teaches in the Master of Fine Arts in Writing programme at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a visiting professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Ruefle has published ten books of poetry, a book of short prose titled The Most of It and a comic book titled Go Home and Go to Bed. Her book of essays on poetry and life, Madness, Rack, and Honey earned her a shortlisting for this year’s prestigious National Book Critics' Circle Awards.
Ruefle is also an erasure artist, whose treatments of nineteenth-century texts have been exhibited in museums and galleries, and published in the book
A Little White Shadow.
Ruefle has been described by American poet and writer Tony Hoagland as one of the best American poets. He describes her body of work as remarkable for its spiritual force, intelligence, stylistic virtuosity, and adventurousness.
In addition to her public event with Bill Manhire, Ruefle will hold a masterclass for IIML creative writing students.
Event: Writers on Mondays: Mary Ruefle
When: Monday 15 April 2013, 12.15–1.15pm
Venue: City Gallery Wellington, Civic Square
This event is free and open to the public.
9 April 2013
Philosopher Philip Pettit, the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University, will deliver the inaugural Maurice Goldsmith Lecture at Victoria University on Friday 19 April.
Professor Pettit, a distinguished academic who has written widely on the republican tradition in political philosophy, will offer an account of the value of freedom, and explain how his account connects with other values, like honesty, love, justice and kindness.
Hosted by Victoria’s Philosophy programme, the annual lecture has been named in honour of the late Emeritus Professor Maurice Goldsmith, a specialist in philosophy and political theory and a long-time member of the programme.
Dr Simon Keller, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Victoria, says Professor Pettit will deliver a lecture that is accessible to a general audience, including those without a background in the field.
“Professor Pettit has spent his career applying philosophical insights to understanding our shared political life. He is an engaging speaker who shares his knowledge widely.”
Lecture title: ‘Freedom and Other Robustly Demanding Goods’
Abstract: If you enjoyed freedom in a particular choice then it must be that no one interfered with the option you actually took and that no one would have interfered with any of the other options you might have taken. In that sense freedom requires robust, not just actual, non-interference. Many other goods display a similar robustly demanding profile, including the good provided by the love or friendship of others, or by their honesty, justice or kindness. The robustness of the demands imposed by such goods is worth marking, because it has deep-running, often neglected implications for ethics and politics.
When: Friday 19 April, 6–7.30pm.
Where: Rutherford House, Lecture Theatre 2, Pipitea Campus, 23 Lambton Quay.
Please email Jonette.Crysell@vuw.ac.nz by Wednesday 17 April to register for the event.
8 April 2013
The 2012 issue of Best New Zealand Poems (www.victoria.ac.nz/bestnzpoems) has been published online, and takes readers on a journey from Turangi to Greece, via Buddhism, and back to Taranaki and Cathedral Square.
The editor is New Zealand's Poet Laureate Ian Wedde, the author of 14 poetry books, as well as several novels and essay collections.
Wedde says he was drawn to an enticing element in the poems he selected—their tendency to resist and thwart. “I want poetry to do what other kinds of writing don’t, or can’t—I prefer subversion to propriety.”
Many of the poems in his selection are also energised by cross-cultural influences. Murray Edmond uses the Japanese ‘tanka’ form; C K Stead translates the Italian poet Eugenio Montale; Albert Wendt writes of a Hawaiian mountain; and Serbian-NZ poet Aleksandra Lane channels the spirit of the inventor Nikola Tesla in a series of ‘found poems’.
Series editor, poet and Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters Senior Lecturer Chris Price says: “Best New Zealand Poems reveals that our poets are as much at home in the world as the country they live in.”
A number of the poems are also available as audio recordings. Christchurch’s Frankie McMillan, teacher of creative writing at the Christchurch Polytechnic and the Hagley Writers’ Institute, is among a number of poets who can be heard reading their work on the site.
Best New Zealand Poems was first published online in 2001, and features a different editor each year. In 2011 Victoria University Press published The Best of the Best New Zealand Poems, a selection from the first 10 years of the collection in book form.
Best New Zealand Poems 2012 can be viewed at www.victoria.ac.nz/bestnzpoems and is published with the support of Creative New Zealand, and hosted by the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre at Victoria University.
5 April 2013
As part of Victoria University’s 2013 Regional Public Lecture Series, two conservation experts will be visiting Taupo to talk about their work helping protect treasured native species, and the issue of pest control in New Zealand.
Professor Charles Daugherty and Dr Nicola Nelson will give a talk titled “Predator control—protecting tuatara and other natural treasures for future generations”, on Tuesday 16 April at the Great Lake Convention Centre.
Professor Daugherty is a conservation biologist and expert in pest management, and is Professor of Ecology and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Victoria. His involvement in bringing tuatara back from the brink of extinction was recognised this year when he was chosen as a semi-finalist in the 2013 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards.
Professor Daugherty will be presenting an overview of whether pest-free New Zealand is achievable.
“The concept of pest-free New Zealand has gathered a lot of attention recently, through debates over whether we should control cats and how this might be done, for example. I'll be discussing whether a pest-free New Zealand is feasible, and the reasons why predator control matters to all New Zealanders,” says Professor Daugherty.
He will be joined by reptile expert Dr Nicola Nelson, a Senior Lecturer in Conservation Ecology at Victoria.
Dr Nelson will discuss some of the surprising implications relating to the effect temperature has on determining the sex of baby tuatara, and how these might influence conservation efforts in a warming climate. She will also show how efforts to control introduced predators on the mainland can help improve the long-term outlook for populations of treasured species, like tuatara.
Professor Daugherty and Dr Nelson will also present their talk later in the year, in Nelson, as part of the Victoria University Public Lecture Series.
Victoria University Public Lecture Series—Taupo
Tuesday 16 April 2013, 5.30pm-8pm
Great Lake Convention Centre—5 Story Place, Taupo 3330
To attend, email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘tuatara’ in the subject line or phone (04) 472 1000 by Friday 12 April.
The full schedule for the year is:
Tuesday 16 April, Taupo, Charles Daugherty and Nicola Nelson, Predator control
Thursday 9 May, New Plymouth, Bridget Stocker and Catherine Trundle, Cancer therapy
Wednesday 31 July, Blenheim, Tim Naish and Marc Wilson, Climate change
Wednesday 14 August, Gisborne, Tim Stern and Lionel Carter, Offshore exploration
Wednesday 28 August, Napier, Tim Stern and Lionel Carter, Offshore exploration
Thursday 19 September, New Plymouth, Tim Naish and Marc Wilson, Climate change
Wednesday 30 October, Nelson, Charles Daugherty and Nicola Nelson, Predator control
Please note, these dates are subject to change.
For further information about the 2013 Regional Public Lecture Series, please contact Leah Johanson, Events Adviser, telephone (04) 463 6700 or email email@example.com. For media enquiries, please contact Elizabeth Bush-King, Communications Adviser, telephone (04) 463 7458 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 April 2013
Victoria University’s Centre for Public Law, with support from the New Zealand Law Foundation, will host a series of public debates in April and May about issues raised in the Government’s Constitutional Review.
Expert guests will tackle questions raised by the recent governmental review of New Zealand’s constitution including the nature of Māori aspirations for constitutional change, the role of the Bill of Rights, whether New Zealand should become a republic, and questions on parliamentary and electoral system reform.
“We have assembled a great line-up of speakers with a broad range of views, and we are expecting lively and informed debate,” says Professor Claudia Geiringer, Director of the New Zealand Centre for Public Law.
Guests include the Right Honourable Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the Right Honourable Jim Bolger, Dr Claudia Orange, Colin James, Moana Jackson, Professor Andrew Geddis, Professor Margaret Wilson, Professor Janet McLean, Dr Rawinia Higgins and Jack Hodder, QC.
The weekly debates will be moderated by barrister Steven Price, who is also an Adjunct Lecturer of Law at Victoria University. Each debate will take place in front of a live public audience and be broadcast on Radio New Zealand National at 4pm the following Sunday.
Professor Geiringer says that New Zealand’s Constitutional Review is supposed to generate conversation and debate.
“New Zealand doesn’t discuss these issues much, but they go right to the heart of the way we govern ourselves.”
The first debate will take place on Monday 8 April. The full programme is attached and media are welcome to attend.
The New Zealand Centre for Public Law was established at Victoria University to stimulate awareness and interest in public law issues, provide a forum for the discussion of these issues and foster and promote research.
27 March 2013
A Victoria University researcher’s investigations into improving the diagnosis and treatment of hearing defects will take a leap forward as a result of winning funding from the European Commission.
Dr Paul Teal, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering and Computer Science, is part an international research team that has been awarded €2.9 million (NZ$4.5 million) by the 7th Framework Programme for Research, which funds research and development that creates high quality knowledge.
The team will build a finite element model of the cochlea, a spiral chamber located inside the ear that turns sound vibrations into electrical signals which travel along nerves to the brain and allow us to hear.
Victoria is the only university outside Europe to have a researcher as part of the successful bid. Dr Teal’s inclusion is also exceptional because the Commission, which represents the interests of the entire European Union, usually only pays for collaborators based outside Europe to travel there, but not for their time.
Dr Teal, who receives nearly $188,000 of the funding, was asked to join the team because of his world-leading research into better ways of measuring the cochlear microphonic, which is the electrical signal generated inside the cochlea. His work could lead to the development of new techniques to more accurately assess hearing loss.
The project, which will provide a realistic, three dimensional model of the physics of motion in a working cochlea, involves researchers from six European universities and two European companies, including a team at the world-leading Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton.
Dr Teal’s input allows electrical components to be added to the model which would otherwise be only mechanical and acoustic.
The cochlea project comes under the Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) framework which is developing open source digital data on the entire human body.
Sections of the cochlea have been modelled before but no one has yet developed a complete picture. If the team succeeds, Paul says it will answer a lot of questions.
“There is still a lot of dispute about how the cochlea even works. It’s hard to study because of where it is in the body and the complex processes at work.
“The fact that the data will be open source is important. The VPH framework allows observations made in laboratories all over the world to be included and analysed. The models developed as a result of that will ultimately be able to be matched against data about an individual to find out exactly what is taking place with a patient.”
Dr Teal’s research takes advantage of recent advances in electronics to find ways of collecting an electrical signal directly from the cochlea.
He says the tests most commonly used to measure hearing loss at the moment are non-invasive and record the sounds the ear produces. “However they don’t define the full spectrum of sounds people hear, and the prescriptions given as a result are based on population averages rather than an individual’s condition.
“My vision is that we will one day be able to hook people up to a device that plays them tones and sounds and gives an automatic read-out on the make-up of the hearing aid they need.
“Developing the first, full model of a working cochlea will bring us closer to realising that vision.”
Dr Teal will be working on the project for the next three years.
26 March 2013
Victoria University’s Professor Neil Quigley has been awarded a prestigious honorary degree by the University of Economics in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This honour recognises Professor Quigley’s commitment to education in Vietnam and relations between the two countries.
The internationally-respected economist and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Victoria University of Wellington received an Honorary Doctor of Economics degree in Vietnam on 23 March.
Professor Quigley pioneered the development of tertiary education relationships between New Zealand and Vietnam, developing a number of joint programmes between Victoria University and institutions in Vietnam.
Most importantly, he was the founder of Victoria University’s joint venture campus with the University of Economics in Ho Chi Minh City under which hundreds of students have transferred to Wellington to complete Victoria’s Bachelor of Commerce degree.
The Victoria campus at the University of Economics in Ho Chi Minh City is one of New Zealand’s most successful offshore education initiatives. It is the foundation on which Victoria has built the largest number of Vietnamese student enrolments of any New Zealand university.
Professor Quigley held an appointment at Victoria University from 1985 to 1992, and was appointed Professor of Monetary Economics and Financial Institutions a decade later, in 1995. He has served as Executive Dean of what is now the Victoria Business School, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Resources), Pro Vice-Chancellor of both the business school and the University’s international division, before taking up his current role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) in 2005.
Professor Quigley also serves as a Director of the Reserve Bank, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, and a number of University companies.
He received the Government of Vietnam Medal for Promoting Peace and Friendship Between Nations in 2006 and chairs the New Zealand–Vietnam Friendship Association.
22 March 2013
Victoria University’s new Hub building, located at the centre of its Kelburn Campus, was officially opened yesterday by Governor-General His Excellency Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae—continuing a tradition spanning more than a century.
In 1904, then-Governor Lord Plunket laid the foundation stone for the Hunter Building—Victoria’s very first building—and since, successive Governors-General have opened new facilities including Weir House in 1933, Victoria House in 1993 and Victoria’s Pipitea campus in 2004.
At the opening, the Governor-General echoed Lord Plunket’s words from 1904, saying that it was with equal pride and great interest in the future endeavours of the University that he declared the Hub open.
The new Hub building is the cornerstone of the transformation of the Kelburn Campus, a six-year project which includes complete refurbishment of the Kelburn Library and a revamped Student Union Building.
The building creates a new, central community space for students to meet, study and socialise, while outside the Hub, the Tim Beaglehole Courtyard features seating, shade and shelter.
Chancellor Ian McKinnon said: “Council made a strategic decision to invest in this project—to invest in the students of today and the future. This facility is testimony to the University’s commitment to its strategic goal that students will benefit from a first-rate student experience.”
Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh said that this project—the biggest in Victoria’s history—has created a new heart for the Kelburn Campus.
“When the academic year began earlier this month, it was a real pleasure to see students filling this space, studying, socialising and enjoying this superb new building.”
The Hub features a grand two-storey reading room connected to the Library, informal learning spaces, cafes, food outlets and a pharmacy. It also includes the largest sliding glass doors in the Southern Hemisphere, and creates 3,400 metres of new space for students.
The project has been a partnership between the University, VUWSA and the VUWSA Trust, with Victoria students involved in planning and design.
21 March 2013
A new position, which will build a specialised research programme to inform and support New Zealand’s fisheries industry, has been created at Victoria University.
The inaugural holder of the new Chair in Fisheries Science is Dr Matthew Dunn, who has joined Victoria following a decade at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), where he was a Principal Scientist.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Dr Dunn has a background in fish biology, fisheries stock assessment and economics, and has previously worked at two globally-influential marine centres there—the University of Portsmouth’s Centre for the Economics and Management of Aquatic Resources, and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science at Lowestoft.
In his new role, which resides within the School of Biological Sciences, Dr Dunn will be working closely with a range of New Zealand organisations including central government agencies, crown research institutes and industry bodies. He will also support the development of highly qualified graduates to enter the field which suffers from a shortage of skilled scientists.
Dr Dunn believes that graduates entering the world of fisheries science need to be highly-skilled quantitative biologists—with both biology and statistics backgrounds—as research techniques become increasingly sophisticated.
“A key part of my role will be helping to ensure that our graduates are equipped for this increasingly important and challenging industry.”
As well as teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses, Dr Dunn will also supervise a number of research students at Master’s and Doctoral levels.
“As fisheries scientists, we understand that the interaction between fish, fisheries, science and politics is very complex.
“There are many areas of New Zealand fisheries science I hope to explore, with the aim of leading research important to the industry which other organisations may not have the resources or time to tackle on their own.”
Dr Dunn was officially welcomed by Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh at an event this week attended by a number of distinguished guests including Wayne McNee, Director General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), who spoke of the importance of this position for facilitating collaboration between MPI, Victoria University, other fisheries researchers and the fishing industry.
The Chair in Fisheries Science has been established in partnership between Victoria University and the Ministry for Primary Industries, with financial support from the Ministry through the Victoria University Foundation.
20 March 2013
Communities resist even while enduring the most horrific of state crimes, says Victoria University criminologist Elizabeth Stanley, and a new book documenting their bold actions will ensure history is taught, and recorded, as it happened.
The book examines state committed or sanctioned actions including genocide, rape during war, the treatment of refugees and the use of counter-terrorism powers.
Dr Stanley, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social and Cultural Studies, co-edited State Crime and Resistance with Jude McCulloch, Professor of Criminology at Monash University in Australia. The book includes contributions from scholars in New Zealand, Australia, Asia, the US and the UK.
Dr Stanley says in the past criminologists have focused on mapping and detailing state crimes, whereas this book considers how such crimes can be resisted, prevented or stopped.
“Even in the bleakest of circumstances, where harm and violence is perpetrated by the state, examples of resistance can be found.”
One chapter details how Jews resisted their oppressors during the Holocaust by sending messages and smuggling photographs from concentration camps to the wider world.
Another focuses on post 9/11 counter terrorism practices in the UK, where a disproportionate number of Muslims have been stopped, searched and arrested by police.
“That has really eroded trust between Muslim communities and the authorities,” says Dr Stanley, “to the point where many people are reticent to engage with the police and are upset at the stigmatisation of their communities.”
There is also a chapter which examines Australian refugee detention centres and the mistreatment of asylum seekers.
Dr Stanley says the book presents a mixed picture for the future.
“It does offer a hopeful vision of how actions can lead to change, but it also shows how states pre-empt resistance through denial, justification and denigration of their opponents.”
State Crime and Resistance was published by Routledge, UK.
18 March 2013
The first seminar of the New Zealand India Research Institute, Dalits in the long history of Partition in eastern India: a work-in-progress report is being held on Friday.
Presented by Professor Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, Professor in the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations and Director of the New Zealand India Research Institute, the seminar is a work-in-progress report on Sekhar's Marsden project, which looks at the place of Dalits, or India's ex-untouchables, in the history of Partition in 1947.
The Partition of India unleashed unimaginable violence and triggered perhaps the greatest exodus of people in human history. Among those refugees were thousands of Dalit or low-caste Hindus who fled from East Pakistan to West Bengal between 1947 and 1964.
Until now they remained almost totally excluded from the narratives of Partition. By using oral history methods and archival research this project seeks to restore the voices of these Dalit peasants, as well as rethinking Dalit movements and their identity politics.
It has been claimed that since the Dalits did not actively identify with Hindu nationalism or Congress politics, and instead asserted their distinctive social and political identity in the late colonial period, they did not become targets of Muslim violence. Therefore, Partition did not concern them. This project questions that assumption.
The religious polarisation that took place before Partition caused serious ruptures in Dalit politics and brought a section of them closer to Hindu nationalism. As a result, many Dalit peasants in Bengal became both victims and perpetrators of violence, resulting in their large-scale exodus, along with high caste Hindus.
Did their 'Dalit' identity disappear as a result? And did they all become just 'refugees’— a new category created by shared experience of displacement and suffering? In other words, did the trauma of Partition act as a great social equaliser?
The current project will seek to answer these questions and will thus introduce the 'caste' factor into the historiography of Partition, which until now has been looked at only in terms of religious conflicts between the Hindus and Sikhs on the one hand and the Muslims on the other.
Venue: Old Kirk, room 406, Kelburn Campus
RSVP to email@example.com
15 March 2013
A new book exploring the New Zealand youth justice system has been launched at Victoria University’s Faculty of Law.
“New Zealand is a world leader in its approach to offending by children and youth, but there has been an absence of commentary from a legal perspective,” says Victoria University’s Dr Nessa Lynch, the book’s author.
Youth Justice in New Zealand was written by Dr Lynch, a Senior Lecturer in Victoria’s faculty of Law where she teaches criminal law and criminal justice.
Dr Lynch says the book analyses the operation of the youth justice system, including areas such as the age of criminal responsibility through to interactions with the adult criminal justice system.
It also discusses recent major reforms to the youth justice system, including the changes to prosecution powers for children, and the new and expanded Youth Court orders.
Professor Tony Smith, Dean of the Faculty of Law, says: “Nessa’s book is a wonderful example of the kind of legal research taking place at Victoria, which is grounded in the New Zealand experience, but also has a wider-reaching audience.”
The book will be a valuable resource for lawyers, police, policy-makers and students of the law, as well those working in related fields such as criminology and public policy.
“It will also be of interest to international readers, given New Zealand’s considerable influence in the area of youth justice policy.”
Youth Justice in New Zealand was published by Thomson Reuters NZ Ltd.
11 March 2013
Excerpts from a new feature film that paints an intimate portrait of the global community of researchers racing to understand the world’s changing climate will be shown at Victoria University tonight.
Six years in the making, Thin Ice–the Inside Story of Climate Science, follows 40 scientists, including a number from New Zealand, at work in the Arctic, Antarctic, Southern Ocean, New Zealand, Europe and the United States. They talk about their work and their hopes and fears as they study changes in the atmosphere, oceans and ice sheets through measurements and computer modelling.
A few highlights from the 73 minute film will be screened at tonight’s function at Victoria University, during which a website supporting the film will also be launched. The website will feature around 40 five minute video clips taken from the 120 hours of interviews carried out for the film.
A global premiere of Thin Ice will be held on Earth Day, on 22 April, beginning with a screening at Te Papa in Wellington.
Thin Ice is a joint initiative between Victoria University of Wellington, Oxford University in the United Kingdom and London-based DOX Productions. The universities have major programmes in climate change and related research, with worldwide networks of collaborators. DOX Productions is an award-winning science documentary company.
Viewers follow Simon Lamb, an Associate Professor of Geophysics at Victoria, on a personal journey of discovery. Dr Lamb, who spent 22 years at Oxford University, has been closely involved in television science documentaries including the BBC Horizon programme The Man who Moved the Mountains and the eight part BBC Earth Story series.
Dr Lamb says he was motivated by a desire to have scientists’ voices heard.
“Most of those debating climate change in the media are politicians, advocates and activists. I set out to use my skills and experience as a cameraman and a scientist to give a voice to climate researchers themselves.”
Professor Peter Barrett from the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria, executive producer of Thin Ice, says one of the best things about the film is the message from scientists starring in it.
“They say we have a problem, we have the ability to deal with it and it is not too late to address it.”
Professor Philip England, former Head of Earth Sciences at Oxford and also executive producer, says the film breaks new ground in movies about climate change.
“It is distinct from other productions in that it relies entirely on the testimony of scientists while also telling a very compelling visual story.”
The film has been funded by Victoria and Oxford University and DOX Productions, with support from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and Antarctica New Zealand.
Tonight’s event is the beginning of a six week campaign to raise awareness of the opportunity for global audiences to see the film for free in April 2013. It will be available online at no charge for two days from the beginning of Earth Day in New Zealand (midnight 22 April, 2013).
Throughout Earth Day, scientists from the film and other climate change experts will take part in a global discussion via Twitter and Facebook.
Thin Ice will continue to be available for screening online from 23 April for a small fee.
Find out more about Thin Ice at: www.thiniceclimate.org
Find out more about climate change research at Victoria and Oxford universities at:
11 March 2013
Victoria University is proud to congratulate 14 distinguished academics who have been promoted or appointed to professor over the past year, placing them amongst the top academics in the University.
A professor is a leading researcher and teacher, and someone who serves in leadership positions where they can apply their extensive knowledge and expertise.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says that being made a professor is a great honour.
“Victoria University professors are our academic leaders, teaching and supervising students, acting as mentors to other staff and assisting in creating a community of scholars.
“Our professors also undertake high-quality research that contributes to our society, engage with government, business and international agencies and shape public debate on critical issues."
The new professors are:
· Professor Susan Balandin—Jessie Hetherington Centre for Educational Research
· Professor Maureen Coombs—Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health
· Professor Jonathan Fraenkel—School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations
· Professor Claudia Geiringer—School of Law
· Professor Philip Lester—School of Biological Sciences
· Professor Timothy Little—School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences
· Professor Nicholas Romano—School of Information Management
· Professor Jacob Rose—School of Accounting and Commercial Law
· Professor Christoph Thoenissen—School of Economics and Finance
· Professor Kirsten Thompson—School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies
· Professor Jack Vowles—School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations
· Professor Yiyan Wang—School of Languages and Cultures
· Professor Peter Whiteford—School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies
· Professor Damien Wilkins—International Institute of Modern Letters
Each of the new professors will have the opportunity to deliver an inaugural professorial lecture this year, which will be open to the public.
Professor Walsh says Victoria’s inaugural lecture series is an excellent opportunity for professors to share insights into their specialist areas of study with family, friends, colleagues and the local community.“Inaugural lectures are also enable the University to celebrate and acknowledge our valued professors,” says Professor Walsh.
7 March 2013
Two experts are visiting Victoria University next week to discuss topical issues in international tax policy, and a monumental change in financial reporting.
International tax reviews and New Zealand's Tax Working Group: what can we learn?
Date: Tuesday 12 March 2013
Time: 5.30 pm
Venue: Rutherford House, Lecture Theatre 2
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
This lecture will examine the implications for tax policy in New Zealand in the light of the UK Mirrlees Review, the Australian Henry Review, and New Zealand's Tax Working Group.
The lecture will be delivered by Professor Alan Auerbach, the Robert D. Burch Professor of Economics and Law, Director of the Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance, and former Chair of the Economics Department at the University of California, Berkeley.
Professor Auerbach is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and previously taught at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, where he also served as Economics Department Chair. Professor Auerbach was Deputy Chief of Staff of the US Joint Committee on Taxation in 1992 and has been a consultant to several government agencies and institutions in the United States and abroad.
My time at the IASB and challenges for the future—a conversation with Warren McGregor
Date: Thursday 14 March 2013
Time: 4.30 pm
Venue: Rutherford House, Lecture Theatre 2
RSVP: email@example.com by Monday 11 March.
Warren McGregor was an inaugural member of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). During his time on the Board, which spanned 10 years and finished with him holding the position of Acting Vice Chairman, he directly participated in perhaps the most momentous change in financial reporting the world has seen. He will share his personal experiences of the IASB's journey, which he describes as often tumultuous.
The Board was established initially as a type of accounting ‘think tank’ with a mandate to develop high-quality accounting standards that could be adopted on a voluntary basis by countries around the world. However, it soon gained an international constituency that thrust it into the hurly burly of international accounting standard setting. Before it knew it, the Board was faced with not only resolving challenging technical issues but also dealing with the politics and other pressures that accompany attempts to change accounting practices in highly controversial areas.
Professor McGregor will discuss some of the critical events that took place during this period, including the impact of some of the events on the people directly involved. He will also examine some of the challenges now facing the Board including bringing the US, Japan, and India into the IFRS family.
Both lectures are free to attend.
7 March 2013
One of New Zealand’s leading climate scientists will discuss political and governance issues important to climate change in his inaugural lecture on Tuesday 12 March.
Professor David Frame will examine some of the weaknesses of the Kyoto Protocol, as work begins on an international post-2020 climate agreement, and give his analysis of emerging political tensions between different parts of the developing world about climate change. He will also discuss the need for innovation in the development of international initiatives aimed at limiting climate change.
Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says Victoria’s inaugural lecture series is an excellent opportunity for professors to give an insight into their specialist areas of study with friends, colleagues and the wider community.
“Inaugural lectures have a proud history at Victoria, and are an excellent opportunity for the University to celebrate and acknowledge our valued professors,” says Professor Walsh.
Professor Frame is Director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University. His work as a physicist has included collaborations with economists, policy specialists and other scientists to carry out ground-breaking research into climate change modelling. He joined Victoria University in 2011 from Oxford University, where he was previously Deputy Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.
The Institute was established at Victoria in 2008 to develop interdisciplinary research into all aspects of climate change. Since then, it has published a significant output of climate research, including a series of nine reports on community vulnerability, resilience and adaptation to climate change.
Last year, the Institute hosted more than 200 contributing authors to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fifth assessment report, and was recently named as one of the world’s top environmental think tanks.
Spaces for Professor Frame’s inaugural lecture are limited. People interested in attending are advised to register for the free event as soon as possible.
Inaugural lecture—Professor David Frame
‘Climate science and future climate governance’
Tuesday 12 March 2013, 6pm
Hunter Council Chamber, Level 2, Hunter Building
Victoria University, Kelburn Parade, Wellington
RSVP by Monday 11 March. Phone: (04) 472 1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Frame’ in the subject line. Refreshments will be served following the lecture.
6 March 2013
Victoria University researcher Paul Hamer would like to hear from Māori who’ve returned to New Zealand from Australia as he investigates what prompts people to move home.
Mr Hamer, an Adjunct Research Associate at Te Kawa a Māui/School of Māori Studies, has previously published several papers on Māori in Australia, including a major report for Te Puni Kōkiri in 2007.
He is now looking at why Māori choose to leave Australia and return to New Zealand, as well as the state of Māori rights in Australia as New Zealand citizens.
“You usually hear that Māori return to New Zealand for cultural and whanau reasons,” he says. “However, since the 2001 changes that heavily restricted New Zealanders’ access to government services, benefits and higher education in Australia, I am wondering whether these reasons are also playing a part.”
Mr Hamer is also conducting a survey that asks Māori still living in Australia how they have been affected by the 2001 changes. Each survey is anonymous and takes 10 minutes to complete.
If you are of Māori descent and have returned to New Zealand from Australia please fill out this survey: http://vuw.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_d6BuVKV9ssBNKDj
If you are of Māori descent and you are still living in Australia please fill out this survey: http://vuw.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9ZiD0cUDOsUJL2R
5 March 2013
Award-winning Canadian poet Karen Solie will read poetry in Wellington next week at a one-off event presented by Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), in partnership with City Gallery Wellington.
Karen comes to Wellington fresh from appearances at the Cork Poetry Festival and Adelaide Writers’ Week.
Chris Price, a Senior Lecturer at the IIML, says Karen’s visit is an excellent opportunity for literary enthusiasts in Wellington to hear a contemporary international poet.
“Karen’s poems explore how we inhabit and exploit our urban and rural landscapes in the 21st century.
“While she focuses on the Canadian experience, her images will be familiar to New Zealanders—lakes and rivers turning brown with agricultural run-off, oil rigs and fracking, our apparent inability to find a way out of the mess we’re making. And she’s equally alert to the fragile nature of love and reason,” she says.
In 2001, Karen’s first collection Short Haul Engine was awarded the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and nominated for three other prizes. In 2005, she published her second collection Modern and Normal and her 2009 collection Pigeon won three prizes, including the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize.
The Griffin Prize Judges’ citation says: “It's the particular affliction of desire—and the corrosive effects of human desire both upon ourselves and the world we inhabit—that Solie most often meditates upon in poems as humorous, often, as they are sobering.”
Karen also represented Canada at Simon Armitage's Poetry Parnassus, the Poetry Olympics in London last year.
Karen’s visit has been made possible with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Event: Writers on Mondays: Karen Solie
Date: Monday 11 March 2013, 12.15–1.15pm
Venue: City Gallery, Civic Square, Wellington
This event is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Chris Price on (04) 463 5815 or email@example.com.
5 March 2013
Museum exhibitions, radio programmes, television documentaries and popular history books all contribute to our perceptions of the past. But do these forms of public history help us understand our own lives?
This is just one question the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies at Victoria University will open up for discussion in a forthcoming seminar series on public history.
Historians working on a variety of projects are participating in the series to contribute to the debates about history in the public sphere—and they warmly invite Wellingtonians to come along and join in.
Kicking off the series is convenor Associate Professor Anna Green, who will explore the contemporary debates among public historians in the context of her work as an oral historian in New Zealand and the UK.
“Evidence from surveys overseas suggests that many people look to the past to gain insights into the challenges or moral dilemmas of their own lives, but we really do not know if this is how New Zealanders approach the past. And it raises the question: do public historians pay enough attention to the audiences who watch our programmes or read our books?”
Other contributors include the writer Julia Millen on producing commissioned histories, including those of Kirkcaldie & Stains and law firm Bell Gully; and Therese Crocker on the Treaty claims settlement process in the context of public history.
Turning to museums, Kristelle Plimmer from Te Papa Tongarewa will discuss the ways in which she has sought to actively engage diverse audiences, from the Women's Institute to a group of young refugees.
The importance of remembering and stories will be a recurring theme: Marina Sciascia will talk about the community oral histories she has recorded with Hilary Pedersen in Porangahau, and documentary maker Anna Cottrell will show clips from her programmes on war, refugee, and immigrant stories from both New Zealand and around the world.
At the end of the series Jock Phillips, the general editor of Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, will sum up the state of public history in New Zealand.
The 'Public History' seminar series begins on Wednesday 13 March at 4.10 pm at the Stout Research Centre, 12 Wai-te-ata Road, Kelburn. Everyone welcome.
For a full programme visit www.victoria.ac.nz/stout-centre/about/events.
1 March 2013
Wellingtonians have a rare opportunity to delve into the wonders of marine life when Victoria’s Coastal Ecology Laboratory holds an open day on Saturday 9 March.
It is the only day this year that the public will be able to visit the state-of-the-art marine research facility on Wellington’s south coast.
Between 10am—3pm, visitors will be able to see marine creatures up close and talk to marine scientists about some of the cutting-edge research taking place in Wellington’s coastal backyard—such as how scientists are using ear bones to identify where fish are born and live during their lifespan.
Experts and specialist researchers from Victoria will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about a range of exhibits, from interactive displays to touch tanks filled with marine life.
There will also be a display of the equipment marine researchers use to study sea life.
“It’s a great opportunity for anyone interested in Wellington’s spectacular coastal and marine environments to see, firsthand, a whole lot of exciting research projects happening on their doorstep,” says Dr Jeff Shima, Director of the Coastal Ecology Laboratory.
“For young people interested in studying marine biology, our open day is also a chance to find out about some of the courses we offer—and get a glimpse of what life as a marine scientist is like.”
The open day on Saturday 9 March is part of Seaweek, an annual event aiming to bring New Zealanders together to celebrate the sea.
The Victoria University Coastal Ecology Laboratory is located at 396 The Esplanade, Island Bay, Wellington.
1 March 2013
Victoria University researchers have found that thanks to the quick response of science and geography teachers across New Zealand, most senior secondary school students were learning about the Christchurch earthquakes almost immediately after the event.
The research, which explores the influence of the Christchurch earthquakes on National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) geography and science curricula, is being carried out by Mike Taylor (pictured) and Dr Azra Moeed from Victoria’s School of Education Policy and Implementation.
As part of the research, they have surveyed secondary school geography and science teachers from across New Zealand, to measure curriculum activity in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake in September 2010.
Initial results show short-term, rapid effects to the school curriculum across New Zealand, with teachers rating the significance and relevance to students as important drivers for teaching about earthquakes.
Teachers who indicated that they did not teach about earthquakes in late 2010 following the September earthquake, strongly agreed that a restrictive curriculum and assessment timeframe was the main reason.
Mr Taylor says the sporadic nature with which disaster education appears in senior school curricula raises questions about whether school-based decision-making gives disaster education the focus it requires.
“Some teachers chose to ignore that the earthquake happened in terms of their teaching, while others used the opportunity to include it in their programmes,” he says.
However, for many geography teachers, it served the purpose of supporting students with NCEA preparation.
“The study of extreme natural events is a foundational NCEA level 1 geography course, and this influenced geography teachers’ decision-making to squeeze it in and include in case study material.”
The next stage of the research will explore how students and teachers think about the respective roles of science and geography in relation to disaster education.
The full paper reporting stage one of the study was published in the Taylor & Francis journal International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education on Tuesday 26 February 2013. The article is available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10382046.2012.759693.
25 February 2013
Scientist Dr Anne La Flamme and colleagues are searching for a cure for multiple sclerosis.
No cure exists for multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that causes nerve degeneration leading to impaired vision and coordination and, eventually, paralysis. One of Victoria University’s researchers is working hard to change that prognosis.
“The goal of our work is to find a cure for multiple sclerosis," says immunologist Dr Anne La Flamme.
“And if it is not possible to find a cure for all MS sufferers then we aim for a treatment that will benefit the subset of patients with MS that do not respond to existing treatments."
Dr La Flamme, an Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, heads the MS research programme at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, which is based at Victoria University. One branch of her research is trying to understand the role of one immune cell, the macrophage, in MS.
Macrophages, says Dr La Flamme, are multifunctional immune cells that are found throughout the body and play a key role in mediating immune response. Her research suggests that altering the “mood” or activation state of macrophages can alter the body’s immune response. This finding could lead to new therapies that, rather than turning off the immune response – which is vital for all sorts of functions in the body – redirects or rebalances it.
Another focus of Dr La Flamme’s work is on new drug therapies for MS. In one of several collaborations, she is working with Dr Gill Webster, Chief Scientific Officer of New Zealand biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics, which has developed a new drug that can be used to induce the human immune system to turn off certain immune mechanisms that contribute to autoimmune diseases such as MS.
The drug, which has been approved for compassionate use—where an experimental drug is made available to patients with no other treatment options—has already shown promise in the treatment of secondary progressive MS, an advanced and aggressive form of the disease that does not usually respond to treatment.
Innate Immunotherapeutics has just completed a Phase 2 clinical trial to find the most safe and effective dose of the drug. The interim results are encouraging – the drug was safe and well-tolerated by patients, many of whom showed improvement in MS-related symptoms. The company is now planning a fixed-dose randomised controlled trial in patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
In a parallel project, Dr La Flamme and postgraduate students Madeleine White and Nicola Templeton are working with Innate Immunotherapeutics to figure out how the drug works. “We know what the drug targets, but how that target then leads to a reduction in disease severity is not clear,” she says.
“Once we know its pathway we can determine what might synergise with it. Is there another drug that we could use to maximise the effect or is there a particular dosing regime that is more likely to be effective?”
22 February 2013
The causes and consequences of decreasing public trust in business, and what this means for societies and the global economy, will be the focus of a public lecture on Monday at the Victoria Business School.
Harvard Professor and Victoria University alumnus Paul Healy will discuss recent cases and research findings that provide insights into the causes of the loss of trust, its ongoing impact, and the changes required to rebuild confidence.
Professor Healy is the James R. Williston Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean for Research at the Harvard Business School, where he researches and teaches in corporate governance and accountability, strategic financial analysis and financial reporting.
He cites Enron, the Madhoff Ponzi scheme, the global financial crisis and ongoing banking issues in Europe as just a few examples of many events causing public faith in business to decrease.
“People have a sense that the leaders of the firms involved in these scandals took a very narrow approach to management that served their own short-term interests, often at the expense of customers, employers, the company’s reputation and the financial system.
“This loss of trust is twofold: it’s in the individuals that lead corporations and the corporations themselves. That, I think, is the tragedy—as a result of ethical lapses some leaders failed to preserve the reputation of their own organisations and led them to their demise.”
Professor Healy says as a result increased regulation is being placed on business, and while this is appropriate, some laws will likely end up being heavy-handed.
Another consequence is economic growth also slows, along with opportunities to reduce unemployment, as investors move their resources into more secure locations than the stock market. Meanwhile, innovative new businesses find it increasingly difficult to raise capital.
“Many of the challenges in the world today, such as providing affordable health care for ageing populations, or providing energy, water and food in ways that are economically and ecologically sustainable, need to involve business. But the consequences of recent events can lead to less business innovation in approaching these challenges.”
He says in almost all of the scandals he’s observed, the problem can be traced to the company’s values.
“Corporate boards need to take a good look at the organisation’s values and ensure that they are not only rewarding short-term performance. Compliance systems in organisations need to be sufficiently robust and taken seriously, so that lapses are detected before they bring down the company.”
Professor Healy graduated from Victoria University, majoring in accounting and economics, with first class Honours in 1977 and went on to complete his Master’s and PhD studies from the University of Rochester in New York. He spent 14 years at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management, before joining Harvard Business School.
Media and the public are invited to attend the lecture on Monday 25 February at 5.30pm. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
15 February 2013
A group of Victoria University design students have created a new prototype that allows people with limited or no garden space to grow small herbs and vegetables indoors.
The Greenfingers Fogponics System developed by Adam Ben-Dror, Casey Lin, Robert Skene and Nick Johnston encourages the growing and sharing of plants.
“It gives you all the benefits of having an outdoor herb garden, without having to deal with the mess or hassle of watering and weeding. It’s as easy as plugging it in and watching it grow,” says Casey.
Fogponics is a subset of hydroponics which uses a nutrient-rich solution in a vaporised form to transfer nutrients and oxygen to suspended plant roots.
Nutrient-rich water is poured into the system’s base, and vaporised using ultrasonic vibrations. The fog then rises into three ‘pods’ and is distributed via small valves at the base of each one.
A microprocessor controls a fan, which manages fog levels in the pods.
The group of four students worked on developing the system as part of an undergraduate industrial design course.
For more information, visit http://indn212greenfingers.tumblr.com.
15 February 2013
In the year of the 90th anniversary of her death, the works and life of Katherine Mansfield was the focus of a conference hosted by Victoria University’s English programme from the 8−10 February.
The Katherine Mansfield: Masked and Unmasked conference was held, in part, to celebrate the recent release of a landmark new publication—The Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Fiction of Katherine Mansfield. The book was edited by prominent Mansfield scholars Victoria’s Emeritus Professor of English Vincent O’Sullivan and senior lecturer at the University of Northampton Dr Gerri Kimber, and published by Edinburgh University Press.
Emeritus Professor O’Sullivan says the two-volume, 1,200-page publication allows readers to follow the emergence of Mansfield as she develops into a great writer.
“The importance of this edition is that those who care to can now read Mansfield as she wrote: her works are presented in as exact chronological order as possible, they are presented exactly as found and detailed annotations give greater context to her work. It’s like a writer’s workshop … all the different strands and motifs of her work become more apparent pulled together in this form.”
The edition also includes an appendix of four previously unpublished stories, which were uncovered by a PhD student in the King’s College archives in London just prior to the book’s publication.
While the stories themselves were not especially important, says Emeritus Professor O’Sullivan, they did reveal more information about the least-known period of Mansfield’s life, when she would destroy and burn her journals and notes. One of the stories mirrored a difficult time when Mansfield entered into an ill-fated marriage and carried an illegitimate baby, which was stillborn.
The book was launched at a plenary session on Saturday 9 February hosted by the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation, Victoria’s English Programme and Edinburgh University Press.
In addition to the book launch, the conference included papers on Mansfield’s childhood and social influences, her debts to other authors and her works in relation to subjects as diverse as nationalism, philosophy, visual art, identity and fairy-tales.
Professor of English, Peter Whiteford, says in part, the conference was also an opportunity to draw attention to some important new Mansfield materials recently arrived in the Alexander Turnbull Library. One of the conference activities was hosted by the Alexander Turnbull Library and included a display of some of the new manuscripts.
“This event drew people from all around the world, including England and Scotland, the United States and Australia, Japan and Taiwan, as well as from other parts of New Zealand, and a particular highlight was that there were several postgraduate students presenting their research alongside distinguished senior academics.”
The conference concluded with a delegate’s dinner at Parliament Buildings hosted by the Honourable Chris Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.
8 February 2013
A Victoria University scientist has been appointed to one of the world’s most influential global climate research bodies.
Dr James Renwick, Associate Professor of Physical Geography at Victoria and an acknowledged expert on Southern Hemisphere climate variability and change, will join the 18-member committee that provides scientific guidance to the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).
The WCRP facilitates studies of the global atmosphere, oceans, sea ice, land ice and land surface to help understand and predict variations in the climate system and how human activity is causing the climate to change. It helps set the agenda for climate research programmes carried out around the world.
Dr Renwick says becoming a member of the WCRP’s Joint Scientific Committee is a great personal honour and an opportunity to highlight climate change issues in the Southern Hemisphere.
“The impact the southern oceans and Antarctica have on the global climate system is a huge field and one that is comparatively understudied. Being part of this group is an opportunity to put a Southern Hemisphere focus on what the WCRP is promoting.”
Dr Renwick, who will attend his first meeting of the Joint Scientific Committee in Brazil in May, says joining the group will provide a forum to interact with world leaders in different aspects of climate research and allow him to bring the latest research back to Victoria.
Dr Renwick is also one of four Victoria University scientists working as Lead Authors and Review Editors for Working Group 1 of the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which is due out early in 2014. He is co-authoring the final chapter called Climate Phenomena and their Relevance for Future Regional Climate Change.
Other lead authors from Victoria are Professor Tim Naish from the Antarctic Research Centre (Chapter 5 lead author), Professor David Frame from the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute (Chapter 1 lead author) and Professor David Wratt, Chief Scientist, Climate, at NIWA and an Adjunct Professor in the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute (Chapter 14 review editor, and IPCC Bureau member).
The four scientists recently attended the final meeting of Lead Authors for Working Group 1 in Hobart where, Dr Renwick says, Victoria was one of the best represented universities.
“This was a gathering of top climate scientists from around the globe to assess and summarise the state of climate change science. The fact that Victoria was one of the most well represented universities is testimony to the calibre of climate change research being done here.”
Dr Renwick says the 5th Assessment Report being prepared for the IPCC will contain greater detail and new information about the way the world’s climate is changing. He says it will also include a summary of research taking place to allow scientists to make near-term predictions of climate variations.
“It would make a huge difference if we could predict variations more accurately for the next few decades and forecast which periods are likely to warm faster, and which slower, than the long-term upward trend.”
5 February 2013
A two-day symposium celebrating the life and work of the late Professor Sir Paul Callaghan is to be held in Wellington on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 February.
Organised by Victoria University and the MacDiarmid Institute, the Professor Sir Paul Callaghan Symposiumwill provide participants with an insight into Sir Paul’s life and career, and highlight the progress made and plans for the future of the work he started.
A number of Sir Paul’s friends and colleagues from New Zealand and abroad will speak at the Symposium, including Emeritus Professor Nick Stone, Sir Paul’s PhD supervisor.
Day one of the symposium will feature nine speakers and will focus on Sir Paul’s most significant work, his international collaborations and scientific advances.
Day two, Beyond the Science, willconsist of a series of 15 minute presentations, based on Sir Paul’s areas of work and interest outside of science.
Speakers include Professor Lynn Gladen (University of Cambridge); Professor Yang Xia (Oakland University); Professor Shaun Hendy (Victoria University, MacDiarmid Institute and Callaghan Innovation); Fran Wilde (Greater Wellington Regional Council); Kim Hill (Radio New Zealand); and Dr Wayne Ngata (Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Ngāti Ira and Ngāti Porou).
To register for this free event, please email email@example.com with ‘Paul Callaghan Symposium’ in the subject line. Please provide your name, affiliation and day(s) you want to attend.
The full programme can be found here: http://macdiarmid.ac.nz/newsroom/events/general/2013/callaghan-symposium.For further information contact the MacDiarmid Institute Centre Manager Emily Sullivan, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (04) 463 5950 or 027 563 0112.
1 February 2013
The desire to create electronic music prompted Victoria University Master’s student Byron Mallett to design Sonoromancer, a computer programme that turns movement into sound.
Sonoromancer creates a smoke-like interpretation of a person’s body movements using an Xbox 360 Kinect camera coupled with a projector. The result is a unique composition of audio and visual elements, with each movement making a different sound.
“You have to think about how your movements will create sound, which causes people to move differently depending on the sound they want to hear back,” says Mr Mallett.
Mr Mallett spent three months on the project as part of Victoria’s new Computer Graphics programme, set up in 2012 in collaboration with Weta Digital and other local industry partners.
The project was inspired by previous ideas about using sensors to control effects applied to live violin performances. The idea was developed into a programme that creates electronic music rather than just enhancing it.
“I was caught by surprise to see how people interacted with the programme as a method of physical expression rather than as solely a musical tool.”
The project was initially designed for musicians, but evolved into a piece which allows people with little musical knowledge to participate in spontaneous musical composition.
Mr Mallett plans on improving Sonoromancer to make it suitable for multiple performers and to develop the visual aspect of the programme.
“I'd love to see the project reach a stage where I can distribute it to others and see the different creations people will make.”
29 January 2013
A Victoria University researcher has explored the differences in the way modern societies punish offenders and the factors driving punitive and more tolerant approaches to crime and punishment.
In a unique research project that took nearly a decade to complete, Institute of Criminology Professor John Pratt investigated the reasons behind contrasting attitudes to punishment in Anglophone and Nordic societies. His research, carried out in Norway, Finland and Sweden on one hand, and England, Australia and New Zealand on the other, has been published in a new book, Contrasts in Punishment: An Explanation of Anglophone Excess and Nordic Exceptionalism, out now in the Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice series.
Professor Pratt says differences between the two clusters of societies are illustrated in their prison rates—the Anglophone countries have some of the highest in the OECD and the Nordic countries some of the lowest.
He says the differences are also seen in prison conditions.
“In the Nordic countries, there is a belief that prison conditions should resemble those in the outside world as much as possible. Norway’s recently opened Halden Prison is a high security jail where every cell has a television, a refrigerator, unbarred windows and designer furniture. The male and female guards are typically unarmed and prisoners complete questionnaires that ask how their prison experience can be improved.”
Time magazine, which interviewed Professor Pratt in 2010, described the prison as the most humane in the world. It has also won contemporary design awards in Norway.
It would be impossible to think of such a prison in the Anglophone countries says Professor Pratt.
“Here, prison administration has come to be dominated by issues of security and control, in conjunction with overcrowded, deteriorating conditions.”
Professor Pratt says the reasons punishment is thought about so differently in the two clusters lies in the pattern of social arrangements developed over the last 200 years.
“The Nordic countries—already very homogeneous—became very socially inclusive and put a high value on moderation, restraint and egalitarianism. In contrast, Anglophone societies became much more exclusionary. They emphasised individual responsibility and the accumulation of wealth and property which led to extensive class and ethnic divisions and barriers.”
He says the differences were further strengthened after 1945 by the development of very different models of welfare state.
“In the Nordic countries, welfare was universal with generous benefits paid for by high taxes. Welfare was much more limited in Anglophone countries—services were mean tested and benefits were at a lower level.”
The result, he says, is that Nordic countries have much higher levels of social capital leading to high levels of trust, self-regulation and strong interdependencies.
“That offsets the need to rely on the penal system to provide social order as is the case in the Anglophone societies.”
He says state power in Nordic countries tends to be used protectively and preventatively in the form of welfare, social and educational provisions.
“In the Anglophone countries, despite all the political emphasis on ‘getting the state out of people’s lives’, there have been few qualms about using state power negatively and punitively against those thought to be unwanted or troublesome.
“In these ways, the exclusionary characteristics of the Anglophone societies have been perpetuated and are reflected in the penal contrasts between the two clusters of societies today.”
Professor Pratt was awarded a Royal Society of New Zealand James Cook Research Fellowship 2009-2012 to carry out his research and a Fellowship at the Straus Institute for Advanced Studies of Law and Justice, New York University 2010-2011.
In addition, he has lectured on his research to audiences in continental Europe, England, South America, the USA and Australia. Earlier publications from the project received the prestigious Sir Leon Radzinowicz Memorial Prize from the Editorial Board of the Brtiish Journal of Criminology in 2009.
29 January 2013
The Chancellor of Victoria University, Ian McKinnon, announced today that Professor Pat Walsh will not be seeking a third term as Vice-Chancellor when his current term concludes at the end of this year.
Mr McKinnon noted the considerable success achieved by Victoria during the period Professor Walsh has been Vice-Chancellor.
“As Vice-Chancellor, Professor Walsh has recognised the role of the University in the capital city, while also ensuring that Victoria has developed strong relationships internationally, including establishing a number of memoranda of understanding with partner universities around the world.”
Mr McKinnon said Professor Walsh deserves great credit for the University's position today.
“Victoria University is offering a first-class university education led by outstanding research active staff as well as an outstanding student experience, and considerable credit must be given to Professor Walsh for the University's position today.
“The number of students attending Victoria has increased and the University has had to manage the challenges that this brings—not simply in the necessary expansion of facilities, such as the new student Campus Hub and the state-of-the-art Alan MacDiarmid Building, but also in the development of its teaching, learning and research initiatives.
“His leadership has been well focused and he is certainly able to reflect on a period in which he has added considerably to the standing of Victoria.
“The University Council has greatly valued Professor Walsh's time in office, just as the University, its staff and students, has benefitted from these eight years,” Mr McKinnon said.
Professor Walsh said he has found the role challenging, stimulating and enormously rewarding.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to be Victoria’s Vice-Chancellor since 2005. I have been inspired on a daily basis by my first-hand knowledge of the many extraordinary achievements of our staff and students,” he said.
“During my time at Victoria I have seen many changes and faced many challenges but I am immensely proud of our achievements. Victoria University staff and students continue to excel in the creation and dissemination of knowledge that enriches our society.”
The University will shortly begin the process of finding a successor.
About Professor Pat Walsh
Professor Walsh took up the position of Vice-Chancellor at Victoria University of Wellington in January 2005. He joined Victoria as a member of the Industrial Relations Centre in 1981, and in 1997 became Head of the School of Business & Public Management (now the School of Management). In 2003, he was appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Commerce & Administration (now the Victoria Business School), and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research). Professor Walsh completed a BA and MA (First Class Honours) at the University of Canterbury, and received his PhD from the University of Minnesota.
28 January 2013
Victoria University has launched a unique Master’s degree that will see students start their own company and pitch to a Dragons' Den-style panel of investors.
The programme was launched by University Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh, the Honourable Steven Joyce, Minister for Tertiary Education and Science and Innovation, and programme initiator Professor Kate McGrath on Tuesday 22 January.
The one year Master of Advanced Technology Enterprise programme is an innovative approach to education, providing students with the opportunity to take part in a highly practical course.
Working in teams to create an advanced technology business, students will apply their practical experience to new or existing business ventures. They will also undertake independent, supervised research.
The 2013 cohort of students have backgrounds in science, design, commerce and law and bring a wide range of practical experience, and will emerge as business-ready scientists or science-literate entrepreneurs.
In his speech Minister Joyce highlighted the role of technology innovation to the New Zealand economy and suggested he’ll be keeping an interested eye on the progress of the students.
The first part of the programme, a four-week intensive development course started on Wednesday 23 January.
Information about the Master of Advanced Technology Enterprise programme is available here: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/science/study/postgraduate/spec-masters/advanced-technology-enterprise.