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10 Poutü-te-rangi, March 2008 Issue 2


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Massey News Auckland

Palmerston North




10 Poutü-te-rangi, March 2008 Issue 2

http://news.massey.ac.nz © Massey University 2008

Alumni, friends and family were able to get close to a young kiwi being cared for in the University’s veterinary hospital wildlife ward at an alumni and friends open day on 24 February.

More than 80 alumni, family and friends from the Palmerston North chapter took part, says alumni manager Leanne Fecser.

“We had a request from the chapter committee to view the vet hospital,”

Mrs Fecser says, “so were happy to oblige, particularly because we are aiming to develop a programme of alumni events suitable for the whole family.”

Mrs Fecser says a highlight of the event was a presentation from wildlife vet Kerri Morgan, and a visit to the wildlife ward to view the facilities and the kiwi.

The Wildlife Health Centre Trust, a sub-trust of the Massey University Foundation, has a programme of activities for this year. Donations are being sought to support essential conservation work, research and postgraduate scholarships. Contributions can be made to the trust by contacting the Foundation on 06-350-5865.

There are now fi ve New Zealand alumni chapters, in Palmerston North, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hawke’s Bay. Chapters are also active in Australia, India and Thailand.

Artist and senior lecturer Associate Professor Ross Hemera is leading a revival of interest in traditional Mäori rock drawings.

A new exhibition by Dr Hemera based on the ancient drawings is showing in Wellington. It coincides with the launch at Te Papa of a unique range of shawls based on his designs.

Dr Hemera (Ngai Tahu) is a senior lecturer in the School of Visual and Material Culture and is also Kaiwhakaahua (Director of Mäori Development) at the Wellington campus.

His new exhibition, titled Manu Atua - Birdman of Waitaha, opened at the Kura Contemporary and Ethnic Art Gallery in Wellington on 29 February and has already attracted national interest.

It features nine works, including seven wall sculptures in aluminium and kauri that explore the birdman imagery in rock drawings in North Canterbury and South Otago, mostly on limestone outcrops. Most rock drawings – Dr Hemera estimates about 90 per cent – are in the South Island.

He says some of these drawings can still be viewed but others have been submerged by hydro developments, including the Benmore dam. “I am fortunate,” he says. “When I was a child my father took me to see some of these drawings, in the

Waitaki Valley in North Otago. So although they are lost to most people, they are familiar to me.”

Dr Hemera says his sculptures “explore the notion that interpretations of ‘birdman’ hold signifi cant cultural relevance across several centuries. Our creative interpretations today continue to reaffi rm our connections to land and sky – to whenua and atua.”

The birdman imagery is frequently used in the rock drawings; traditionally the bird is regarded as the intermediary between the land and the gods.

Dr Hemera’s work has referenced ancient rock drawings for the past fi ve years. His new exhibition is the fi rst to have a primary focus on bird images in particular.

Three of his rock drawing images also feature on a range of shawls on display, and available for sale, at Te Papa. The line of shawls was developed as a Ngäi Tahu initiative, in partnership with AgResearch. They are made of a unique blend of possum and merino wool with the images knitted into the fabric.

The exhibition is on show at the Kura Gallery until 26 March. The shawls can be seen at the Te Papa shop.

Revealing meaning behind ancient drawings

Associate Professor Ross Hemera.

Kiwi a highlight for alumni tour

Alumni, family and friends get up close with a patient of the University’s wildlife ward in Palmerston North.

Investment Plan:

Aiming for top 20 Page 4

Teacher’s experience helps others

Page 9

Motorcycle design challenge for surfer

Page 11

Fate fi nds Romeo for Summer Shakespeare

Page 14 Investment Plan:

Page 4

Teacher’s experience Page 9

Motorcycle design Page 11

Fate fi nds Romeo for


2 Massey News - 10 Poutü-te-rangi 2008 - Issue 2 Massey News - 10 March 2008 -Issue 2 19

Massey News

10 Poutü-te-rangi 2008 - issue 2 For the latest news from Massey, or to subscribe to an expanding range of electronic newslatters, visit http://news.massey.ac.nz Publisher: Massey University Communications and Marketing Old Registry Building Massey University Turitea Site Private Bag 11 222

Palmerston North


Kereama Beal

email: [email protected] Tel 06-350-5019

Director of Communications and Marketing:

Rachel Donald

email: [email protected] Tel 06-350-5562 or 027-494-9077 Communications Manager:

James Gardiner

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Copyright: Articles and photos are copyright. We welcome reprinting if permission is sought. Contact Communications and Marketing.

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© Massey University 2008 A new cohort of godwits is preparing to leave

Firth of Thames, the second wave to have their epic 11,000km journey to and from Alaska monitored by satellite technology.

Dr Phil Battley, of the University’s Ecology Group, is leading the New Zealand leg of the worldwide project run by the US Geological Survey.

Dr Battley says that this year six females and three males have had transmitters fi tted.

Last year, the team used satellite tracking to watch the progress of 16 godwits.

The return of female E7 in September was the fi rst complete journey tracked, including outward legs from Miranda on the Firth of Thames to Yalu Jiang nature reserve in China and on to the Yukon Delta and their breeding grounds in Alaska, then returning in a record 11,700 km fl ight across the Pacifi c.

Birds monitored this year were captured using mistnets across a shallow pond at Miranda. Although the group hoped to tag more males, the female birds appeared easier to catch, Dr Battley says.

“We caught about 100 birds the fi rst night.

The females appear to come in fi rst and be less agile, so they don’t tend to avoid the nets so easily.

“The males were weighing in at about 420g and will be up to about 500g by the time they

Godwits readying for Alaska migration

leave, with females increasing from 300g to 600g before they leave.”

Dr Brett Gartrell of the University’s Wildlife Health Centre assisted with the 30-minute surgery to implant a transmitted on each of the nine birds.

The tiny device is fi tted in the bird’s abdominal cavity, with general anaesthetic surgical procedures including heart monitoring and aspiration taking place. All the birds caught were banded, so even those not tracked will be more easily identifi ed in future.

Dr Battley says that the internal transmitters are being used this year because in 2007 the backpack transmitters used for some birds appeared to limit the ability to migrate.

“Last year the males weren’t tracked successfully, probably because of their external transmitters. The aim this year is to track the males to confi rm they are doing the same thing as females and to follow the six females again as a control, in case the wind conditions or something else are different and have an impact.”

The fi rst godwits are expected to leave within the next two weeks, arriving in Alaska from the end of April where they will stay until the end of August, returning to New Zealand in September.

“What they are now doing is hanging out

in Miranda getting nice and fat,” Dr Battley says, “with changes to their internal organs including an enlarged heart allowing for this huge journey – they will effectively take off for seven days of non-stop exercise.”

Dr Gartrell has also assisted in surgery to install transmitters in a sub-species of godwit in northwest Australia.

This population goes through the Yellow Sea to eastern Russia.

“No one has previously tracked this group to Russia so we know little about the routes they take,” Dr Battley says. “Do they return back the same way after breeding or do they refuel in Russia and make a single big fl ight from Russia to Australia?”

Both monitoring projects are part of the Pacifi c Shorebird Migration Project funded by the Packard Foundation, contracted to US Geological Survey and PRBO Conservation Science. Massey is a collaborating partner.

Information on the project and a satellite track of the godwits travel can be found at:



A BBC website has been set up to monitor the progress of the godwits this year: http://



10 March 2008 - issue 2

Publisher: Massey University Communications and Marketing

Printed: Massey University Printery Next issue: 31 March 2008

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Copyright: Articles and photos are copyright. We welcome reprinting if permission is sought. Contact Communications and Marketing.


Director of Communications and Marketing:

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email: [email protected] Tel 06-350-5562 or 027-494-9077 Communications Manager:

James Gardiner (Palmerston North) email: [email protected] Tel 06-350-5255 or 021-275-3394 Communications Advisers:

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email: [email protected] Tel 06-350-5185 or 027-534-5622 Kereama Beal (College of Education) email: [email protected] Tel 06-350-5019 or 027-471-8571 Electronic Publications Coordinator:

David Wiltshire

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Massey News

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http://news.massey.ac.nz ACADEMIC STAFF PROMOTIONS 2008

Eligible academic staff intending to apply for promotion this year should note that documentation regarding promotions has been distributed to Heads of Department/Institute/School.

Staff eligible to participate in this round of promotions are Tutors, Senior Tutors, English Language Teachers, Senior English Language Teachers, Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Research Offi cers, Senior Research Offi cers, Practicing Veterinarians/Professional Clinicians and Senior Practicing Veterinarians/Professional Clinicians, who have an ongoing employment agreement.

University-wide notices

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Staff intending to apply for promotion should consult with their Head of Department/Institute/School.

Closing date for applications is Monday, 14 April 2008. Please note that late applications cannot be accepted. Applications should be photocopied, using both sides of the paper, wherever possible.

The Academic Promotion Round Booklet 2008 is available on the Human Resources website http://


Please note that the Academic Promotions Booklet covers Level 1 and 2 Promotions only.

The Promotion to Professor is a separate round commencing in May 2008.



New DNA research has questioned previous notions about the evolution of the tuatara.

In a study of New Zealand’s “living dinosaur” the tuatara, evolutionary biologist Professor David Lambert and a team from the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution have recovered DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequences from the bones of ancient tuatara up to 8000 years old.

They found that although tuatara have remained largely physically unchanged over very long periods of evolution, they are evolving – at a DNA level – faster than any other animal yet examined. The research has just been published in the prestigious international journal Trends in Genetics and features on the cover of the issue.

“What we found is that the tuatara has the highest molecular evolutionary rate that anyone has measured,” Professor Lambert says.

The rate of evolution for Adélie penguins, which Professor Lambert and his team have studied in the Antarctic for many years, is slightly slower than that of the tuatara. The tuatara rate is significantly faster than for animals including the cave bear, lion, ox and horse.

Tuatara evolving faster than any other species

The arrival of two high achieving, early career scientists has further boosted the research and teaching strength of the Institute of Molecular Biosciences at Auckland.

Both Dr Austen Ganley and Dr Wayne Patrick have been involved in international research projects.

Dr Ganley, who started as a senior lecturer in December, has spent the past five years in Japan, initially as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institute for Basic Biology from 2002 to 2007, and more recently as associate professor at the National Institute of Genetics.

He has also held a postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University in the United States, from 2000 to 2002, and did his undergraduate and PhD degrees at Massey.

His specialist area is the biology and evolution of the ribosomal DNA repeats, which he describes as one of the most fundamental gene families in life.

“This gene family that we call the rDNA helps to make the little factories [ribosomes]

that make proteins,” Dr Ganley says. Cells spend most of their time making proteins, so they need lots of ribosomes. So there are many copies of these rDNA genes – many more than normal genes.” He adds that it is of particular interest that the rDNA genes seem to be linked to cancer.

As part of a group in Japan, Dr Ganley made an important breakthrough in understanding the mechanism by which the cell regulates DNA stability, and this work was published in the prestigious journal Science.

“We also found a new way to use evolutionary analyses to find new components of the systems that regulate rDNA gene activity and stability. I could also demonstrate in detail that these rDNA genes show an unusual form of evolution.”

He says rDNA is one of the most ancient genes in life. “Therefore I think it is involved in many other important aspects of life, such as ageing, and I am investigating this now.”

Dr Ganley says he is pleased to have an

opportunity to return something to Massey and to New Zealand. “With the advent of genome sequences, and with the genetic causes of more and more human diseases being understood, it is imperative that New Zealand plays an active role in biological research.

“There is an outstanding group of researchers at Auckland, covering the whole spectrum of biological research from organisms and populations down to cellular and molecular biology. The strong synergies make for an active and dynamic research environment.”

Dr Wayne Patrick was a postdoctoral research fellow, in chemistry and biochemistry, for four years from 2003 to 2007 at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge and has been awarded numerous scholarships and prizes in chemistry and biology. He joined the academic staff of IMBS in October.

He says his research attempts to answer a simple question: Where do new enzymes come from? “Almost all of the chemical reactions in every cell of our bodies are catalysed by protein molecules called enzymes.”

“It is proteins that are coded for by genes.

When a species evolves to do new chemistry

More fire power boosts strengths in Biosciences

Dr Austen Ganley and Dr Wayne Patrick.

(such as digesting a new food), it is enzymes that make it happen at the molecular level.”

He says being able to predict the origins of new enzymes offers the promise of managing antibiotic resistance. “Further, if we are able to understand the principles of their evolution, we may be able to engineer enzymes that are specific for tasks such as breaking down toxic waste, or attacking cancer cells.”

His discoveries earned him a poster prize at last year’s Gordon Conference on Microbial Population Biology and have recently been published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. A further study will be published in the Journal of Molecular Biology.

Dr Patrick says he enjoys the culture of collaboration between researchers at Massey.

”The Institute of Molecular Biosciences is in the process of building something really good here at Auckland and the Institute has rapidly become New Zealand’s premier destination for experimental evolution.”

He says the biological sciences undergraduate curriculum now very much reflects the research strengths of the campus, including molecular biology, DNA technology, evolution, ecology and conservation. “It’s exciting and I consider myself fortunate to be


Becoming internationally regarded as one of the top 20 universities in the Asia-Pacific region is the ambitious goal outlined for the University in its first Investment Plan.

It might be ambitious but it is achievable, says Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Warrington.

“Through a commitment to focusing on our areas of established excellence, by enhancing our reputation in other selected disciplines and by a university-wide approach to our strategic initiatives we can get there.”

The University Council and senior management worked closely throughout last year to develop the University’s first three-year Investment Plan in response to the Government’s reforms of the tertiary education sector.

The plans focus on the New Zealand tertiary education sector, and universities were tasked with outlining their key strategic priorities for the coming thee years.

While the plan is focused domestically, the Massey plan does include reference to broader research, teaching, commercialisation and international strategies. Each plan was submitted to the TEC in late 2007 and the University’s plan was approved by the TEC board in December.

Chancellor Nigel Gould says the plan is a good first step towards achieving the University’s aims. “The plan charts our path to the future and we look forward to working with management and staff to achieve the goals outlined in the plan.”

Mr Gould says the Council is supportive of the investment plan approach in broad terms. “While there are some aspects we question, we agree with the broad thrust of the TEC’s strategy and we have responded positively. We see it as opportunity for the University to be proactive and take advantage of the opportunities arising from the new funding system.”

Professor Warrington says Massey’s plan is a very good first approach to addressing the needs of the new funding environment. “While there is undoubtably room for improvement, this is the first time we have clearly stated who we are, what we do and why we are different. We’ve identified a clear goal – to be in the top 20 – and we’ve stated nine strategies that will focus our research, teaching and investment in the near future.

“Now, we need to work together to implement the strategies as they relate to each of our areas and work towards the agreed indicators of our performance for each initiative.”

While the Investment Plan focuses the University’s future thinking, it is also an agreement with the TEC regarding immediate funding levels. From this year onwards, university funding will be broken down into three main components – Student Component Funding for an agreed number of equivalent full time students, a Tertiary Education Organisation Component (comprising existing funding such as PBRF funding, Public Provider Base Grant and new funding to support strategic initiatives), and a third component made up of funding for specific initiatives unique to each

Investment Plan 2008-2010

Massey’s intention is to be

internationally regarded as one of the top 20 universities in the Asia-Pacific region and first in selected disciplines.

National distinctiveness

Our national distinctiveness is based on three key factors:

• The unique contribution we make to New Zealand’s land- based industries based on our strengths and leadership in agricultural, veterinary, food and life science disciplines;

• Being a national university with multi-campus character;


• Our unique contribution to life-long learning in New Zealand through our comprehensive university-level distance education programmes.

Goal for top 20 ranking


university (such as CoREs and in Massey’s case, the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence).

This year the University will receive an increase in funding, reflecting an increased level of funding per student and the positive outcomes of an increased focus on PBRF.

The University is also receiving ‘Priorities for Focus’ funding for the implementation of Kia Maia, which was recognised as being of national importance. Professor Warrington says this was a good outcome for Massey but we need to be committed to achieving our agreed goals and student enrolment targets to ensure we continue to receive at least the same level of funding in 2009 and beyond.

“The landscape has changed. We have to be more focused on the outcomes we want to achieve. The environment is extremely competitive – for funding, for students and for resources. Student completion becomes important under the new funding regime so we will all need to do all that we can to be effective in our interactions with students.

“PBRF remains a key component of our overall funding so we need to continue to lift our rankings based on research quality and achievement.”

The University’s annual plan for this year incorporates the nine strategic priorities and the key initiatives from the Investment Plan, and will record progress towards the desired outcomes.

“A senior manager from within the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Committee has been assigned to each of the key initiatives within the nine strategic priorities to coordinate their implementation,” Professor Warrington says.

“The key initiatives of the plan will be incorporated into future college and campus plans to ensure they are aligned with Massey’s overall goals and strategic direction.

Mr Gould says while the plan reflects our current position and history, it is not a done deal.

“This is only the start. The definitions and positioning outlined in the plan give us scope to be able to refine and define ourselves more clearly over time as we settle into the new tertiary environment, and particularly with a new vice-chancellor.”

Professor Warrington says a short version of the plan has been prepared that communicates the key points – “our main goals, why we are different, our areas of established research and teaching excellence, where we want to excel in the future and our strategic priorities. These documents, and an accompanying poster, will be distributed to staff over the coming days.

“I hope through these straightforward documents we can convey the essence of the Investment Plan and the essence of the University. It’s also important that we all understand the University’s key strategic priorities and how we can contribute to the successful achievement of our goals.”

Areas of established excellence

Areas of established excellence for which Massey is nationally and internationally recognised, and within which we have world-class academic leadership include:

• Agriculture, Food and Applied Biological Sciences

• Veterinary Studies and Large Animal Science

• Design, Fine Arts and Visual Arts

• Nursing, Public Health and Health Studies

• Physics, Chemistry, Pure and Applied Mathematics and Statistics

• Engineering and Technology

• Finance

• Sport and Exercise Science

• New Zealand Society, Culture and Policy Studies

• Literacy and Numeracy Education


Learning how to better manage the world’s coasts is the focus of a new book co-edited by Associate Professor Bruce Glavovic from the Resource and Environmental Planning Programme.

He is one of eight editors, from India, Germany, Britain, China, the United States and Italy, who contributed to the just-published Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

The book presents case studies from around the world, including many Asian countries, Africa, North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Island nations, and elsewhere.

Its 39 chapters are organised according to seven themes related to integrated coastal zone management (ICZM).

ICZM is defined as a governance process that involves all interests and disciplines in promoting the sustainable coastal development, including the integration of social, cultural, economic and environmental interests.

The book’s themes include global to local scales of ICZM, human dimensions and social, physical and biological aspects, and closely linked topics ranging from biodiversity conservation to hazards and risk management, the impact of climate change, and the application of remote sensing and geospatial technologies.

Dr Glavovic says the case studies in the book demonstrate the incredible importance and value of the world’s coasts. “Coastal communities face many challenges – especially given rapid population growth, Dr Sandi Shillington

will take up the role of Acting Deputy Vice- Chancellor (Palmerston North) while Professor Ian Warrington is Acting Vice-Chancellor.

Dr Shillington will continue her existing responsibilities as Palmerston North Regional Registrar (Student Life) during the transition period to the arrival of Vice-Chancellor Designate Steve Maharey later this year.

Professor Warrington says Dr Shillington has provided leadership to the Student Services management group since 2002 and has also been a member of the Regional Executive Group since that time.

“Her responsibilities include the welfare of all students on campus and in this regard she is a New Zealand Vice-Chancellor’s Committee representative on the cross agency General Student Support National Sector Group, involving the ministries of Education and Social Development, and the Inland Revenue Department.

“I am confident that Dr Shillington will be an able steward as Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Palmerston North) during the interim period.”

Acting DVC during transition

Making the case for integrated coastal management

development intensification, destruction of coastal ecosystems and exposure to coastal hazards in the age of climate change,” he says.

“The coastal zone is an interconnected socio- ecological system that needs to be managed in an integrated manner.

“Current management efforts are, however, ad hoc and compartmentalised. They fail to promote sustainability and expose communities to extreme hazards – as tragically demonstrated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.”

Dr Glavovic says ICZM offers distinct advantages over prevailing management efforts.

“It offers an integrated and collaborative approach to people-centred development while maintaining diverse, healthy and productive coastal ecosystems.

But putting ICZM into practice is neither simple nor easy.

Our case studies highlight opportunities and challenges for developing a new philosophy and practice of collaborative and integrated coastal governance that can lead to more sustainable and resilient coastal communities.”

Dr Glavovic is the first Earthquake Commission Fellow in Natural Hazards Planning.

His work focuses on building sustainable, hazard-resilient communities, drawing on current and previous research in southern Africa, Brazil, the United States,Mexico, Indonesia, the Maldives and New Zealand.

Dr Carlo Laing is the first New Zealand-based mathematician to receive the medal for outstanding new researchers that is conferred annually by the Australasian organisation for industrial and applied mathematics.

The organisation says Dr Laing has been presented the 2008 JH Mitchell Medal in recognition of the breadth and depth of his achievements. Dr Laing is a senior lecturer in mathematics in the Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences at the University’s Auckland campus.

In addition to teaching at all levels, he is recognised as a researcher with an extensive record of publications to his credit – some with leading international researchers in his area of dynamical systems.

These world leading researchers supported his nomination for the medal. They credit him with developing many of the tools in the area of neuronal modelling and described his work as “deep, beautiful and original”.

“Dr Laing has proved himself to be a leader in research as well as a capable and enthusiastic expositor of applied mathematics on a wide variety of levels, and will doubtless continue to make strong contributions to our subject well into the future,” the citation says.

Mathematician first to receive medal

The latest member of the College of Business Advisory Board, Peter Douglas, brings with him an extensive network of Mäori affiliations.

Currently chief executive of Te Ohu Kaimoana, he also has considerable senior management experience in both the public and private sectors.

Mr Douglas is based in Wellington and was the principal Mäori adviser at the Ministry of Social Development, a senior manager in business banking at Westpac and an adviser in the Prime Minister’s Department and Cabinet during the period of the 1992 Mäori fisheries settlement.

He has led a number of hapu and Mäori

organisations. He has been a chairman of Ruapuha Uekaha Hapu Trust since 1997 and lectured in business studies at Te Wänanga ö Raukawa from 1996 to 2000.

He holds a Bachelors degree in social science from Waikato University and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard.

The advisory board was established in 2006 by the College of Business to ensure strong links with the commercial world.

It is headed by Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O’Reilly and has representatives from across the country who are aligned to programmes offered by the college.

New Business Advisory Board member

College of Education appointments

Dr Ben Kahrwald has been appointed to the position of Senior Lecturer in Distance and On-line Learning, in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy.

“Ben is very suited for this position,”

Education Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor James Chapman says.

“I am confident that he will serve students and colleagues very well in this new role, and

he will add strength to the College’s research in this area. “

Dr Sally Hansen has been appointed acting Director of Teacher Education.

Dr Hansen’s is involved in ongoing research and publications in the area of gender and literacy, particularly with reference to the achievement of boys in writing at the secondary level.


Ensuring boys get regular mini-doses of exercise between lessons will help them stay focussed better on learning, according to boys education expert Dr Michael Irwin.

Its one of the key points he will be making at a seminar on boys education later this month, and a precursor to an international conference on boys education held at the Auckland campus later this year.

Dr Irwin says making sure boys have 5- 10 minute bursts of vigorous activity – such as skipping or running – can make a big difference to how well they settle, concentrate and learn.

“Overseas studies have reported a significant improvement in learning if this practice is followed,” says Dr Irwin, a senior education lecturer at the College of Education in Auckland.

He says girls would also benefit if schools were to adopt the practice of building in mini- exercise routines. But biology and socialisation meant that boys generally had a greater need for regular physical outlet.

He also recommends that schools go further in creating a “community of men”

– including fathers, older brothers, uncles and grandfathers – to become more involved in school activities.

Organising camps, lunches and other events for boys and their fathers or significant male carer would compensate for the “dad deficit”

experienced by many young boys, he says.

“There’s a saying that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. I think boys need also to be associated with a community of men.”

Boys need regular doses of action to keep mind on study

Of concern is a lack of positive male role-models for boys, whatever their family circumstances may be.

“We need to re-look at the whole issue of the place of males in society and their role in raising children,” says Dr Irwin.

“Education for boys is about looking at the end product. What type of young men do we want to produce? I think we need to look at the whole person.

Dr Irwin is running a short course titled Issues and Solutions for boys’ education on 18 March at the Auckland campus.

The course will cover the latest research to provide strategies to enhance boys’

educational achievement.

Dr Michael Irwin.

Research to focus on women and coaching

New research shows women defer to men when it comes to coaching youth sport and have little confidence in their own ability.

Dr Sarah Leberman, senior lecturer in Sport Management has just returned from four months in the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship with fresh insights into why so few women, particularly mothers, become sports coaches.

Dr Leberman did her research at the Tucker Centre for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis-St Paul, the only research centre of its kind in the world.

She says it has been established that there are few women coaching at the top and elite levels. “So we decided to track through from the beginning by going back to entry-level to look at why women were not taking on coaching positions in youth sport.”

It is estimated that only 15 per cent of youth sport coaches in the United States are women. Dr Leberman says although there is only limited data available in New Zealand, the percentage is also likely to be low.

Her Fulbright research focused on soccer, the fastest growing women’s sport in the United States. “It showed that the main reason women don’t take part is a lack of confidence in their own abilities, the cost to their children in terms of perceived favouritism, and the challenge of separating the mother/coach roles.

“There is also a perception that sport is male-dominated and that most coaching clinics are run by men, with little consideration given to the needs of women.”

Dr Leberman says the research suggests there is a need to provide women-only courses, run by women, as well as mentoring and highlighting of the benefits of mothers being a coach, such as being a role model. She and a research colleague also explored the idea of transferring mothering skills to the coaching context. “Many women we interviewed had never considered that their skills as mothers could be relevant to coaching.”

She plans to continue her research in New Zealand and says it will be interesting to compare the results. “The research participants in the United States were predominantly middle class white women. We now want to look at the issues in a context that includes Mäori and Pacific Island women.”

Dr Sarah Leberman.

Massey Doctor of Business Administration student – and Auckland businessman, John Peebles, has been ranked among the world’s 50 most influential headhunters in a survey by the US publication Business Week.

Mr Peebles has run his own executive search consultancy for nearly 20 years and recruits top talent from all over the world to fill some of the most senior positions in this country.

Announcing the list of leading performers the executive editor of Business Week, John Byrne, says Mr Peebles was selected to this elite group on the basis of his ‘stellar reputation’.

In recent years Mr Peebles has added a personal challenge to his agenda – studying through Massey for a DBA. “I needed something to do intellectually and found what I was looking for with this programme,” says Mr Peebles.

Mr Peebles is studying under the supervision of the Head of the Department of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Associate Professor Frank Sligo.

“This is an outstanding achievement. It is

also very much in line with what we have come to expect of a candidate of John’s ability,” he says.

“John is currently undertaking a high- quality, innovative piece of thesis research in which he is employing agenda-setting theory in order to investigate communication processes within a framework of corporate governance.

“His study has the potential to shed new light on communication at senior organisational levels,” says Dr Professor Sligo.

Headhunter ranked among world’s top 50

John Peebles.


Massey Information Technology students in Auckland had a taste of real-world problem solving and project development during 10-week internships with major companies in Auckland over the summer.

Massey interns took part in the inaugural programme run by Accelerating Auckland in partnership with the University and the New Zealand School of Education. They attended a graduation ceremony at Massey’s Auckland campus last month to mark the completion of their internships with companies such as Navman, ASB Bank, Orion Health and Vianet.

The experience was “a real eye-opener” for seven second and third-year students otherwise unsure of how their academic study might be applied in the job market, says senior lecturer in Information Technology Dr Rosemary Stockdale.

She says students can have difficulty envisaging how theoretical knowledge of information systems might be applied in the workplace. The internships provided invaluable opportunities for IT students to interact with top professionals and to work on interesting projects, such as banking security.

“It’s all about problem solving,” says Dr Stockdale. Students were given substantial special projects to work on, which enabled them to learn more about the IT industry and job options within it while gaining confidence and experience for future employment, she says.

She hopes more students will be keen to take part in this year’s internship programme for high performing, highly motivated students interested in working in small groups on industry-sponsored, short-term projects with mentoring and coaching provided by industry professionals.

IT students turn theory into real-life work experience

The University’s College of Business has established a research scholarship as a joint initiative with the Shareholders’ Association and Auckland-based investment fund manager Fisher Funds.

The scholarship is established in response to the shortage of independent research on matters of governance, company performance, investor rights and relations, says College of Business Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Lawrence Rose.

Both the Shareholders’ Association and Professor Rose have been widely reported for their commitment to lifting financial literacy and Professor Rose says the establishment of this scholarship is in line with that. The association is leading the initiative to establish scholarship programmes with universities, leading investment firms and philanthropic

organisations to fund postgraduate students for the completion of their PhD degree.

The new scholarship with Massey University will be jointly named after Fisher and the association and is the first of the planned scholarships to be established.

The college will provide academic and pastoral supervision of the student. Fisher Funds Management will host the PhD student in its Takapuna offices, providing day-to-day guidance and support and access to the firm’s technology and research facilities.

The association will establish an annual research forum and invite the participating universities, fund managers and other interested parties – including the Stock Exchange and the Securities Commission – to identify major areas of research to create an integrated annual research programme.

Kevin McCaffrey, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Shareholders’ Association; Professor Lawrence Rose, Pro Vice- Chancellor College of Business; and Carmel Fisher, managing director Fisher Funds, formalising the new scholarship

New business scholarship

Key appointments at College of Sciences

Professor Barry Scott has taken up a new role as Head of the Institute of Molecular Biosciences, with Professor Don Cleland now at the helm of the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology.

Professor Barry Scott took up the reins at IMBS on March 1, with Professor Jeremy Hyams departure later this month.

College Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Anderson says he wished to thank Professor Hyams for his extensive contribution to the Institute, and welcome Professor Scott to the role.

“Professor Scott has a long history of achievement at Massey since his first appointment as Professor of Molecular Genetics in 1985. He has excelled in teaching, supervising 21 doctorates and nine masterates, and in research with many significant international publications and achievement of a PBRF A rating. Professor Scott’s links with colleagues from the former DSIR, AgResearch and overseas academics and organisations are also highly relevant to the University’s wish to collaborate at the highest level.”

Also taking on a new role is Professor Don Cleland, head of the new School of Engineering and Advanced Technology. The School brings together the Institute of Technology and Engineering and the Institute of Information Sciences and Technology.

“Professor Cleland is a Massey graduate and has been a staff member since 1985,”

Professor Anderson says. “He has consulted extensively to industry and held many external positions including international roles. We welcome Professor Cleland and look forward to the further development of engineering at Massey through bringing together the strengths of two highly productive institutes.”

Professor Cleland’s research interests include industrial refrigeration, heat pumps, energy efficiency and management, ecological impacts and food process engineering.

Professor Barry Scott.

Professor Don Cleland.


A key purpose of the new graphic pictures on cigarette packets is being overlooked, says a leading researcher on health warnings.

Graphic images on cigarette packets, including pictures of gangrenous toes, diseased lungs and rotting teeth and gums, were introduced recently in a further move to curb cigarette smoking.

Professor Janet Hoek says media cover has focused on smokers’ response to the images.

“However a key purpose of the pictorial warning labels – known as PWLs – is to deter young people from taking up smoking and to display smoking as abnormal behaviour.

She says her own research shows that the images have a very strong impact on young people.

“We used plain packaging (unbranded cigarette packets), with text and PWLs, in an experiment where respondents identified the pack that would be the most and least acceptable to a young smoker.

“The plain packs with PWLs were many hundreds of times less attractive than text only warnings,” she says.

Professor Hoek says the images also have a role in prompting smokers to make quit attempts. “Research reported at last year’s Oceania Smokefree conference showed that it

takes smokers an average 14 attempts to quit.

This means that interventions that promote a quit attempt, or that support behaviours that are precursors to quitting, are extremely important.

“Our research shows that PWLs would be more effective in prompting these behaviours than continuation of text warnings, even if

these were refreshed.”

Professor Hoek also takes issue with suggestions by some lobby groups that opinions are divided on the effectiveness of the pictorial warnings.

“This is not correct. Our research studies clearly show that PWLs are more likely than text only warnings to stimulate quit attempts, calls to Quitline and a reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked.

“Findings from Australia also show that calls to cessation services increased markedly following the introduction of PWLs.”

Finally, Professor Hoek notes the importance of PWLs in assisting smokers who have quit.

“Smoking is a powerful addiction, made more so by the attractive imagery on tobacco packaging.

“Smokers themselves have said that tobacco packaging is a form of advertising.

PWLs will also support those smokers who have quit, and who face ongoing temptation every time they encounter a tobacco power wall in retail outlets.”

Professor Hoek leads a research team in the College of Business at Massey University.

Over the past four years, she has conducted three studies on the impact of pictorial images displayed on cigarette packets.

Graphic images on cigarette packets ‘effective’

When Matanginui Kingi had the choice of the classroom or the sportsfield, rugby, as they say, was invariably the winner.

But for the past few years he has inhabited parallel yet overlapping educational worlds – as a teacher and a student.

While tutoring young men who left secondary school with few qualifications and teaching the ex-prisoners and unemployed workers the basics of literacy and numeracy, he was spending his nights and weekends studying extramurally for his Bachelor of Adult Education degree, from which he graduated last year.

Matanginui (Ngä Rauru ki Tahi) admits his focus and dedication to academic life was not always present. The 30-year-old former navy gunner recalls skipping classes to play basketball, rugby and league and consequently leaving school with just one School Certificate pass.

Then he discovered the Auckland rugby development team he had been selected for required players to concentrate on books as well as ball skills. When he joined the navy, there was a similar philosophy that physical training went hand-in-hand with a certain amount of study.

He left after several years in search of further qualifications and enrolled in a 12- week course at the Auckland Trade Training Academy.

Teacher’s experience helps others to overcome learning deficiencies

A turning point came when his tutor unexpectedly left in the tenth week. Mat switched from being student to tutor for the final two weeks of the course, and found his true vocation.

“I loved it,” he enthuses. As well as teaching young Pakeha, Mäori, Pacific Island, Indian and Asian men the basics of reading, writing and maths, he added some good old- fashioned discipline learned from the navy.

“I had inspections before class to encourage self-care. If they had their shirts hanging out they’d do 20 press-ups.”

He introduced physical exercise into his classes and, to ease tensions between the different ethnic groups, organised marae visits, powhiri and a kapa haka group, as well as special feast days to celebrate the various nationalities represented in the class.

When a Massey education lecturer visited the academy he was one of several staff who had no qualms about enrolling for higher education. He was able to apply lessons learned in the academic sphere to his day- to-day classroom scenario. He believes his success as a tutor was partly due to being able to empathise with young men who had limited education.

“With adult education you have to be flexible and find out what works for the students and doing a Bachelor of Adult Education gave me more tools and techniques.”

Matanginui Kingi.


College of Business staff in Palmerston North have again volunteered their time and knowledge to support secondary school students in the annual Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme.

On 25 February Enterprise Day students from secondary schools in the Manawatu region came together at the campus with lecturers who will mentor and support them in the programme.

The scheme is an experiential business programme where students set up their own company, create products and services, implement marketing plans, and earn money.

As a company the students have to elect directors, get capital, prepare a business plan, have a product launch, take part in a trade fair, market their products and complete an annual report.

The visiting students presented their plans to the University’s business experts who have volunteered to provide guidance and encouragement and help ensure the fledgling business schemes have the potential to succeed.

A mature student from the United States and a major from the Botswana Defence Force joined New Zealand Army Officer Cadet Ashleigh Lindsay as recipients of the Centre for Defence Studies annual prizes.

The awards, made to the top students in each of the three years of the Bachelor of Defence Studies programme, were made at a ceremony attended by both College of Humanities and Social Sciences Pro Vice- Chancellor Professor Barrie Macdonald and Brigadier Mark Wheeler as a representative of the Chief of the Defence Force.

The first-year prize was awarded to Ken MacPherson, a mature student originally from the United States who has spent many years travelling including time working in China and Antarctica.

From left, Brigadier Mark Wheeler, Ashleigh Lindsay, Ken MacPherson, Ishmael Molefhe and Professor Barrie Macdonald at the Centre for Defence Studies prizegiving.

International students take defence honours

The second-year prize went to Ishmael Molefhe, an army major in the Botswana Defence Force who came to Massey with several colleagues to complete the Bachelor of Defence Studies degree. Officer Cadet Ashleigh Lindsay received the third-year prize, and now leaves for Waiouru to complete her officer training course.

Brigadier Wheeler said the international students were a positive addition to the New Zealand students undertaking defence studies, providing differing viewpoints and adding to the breadth of understanding.

Dr Reid, speaking for the Centre for Defence Studies, and Brigadier Wheeler both acknowledged the contribution of Professor Macdonald, who retires later this month, in starting and developing the centre.

Sport conference draws participants from Massey, UCOL, EIT and Victoria

A postgraduate sport research conference will be held at the Sport and Rugby Institute, Palmerston North campus, on 31 March and 1 April.

College of Business and College of Sciences sport and exercise staff, postgraduate and third-year students will give presentations on a range of sport management, sport and exercise science and physical education topics.

The conference has been promoted to lower North Island tertiary institutions and there will be presentations from staff and students from Napier’s Eastern Institute of Technology, UCOL in Palmerston North, Victoria University and staff and students from Massey’s Wellington and Palmerston North campuses.

It has been organised by staff from the Department of Management in the College of

Business and the Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Human Health in the College of Sciences.

One of the organisers, Dr Andy Martin, says the conference aims “to provide an opportunity to network with other postgraduate students and staff interested in the range of sport-related topics that are part of Sport@


Keynote presentations will be given by EIT chief executive Chris Collins. Mr Collins, a former Massey Registrar, has published five books on sport and sport management.

Associate Professor Hugh Morton from Massey will give a lunchtime address he says will “make sense of the stats that come out of sports matches”.

Anyone interested in registering for the conference should contact Miria Busby on ext 5964

Anna Hamilton-Manns (national director, Young Enterprise Scheme and Massey BBS graduate), with students from Freyberg High School (from left) Jason Eglinton, Stephanie Blair, Andrew Cumming.

Supporting Young Enterprise Scheme

New Hawke’s Bay alumni chapter elects committee

The Hawke’s Bay chapter of the Massey University Alumni elected its first committee and officers at a meeting held in Havelock North recently.

Appointees were: Dennis Oliver (convener), Gerry Townsend (secretary), Rhys Dysart, Pania Hammond, Nanyang Lee, Roger McNeill and Allan White.

The position of deputy convener was left open for the social event planned for April.

Mr Oliver said 230 of the 3000 Massey graduates living in Hawke’s Bay have shown interest in developing the chapter and becoming regularly involved with activities.

The committee will be in touch with all prospective members in the next few weeks through alumni relations manager Leanne Fecser.


When former BMW motorbike designer Oliver Neuland moved from Germany to New Zealand just over a year ago, his newly adopted lifestyle spawned a unique challenge.

The design consultant and senior Industrial and Transport Design lecturer at Massey University’s Auckland School of Design had never been able to pursue his two passions, motorcycle riding and surfing, so readily until he moved here.

Being able to strap a surfboard to his beloved 900cc Triumph and roar off to Auckland’s west coast waves would be ideal.

Daunting logistics aside, he reckons attaching the board to a trailer hooked up to the bike could be the answer.

He would like to figure it out on paper sometime, but it is by no means the most pressing transport issue on his mind.

In his capacity as a transport design lecturer, he encourages students to create environmentally-friendly, sustainable energy- fuelled vehicles and transport systems.

The challenge for designers, he says, is to incorporate energy efficient methods – such as fuel cells, bio-fuel, electric engines or hybrid systems – while creating an aesthetically pleasing vehicle.

What designers have to bear in mind, however, is that car buyers still want their vehicle to conform to certain aesthetic standards, no matter how clean and green their inner workings.

And with motorcycles, “the separation between body and inner technology is not so clear. For motorcyclists – who are even more emotionally attached to their machine – the mechanics are a core part of the beauty of their vehicle,” says Mr Neuland.

“So changing to an eco-friendly technology is a much bigger design challenge because the

‘heart’ of an electric engine beats differently and proportions change dramatically.”

In this light, designers need not only a sound knowledge and appreciation of the technical engineering realities, but a sense whether there is a market for their new, innovative design.

Alternatively, they sometimes find that what might seem a silly and impractical notion may in fact turn out to become a viable product that meets a demand in the market.

This might just be the case for his conceptual motorbike-pulled surfboard trailer, he says.

As well as two years working for BMW’s department of motorcycle design in Munich from 1996-97, he has designed Mastiff and Baghira models for famous German motorcycle producer MZ motorcycles, and clay models for BSA Bantam bike designs as well as first class aircraft seats for Cathay Pacific for Seymour Powell in London.

Before moving to New Zealand, he had spent the past 10 years running his own design company in Berlin, along with guest lecturing at design schools throughout Germany.

Bike with board new design challenge for BMW man

In 2004 he organised one of the biggest-ever international motorcycle design competitions in Munich, attracting 150 entries and backing from BMW, Yamaha, Honda and Kawasaki.

So it is no surprise that Mr Neuland remains a keen advocate for the motorcycle.

Even those made in a less eco-friendly era are more fuel efficient, take up less space and are much more readily recyclable than a car, he argues.

And while he is not exhorting Aucklanders to trade in their four-wheel-drives for Harley Davidsons to resolve the city’s growing traffic congestion, his vision for “an efficient public transport system requiring a limited change of infrastructure” is something he would like to have a hand in creating.

Any design initiative – from modest to mammoth – starts at the drawing board. As a specialist in classic hand-rendered design techniques, Mr Neuland has recently launched an instructive DVD giving step- by-step tutoring pencil sketched design to illustrate dimensions, perspective and details.

“There are a lot of good books, but on a DVD you can see the whole process.”

Although the growing trend towards replacing manual sketching and modelling with digital methods may appear to save time and money, “one never gets an idea of the real proportions and how the details work with it.”

Transport Design lecturer Oliver Neuland.


The College of Business hosted the 2008 New Zealand Finance Colloquium at Palmerston North campus recently.

The annual colloquium was instigated a decade ago to promote the discussion and development of finance related research and the event attracted finance academics from universities around the country.

Two of the three prizes for best papers went to Massey University researchers.

Student mountain biker takes national title

Stuart Houltham in action during the national mountain biking cross country championships in Wellington.

Photo: Raewyn Knight.

Taking out the national mountainbiking championship and receiving a Prime Minister’s scholarship has put third-year sport and exercise science major Stuart Houltham on track for both his Commonwealth Games campaign and completion of his study within the next year.

The 28-year-old sportsman is based at the Palmerston North campus, though he has completed many of his BSc papers extramurally while training and competing in Europe and Canada.

A win in February at the national cross country championships in Wellington came after a near-perfect race, with Mr Houltham completing the five-lap race round Mt Victoria in Wellington four minutes faster than his nearest competition.

New Zealand’s poor ranking means that only one mountain biker is able to attend the Olympics in China, a hard fact for Mr Houltham as the likely holder of a second spot.

“So I decided to focus on study this year with the aim of getting it done and the aim of being selected for the Commonwealth Games in 2010 in India.”

Mr Houltham has about a decade to compete at the elite level. Already he has represented New Zealand in the World Championships in 2001-2004, 2006 and last year. He was national Mountain Bike Series winner from 2001 to 2004, and national champion in 2003.

He took sixth place in the Oceanic Championships last year, and will compete in this year’s Oceania Championships in Nelson on March 14.

“So this year it’s about keeping carrying on, maintaining what I have built. As the racing scene has developed a lot in the past few years, I have to work harder and smarter in training to be competitive.

“When you are in a race with 50 guys on the start line together you need to be strong and aggressive, but your effort must be gauged for the two-hour duration.”

Though he is now in an established and tightly scheduled routine to allow him the 10 to 20 hours training he needs each week – all on the road bike around Palmerston North or his $10,000 Specialised mountain bike in the Kahuterawa Valley, Mr Houltham says the journey to study was almost by accident.

“I’d moved here and in 2005 just enrolled for one paper extramurally. I was really green as I hadn’t been at school for seven years so it really took a good year before I could get to a

point of handling four papers each semester

… but it does seem to have worked really well so far.”

A part-time job at local retailer Pedal Pushers is added to the mix. “As far as the study goes there’s no room for procrastination, it’s not a problem!”

Mr Houltham took the national title in 2003, but had a bad run through to 2005 and believes he is now again building his performance.

Each year he spends two to three months

competing overseas, with notable wins including the Quebec Cup in 2006 and the Idaho State Championships last year.

Mr Houltham was named a recipient of a Prime Minister’s Scholarship for elite sportspeople in December, receiving funding of up to $10,000 for course fees and associated living costs. Nominated by a mountainbiking colleague, he returns the contribution to the sport by himself coaching three Taupo teenagers.

New Zealand annual finance colloquium hosted

The award from the Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation was given for the paper Investor Protection and the US Cross-Listing Decision: A Cross-Country Analysis of Domestic Liquidity Costs by Nhut Nguyen and Henk Berkman.

The award from the Institute of Finance Professionals New Zealand Inc. was given for the paper Sector Rotation over Business-Cycles by Jeffrey Stangl, Ben Jacobsen and Nuttawat Visaltanachoti.


A new dietary formula to enhance muscle repair after endurance training and competition is being trialled by researchers, who are seeking cyclists in Auckland to take part in the study.

Jasmine Thomson, a sport nutrition researcher at the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, heads a team studying the effects of adding protein to conventional carbohydrate recovery meals and sports drinks on cyclists’ recovery, and subsequent performance following muscle-battering bouts of exercise.

“It’s been known for several years now that high-protein/amino acid-carbohydrate supplements improve recovery from weight training, but the effects in endurance athletes is a relatively new area of research,” she says.

While another recent Massey study revealed cyclists benefited physiologically when fed a protein-carbohydrate recovery meal after training compared with those who

only took a high carbohydrate meal, little was known about how such a combination might affect other aspects of recovery such as muscle soreness and damage, and adaptation to training.

“Recovery from hard exercise is an important part of a cyclist’s training regime, both to maintain training volume and to improve performance during the next bout,”

says Mrs Thomson.

Cyclists who don’t recover sufficiently may not cope so well with follow-up training and performance sessions, and may lose their competitive edge, she says.

Researchers want to recruit up to 12 male cyclists aged between 19 and 50 years, who are currently cycling eight hours or more a week and have been training regularly over the last six months.

They must be free of illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, uncontrolled asthma and blood-borne

Researchers seek cyclists for nutrition study

Jasmine Thomson.

disorders. Participation in the lab-based study using a Velotron cycle ergometer will involve preliminary sessions of fitness testing, metabolic rate measurement and a time trial.

Then two weeks of training and two time trials held after work and at weekends will be carried out in conjunction with trialling recovery meals.

“The object of the study is to test the effect of two different nutritional interventions - taken during the recovery period immediately following a hard training session - on subsequent cycling performance,” says Mrs Thomson.

She says the findings of the study will be relevant to both male and female endurance athletes, including other disciplines such as long distance running and multi-sport.

In return for participating, cyclists will be offered free specialised tests to assess their aerobic fitness.

A child who has a best friend is likely to be happier than one who is popular at school but lacks a close mate, says Professor of Educational Psychology Michael Townsend.

Childhood friendship is the theme of an upcoming seminar titled The importance of social acceptance in the classroom, to be held at Massey’s School of Education in Auckland on 17 March.

Professor Townsend says friendship contributes vitally to a child’s development as a means of developing language, sharing experiences, and gaining self-esteem and perspective.

But an estimated ten per cent of children do not have friends for a range of reasons

Friendship, not popularity, keeps pupils happy

including parental mobility, individual characteristics such as being a bully, and even names. Research internationally has shown that children with unusual, as opposed to popular, conventional names, tend to have more trouble making friends, says Professor Townsend, head of the School of Education in Auckland.

“Calling a child ‘Bertha’ could carry a social risk,” he says.

Teachers need to be aware of the importance of friendship for a child’s well-being as well as the long- term effects of not having friends on mental health so that they can encourage group learning that will promote friendship in a class setting, he says.

Recent findings have revealed that being popular among peers is less important than having a “best friend”.

And any parents worried about their offspring’s imaginary friend living in the letterbox or under the bed can be reassured.

Professor of Literacy Education Tom Nicholson will review the latest research showing that about half of all children have an imaginary or invisible companion.

Once stigmatised as a symptom of mental disturbance, loneliness and social isolation, he says having an imaginary friend is – except in a few cases - considered a normal, common healthy expression of imagination and creativity in children.


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