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Vol 1 | No 1 | January 2009 

$1,000,000 donations for Student Centre

Signing Donation Cheques for Student Centre

$1,000,000 SIGNATURES: ULeisure GM Mark Ingle and Foundation President John Gallagher sign the paperwork watched by WSU President Moira Neho and Vice-Chancellor Roy Crawford.

The University of Waikato Foundation has welcomed $1,000,000 donations from both the Waikato Student Union (WSU) and ULeisure, the management company jointly owned by the university and the WSU. The contributions will be used to help fund the new Student Centre - due for completion in 2011.

The Student Centre is a $30 million project to turn the university library into a sustainable and state-of-the-art facility. When completed, it will be among the best in Australasia and provide a focal point for Waikato University's Hamilton campus. Work began on the site in the first week of December.

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Margaret Wilson

Speaker of House returns to Waikato University

Former Speaker of the House, and recent recipient of the DCNZM (Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit) Margaret Wilson has returned to the University of Waikato as Professor of Law and Public Policy.

Ms Wilson was the Foundation Dean and Professor of Law at Waikato University from 1990-99, when she entered parliament.

The former President of the Labour Party, Labour Minister, Attorney-General and Speaker of the House of Representatives was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Waikato in 2004 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the teaching of law and the development of a uniquely New Zealand legal system. Acting Dean of the Law School, Professor Nan Seuffert, said Ms Wilson's return was eagerly awaited. "Margaret Wilson is known for her work overseeing the introduction of the Supreme Court, the Relationship Property Act and the Employment Relations Act. She is a supportive colleague, extremely knowledgeable and will be an excellent source of wisdom for our students."

Hillary Scholar takes Mozart to the Gardens

La Finta GiardinieraRecent University of Waikato Hillary Scholar and graduate, Evelyne Waters, has big plans to make opera accessible to the masses.

She’s the brains and the driver behind a newly formed opera company Opera Unleashed, which is performing Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera (The Pretend Gardener Girl) at the Hamilton Gardens Summer Festival in February.

 “It’s a Mozart in modern English, even a bit of swearing,” says Waters who has an honours degree in music and a graduate diploma in linguistics. “I want people to get away from the notion that opera is elitist. I want them to see how much fun it can be.”

Waters was a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar during her time at Waikato; one of just 40 students accepted into the programme each year thanks to their excellence academically, in their chosen sport or creative art, and as young leaders. The scholarship provides full course fees, and as importantly additional tuition in their field, leadership training and personal mentoring.

 "The life skills' coaching has certainly helped as I've been getting Opera Unleashed off the ground," she says. "I've had to find a cast, directors, costume designer - all the people required to stage an opera - and of course some sponsors so we can meet all our costs."

Greg O'Carroll is High Performance Student Manager for the Hillary programme. "Evelyne's a perfect example of our Hillary Scholars not just making the most of their time at university, but also going out into the community and making things happen," he says.

And there are personal benefits for Waters who will play the role of Serpetta in the opera – a small part for a soprano. "I'm just stepping out into the opera scene so it's a perfect role for me. It's hard for people to get a foot in New Zealand's opera door because we're such a small place with limited opportunity for opera singers," she says. "So I'm hoping this production will be the first of many – giving opera singers more chances to perform and also attracting a wide cross section of the public to this type of musical."

Evelyn is also organising and singing in a 'Baroque Banquet' during the festival, uniting former and current students from Waikato University in a concert of music by Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. they will be joined by leading New Zealand soprano Morag Atchison who is also singing the lead in the opera.

The three performances of La Finta Giardiniera will be held in the English Flower Garden on Monday 23, Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 February starting at 6pm.

Yale Trail Field Trip

Yale Trail through Kiwi highlights

New Zealand’s unique geography was shown off to 20 Geology students and staff from Yale who visited Waikato University during their New Year break as part of a 16-day "Yale Trail" field trip of this country. It was organised after post-doctoral fellow at Yale, Waikato graduate Dr Austin Hendy, mentioned attending field trips with his father, Waikato University Associate Professor Chris Hendy.

Yale is ranked first in science in the US and third in the world after UK universities Oxford and Cambridge. Waikato University is ranked first in New Zealand in chemistry, ecology and biology under the Tertiary Education Commission's Performance Based Research Fund.

Dr Hendy, who organised the itinerary, said the university was pleased to be able to share New Zealand's geological features with the American visitors. 'We have long felt that New Zealand has a wonderful concentration of exciting natural features which ought to be used for teaching students in the natural sciences,' he said.

The Yale Trail field trip was similar to a field trip contained in a new course being launched by Waikato this year. It's aimed at students from US universities who are encouraged and sometimes required to take a semester or even a year of 'study abroad'. About 40 students from the University of Michigan are likely to be the first candidates on the Field Experience course in 2009.

The Yale Trail visited many of New Zealand's interesting sites, from the volcanic cones of Auckland city to the Otago Schist Belt. In between the visitors walked the Tongariro Crossing, and visited the Waitomo Caves and Hauraki goldfields. Other stops included Kaikoura, Miranda, the Huntly coal fields, the West Coast and the Hawke's Bay.

Budding scientists brought together

2010: Mt Tarawera erupts, leaving devastation is its path. But exactly what kind of devastation would result from such an eruption? And how can the community prepare for such a disaster?

This was the task of the budding young scientists attending the Hill Laboratories Waikato Science Summer School recently.

Nearly 40 Year 12 science students from the central North Island descended on Waikato University for its annual week-long Science Summer School.

The students, from 25 schools, came armed with analytical minds and began their week with a fieldtrip to Rotorua, investigating the area's volcanic and geothermal activity, visiting spots such as Waimangu Valley, Kerosene Creek, and the summit of Mt Tarawera. They collected samples and returned to Waikato University's laboratories, examining creepy crawlies from the waters of Waimangu Valley (biological sciences), rocks from Mt Tarawera (earth sciences), testing water samples (chemistry) and also learning about various areas of engineering.

'The fieldtrip was great to see and experience things firsthand,' says Jean Chye from Thames High School. 'We learnt so much more than just looking at photos in the lab!'

On the last day of the Summer School, the students presented predictions of a Mt Tarawera eruption, bringing together their scientific findings from the week. Students not only touched on the scientific impact on the land, people and infrastructure, but also dissected the impacts on the economy and New Zealand tourism. Grief stricken farmers were depicted, and civilians warned not to leave their homes or use their air conditioning.

'I came on the science school to learn more about the different aspects of science, and had a great time meeting other budding scientists and experiencing university life. I'll be talking about it all summer!' says Annalise Nixon, a science student from Otumoetai College.

The Science Summer School, initiated by Rotary Club, has been running for 14 years, and is the result of strong partnerships between Rotary, the University of Waikato, and sponsors Hill Laboratories and The Gallagher Group.

Sponsoring Rotary Clubs throughout the middle North Island put forward student nominations from their local high schools, many of who come from smaller centres. The Science Summer School provides them with opportunities for explorations in science that they would not have in their own communities.

During the summer school, students got a taste of where a career in science could take them, visiting both Hill Laboratories and Gallaghers, both major employers of Waikato University science graduates.

Major sponsor Hill Laboratories says it's committed to providing funds and resources to activities that support the future of science in New Zealand. 'Good science is close to our heart, and our strategic plan includes an intention to support young people as they pursue their own interests in science', says Steve Howse, Hill Laboratories General Manager. 'The Science Summer School is a key event for us to support, as is provides an opportunity for young people to come together and learn in the field of science and technology - an important step towards a career in this industry.'

University biology lecturer Ian Duggan says the students involved in this year's summer school were one of the most enjoyable groups he's been with in the four years he has convened the field trip. 'Both on the field trip and in the laboratories, the students asked a lot of questions which prompted a lot of discussions which were great for both the students and the staff,' he said.

'Many people become adults and stop asking questions, but successful scientists need to keep asking questions, so I hope the students we hosted never change in that respect - science will be in great health if we have students such as these coming through.'

Simon Andrews, left and Pat Crow-RishworthBiochemical Engineering: Simon Andrews from St Paul's Collegiate, left, and Pat Crowe-Rishworth from Whakatane High in the biochemical engineering lab. 


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From the Vice-Chancellor

Roy Crawford VC There are challenges ahead for the University of Waikato but also exciting developments that will ensure we continue to provide the excellent teaching and learning environment that produces our world class graduates and research.

Like many other national and international organisations, the University of Waikato is affected by the current state of the world-wide economy. Just some of the issues we are facing today include the global downturn, lower numbers of international students, lower government funding of universities (nation-wide down in real terms by $250 million over the past 15 years) and the investment required by the university to ensure we remained competitive and world class.

As a result, we are reviewing budgets to ensure we will remain financially sustainable, and in a strong position to re-invest in the outstanding staff and facilities we have here.

We know that without changes to our operating expenses, our current financial circumstances cannot support our existing operations, grow the surplus required for future fiscal stability and proceed with other strategic initiatives that we need to remain competitive. We also know that it is crucial that the necessary planning and actions are put in place to move us on to a more solid financial foundation in the long term, as well as to ensure that Waikato keeps pace with best practice in the New Zealand and international tertiary education sector.

As part of the process the university is reviewing some academic programmes and consolidating support services, as well tightening control processes around operating costs.

Having said that, despite the tough financial decisions we must make, I am confident in our ability to do so without a negative effect on our academic offerings and student experience, and in our continued and steady progress.

Last year saw many achievements including an increase in domestic students, development into Tauranga, creation of a Research Hub and a number of key senior and academic appointments as well as considerable acknowledgement of the successes of Waikato staff and students.

Already work has begun on our new state-of-the-art Student Centre — one of the initiatives that will enable us to continue to offer a world class educational experience. We will not deviate from our stated intention to position the University of Waikato as a top quality, research-led university that brings international excellence to our region.

This year the Chancellor, the Rt Hon. Jim Bolger and I are hosting alumni in London and Singapore in March as well as other places to be finalised. We very much value the experience, profile and mana Jim brings to his role at the University and the contribution he makes in connecting with Alumni and Friends internationally.

We also acknowledge and appreciate the support we receive from our Alumni, Foundation Trustees and Friends. We look forward to sending you these bi-monthly Alumni & Friends e-zines to keep you up-to-date with the successes and progress of the University of Waikato.

Events Inaugural Professorial Lecture
Robyn Longhurst

17 February 2009

Alumni Association AGM
2009 Alumni Association AGM will be held Wednesday 25 February, 5.30pm at the University of Waikato, Hillcrest Road, B Block (B.G.24) to the right of the main reception. Drinks and nibbles will be served at this time, prior to the 6pm start for the AGM. RSVP’s are required by Friday 20 February for catering purposes. Please RSVP to or phone (07) 838 4575.

Waikato Chancellor Jim Bolger to host Alumni & Friends in London & Singapore in March
Waikato University Chancellor the Rt Hon. Jim Bolger ONZ and Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford will host alumni and friends in London and Singapore.

The London event on Thursday March 5 will be co-hosted with Kea UK at The Commonwealth Club, 25 Northumberland Avenue, London, starting at 6.00pm. The evening will include a conferral of an Honorary Doctorate on Zena Daysh CNZM, a Kiwi expat Londoner who founded the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council.

The Singapore event on Thursday 12 March will be co-hosted with the New Zealand High Commissioner His Excellency Martin Harvey at the NZ Official Residence, 28 Queen Astrid Park, Singapore, starting at 6.30pm.

RSVP’s are essential for each event. To request your invitation for either event, please send your email details to and indicate London or Singapore.

Kingitanga Day 2009
April 21

To view more events, visit:

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Post-Graduate Study
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University News in Brief

Cello Prodigy Wows Alumni & Friends

Waikato alumni and friends in Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga were treated to extraordinary concerts sponsored by the University of Waikato Foundation. The Shining Talent Concert Series featured Santiago Canon Valencia, a 13 year old cello prodigy from Colombia studying at the University, and Katherine Austin, a renowned Waikato pianist and lecturer.

Santiago, known as the "Harry Potter of the Cello", is an exceptional young musician who's been described as having a "rare gift that cannot be taught. When he goes on stage, something extra comes out and you go 'wow'."

His shining talent has been recognized with an invitation to participate in the prestigious 7th Adam International Cello Festival and Competition in 2009 in Christchurch. Santiago will be the youngest ever to compete and one of only 21 invited musicians from around the world! He also hopes to continue his studies in New Zealand in 2009 with Waikato cello teacher, James Tennant.

Santiago and Katherine perform

Alumni & Friends
This e-zine will be distributed to Alumni & Friends every two months.  In keeping with the University of Waikato's sustainability focus we will be emailing most of our communications from now on.

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