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The magazine for alumni and friends of the University of Canterbury • Volume 5, no.2 • Summer 2008
Flying high with the Conchords
Comic actor Rhys Darby
Centennial celebrations
Ernest Rutherford and Rita Angus remembered
The right ingredients
Culinary crusader Richard Till
Timber towers
The rise of wooden buildings
8 Making the most of being Murray
Rhys Darby’s portrayal of the well-meaning but naïve band
manager in the Flight of the Conchords has led to movie roles and
advertising contracts.
12 Rutherford’s path to the Nobel Prize
Editor: Jeanette Colman
Co-Editors: Stacey Doornenbal and Chanel Hughes
Sub-Editor: Roy Hughes
Designer: Jane Blatchford
18 Challenging the status quo
Print Production: Xpress Printing House
21 Nano thread binds fans to All Blacks
Fibre imprinting nanotechnology developed at the University of
Canterbury is helping rugby fans get closer than ever to the All
Blacks. 22 Breaking through the legal glass ceiling
Staff and students in UC’s School of Law have gained a rare
insight into the American legal system with the visit by Sandra
Day O’Connor, the first woman justice of the United States
Supreme Court.
28 Taking timber to new heights
Research into new methods of construction using timber is likely
to transform the look and feel of the buildings of the future.
30 Rita Angus in Christchurch
Rita Angus’ memorable images and distinctive style has elevated
the Canterbury alumna high in the pantheon of New Zealand’s
finest painters.
32 Climate change theory undermined by
a landslide
New findings by University of Canterbury researchers could
pour cold water on evidence that climate change is happening
simultaneously around the world.
34 Putting top tucker back on the table
Celebrity cook Richard Till is on a crusade to help New Zealand
get over its culinary cultural cringe and put classic Kiwi tucker
back on the nation’s menu.
37 Tricks of the trade
Dr Paul Ballantine has spent a decade researching how retailers
tempt shoppers into spending.
Regular features
Canterbury Magazine
Volume 5, no.2 — Summer 2008
December 2008 marks 100 years since Canterbury alumnus
Ernest, Lord Rutherford, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Former human rights commissioner Rae Julian’s unswerving
pursuit of fairness has seen her at the forefront of the fray on
numerous issues affecting generations of New Zealanders.
40 Books
45 Alumni Networks
42 Alumni Activities
46 Obituaries
44 Events Diary
47 Alumni Benefits
Photographers: Duncan Shaw-Brown and Eve Welch
(unless stated otherwise)
Contributors: Naomi Arnold, John Campbell, John Coley,
Peter Cragg, Maria De Cort, Jane Lucas and John MacDonald.
Advertising: Rates available on enquiry to the Editor.
Submissions: Correspondence should be addressed to
the Editor at:
Communications and Development
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch, New Zealand
Ph: +64 3 364 2922
Fax: +64 3 364 2679
Email: [email protected]
Cover: Comic actor Rhys Darby.
Canterbury is the biannual magazine for the alumni and friends of
the University of Canterbury. It is distributed to 46,000 people
worldwide. Views expressed are those of the contributors and not
necessarily those of the University. Articles may be reproduced with
the Editor’s permission.
Chancellor’s welcome
Arts alumnus Rhys Darby, profiled on page
8 of this issue, is another graduate making
his mark on the world. The stand-up
comedian has gone from the small stages
at comedy clubs to the big screen, starring
in movies alongside some of today’s best
known film stars.
Darby describes his years at Canterbury as
some of the best of his life. His affection
for the University is not uncommon and is
shared by so many of his fellow UC alumni,
myself included.
Indeed, Rutherford himself was so
enamoured with Canterbury that he left his
collection of medals, including the Nobel
medal, in our care.
With that came a responsibility to ensure
the institution would continue to be one
with which the great physicist would want
to be associated.
In December the University will be
celebrating the 100th anniversary of
the Nobel Prize being awarded to its
most illustrious graduate Ernest, Lord
During what has been described as a
century of inspiration, Rutherford’s
legacy has motivated tens of thousands
of Canterbury scholars across a range of
academic disciplines.
Like Rutherford, a Canterbury education
has been the making of these individuals
who have gone on to make their mark in
the world.
Another centenary we mark this year
is the 100th anniversary of the birth of
distinguished Canterbury alumna Rita
Angus, one of New Zealand’s most
important 20th century painters, whose
life work was celebrated this year in a
major exhibition at the Museum of New
Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and in the
first biography of the artist, written by
Jill Trevelyan.
While we are proud of the University’s
heritage, we must always look forward to
ensure the institution’s excellent reputation
is maintained. To adapt a common analogy,
we are only as good as our next graduate.
Attracting the best people to work and
study at the University is crucial. As this
edition of Canterbury went to print I was
delighted to be announcing that Dr Rod Carr
would be UC’s next Vice-Chancellor.
Carr is currently Managing Director
of Christchurch-based Jade Software
Corporation. Prior to joining Jade in
2003, he was deputy governor and director
of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. He
has also held senior positions within the
Bank of New Zealand and the National
Australia Bank.
Carr will come to the University with
proven leadership skills and an impressive
academic record. He has LLB(Hons) and
BCom(Hons) degrees from the University of
Otago, an MBA from Columbia University
Graduate School of Business (New York),
and MA and PhD degrees from the Wharton
School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Carr is a long-time supporter of the
University. He currently chairs the advisory
board of NZi3 — the national ICT Innovation
Institute based at UC. He is also a director
of the Geospatial Research Centre and a
member of the College of Business and
Economics Advisory Board. I believe he
will provide excellent leadership as the
University builds on the progress it has
made in recent years.
With my term as Chancellor and Council
member finishing at the end of this year
I will be, what might be described, a very
interested observer.
As Chancellor and Council member I
have had the great privilege of serving my
alma mater. It has been a very rewarding
experience. I have particularly enjoyed my
involvement in the University’s drive to
increase its engagement with alumni.
The annual Alumni Reunion Weekend, offshore alumni functions, the establishment
of international alumni chapters and
the introduction of this publication are
some of the developments in this area in
recent years.
I would like to take this opportunity to
thank our alumni community for its
support and advocacy for the University.
I also wish to thank Council members,
past and present, and University staff
for their support. The fact the University
is in such great heart is a testament to
the benefits of collegiality and a shared
commitment to make Canterbury the best
it can be.
Best wishes for the holiday season
and 2009.
Dr Robin Mann
Summer 2008
Rod Carr appointed new Vice-Chancellor
Dr Rod Carr takes up the post of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canterbury in February 2009.
The University of Canterbury’s newlyappointed Vice-Chancellor, Dr Rod Carr,
says he is looking forward to building on
the progress the institution has made in
recent years.
UC Chancellor Dr Robin Mann says he is
delighted at the appointment.
“It is easy to observe that the University
has invested much effort in articulating
its vision, mission and goals and has
undergone a significant restructuring to
lay a solid foundation of transparency and
accountability,” he says.
He has LLB(Hons) and BCom(Hons) degrees
from the University of Otago, an MBA
from Columbia University Graduate School
of Business (New York), and MA and PhD
degrees from the Wharton School of the
University of Pennsylvania.
“Joining together with the College of
Education with its unique character,
culture and capabilities has created new
responsibilities and opportunities.”
Carr is a long-time supporter of the
University. He currently chairs the advisory
board of NZi3 — the national ICT Innovation
Institute based at UC. He is also a director
of the Geospatial Research Centre and a
member of the College of Business and
Economics Advisory Board.
Carr, who will take up a five-year
appointment in February, is currently
Managing Director of Christchurch-based
Jade Software Corporation. Prior to joining
Jade in 2003, he was deputy governor and
director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
He has also held senior positions within
the Bank of New Zealand and the National
Australia Bank.
“I believe strongly that, as Vice-Chancellor,
I am ultimately responsible to Council for
the sustainable viability of the institution
as a place where new knowledge is created,
learning takes place and knowledge can be
preserved and protected for the benefit of
future generations,” he says.
Canterbury Magazine
“Dr Carr comes to the University with
proven leadership skills and an impressive
academic record.”
Mann says Carr has impressed the
University Council with his understanding
of the broad issues facing UC and the wider
tertiary sector.
Improving retention rates for first-year
students is an issue of particular interest
to Carr.
“With first-year attrition rates in excess
of 20 per cent there seem to be important
questions worthy of good answers. Are
we attracting the right students? Do they
have realistic expectations of what will be
required of them and are they adequately
prepared to meet acceptable standards for
“I understand that there are certain ‘rights
of admission’ outside the University’s
control but prospective students may
be better off in deciding whether to
exercise those rights if they have a clearer
understanding of the achievement
standards expected for progression in
advance or early on in their university
Carr replaces Professor Roy Sharp who
left the University after being appointed
Chief Executive of the Tertiary Education
Carr’s appointment has been welcomed by
Business NZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly
who says it will create new partnership
“Innovation and the commercialisation of
research will be pivotal to New Zealand’s
future prosperity,” says O’Reilly.
“Close links between universities and the
private sector are critical to achieving these
goals. I commend the University Council for
an excellent selection and look forward to
working with Dr Carr in his new role.”
Sex offender recidivism study brings researcher top award
Research by University of Canterbury PhD
student Gwenda Willis into sex offender
recidivism has been recognised at the
2008 MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the
Year Awards.
Willis, who won the Science and our Society
category award with a cash prize of $5000,
found that offenders may be more likely to
reoffend if they are forced away from the
community after leaving prison. Her work
is the first published study to show a link
between recidivism and quality of planning
for community reintegration.
Participants in Willis’ research had
completed a prison-based treatment
programme at the Kia Marama Special
Treatment Unit at Rolleston Prison, near
Christchurch, for men convicted of sexual
offending against children.
She studied 39 men who had reoffended
since their release and 42 who had not,
measuring the quality of release plans for
both groups. The groups were matched
in terms of time since release and risk
for reoffending. She measured planning
for accommodation, employment, social
support and setting pro-social goals related
to their values.
Her findings were validated by a subsequent
study of sexual offenders released from Te
Piriti Special Treatment Unit at Auckland
Results showed that, overall, sex offenders
with good planning had a 6 per cent
reoffending rate, compared to 17 per cent for
those with poor planning. Having a place to
live organised when they got out of prison
was shown to be particularly important.
Willis presented her research to an
international conference on the treatment
of sexual abusers in the United States last
year and was awarded the prize for best
paper by a postgraduate student.
“A lot of research in this field has
concentrated on changing the attitudes or
mind-set of offenders but few people have
realised the importance of the environment
they are being released into,” Willis said.
“My work shows that more careful planning,
which is a relatively inexpensive thing to
do, can make a real difference, providing
communities co-operate and help sex
offenders make the transition.”
Willis expects to complete her PhD early
next year and is also training to be a clinical
Gwenda Willis won the Science and our Society category award in the 2008 MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards.
A showcase of UC research now on web
The University of Canterbury has
launched a new website to showcase
the University’s research excellence.
made possible with the technical support
of Information and Communication
Technology Services.
UC Research Profile provides a single web
source for information about research
undertaken at UC. It includes detailed
information on the research interests
and affiliations of UC researchers, the
research projects they are working on,
the research groups they are part of and
the major pieces of equipment they use.
Maxine Bryant, the Research and
Consultancy Project Manager responsible
for the profile, said development of the
system had been significant, taking
more than 18 months from start to
All this information is fully interlinked
and provides users with a broad view
of research at UC and access to greater
detail about the particular research they
are interested in.
Users can search by keyword, project or
researcher name, or browse by subject
area or department.
UC Research Profile is an initiative of
Research and Consultancy and has been
“This will be a great tool for a host
of users and purposes, ranging from
people looking for an expert on a
particular topic, to students looking for
potential supervisors, or researchers
looking for potential collaborators
on research projects or investigating
what equipment UC has available for
research,” she said.
The profile can be accessed at www. or
via links on the UC homepage.
Summer 2008
Radiata pine researcher receives FRST fellowship
Dr Hema Nair was about to leave New
Zealand for postdoctoral research
when she received word that she
had been granted a Foundation for
Research, Science and Technology (FRST)
Postdoctoral Fellowship.
The fellowship, worth $273,000 over
three years, means she can stay at the
University of Canterbury and continue her
investigations into radiata pine.
Nair was one of 14 researchers nationwide
to receive a FRST fellowship. It includes an
annual stipend plus allowances for research
costs and ongoing skills development.
“I was about to go for my postdoctoral
assignment to the University of British
Columbia in Vancouver, but the fellowship
came through for me in the nick of time.”
Nair said the fellowship would allow her to
“grow as a scientist”.
“It is one fellowship where the candidate
is given equal importance as much as the
project is. The fellowship will give me an
opportunity to foster collaborations with
other labs abroad which are working in the
same field and also the flexibility to use
novel approaches to solve problems.”
Nair is investigating spiral grain in radiata
pine. Spiral grain is the inclination of
Dr Hema Nair is investigating spiral grain in radiata pine.
wood fibres to the axis of a tree. Ideally
the fibres should be parallel with the axis,
as spiral grain as little as five degrees out
of alignment with the axis significantly
reduces the value of the timber, which
twists and loses strength on drying.
She will research whether different
chemicals used in the forestry industry
could be contributing to the formation of
spiral grain.
New Zealand timber exporters as well
as improve the intrinsic qualities of New
Zealand-grown radiata pine, generating
higher quality timber that will earn
premiums in the international market.
Her research builds on earlier studies she
has undertaken into wood quality and
will use a tissue culture system she has
developed that makes it possible to grow
radiata pine wood in a laboratory Petri dish.
Nair’s research has potential to reduce the
multi-million dollar losses sustained by
Isotope facility a boost to environmental research
Researchers at the University
of Canterbury will gain a better
understanding of the Earth’s geochemical
fingerprints thanks to the opening of a
new $1 million stable isotope analytical
The facility, housed in the Department of
Geological Sciences, was officially opened
in September.
Stable isotopes account for more than
99 per cent of all organic and inorganic
material on the planet, including the rocks
we mine, water we drink, air we breathe
and food we eat.
Environmental geochemist Dr Travis Horton
(Geological Sciences) said stable isotopic
data for ice, fossils and sedimentary
rocks, provided the foundation for our
understanding of Earth’s ancient climate
conditions, while other applications
included the ability to trace water resources
through groundwater and geothermal
Canterbury Magazine
Assistant Vice-Chancellor and former head
of Geological Sciences, Professor Steve
Weaver, said the $1 million state-of-theart laboratory represented “a tremendous
boost for environmental science research
at Canterbury, especially in the fields of
climate change, bio-geochemistry and
pollution studies”.
Horton said a variety of research projects
were already in the works.
“In Geological Sciences, we are pursuing
research questions aimed at advancing
our understanding of everything from
geothermal systems, to water resources,
to climate change. At the same time,
colleagues in the School of Biological
Sciences are pursuing stable isotopic
research on aquatic ecosystems, cellular
plant biology and biomineralisation. It’s
quite an exciting time for environmental
research here at UC.”
Dr Travis Horton prepares samples from a 15 millionyear-old lake limestone for an ongoing paleoclimate
research project.
Major funding boost for UC research
University of Canterbury research
projects have received a multi-million
dollar boost in 2008.
In July, three projects led by UC researchers
were awarded more than $10 million
funding in the Foundation for Research,
Science and Technology’s (FRST) main 2008
investment round. Each of the projects’
industry partners also contributed funding,
taking the total to more than $11 million.
In October, 11 UC projects were awarded $7.2
million in the latest round of the Marsden
Fund, an increase of more than $3 million
over the 2007 round. The projects are
across a range of disciplines from carbon
neutrality and aquatic ecosystem dynamics
to sustainable peace in the South Pacific.
Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Town
said the scope of projects awarded funding
in both rounds reflected the breadth of
UC’s research strengths and its research
“For example, some of these projects have
a very strong focus on sustainability. The
University is having discussions about
establishing a Sustainability Institute with a
view to becoming a leader in sustainability
He said the $7.2 million in Marsden funding
was the most the University had been
awarded in a single round and he paid
tribute to those involved in the applications
“On behalf of the University I would like to
congratulate our researchers and our team
in the Research and Consultancy Office.”
The successful lead researchers in the
FRST-funded projects are Professor Phil
Butler (Physics and Astronomy), Associate
Professor Neville Watson (Electrical and
Computer Engineering/Electric Power
Engineering Centre) and Associate Professor
Shusheng Pang (Chemical and Process
predicted. We anticipate that true full-colour
X-ray images will also be very dramatic and
have a positive impact on healthcare in
New Zealand and the world,” Butler said.
Pang’s research team aims to develop
technologies for production of hydrogenrich syngas and second generation
bio-liquid fuel. It will use New Zealand
renewable energy resources of woody and
agricultural biomass. It hopes to have a nine
per cent share of the national diesel market
by 2021.
Watson’s project seeks to address issues
related to increasing demand for energy in
New Zealand (see page 16).
It will research the integration of renewable
energy sources such as small-scale wind
power and solar power with existing
electricity networks, and its impact on what
is known as power quality (PQ).
The research findings will help the
electricity industry predict and plan for
robust and resilient electricity supply.
Age no barrier to achievement
A 64-year-old retired school teacher
who returned to university to keep his
brain active has been recognised as
among the country’s top achievers.
Gary Whitcher, who is in the first year
of his PhD studies, was one of eight UC
students to be awarded a Top Achiever
Doctoral Scholarship, collectively worth
nearly $750,000.
Whitcher said he was encouraged to
return to university by some of his
former pupils at Rangiora High School
where he taught classics, history
and English. For his PhD Whitcher is
investigating the impact of American
culture in New Zealand from 1945 to 1965.
The single largest scholarship went
to Muhunthan Rajaratnam (Biological
Sciences) who was awarded $98,679 to
study cytokinin-regulatory genes and
seed development of perennial ryegrass.
The other scholarship recipients are:
Jessica Boyce (Psychology), Wanting
Jiao (Chemistry), Anna MacDonald
(Mathematics and Statistics), Lois Tonkin
(Sociology), Laura Young (Biological
Sciences) and Ni Zhang (Electrical and
Computer Engineering).
A total of 32 scholarships valued at $3.1
million were awarded nationally.
Assistant Vice-Chancellor and Dean of
Postgraduate Studies, Professor Steve
Weaver, described the students as
“outstanding” and said the University
was delighted they had been recognised
nationally for the quality of their research
“That such a high proportion of
scholarships available throughout New
Zealand has gone to Canterbury speaks
volumes about the excellence of not only
our postgraduate student body but also
the academic staff who will supervise
and support these projects. The
scholarships cover a range of disciplines
in the sciences, social sciences,
humanities and engineering — testifying
to the breadth of excellence at the
University of Canterbury,” Weaver said.
Butler’s project aims to create a New
Zealand industry supplying spectral X-ray
detector systems to the international
research and medical imaging markets (see
page 27). What will be known as the MARS
(Medipix All Resolution System) imager will
transform X-ray CT images from black and
white to full colour.
“The transition from black and white to full
colour in photographs, cinema, television
and computer monitors has been much
more dramatic and important than anyone
Gary Whitcher is investigating the impact of American culture in post-war New Zealand.
Summer 2008
By John M
Canterbury Magazine
Rhys Darby aka Murray
Diary entry: midday, meet comic actor
and UC alumnus Rhys Darby. Mental note:
make sure you don’t call him Murray.
Like John Clark (aka Fred Dagg) before him,
Darby’s TV character, publicly anyway,
has overshadowed his own identity. From
experience if you tell someone you’re off
to interview Rhys Darby, there’s a good
chance they won’t know who you’re talking
about. Tell them it’s Murray from Flight of
the Conchords, and they’ll probably want to
come too.
Darby’s portrayal of the well-meaning but
naïve band manager with a penchant for
roll calls has led to movie roles alongside
the likes of Jim Carrey and Philip Seymour
Hoffman. As well as global Nike adverts
with tennis star Roger Federer.
The set for Canterbury magazine’s
meeting with Darby is a busy inner-city
café. Our interview is the outcome of
just two text messages and a very brief
phone conversation — “Yeah, cool. See
you tomorrow”. Seeing him among the
lunchtime crowd waiting for his flat white
and this writer, it’s hard to imagine his
movie and advertising co-stars being quite
so hands-on with their media management.
Darby’s stint at Canterbury, which he
describes as one of the best times of his life,
followed three years’ service in the army.
He was 16 when he enlisted, four years after
joining the Air Training Corps with dreams
of becoming a fighter pilot.
“But unfortunately at school I was very bad
at physics and maths, so the dream slipped
away. I was just terrible, but I was still
interested in the order of military life.
I wanted to do something important and
was attracted by the idea of having tasks
and completing them in a group setting,
and the self-confidence associated with the
sense of achievement.
“All the things that are taught in the
army I’ve put into practice to get where I
am today.
“Where I’m at today is due to order and
having things thought out and setting goals
and timing. It’s all important stuff — for
example, getting to places on time.”
And he is. Our meeting was scheduled for
midday — he arrived at 11.55am.
“Don’t you dare print that,” is his response
to a suggestion that he’s New Zealand’s
equivalent to James Blunt, British soldier
turned middle-of-the-road pop star.
“I see what you mean, except he’s very dull.
And besides, everything else soldiers are
good at, I lacked. Like a sense of direction.”
After three years of military life and in
need of something new, Darby saw
university as a good next move. He arrived
on campus thinking he would eventually be
a journalist and left three years later with
a BA in art theory (1999) wanting to be an
entertainer. He attributes the change to his
experiences with the student association’s
Comedy Club.
“I went to university thinking, ‘right, here
we go, heads down, get into my subjects
and get my degree and do journalism as a
postgraduate thing’. I didn’t have any idea
there was a clubs and societies scene and
then all of a sudden found out you could
join these groups and meet like-minded
people. The Comedy Club opened up to me
— a guy called Guy Roberts was running it
at the time. He said, ‘Hey come along. We
meet once a week, we write sketches and at
the end of the year we put on a show’.”
Darby says he “clicked” with the people in
the club. “I’d been silly and done comedy
all my life in the wrong situations and for
the wrong reasons and now I was realising I
could do it for the right reasons.”
While at university Darby started developing
the stand-up comedy routines he would
later take to Auckland, where he became
aware that he had something different to
offer audiences. He credits his decision
to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
five years ago as a pivotal moment in the
advancement of his career.
“There’s over 600 comedy shows there and
the mind boggles to think what chance
you might have of being seen by someone
important. But the whole thing was about
being seen by your peers and word getting
It was in Edinburgh that Darby started
working with Flight of the Conchords’
Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie.
to people and we helped each other out. I
did their fliers and Bret did my lighting and
sound, and at halftime he would hand out
biscuits to the audience. We wanted to get
people thinking, ‘These Kiwis have come
all this way, they’ve got no money and here
they are putting on these little shows and
handing out biscuits and they’re so weird’.
So when the Conchords got asked to do a
pilot for the BBC they asked me to play their
manager and, of course, the rest is history.”
It’s a history that has created a bright
future. Many here in New Zealand have
marvelled at how Darby has leveraged off
the international success of the Flight of the
Conchords TV series. A DVD of his stand-up
comedy routine is being released globally
before Christmas and he has two movies
coming out — Yes Man with comic actor Jim
Carey, and The Boat that Rocked directed
by Richard Curtis, with Bill Nighy, Kenneth
Branagh, Emma Thompson and Philip
Seymour Hoffman among his co-stars.
The Boat that Rocked, due to be released
next year, is set in England in the 1960s and
portrays life on a pirate radio ship, similar to
New Zealand’s Radio Hauraki.
“In the movie I’m Angus ‘the nut’ Nutsford
— a self-proclaimed nut and wacky dude,
so not the most popular guy on the boat.
Some of the other DJs are very cool and all
about the music and the drugs and my guy
certainly isn’t; he’s more of a goon.”
In both movies Darby uses his Kiwi
accent. He believes the directors have
been attracted to him by the sincerity and
good nature of his Flight of the Conchords
character and have wanted that element in
their films.
“Really big players in the industry have
really singled him out as something they
really want to do something with. Unlike
David Brent (The Office), Murray’s a very
likeable guy and there’s nothing bad about
him at all. He’s all about heart. He’s a
decent, fun-loving guy and just wants to do
what’s best for the team.”
Given that, it’s highly likely that in time
Murray is going to be quite happy to take a
back seat and let Darby take a bit more of
the limelight.
“To get there alone took all of our money
so we only had a few fliers each to hand out
Summer 2008
The bottom line
for readers
By Jeanette Colman
“To see children improve so markedly was startling. It raised
participants’ levels of self-esteem and this provided a boost to them
and their families.”
Addington School teacher Amanda Teear, a UC alumna, has seen
dramatic improvements in the reading levels of her Year 5-6 students.
“As I thought I already had a comprehensive reading programme in
place, I was initially sceptical but found that AVAILLL surpassed my
expectations early.
“The children developed skills in fluency, imagery, comprehension,
retelling in sequence, note-taking and dictionary use,” says Teear.
Hollywood movies, often considered a threat to reading, have
now proved to be a powerful ally in education.
Researchers from the University of Canterbury’s School of Literacies
and Arts in Education have spent the last eight months trialling
a US-based reading programme in six Christchurch schools. On
average, readers who took part in the programme improved their
reading age by 1.2 years in only six weeks. The patented programme,
called Audio Visual Achievement in Literacy, Language and Learning
(AVAILLL), is based on the use of movie subtitles to support literacy
activities. Students are enticed into books through “ReadWatching”
popular movies that are themselves based on books.
The programme builds on research undertaken in 1992 by UC
Emeritus Professor Warwick Elley. After analysing the results of the
International Education Assessment study of reading literacy, Elley
discovered that heavy watching of subtitled TV for students in five
of the top performing countries may be a variable that contributed
to higher results.
AVAILLL was developed by Dr Alice Killackey, previously from
Northern Arizona University in the USA, who has also overseen trials
of the programme in Christchurch.
“AVAILLL is ultimately about reading books and academic texts.
Specialised activities ensure students are glued to the subtitles
and then to all types of reading. This has doubled the effect of only
watching subtitled movies,” says Killackey.
“The results in themselves were significant with an average class
(literacy) increase of 11 months in only six weeks. The true result was
the instant ignition of pride the children showed in their reading and
themselves. They have started to transfer this pride through to the
rest of their curricula learning. They know they are successful
readers and have the confidence to give anything a try because
they ‘can’ read.”
Parkhill says the programme has huge potential to motivate students
in becoming life-long readers.
“The results are very exciting as were the expressions of dismay
from many students when the programme ended. The practice of
continuing to use subtitles when viewing DVDs in leisure time is a
testament to the interest and motivation that many students now
have towards reading.”
She says she is particularly excited about the potential of the AVAILLL
programme to reduce New Zealand’s 20 per cent tail of reading
underachievement that kept emerging in international comparisons.
“Results for Mäori students from a bilingual class were particularly
significant where these students made an average gain of 1.5 years in
just six weeks.”
In 2009, a larger study will occur to determine longer-term effects
and wider use of AVAILLL to enhance reading programmes in New
Zealand schools. More information on the programme can be found
“AVAILLL is not a gimmick or novelty but an innovative programme
which represents a significant breakthrough in literacy education.
It offers a long sought after method for advancing reading skills for
students nine years and older.”
UC senior lecturers Jilaine Johnson and Faye Parkhill (Literacies
and Arts in Education) were invited by Killackey to act as research
consultants while the programme was introduced in 25 classrooms
in Christchurch.
Johnson, who is the UC project leader, says the gains in reading
comprehension levels, oral fluency and vocabulary knowledge by
those who participated in the study have been dramatic, especially
among minority and below-average readers.
“AVAILLL taps into student strengths and gets them involved in
reading within a medium that they are so familiar with, ie the
movie, and, by using text subtitles, takes away the fear of failure.
“The AVAILLL programme engages students in learning; it literally
‘hooks’ them in and they desire to be involved. Because of its
structure, AVAILLL has students reading at high concentration levels
for one hour per day.
“Many children do not realise they are reading so much because it
is ‘fun’ but certainly become aware of their improvement after two
weeks on the programme,” Johnson says.
Canterbury Magazine
Children at Addington Primary School in Christchurch “ReadWatch” a movie as part of the
AVAILLL programme.
The science of intimate relationships
By Stacey Doornenbal
The intricacies involved in the sometimes
fraught world of intimate sexual
relationships have long been a subject of
study — and in my research I am trying to
understand how that small group works;
how you affect your partner and how your
partner affects you.”
Why some relationships work while others
fail, why people choose the partners they
do, and why we bond intimately with
another, are the kind of questions that have
produced self-help books and talk show
fodder by the tonne.
Fletcher’s interest in the area is wideranging and his approach combines
experimental social psychology and
evolutionary psychology. He has studied
couples who have only been together
for a few weeks to those who have been
married for an average of 10 years, studying
their attitudes and views as measured by
questionnaires, analysing their behaviour
in the laboratory, and measuring the speed
of their responses on computers in saying
“yes” or “no” to words describing their
relationship or relationship beliefs.
But at the University of Canterbury
the complex world of human intimate
relationships is less about men coming from
Mars and women from Venus, and more to
do with science.
Professor Garth Fletcher, from the
University’s Psychology Department, has
been studying the workings, and failings, of
close relationships for more than 20 years,
publishing many articles and books and
establishing an international reputation for
this work. A social psychologist, with an
evolutionary psychology bent, Fletcher has a
particular interest in the complex workings
of the human intimate mind and how it is
linked to behaviour.
“My interest is in trying to understand
how emotions, behaviour and cognition
— the ABC of psychology — fit together in
close relationship contexts; how do these
processes work and where do emotions like
love and cognitions like our relationship
expectations and beliefs come from?” says
“I’m also interested in trying to understand
how people in relationships interact. Each
relationship has a unique interactional
footprint because there are only two people
involved — it’s the smallest group you can
He has also been teaching a popular
postgraduate course on the science of
intimate relationships at Canterbury
since 2001, and has worked with many
postgraduate students studying subjects
such as forgiveness, stalking, mindreading in relationships, and how couples
go about changing or regulating each
others’ behaviour. Most recently he has
been investigating and publishing research
concerned with the question — is love blind?
This drive to ensure the survival of our genes
can also be seen in the process of mate
selection. Fletcher’s research, along with
that of others, suggests there are three
principal factors that we pay attention to
when judging potential partners — kindness
and trustworthiness, attractiveness and
health, and the possession of resources and
status, or the potential to attain them.
“From an evolutionary psychological
viewpoint, the first and third criteria
represent the motivation to invest in you
and your offspring. The second one —
attractiveness — signals the possession
of good genes. Because women invest
somewhat more than men in the children,
both in terms of pregnancy and raising the
children, we would expect women to rate
the possession of status and resources —
the investment factors — as more important
than men but rate attractiveness — a
genetic factor — as less important than
men. Indeed, research shows this sex
difference is universal, including student
samples at the University of Canterbury.”
“There is strong evidence to suggest that
love is an evolved mechanism, rather than
simply a cultural construct, designed by
evolution to bring people together in such
a fashion that they stay committed to each
other for several years to help raise their
Recent research by Fletcher shows that
when looking for a short-term sexual
relationship the importance of the
attractiveness factor goes up, for both
men and women, while the attention to
investment factors go down. He says this
is consistent with the proposition that
attractiveness signals good healthy genes,
which is all one is potentially obtaining from
a short-term fling.
“What has happened is that cultural
expressions of this commitment, which are
universals like marriage, have developed on
the back of what evolution has designed
humans to do.”
“The intimate relationship world is a
difficult yet pivotal place to inhabit and
humans have evolved to learn how to
navigate this world, obviously not perfectly,
but I think in a very remarkable way.”
Summer 2008
Rutherford’s path to
the Nobel Prize
December 2008 marks 100 years since Canterbury alumnus Ernest Rutherford received his Nobel Prize,
a first for a person educated in New Zealand. Dr John Campbell looks back at the early life of one of
New Zealand’s most famous sons.
One of the most illustrious scientists
of all time, Ernest Rutherford is to the
atom what Darwin is to evolution,
Newton to mechanics, Faraday to
electricity and Einstein to relativity.
His pathway from rural child to
immortality is a fascinating one.
Rutherford nearly didn’t make it to
secondary school. In the late 19th
century, education in New Zealand was
compulsory to age 12 and free to the
age of 14. Secondary schools were then
private schools and expensive to attend.
The Rutherford family of Havelock could
not afford to send young Ern to Nelson
College. His only chance was the one
scholarship available to Marlborough
pupils. On his second attempt, he gained
the scholarship but only because Edward
Pasley, eight months his junior, crashed in
English. Pasley, who went on to become a
travelling salesman, had beaten Rutherford
in geography and history and they had tied
in maths. Had Pasley not crashed in English,
Rutherford may well have accepted the offer
of a cadetship in the civil service having
been placed 15th of the 202 candidates for
the 1886 Junior Civil Service Examination.
Fifteen-year-old Rutherford entered Nelson
College in 1887, at the fifth form level as
befitting his age and schooling. He regularly
won prizes — and hence more money for
fees and boarding — in modern languages
and literature.
In 1888 he matriculated to the University
of New Zealand, but was not placed
high enough in the junior scholarship
examination list to be awarded funding.
Unable to afford to go without a
scholarship, Rutherford stayed on at Nelson
College for a further year and was named
dux of the school.
In 1889, on his second attempt, he won one
of the 10 Junior National Scholarships to the
University of New Zealand. At Canterbury
Canterbury Magazine
College he came under the influence of the
professor of chemistry and practical physics,
Alexander Bickerton, who taught him to
think and inspired him into research.
Rutherford was a good student but only on
a par with others. Willie Marris, who beat
Rutherford in mathematics, was a classics
scholar from Wanganui who left after his
BA degree to go to England to cram for
the Indian Civil Service exams. He rose to
be Sir William Marris, Governor of Assam.
Apirana Ngata, the first Mäori to attend
Canterbury College, studied law. He later
became Sir Apirana Ngata, politician, and
the head on the New Zealand $50 banknote.
Jack Erskine, an excellent mathematician
from Southland, followed Rutherford by a
year and was to carry on research started
by Rutherford. Erskine went into electrical
engineering before making a fortune on the
stock market. Today’s Erskine Fellowships
offered by UC in the faculties of science,
engineering and commerce, stem from
Erskine’s generosity and frugal life.
Rutherford threw himself into the life of an
undergraduate. He started in the college’s
third rugby team, rising through age
and attrition to its first team which was
generally thrashed. He joined the science
society in its formation year during which
the word “evolution” was in the title of a
third of the topics discussed. At the Dialectic
Society he argued “That the influence of the
modern newspaper press is excessive and
dangerous” and “That the average value of
environment as a factor in the formation of
character is greater than that of heredity”.
Rutherford helped Erskine pen one of the
anonymous songs sung irreverently at the
annual capping ceremony, highlighting the
clash between arts and sciences.
For the BA degree, students studied equally
in six subjects, four being examined after
the second year and the other two in
the final (third) year. Mathematics and
Latin were compulsory. For the other
four subjects, Rutherford chose applied
mathematics, French, English and physics
(BA students were restricted to only two
science subjects).
Rutherford won the one senior scholarship
in mathematics available nationwide
that allowed for another year (1893) at
the University of New Zealand, during
which he took honours (Master of Arts) in
mathematics and experimental science.
By then he was boarding with a widow,
Mary Newton, whose husband had drunk
himself to death. At the time the Woman’s
Christian Temperance Union was striving for
universal suffrage as it believed the only way
women would have control over the demon
booze was if they could vote. Newton was
the right-hand woman of the movement’s
leader, Kate Sheppard, whose image today
graces the New Zealand $10 banknote. In
1893, New Zealand became the first country
in the world to grant women the vote. It was
also the year Rutherford was old enough
to be listed on the electoral roll. He had an
insider’s view of this momentous occasion.
Rutherford’s honours in physical science
was entirely by exam but the regulations
required him to go into the exam room with
a note from his professor saying that the
candidate had carried out original research.
Bickerton had developed a theory of
astrophysics (the partial impact theory)
which he thought could explain all
astronomical observations such as nova
and, indeed, life itself. Bickerton suggested
Rutherford study the electrical synthesis of
the nitro-compounds of hydrogen, carbon
and oxygen, but he declined because he
didn’t have a chemical background. (In
the 1950s Stanley Miller and Harold Urey
attained world fame in carrying out such
experiments, to produce the building
blocks of life.)
Instead Rutherford chose to extend an
undergraduate experiment measuring
the magnetism of iron to study whether
the results also held for rapidly-cycling
magnetizing fields. Rutherford was inspired
by Nikola Tesla who had come to world
notice in August of 1893 when he publicly
demonstrated transmitting electrical power
without wires. (A discharge tube glowed
when held near his high-frequency, highvoltage transformer.) Alternating currents
were the high technology of the day.
Rutherford made a mechanical device which
could switch on an electric current then,
within 100,000th of a second, could switch
on a circuit to measure the effect of the
current thus far. The brilliance of Rutherford
as a scientist was evident from his first year
of research, during which he was mostly
self-taught, as demonstrated by the skill and
thought that went into the construction of
his timing device.
Employment now loomed; but where? There
were few jobs for physical scientists in New
Zealand, apart from becoming a government
analyst in one of the main cities to keep
miners and industry honest. Rutherford
missed out on permanent employment as a
schoolteacher on several occasions but was
employed at Christchurch Boys’ High for a
short time as a relieving teacher. The only
surviving account of this experience, that
of a boy in a junior mathematics class, was
not flattering. Rutherford couldn’t control a
class and was a bit advanced for them.
His only chance to progress in science was
to continue research with an Exhibition of
1851 science scholarship in mind. In 1894,
Rutherford returned to Canterbury College
and enrolled for a BSc. This relatively new
degree allowed students to avoid Latin. With
two science subjects already under his belt
from his BA degree, Rutherford’s choice for
the two extra subjects needed for a BSc was
chemistry and geology.
Rutherford extended his magnetic research
to even higher frequencies, using a damped
Hertzian oscillator to reach even higher
oscillating current rates. He slowly dissolved
the surface of his iron needle to show that at
high frequencies only a thin surface skin was
magnetised and the magnetism direction
reversed lower in this layer. During this work
he invented a simple device for detecting
the passage of a current pulse of very short
duration, down to about one two-hundredthousandths of a second. This involved
placing a steel needle in a small coil in the
circuit and using a sensitive magnetometer
to detect that the magnetism of the needle
had changed.
There were two applicants for the
nomination of the Exhibition of 1851
science scholarship, which was awarded to
Rutherford after the successful nominee
withdrew. This allowed Rutherford to travel
anywhere in the world to do research
in a field important to the nation’s
industrial interests. So in 1895, a 23-yearold Rutherford left New Zealand’s shores
holding three degrees from the University
of New Zealand. Already he had a reputation
as an outstanding researcher and innovator
working at the forefront of electrical
Rutherford elected to study with Professor
J J Thomson at Cambridge University’s
Cavendish Laboratory and became the
University’s first non-Cambridge research
student. Within five months, Rutherford
held the world record for the distance
over which a wireless electric-wave had
been detected — half a mile. He had been
encouraged in this by Sir Robert Ball, the
director of the Cambridge Observatory
and the scientific adviser to the Irish Light
Association, who advised Rutherford that
if he could get the distance to a reasonable
one he would solve the terrible problem
of how a ship could detect a lighthouse
during fog.
Summer 2008
Rutherford wrote to his girlfriend back
in New Zealand that fame and fortune
awaited. Thomson sounded out financiers
who concluded that an impossibly
large investment would be needed to
commercialise wireless telegraphy. Fast
communication was already in wide use
through telegraphy and undersea cables.
worldwide in medical physics. Radioactivity
was a lesser curiosity.
Realising how good Rutherford was,
Thomson invited him to join in his own
research projects.
Rutherford used both to ionise his gases
but quickly changed to trying to understand
the peculiar nature of radioactivity. Very
quickly he showed that ionising rays from
radioactive materials seemed to be of two
sorts. One, which he called alpha rays, was
highly ionizing and easily stopped, whereas
the other, which he called beta rays, wasn’t
as ionizing and had more penetration.
From early 1896 Rutherford helped Thomson
with experiments into why putting an
electrical discharge through a gas turned
a good electrical insulator into a good
electrical conductor.
But his time at Cambridge had come to
an end. His scholarship had already been
extended for a third year and hopes of a
fellowship were dashed by stringent rules
applying to non-Cambridge graduates.
In 1897 Thomson announced the discovery of
the electron, the first object smaller than an
atom. Rutherford was an immediate convert
to sub-atomic particles and this became
his life’s work for which he has achieved
enduring fame.
In 1889 Rutherford was appointed to lead
physics research at McGill University in
Canada in order, as he was told, “to knock
the shine off the Yankees”. And lead he did.
He quickly found that radioactive thorium
gave off a radioactive emanation. He had
discovered radon. This put him on the
track to discover that radioactivity was the
spontaneous disintegration of some heavy
atoms into slightly lighter ones, with the
emission of rays/particles of enormous
energy. He was the first to produce the
growth and decay curves for radioactivity.
For these experiments, Rutherford initially
used ultraviolet light to ionise the gases he
was studying. But two accidental discoveries
were announced that changed physics, and
Rutherford’s research field, forever. Wilhelm
Conrad Roentgen in Germany accidentally
discovered X-rays and Henri Becquerel in
France accidentally discovered radioactivity.
X-rays went into immediate service
Rutherford had had to carry out his own
chemical separations until he was joined
by a specialist chemist, Frederick Soddy,
after April 1901. They worked out several of
the radioactive decay chains and, initially
using the amount of helium gas in a mineral
containing radioactive elements, Rutherford
used these decay curves to date the age of
minerals and the Earth. Later, when it was
realised that the final decay product in the
chain that had started with uranium was
stable lead, he used the uranium/lead ratios
to date minerals.
Rutherford left McGill for Manchester
University in 1907 but not before being
nominated for a Nobel Prize, which
was awarded in 1908 — in chemistry. As
Rutherford told his mates it was the quickest
transformation (physicist to chemist)
that he had met. The citation was “for his
investigations into the disintegration of the
elements, and the chemistry of radioactive
Rutherford was on track to the 1937 eulogy
awarded to him by the New York Times. “It is
given to but few men to achieve immortality,
still less to achieve Olympian rank, during
their own lifetime. Lord Rutherford achieved
both. In a generation that witnessed one of
the greatest revolutions in the entire history
of science he was universally acknowledged
as the leading explorer of the vast infinitely
complex universe within the atom, a
universe that he was first to penetrate.”
Rutherford archival material now available online
The University of Canterbury Library has
digitised its collection of archival material
relating to Ernest, Lord Rutherford.
Archivist Jeff Palmer said the Rutherford
Collection, which was now available on
the Library’s website, contained digital
representations of nearly all the original
material held by the Macmillan Brown
Library by and about Rutherford.
Rutherford (1871-1937) is one of UC’s
most accomplished alumni, winning the
Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 for his
investigations into the disintegration of
elements and the chemistry of radioactive
substances. He attended Canterbury College
from 1890-1894, obtaining three degrees:
BA, MA with double first class honours in
mathematics and physics, and a BSc. He was
later granted a DSc and Canterbury College’s
first honorary DSc.
“Users can read letters, notes and minutes
written by Rutherford, view the famous,
or infamous, depending on one’s
Canterbury Magazine
perspective, Rutherford lampshades, and
peruse the library’s extensive collection of
Rutherford certificates, scrolls and medals,”
Palmer said.
“The digitisation of this collection marks
100 years since Rutherford was awarded
the Nobel Prize and is the first time this
material has been made available to
the public in such a comprehensive and
accessible fashion.”
Included in the archives is a handwritten
letter from Rutherford to the Canterbury
College Board of Governors. Written in
January 1909, Rutherford thanks the
College for its kind congratulations on
the Nobel Prize.
“I have a happy remembrance of my old
College days and of my first researches in
the basement of one of the lecture rooms.
I learnt more of research methods in those
first investigations under somewhat
difficult conditions than in any work I have
done since,” Rutherford wrote.
“If there is any credit to be apportioned
for winning a Nobel Prize, I think that
Canterbury College may take a fair share;
for it was there that I was well trained in
mathematics and physics by Professor Cook
and Professor Bickerton. Both were excellent
teachers and Professor Bickerton’s genuine
enthusiasm for science gave a stimulus to
me to start investigations of my own.”
The Rutherford Collection can be accessed
via the “Featured Collections” section of
the “Art, Archives, Photos” page on the
University of Canterbury Library’s website,
Ernest, Lord Rutherford’s 1908 Nobel Medal.
Centennial celebrations
The achievements of Ernest, Lord
Rutherford, are to be celebrated by his
alma mater 100 years to the day on which
he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
To mark the occasion, fellow Nobel
Laureate Professor Bob Grubbs from the
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
will present the Rutherford Lecture on 10
December 2008.
Grubbs was a Visiting Erskine Fellow at
the University of Canterbury in 2005
when he received word that he had
been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in
Chemistry. Grubbs received the award
with France-based Dr Yves Chauvin and
US-based Professor Richard Schrock for the
development of the metathesis method in
organic systems.
The lecture will be held in the Great Hall
in the Arts Centre of Christchurch, just
a stone’s throw from where a young
Rutherford first conducted his science
experiments as an undergraduate in the late
19th century.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Science) Professor Ian
Shaw says it is important that the University
remembers one of its most famous alumni.
“Ernest Rutherford is arguably the
greatest and so we decided to focus on his
achievements in the centenary year of his
Nobel Prize.
“The Rutherford Lecture will become an
annual College of Science-funded event. Bob
Grubbs is a good friend of the Chemistry
Department and I can think of no better
person to inaugurate our Rutherford
Centennial celebrations kicked off on 10
November with the University marking the
day Rutherford received word of his Nobel
Prize success. To celebrate the occasion
By Jeanette Colman
Rutherford’s great-granddaughter Professor
Mary Fowler was guest of honour at a
special luncheon at College House and in
the evening gave a public lecture for the
Royal Society of New Zealand.
Fowler is Professor of Geophysics in the
Earth Sciences Department at Royal
Holloway, University of London. She
is from a scientific family: her father
Peter Fowler was Royal Society Research
Professor of Physics at the University of
Bristol, and his father was Ralph Fowler, the
Plummer Professor of Theoretical Physics
at Cambridge, who was married to Eileen,
Ernest Rutherford’s only child.
Fowler, who is in the country as the 2008
Royal Society of New Zealand Distinguished
Speaker, will be presenting lectures in
eight cities, looking at the contribution
Rutherford’s work makes to the 21st century. A new generation of New Zealand
school children have also been given the
opportunity to learn more about one of the
nation’s most successful scientists. UC’s
College of Science Outreach Programme
and the Royal Society of New Zealand have
run the Rutherford Science Competition
during 2008 in which primary and secondary
school students have been invited to design
posters and/or write essays based on the life
and work of Rutherford.
There will also be a Rutherford theme to
this year’s Scholars in Science competition.
Now in its third year, the competition sees
hundreds of Year 13 students converge on
campus, all vying for the ultimate prize of a
full scholarship to study science at UC.
“I think there is no doubt that in 2008 we
will remember one of our most famous
alumni,” says Shaw.
agreement reinforces
connection with UC
Rutherford’s Den, a world-class
multimedia visitor experience celebrating
the life and work of great New Zealand
scientist Ernest, Lord Rutherford, is to
benefit from a significant sponsorship
partnership with the University of
Rutherford is one of the University’s most
illustrious graduates. His original student
laboratory at Canterbury College — now the
Arts Centre of Christchurch — is the den’s
central exhibition space.
“We are absolutely delighted to welcome
the University as naming rights sponsor for
Rutherford’s Den, particularly in this the
centenary year of Rutherford receiving the
Nobel Prize,” said Jenny May, Chair of the
Rutherford’s Den Trust Board.
“The University’s three-year sponsorship
will make a major contribution to ensuring
the den continues to educate and tell the
story of Rutherford’s days at Canterbury
College and how he went on to become
one of the greatest scientists of the 20th
Rutherford’s Den trustee, Associate
Professor Peter Cottrell (Physics and
Astronomy), said the sponsorship
of Rutherford’s Den by UC provided
opportunities across the whole campus
to make connections with UC’s most
famous graduate.
“The den is the place where Rutherford
began his university career, first as an
undergraduate student in a range of
subjects and then his initial steps as a
The sponsorship agreement would allow the
University to use the den to showcase its
current staff and students in a “significant
historical setting”.
One of the key objectives of the den was
to inspire the Rutherfords of the future
through its school education programme.
“Primary, intermediate and secondary
school students and their families will see
the UC connection. This is a symbiotic and
natural relationship, where students visiting
the den as part of its Ministry of Educationfunded programme will add value to their
visit by linking with the College of Science’s
Outreach programme.”
Cottrell said every New Zealander should
know that Rutherford was a UC graduate.
The 19th century arts lecture theatre has been preserved as part of Rutherford’s Den in the Arts Centre of Christchurch.
Summer 2008
Ensuring the lights stay on
By Stacey Doornenbal
Most of us take the supply of electricity for granted. As long as
we can switch on the television or the heat-pump we do not even
notice its presence or think about the quality of the power we are
New Zealand’s economy would also be affected. Equipment
malfunction or damage can have a major impact on a company’s
operation and could have a huge impact on the manufacturing,
telecommunications and primary sector industries.
But that could change. As the use of energy saving technologies in
New Zealand grows, and as integration of renewable energy into
existing electrical networks increases, there is the potential for
these trends to have a severe impact on future power quality — in
other words, affect the performance of the electrical infrastructure.
But the hope is that the country’s electricity consumers will not
experience any of these side-effects as the Canterbury research
team plans to nip any potential problems in the bud. Working
in collaboration with New Zealand’s largest electricity industry
collective, the New Zealand Electricity Engineers’ Association (EEA),
the ultimate aim of the EPECentre-led project is to develop a set of
power quality guidelines based on the group’s research.
While the exact impact these trends may one day have on the
quality of supply has yet to be determined, a team of researchers
at the University of Canterbury is hoping to shed some light on the
possible issues involved and, in the process, provide some guidance
to New Zealand’s electricity industry.
Led by Associate Professor Neville Watson, a team from the
University’s Electric Power Engineering Centre (EPECentre) will
spend the next three years on a project investigating the
possible side effects on electrical networks caused by these two
developments, both of which are the result of New Zealand’s
increasing demand for power.
One issue the team will look at, says Watson, involves the
integration of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar
power, through distributed generation. These small scale energy
sources are additions to the network and can cause problems that
affect power quality due to the conversion process they use. These
problems will be exacerbated the more such energy sources are used
to supply the nation’s power demand.
“Ideally the voltage waveform should be sinusoidal and any
deviation from it is a power quality issue,” says Watson. “Most of
these renewable energy sources have converter interfaces which
result in a non-sinusoidal current waveform. When this nonsinusoidal current flows through the electrical network, the voltage
waveform becomes distorted and is a power quality issue.”
The other area of investigation is the impact an increased use of
energy saving technologies, such as energy efficient (compact
fluorescent) light bulbs and heat-pumps, may have on power
quality. Again, it is the way these electrical devices interact with the
electrical network that may result in poor power quality — and this
could have serious repercussions for end users.
“Potential problems of poor power quality are numerous and diverse
in nature. Light flicker, mal-operation of electronic equipment,
overheating of motors, the reduced life of equipment and,
ultimately, destruction of equipment are some of the consequences
of poor power quality,” says Watson.
Canterbury Magazine
To do this the group will perform tests on a wide range of electrical
devices — heat-pumps and CFL light bulbs, TV plasma screens, DVD
players, microwave ovens — that are coming onto the market. The
information will be used to carry out computer modelling to predict
the behaviour of these devices on the electrical networks. The
performance of the network will also be analysed and mitigation
measures developed to combat any issues that may arise.
Backing for the project has come from the EEA, which is providing
$60,000 a year in funding plus time and equipment. It has also
agreed to publish and distribute the guidelines among all electrical
network companies in New Zealand. Financial support has also
come from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology,
which awarded the project $1,050,000 ($350,000 a year for three
years) in its main 2008 investment round in July.
Project Manager and Manager of the EPECentre, Joseph Lawrence,
says the guidelines will help the electricity industry plan for a
robust and resilient electricity supply.
“These guidelines will give the industry an idea of how to better
manage its networks and manage risks,” he says.
“Companies will be able to make better decisions on what
investments they need to make to strengthen their networks
and they will be able to base their decisions on research-supported
Currently, there are no power quality guidelines for the electricity
distribution industry so Lawrence says the work the EPECentre
power quality group is planning to carry out “will make a real
“This is a good opportunity to put public funding to good use
on something that will be used by the whole electricity industry.
This project is not only going to have a real impact on the industry,
it’s going to benefit the whole country,” he says.
“But hopefully, if all goes well, no-one will really know anything’s
Kindergarten: compatible with current Kiwi culture?
By Maria De Cort
The experience of attending kindy as a
pre-schooler was once as much a part of
Kiwi culture as supporting teams wearing
the Silver Fern or enjoying fish and chips
on the beach.
But is the New Zealand kindergarten still a
distinctive part of our national culture or
is it just another early childhood service?
That is the question shaping a large national
study being conducted by the University
of Canterbury’s Associate Professor Judith
Duncan (School of Mäori, Social and
Cultural Studies in Education).
Duncan, who started her career as a
kindergarten teacher, began this research
while based at the Children’s Issues Centre
at the University of Otago. During late 2006
and the beginning of 2007 she interviewed
general managers, senior teachers, teachers
and parents from New Zealand’s 32
kindergarten associations. Twelve of them,
representing a mix of North and South
Island, urban and rural kindergartens, were
selected for case studies.
New Zealand kindergartens have a long
history of providing early childhood
education in New Zealand, with the first
free and independent kindergarten opening
its doors in 1889 in Dunedin. Generally,
kindergartens cater for children from
two to five years old, through sessional
educational programmes (or, more recently,
school-day length). They employ trained
and registered teachers and are located in
most New Zealand city suburbs.
However, Duncan says kindergartens are
changing in reaction to the increases
in both parents working, single parent
families, family mobility, and falling
demographics. With more choices now
available in the early childhood education
market, kindergartens are no longer the
leading providers of education for three and
four-year-olds in New Zealand. In the course
of earlier research on the effects of these
changes on kindergartens Duncan says she
was privy to many internal discussions.
“What concerned me when I was listening
to those discussions was the debate about
responding to the crisis of the moment.
While there was some good and responsible
long-term planning going on about trying
to maintain the viability and to make sure
that communities still had the options of
their kindergartens, people weren’t asking,
‘Do we want kindergartens anymore?’
“Is kindergarten, as a mode of delivery
of early childhood education, something
New Zealanders wish to hold onto in the
traditional form that many of us have
Children at play at the Ilam Kindergarten in Christchurch.
experienced over the last 100-plus years?
Or is it just another option amongst the
whole plethora of early childhood services
that just happens to have the name
‘kindergarten’ attached to it?”
That is the key question Duncan has
been putting to her interviewees, along
with asking them about the strengths
of kindergarten, about the differences
or distinctive nature of kindergartens
in comparison to other early childhood
services, and their views on the position
of kindergartens in contemporary New
Zealand culture.
Analysis of her interviews has begun
and preliminary summaries written.
Duncan’s first paper reported back on
the parents’ data.
The reasons why parents chose a
kindergarten and the things they liked
included the socialisation opportunities,
the focus on their child’s individuality
and education, and the way kindergarten
prepared their child for the transition
to school. Parents also identified the
community-based and communityinvolvement aspects of kindergarten as
a distinctive aspect of the service they
enjoyed, and, for parents who were “kindy
kids” themselves, tradition was a strong
factor in the equation.
In the teacher responses, Duncan says there
was a marked difference between the views
of the “kindergarten specialist”, who had
trained in the day when a two-year diploma
in kindergarten teaching was the required
qualification, and those of the more
recently-trained “generic early childhood
“Those teachers who had worked in other
early childhood sectors before coming to
kindergarten had a very different vision
for the future of kindergarten from the
teachers who had been trained specifically
in kindergarten philosophy and pedagogy.
They were much more relaxed in terms
of session times and, having worked in
programmes that had more staff, fewer
children and longer hours, they could see
advantages in moving to those models.”
When asked if it is inevitable that
kindergarten will lose its distinctiveness,
Duncan says she believes it already has.
“The pragmatical side of me says, ‘Okay,
that probably has been inevitable’, but I’m
just exceedingly sad that the debate about
the purpose of kindergarten for children and
families has often not been at the forefront
of the reason for that change. I just wanted
to have this debate with people and capture
it lest we forget.”
She believes her research has come too late
to help turn the tide, but hopes her research
outputs will be a record of kindergartens —
“the way they are perceived and understood
at a particular historical moment”.
Duncan has also begun talking to people
she is calling her “mature memories”
set — people over the age of 50 who have
some memory of kindergarten, be it they
were kindy kids themselves or sent their
children there.
If you are interested in sharing your
kindergarten memories for Duncan’s
research, or want to learn more about her
wider research project, email:
[email protected]
Summer 2008
the status
Rae Julian’s unswerving pursuit of fairness has seen her at the
forefront of the fray on numerous issues affecting generations
of New Zealanders. Chanel Hughes talked to the former human
rights commissioner about her life of protest.
Secondary teacher, social sciences
researcher, human rights commissioner
with special responsibility for women’s
rights, education and children’s rights,
international aid worker and life-long
activist — Rae Julian has dedicated her life
and career to improving the lot of others.
Surrounded by the accumulations of years
of travel, in her Wadestown, Wellington
villa, the 67-year-old shows no signs of
retiring quietly.
Though she resigned last February from
a seven-year term as executive director
(NZ) of the Council for International
Development (CID) — the umbrella body
for 92 non-governmental organisations —
Julian recently joined the board of Save the
Children New Zealand and was appointed
to PACDAC, the Pacific Development and
Canterbury Magazine
Conservation Trust. She is also still working
with “Strengthening Civil Society” in Tonga,
and UNIFEM, the women’s development
fund under the United Nations. And she
is still marching on the frontlines against
everything from the Iraqi war to the
so-called “terror” raids and totalitarian
oppression in Burma.
kilometre each day to meet the adult paid
by the government to collect them. An
indignant eight-year-old Julian organised
a sit-in. But ten minutes later the other
children shuffled off, fearing parental
retribution, and then her own sisters
deserted, complaining that she was always
getting them into trouble.
Julian attributes her feisty independence
to being the middle of three sisters and her
tenacity for detecting unfairness.
“I learnt a valuable lesson: always make sure
of your support. It did put me off for a while
— I didn’t do it again until I was 18 or 19.”
“The middle child always has to forge their
own way,” she says. “I was always saying,
‘It’s not fair, it’s not fair’.”
While studying at the University of
Canterbury and the former Christchurch
Teachers’ College towards a “very traditional
BA” and Diploma of Teaching, Julian’s
extra-curricular activities were anything but
Julian clearly remembers her first but illfated demonstration, in a country school
shelter-shed. A change in neighbourly
relations meant she, her sisters and other
children would have to walk an extra
Apartheid drove the budding young activist
to the streets, along with two friends
similarly clad in Ku Klux Klan outfits, and
banners declaring, “It couldn’t happen here,
could it?”. It was Julian’s first realisation of
the link between the personal and global,
which informed many of her ensuing
“My grandmother was Mäori, but I’d never
really thought about it because my mother
was pale-skinned. With apartheid it didn’t
matter how much or how little ‘coloured’
blood you had, you were simply ‘coloured’
and apartheid applied to you. I thought,
hang on a second, that’s me.”
Active protesting on Vietnam, feminism,
and abortion rights followed. During the
height of the Springbok Tour controversy,
there were weekly demonstrations — at one
she teamed up with Trevor Mallard to create
a diversionary fracas at an All Blacks rugby
game to confuse the police.
“Unfortunately we didn’t draw the police
off enough, so it didn’t quite work, and
Trevor got hit.”
Her experience as a young mother
channelled her energies towards
women’s rights.
After teaching for several years in London
(UK), Hamilton Girls’ High School and
Te Awamutu College, Julian stopped to
look after daughter Katie — and became
uncomfortably aware of a change in her
social status.
“When I went to dinner parties it was now
expected that I would go into a corner and
talk to the other mothers, because what
could I possibly have to talk about?
“One day I hadn’t done all of my tasks by
lunchtime when my husband came home,
and I felt a real sense of panic. It was then
I thought I had to get out of this situation,
that this wasn’t right.”
The realisation spurred involvement in
women’s issues, research and writing, with
the Society for Research on Women and the
very intense liberal newspaper, The Week,
for which Julian wrote the back page.
Resulting contact with Geoffrey Palmer,
a significant mentor, led to a job with the
Parliamentary Labour Research Unit as an
education researcher, where she also worked
closely with Education Minister Russell
Marshall and Ann Hercus on women’s
affairs. For the last three of her 10 years with
the unit she was the director, and won a
Distinguished Visitor’s grant to pursue her
research interests for a month in the USA.
She made it a condition of her travel that the
USA pay for her to return via Russia.
“I had a very interesting time, got to look
at two super powers — and decided I didn’t
like them.”
Photo supplied by New Zealand Herald.
In 1987, Palmer offered her the first fulltime
position of Human Rights Commissioner,
with special responsibility for women’s
rights, education and children’s rights.
Amongst the achievements she is most
proud of during this time is the Equal
Opportunities Act, the establishment of the
Children’s Commission and the abolition of
corporal punishment. She fell out badly with
the National Government when it repealed
the Equal Opportunities Act in 1990, so her
role ended when her term expired in 1992.
But she’s perfectly sanguine about falling
out with government — in fact, it’s a point
of pride.
“I’ve never worked for government;
I’ve always been on the other side.”
Following in her mother’s crusading
footsteps, daughter Katie married a
Burmese freedom fighter and has lived on
the Thai border for 13 years. Son Nick is more
conventional, but his two children, aged
four and two, have already participated
in their first demonstration, at which
grandmother was a speaker.
Following her departure from the Human
Rights Commission, Julian was approached
by Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) to join
a UN team in Cambodia and set off on a
life-changing experience to bring votereducation to a population who had not
participated in democratic elections since
the 1950s.
After six weeks of language training in
Phnom Penh, she was given a truck and a
radio, and drove in a convoy of three to a
small southern village. The journey took 17
hours, along a torturous road filled with
craters — “we thought we were never going
to get there”.
“The Japanese would patch the road up
every now and then, and the same trip could
take just five hours.”
Only a few New Zealanders were among the
22,000-strong team, which included mostly
military personnel and police, and only four
were appointed to explain democracy to
a people largely illiterate and afraid in the
wake of the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror.
“We had to act it out and emphasise that
no-one would know who they were voting
for. So we role-played it with Millie, who was
a large Fijian woman, pretending to be the
polling booth — no-one could see anyone
standing behind her. We had a 113 per cent
voter turn-out — skewed upwards because
of refugees living on the border who came
in to vote.”
Aged 51 at the time, Julian says everything
about the experience was a challenge, but
after eight months back in New Zealand,
she grabbed an opportunity to return to
Cambodia to work for three years as field
representative for VSA, with volunteers
working at village level in teams that
Rae Julian
included a teacher, public health nurse and
community development representative.
Soon after she worked for the Canada Fund,
supporting mainly village-based projects
in the Pacific, which saw her travelling
between the islands for nine weeks out of
every twelve.
With her experience it was perhaps
inevitable Julian would take up the role
of executive director of the CID, where
she could be involved in advocacy for
international development work, lobbying
the government, and working on specific
projects, including gender issues — “in
developing countries women are most likely
to be disadvantaged”.
Upon her retirement from CID, Julian was
pleased with the achievements of her
tenure. “The past seven years have been
an exciting and challenging time for the
organisation,” she said at the time.
“We have doubled our membership to 92
organisations, reflecting the breadth of
support for international development
within the country, and the new members
cover a wide diversity of organisations.
“We’ve also increased our other activities,
services to members including training, and
policy and advocacy.”
Her only disappointment is that the New
Zealand government has not yet committed
to the United Nations target of allocating
0.7 per cent of Gross National Income to
overseas aid by 2015.
“We appreciated the increase to 0.3 per
cent last year and the commitment to 0.35
percent by 2010, but there is still a long way
to go.”
Summer 2008
Female footy
By Maria De Cort
Found in increasing numbers in the
grandstands barracking for their team,
female rugby fans are now also having
their voices heard in a new study.
University of Canterbury sociologist
Dr Camilla Obel is involved in research
focusing on female supporters of rugby
union, which is part of a larger study of
women spectators of all football codes
across Australia and New Zealand.
It is a collaborative project with fellow
social scientists Dr Kim Toffoletti and Dr
Peter Mewett from Deakin University in
Melbourne, Australia.
Obel says the new project, titled “Women
Love Footy Too! The Voices of Female Rugby
Union Supporters”, is in its “infancy” and
came about as a result of Toffoletti visiting
UC earlier this year on sabbatical.
“Kim presented some of the research she
has done with Peter on female fans — they
had started looking at Australian rules
and then at rugby league. I saw a hole and
thought, ‘we should do this type of study
on female fans of rugby union’. It seemed
too good an opportunity to pass up.”
Obel says the study merges two key areas of
her research to date — gender and football
codes. While she has recently been involved
in editing a book on women in sport in New
Zealand, Obel says an area she has done
scant research on is fan involvement.
“There is virtually no research done with
women fans in sport and very little in
relation to football codes. Our aim will be to
put something together in book form from
our research,” says Obel.
The three researchers put out a call for
participants mid-year and conducted
their first rounds of group interviews
with staunch rugby followers in July and
September. Topics up for discussion include
how participants became rugby fans, the
nature and extent of their support, the
importance of the game in their life, the
ways they feel women fans differ from their
male counterparts, and their thoughts on
allegations concerning player misconduct.
About 30 participants in New Zealand and
50 across the Tasman have been interviewed
so far. All bar one of those interviewed
on campus in July fitted the profile of
Crusaders and All Blacks supporter, but
the ages ranged from 19 to over 70 and the
women approached their football fandom
from various backgrounds.
Canterbury Magazine
When it comes to rugby, Kate Frew of Canterbury Educational Printing Services shows her true colours.
“The participants included both New
Zealand and overseas-born rugby
supporters who drew on different
motivations for their fandom — for some a
family history or partners had encouraged
their involvement, for others who had
played at an earlier age it was the desire
to stay involved, while for immigrants,
becoming a rugby supporter was a way
to connect with New Zealanders and
successfully assimilate,” says Obel.
“For all, however, being a rugby supporter
is central to their identity. The enjoyment
and commitment to attending or watching
games live was such that they constantly
faced questions and complaints from family
and friends. Most had resolved this by
simply declaring that they were ‘off-limits’
when the Crusaders kicked off.”
Following a UC Chronicle article in August
and subsequent media coverage in Sunday
News and on the news website,
Obel has had daily emails from fans all over
the world wanting to share their stories and
learn of other women rugby devotees.
“This seems to have struck a chord with
female fans and we’re working out how
best to incorporate these stories alongside
those that arise from the group interviews.
We may look at doing online surveys and
tapping into social networking sites to
reach more young fans.”
By exploring how women support the
game, researchers hope their findings will
offer new insights into gender relations
in society, and rugby union in particular.
They believe their research might assist in
increasing the profile and visibility of female
football fans and create a more equitable
environment for women’s participation in
sport as fans.
If you are “footy fanatic” and would like to
be a part of this study, the researchers are
keen to hear from you. Please email
[email protected]
Nano thread binds fans to All Blacks
By John MacDonald
“We’re used to imprinting onto silicon chip
type substrates and so Gary and I did a whole
lot of work to get it working on fibres. There
were a lot of failures and head scratching.
Then I thought we’d try something new, so
we did and got it to work.”
He says it is believed to be the first time
nanotechnology has been used in a
marketing and promotional exercise in
this way.
“It’s very exciting for us. We’re largely
technology-driven but to have an
application that pulls us in a different
direction is fantastic.”
The Marketing Manager of adidas New
Zealand John Beckett says the This is not a
Jersey campaign reflects the iconic status of
the All Blacks uniform.
Professor Richard Blaikie sweats the small
stuff. The really, really, really small stuff.
Director of the MacDiarmid Institute of
Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology
at the University of Canterbury, his day’s
work can only be seen through powerful
microscopes. But the results can be found
in all sorts of places. The All Blacks’ forward
pack is the latest area where Blaikie’s
expertise is being put to work.
Well known for its applications in highefficiency laser diodes, integrated circuits
and novel types of sensors, nanotechnology
has a broad range of applications. Recently
Blaikie and research engineer Gary Turner
adapted a state-of-the-art nanolithography
process to promote the All Blacks and get
fans closer than ever to the national team.
The names of as many as 100,000 fans are
being printed onto a single thread to be
sewn into the Silver Fern on a special edition
jersey for team captain Richie McCaw.
Already the process has been used to write
the names of past and present All Blacks
onto a single thread.
McCaw visited the lab to learn about the
technology and see a jersey with the “nanothread” stitched into the Silver Fern.
“I never thought it was possible but it’s
a cool concept. It’s very special to see
everyone’s name lined up there.”
He says having the names of fans stitched
into the jersey provides the team with a
further reminder of the public support the
team enjoys.
Blaikie equates it to a “very, very, very sharp
pencil” which can write 100 names per
millimetre. He says the scale of the work
was not particularly challenging. It was the
use of a thread that presented the greatest
“The adiThread initiative aims to help New
Zealand fans feel closer to the team and
to provide the opportunity to be more
intimately represented by the country’s
most famous team jersey.
“When you put your name on the jersey,
you are literally a part of it — the fabric of a
The fibre imprinting technology used
to develop the adiThread has been
commercialised by UC’s technology transfer
company, Canterprise Limited.
Canterprise CEO Raiyo Nariman says
“adiThread demonstrates how state-of-theart technology coming out of the University
can be incorporated into innovative
applications in fields outside technologybased products”.
The MacDiarmid Institute is a collaborative
venture encompassing the knowledge
and expertise of leading researchers and
research facilities.
The University of Canterbury, Victoria
University of Wellington, Industrial Research
Ltd, Massey University, the University of
Otago and the Institute for Geological
and Nuclear Sciences are the partner
organisations. Victoria University, through
the School of Chemical and Physical
Sciences, is the host. Staff from Auckland
University and AgResearch also contribute.
Named after 2000 Nobel Chemistry Prizewinner, the late Alan MacDiarmid, the
institute is one of seven national Centres
of Research Excellence established in
2002/03. It was formed in recognition of
its importance as an area of great scientific
and economic potential for New Zealand.
It is governed by a board with input from
an international advisory board of leading
international researchers.
Pictured above left:
Richie McCaw holds
the thread of All Black
history in his hands,
watched by UC research
engineer Gary Turner.
Background image:
Thanks to nanolithography,
the names of former All
Blacks have been written
onto a single thread.
Summer 2008
through the
legal glass ceiling
By Jeanette Colman
Back in 1952, Sandra Day O’Connor struggled to find a job as a lawyer in the USA. At 22 she had
graduated third in her class at Stanford Law School but was repeatedly turned down by firms who
steadfastly refused to hire women lawyers. Nearly three decades later, O’Connor became the first
woman to sit on the bench of the US Supreme Court.
Canterbury Magazine
Now retired from the Supreme Court,
O’Connor spent time at the University of
Canterbury in July as the School of Law’s
inaugural Hotung Fellow. Established in
2005 by global philanthropist Eric Hotung,
who gifted one million Hong Kong
dollars (NZ$185,000) to the University of
Canterbury Foundation, the fellowship is
designed to boost research and raise the
profile of the school.
Breaking the ultimate “glass ceiling” in the
legal profession is a testament to the steely
determination still evident in the now 78year-old O’Connor. A tall, striking woman
who speaks with quiet, confident authority,
she is clearly passionate about the law and
public service.
Yet her early years were spent in a world
vastly different from the legal debates in
Washington DC. O’Connor grew up on the
remote 198,000-acre Lazy B cattle ranch
in Arizona. By the age of eight, she was
mending fences, driving a truck, firing her
own .22 rifle and riding with the cowboys.
The self-reliant “child of the frontier” grew
into a woman who looked for workable,
practical results.
“From a very early age I had to take
responsibility for doing a job. If something
broke down or went wrong you had to fix
it yourself. Our solutions had to work; they
didn’t have to be beautiful, but they had to
work in a practical manner. I suppose that
concept has stayed with me.”
While majoring in economics at Stanford
University, O’Connor took a course in
general business law. She was hooked.
“The law professor was so inspiring. It was
because of him that I went to law school.”
Graduating from law school in 1952,
O’Connor set out to find a job. But her
impressive academic record failed to even
get her interviews. When she finally did get
an interview — thanks to an introduction
from a friend — she was told: “Miss Day, you
have a fine record, but this firm has never
hired a woman lawyer and I don’t see a
time when we will. Our clients just wouldn’t
stand for it.”
O’Connor politely declined his suggestion
they might be able to find her a job as a
legal secretary. Instead she turned to public
service and accepted a job as the deputy
county attorney for San Mateo, California.
Like many other justices, O’Connor’s path
to the Supreme Court encompassed both
the practice of law and politics. In 1965,
O’Connor went to work as an assistant
attorney general. In 1969, she was appointed
to the Arizona Senate and was subsequently
re-elected to that position. In 1973,
O’Connor became the first woman to serve
as a majority leader.
The following year, O’Connor was elected to
a position of trial judge for Maricopa County
and five years later was appointed to the
Arizona Court of Appeals.
O’Connor is a staunch backer of the
Supreme Court.
In 1981, a vacancy arose on the Supreme
Court following the retirement of Justice
Potter Stewart. O’Connor was invited to
Washington DC by the Attorney General
and met with the president’s close advisers.
The following day she met with President
Ronald Reagan for a “pleasant conversation”
lasting 40 minutes. She left Washington
thinking, “That was so interesting but thank
goodness I don’t have to do that job”.
“It is the most open branch of government
that we have because every decision
made by the Supreme Court requires full
explanation in a written opinion that is
available to the public.”
A week later Reagan phoned wanting to
announce her nomination to the Supreme
Court the following day.
The nomination caused great media
scrutiny. O’Connor was a relative unknown,
having spent most of her life in the West,
and had never served in the federal judicial
system. But following her appointment
hearings, she was confirmed by the US
Senate in a 99-0 vote and became the first
woman to serve on the Supreme Court in its
191-year history.
“Because I never dreamed that I would
end up where I am, I had no preconceived
ideas about the job upon arriving for work
the first day,” O’Connor wrote in her 2004
book The Majesty of the Law: Reflections
of a Supreme Court Justice. “I had not been
admitted to practice before the Court.
The first argument I ever witnessed in the
Supreme Court was one that I considered as
a member of the Court.
“All I knew was that the job would be a
tremendous undertaking. I had no specific
ideas about the mechanics of being a
justice, however, or what the decisionmaking process on the Court was really like.
I hoped that I had the basic ability and could
develop the skills not only to do the job but
to do it well in order that not only women
but most citizens would think that the
President had made a good choice.”
In her quarter of a century on the bench,
O’Connor ruled on a number of influential
cases involving controversial topics such as
abortion, homosexuality, race and human
rights. As a jurist, she made it clear that
the court’s role in American society was to
interpret the law, not to legislate.
In 1989, she declined to overturn Roe
v Wade, giving women the right to an
abortion, but accepted there could be state
regulation. In 2000, she was part of the
majority vote that ruled that the state of
Florida’s method for recounting ballots
in the Bush v Gore election dispute was
“It is a fact that many of the pressing
social issues of the day find expression in
some way in legal issues and these legal
issues end up coming to the courts, and
sometimes all the way up to the Supreme
The workings of the Supreme Court were
touched on by O’Connor in one of three
lectures she gave while based at UC.
She took a full part in the day-to-day
working of the law school, giving arranged
presentations, sitting in on lectures and
tutorials, and meeting with staff as well as
undergraduate and postgraduate students.
“It looks as if the University is functioning
very well indeed with its law school. A
law school is extremely important to any
university. I have found in the United States
that every fine university is careful to
have an excellent law school because they
maintain links with the larger world, which
is extremely important for the university. I
think Canterbury is fulfilling that role in a
very impressive manner.”
O’Connor announced her retirement from
the Supreme Court in July 2005, in order
to move back to Arizona to be near her
husband, John O’Connor, who suffers from
Alzheimer’s disease.
When asked how history would judge her
time on the Supreme Court, O’Connor is
dismissive. “It is not up to the participant
to say.
“It was wonderful to be the first woman but
I didn’t want to be the last. And I very nearly
have been. When I retired it reduced the
number of women on that court by 50 per
cent and I’m rather concerned. I had hoped
I might have been replaced by another
“It is not always comfortable to be the
object of a lot of attention and as the
first woman on the Supreme Court I
was subjected to a great deal of media
“But the appointment of a woman in 1981
opened countless doors for women in the
United States and I dare say in a few other
places as well. I was very appreciative that
President Reagan decided to make that
move and it made a huge difference for
women in the United States, certainly in
the legal profession, but in other positions
as well.”
O’Connor said she would rather be judged
by the value of her legal arguments than by
her gender.
“I think Justice (Ruth) Ginsburg and I both
believe that at the end of the day a wise old
woman and a wise old man make the same
Summer 2008
Alumni give generously
to annual fund
The first direct mail annual fund
appeal to alumni has exceeded
expectations, achieving $17,083 from
just 95 individual gifts.
Executive Officer of the University of
Canterbury Foundation, Ms Shelagh
Murray, said she was “pleased with the
“The target for the 2008 University of
Canterbury Foundation Fund was
$15,000, so we are really delighted to
have surpassed that figure with this
first appeal.”
The majority of the gifts were $50,
demonstrating effectively how the
accumulation of many smaller gifts can
make a substantial difference.
Supporters had complete freedom to
choose where their gift would go — student
scholarships, Library resources,
a project of the UC Foundation’s choice,
or any area in the University dear to
their hearts.
Murray said the majority of gifts had
been given for student scholarships,
followed by the general fund and then
the Library.
With only about half of their funding
now coming from the government,
New Zealand universities have become
increasingly dependent upon private
sponsorships and donations to support
their operations.
“It’s important that alumni realise their gift
does not have to be large to be effective,”
Murray said. “It’s the number
of gifts that will really help us achieve great
“People should also be aware that recent
law changes allow individuals to claim a
one-third tax rebate on donations, up to
a maximum claim equal to their annual
taxable incomes.
Fund commemorates astronomer
In her tragically short lifetime astronomer
Beatrice Hill Tinsley (1941-1981) achieved
extraordinary things. Her PhD thesis,
Evolution of galaxies and its significance for
cosmology, on the evolution of the stars
and gas in galaxies, is acknowledged as
one of the great scientific papers of the
last century.
A new scholarship fund in Tinsley’s name,
launched by her alma mater, will help the
best and brightest of future school leavers
make their own significant contributions to
their communities.
Launched at the University of Canterbury’s
Alumni Reunion Weekend 2008 over 10-12
October, the Beatrice Hill Tinsley Scholarship
Fund will help provide scholarships for high
achieving school leavers from around the
country intending to pursue physics and
After Ernest, Lord Rutherford, Tinsley is one
of Canterbury’s most distinguished science
graduates. She is credited with opening up a
new branch of science with her work on the
origins of galaxies and the Universe. When
at the age of 40 she died of cancer, she had
already become a professor of astronomy at
Yale University in the United States.
It was little more than 20 years earlier that
she left New Plymouth Girls’ High School
with a Junior University Scholarship and
enrolled at the University of Canterbury,
where she graduated MSc (first class
honours) in 1962. She married fellow
Canterbury physics graduate Brian Tinsley
and departed with him for scientific work in
the United States in 1963.
Her life story is documented in the
biography Bright Star, Beatrice Hill Tinsley,
Astronomer (2006) by Christine Cole Catley,
also a Canterbury graduate, who has lobbied
strenuously for the establishment of a
fund commemorating this eminent New
Zealander. Cole Catley has made copies
Beatrice Hill Tinsley at her graduation in 1962.
of the biography available for purchase
from the Alumni and Development Office,
with all proceeds of sales going to the
scholarship fund.
Tinsley always credited the University of
Canterbury for her scientific foundation.
Her story is just one example of the many
young New Zealanders who have seized
the opportunities created through
advanced learning.
For more information on contributing to
this fund, please contact Shelagh Murray,
Executive Officer, UC Foundation,
ph: +64 3 364 2550, email: ucfoundation@ or see www.canterbury.
All donations are tax deductible to the
extent allowed by New Zealand law.
“Also, the five per cent deduction limit
on donations by companies and Mäori
authorities has been removed.”
Alumni can continue to help the 2008
fund grow by making contributions up
until 30 December.
“Every little gift makes a difference.”
For further information, please contact
Shelagh Murray, Executive Officer,
University of Canterbury Foundation,
ph: +64 3 364 2550, email: ucfoundation@ or see www.canterbury.
Canterbury Magazine
New appointment in UK to foster UC relations
Bretherton graduated from the University
with a BA in philosophy and religious
studies in 1975, going on to St John’s
College, Auckland, where he gained an LTh
and STh before being ordained an Anglican
deacon in Christchurch Cathedral and
becoming curate of Ashburton.
From 1979 to 1980, he completed a
production course at the Roman Catholic
Radio and Television Centre in London and
worked for the BBC before returning to New
Zealand to be vicar of Te Kauwhata and then
Cambridge, also producing and presenting
for Radio New Zealand’s Faith and Works
programme on National Radio for 12 years.
There followed four years as marketing
and fundraising officer with Presbyterian
Support Services (Northern) based in
Hamilton, and three further academic
qualifications, including a master’s degree
in Management Studies (with Distinction)
from the University of Waikato.
He also found time to squeeze in 11 years as
a volunteer fire-fighter.
Bretherton was director of development
at Waikato University for five years before
returning to the UK to take up the role
of executive director of the University of
Limerick Foundation in Ireland.
“We New Zealanders are rightly proud
rugby fans, but to be in Thomond Park
in Limerick for a Munster match in the
Heineken Cup is a whole different thing,”
he says. “And to be in O’Shea’s for the
evening afterwards is magic.”
Photo courtesy of Tony Bretherton.
Tony Bretherton has taken up a part-time
role as senior consultant to assist with
fundraising efforts through the UK-based
University of Canterbury (NZ) Trust and
the establishment of a UK Alumni Chapter
for UC graduates and friends.
He moved to Somerset, UK, in 2006, where
he is currently Director of Development and
CEO for Wells Cathedral School Foundation.
A specialist music school, Wells celebrates
1,100 years of music and education in 2009.
Tony Bretherton
Of his new role for Canterbury, Bretherton
says, “It’s a pleasure to be able to contribute
to the future of the University that gave me
a wonderful start to life.
owe to the University that opened up the
world to us — and we can all do something
positive to support its future.”
“We all need to remember how much we
Malaysian Scholarship Fund continues to grow
Y Bhg Datuk Oh Siew Nam, who gifted
NZ$10,000, has been joined in his support
of the fund by his three children, Andrew,
Chris and Suzanne, who have each given
Executive Officer of the University of
Canterbury Foundation, Ms Shelagh Murray,
said it was wonderful to see such generosity
from a family of graduates.
“Datuk Oh and his family are an inspiring
example of the loyalty and generosity many
of our Malaysian alumni feel towards the
University of Canterbury.
“So many of the University’s international
students come from Malaysia, so we are
very pleased to be able to grow a scholarship
fund specifically for Malaysian students.”
Murray said there was still some progress
to be made. The fund needs to reach
NZ$100,000 before the first scholarship
can be awarded.
“The scholarships will be awarded from
the interest on the fund, so we still have
to raise a significant amount before we
can make a disbursement. The advantage of
this is that the fund will go on in perpetuity
— contributors can rest assured that their
gift will continue to benefit generations
of students.”
Datuk Oh graduated from the University
with a BE(Hons) in electrical and electronic
engineering in 1962. Keen for his own
children to share his Kiwi experience, he
sent all three to study at his alma mater,
Andrew graduating LLB, 1992, Chris BSc,
1993, and Suzanne BCom, 1997.
assistant controller of Telecom Malaysia for
five years before he joined the FFM Group in
1968, later becoming managing director and
executive chairman. He is also a Director of
Kuok Brothers Sdn Bhd and a Board Member
of Bank Negara Malaysia.
For more information on contributing to
the Malaysian Scholarship Fund, please
contact Shelagh Murray, Executive Officer,
UC Foundation, ph: +64 3 364 2550, email:
[email protected] or see
In 2000 — the year after he received his
Datukship for services to the Malaysian
government — Datuk Oh presented the
graduation address at the University’s
2000 Graduation and Degree Representation
in Kuala Lumpur, delighting the audience
with stories from his student days and
emphasising how his experience of Kiwi
self-reliance had contributed to his
ensuing career.
The Malaysian Scholarship Fund launched
in August 2007 is growing rapidly thanks
to the generous combined gift of the Oh
family, which brings the current total to
Datuk Oh is currently Executive Director and
Chairman of PPB Group Berhad. He was the
Summer 2008
Mobile learning
By Stacey Doornenbal
It has been a very eventful year for
University of Canterbury alumnus Nathan
Kerr — and he owes it all to cellphones.
The College of Education graduate and
Onehunga High School geography teacher
has developed an innovative teaching tool
that takes advantage of mobile phone and
information communications technology,
allowing him to deliver teaching material to
students via their cellphones.
“What happens is that students go on
field trips and collect digital images using
camcorders or their cellphones. I supervise
what they need to take images of so it’s
relevant to what they need to know for
their end of year exams. When we get back
to school the images are collected and
stored on a shared drive and I get them to
make movies of their field trip. The data is
then compressed and transferred to their
cellphones through Bluetooth or USB. Their
mobiles essentially become notebooks that
can take up to 100 little narrated movies on
them,” he says.
“It has made learning available any time,
anywhere — and it’s free.”
The mobile learning, or mLearning project,
has attracted much attention nationally and
internationally. As well as being contacted
by educational institutions and businesses
keen to use his mLearning tool for teaching
and marketing purposes, he was one of six
New Zealand teachers awarded a Microsoft
Innovative Teacher Scholarship (MINTS)
earlier this year by the Microsoft Partners in
Learning (PiL) programme, a global initiative
aimed at encouraging innovative approaches
to teaching and increasing the use of
technology in schools.
The scholarship gave him a chance to spend
six months away from the classroom in
the technical department of Television
New Zealand where he investigated
how technology can be used to develop
In April, his inventiveness was again
recognised when the PiL programme named
him New Zealand Innovative Teacher of the
Year, an award he received while attending
the annual PiL Regional Innovative Teachers
Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, as a MINTS
recipient. The national title has now taken
him to the Microsoft Worldwide Innovative
Teacher Forum in Hong Kong, where he is in
contention for one of four world innovative
teacher of the year titles to be announced in
November. On top of all this, he became a
first-time father.
Canterbury Magazine
Innovative teacher Nathan Kerr has turned cellphones into a teaching tool.
“It really has been a big year for me,” he says.
But Kerr says a lot of credit for the mLearning
tool needs to go to his students, who raised
the idea in the first instance when they
heard cellphones could store computer files.
Since then they have played an active role in
the project, providing feedback and passing
on their extensive knowledge of cellphone
and communications technology to Kerr,
who admits he was largely in the dark on
such matters before he took on the project.
While he says the technology to create his
mobile learning tool has been around for the
better part of a decade, it was his students’
familiarity with such technology that made
the project possible.
“This project was completely studentdriven. I just mapped out the process for
transferring the data and they would look at
it and critique it — it was like being graded —
and I’d go away and tinker with it a bit more
and they’d have another look at it. We’ve
now refined it to a point where the process is
very simple,” he says.
“But I really couldn’t have done any of this
without them.”
Kerr says the development of the mLearning
tool has had a noticeable effect on his
students. Not only have they developed
an enthusiastic interest in the technological
side of the project, they have also become
keenly interested in the teaching material
“They’ve really been getting into the
technology and the geography. They seem
to be absolutely fascinated with the idea
that they can carry around their lessons
or projects in a little phone and view their
movies any time they want,” he says.
“And, because they can download anyone’s
clip, they have been critiquing each other’s
material without my prompting. I’ve come
across a few lively debates and it’s really
exciting to see them getting so involved in
the topic.”
Kerr plans to continue developing the
mLearning tool and is currently looking at
how micro data projectors and cellphones
with in-built data projectors can be used as
teaching devices.
Colour breakthrough
By Jane Lucas
No longer a see-through dream, the new
technology could be used to develop a new
New Zealand industry supplying colour
X-ray systems to the international research
and medical imaging markets.
Being able to produce colour X-rays gives
doctors much more information to work
on. The pictures will help in better cancer
detection because it can provide images
that show whether a tumour is vascular or
fatty tissue — a tumour that has poor blood
flow and is mostly fatty tissue tends not to
be cancerous, says Dr Butler.
And while the people in Christchurch
are looking at building and refining
the technology, in parallel there is an
international Medipix collaboration working
on the X-ray detector. The technology is
available to build a desktop scanner and the
pieces for a full-body scanner exist, but still
need integrating and refining.
“The colour pictures produced by the
scanner we have developed will provide
more information for doctors to make
decisions that will save lives,” says Professor
Phil Butler (Physics and Astronomy). “Not
only here in New Zealand, but we expect it
will save lives worldwide.”
“It could be used to give much greater detail
in bone density scans and to diagnose
osteoporosis or assess someone’s risk of
bone fractures. It could also be used to
quickly diagnose internal injuries after a car
crash, so doctors know whether they need
to operate immediately or not.
Colour X-rays are an old idea that has finally
come of age explains Professor Butler.
“Medical physicists have always known
there is a lot of extra information that they
couldn’t record.”
The new colour scanner is based on
Medipix technology that has come out of
CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear
Research), based on the border of France
and Switzerland near Geneva — the same
place the worldwide web was developed.
While Professor Butler was visiting CERN he
thought the silicon pixel technology used
for the high energy physics experiments
could be adapted for X-rays and consulted
his son Dr Antony Butler, a doctor and
radiologist at Christchurch Hospital. Shortly
after Dr Butler was in Europe and saw the
technology and said yes.
“It will give us better information about
strokes and heart disease too,” says Dr
Butler. “The benefits are far-ranging. All
X-rays are better in colour.”
Canterbury scientists have come up
with colour X-ray technology that will
revolutionise the medical world.
“We are lucky in that we have a lot of
expertise concentrated in a small regional
area like Christchurch that is not often seen
elsewhere in the world,” says Professor
Butler. The team involved in the new X-ray
technology includes Professor Butler,
Associate Professor Lou Reinisch, Dr Richard
Watts and Dr Juergen Meyer (Physics
and Astronomy), Professor Phil Bones
(Electrical and Computer Engineering),
Dr Nick Cook (Christchurch Hospital) and
Dr Nigel Anderson (University of Otago
The cardio endocrine group at Christchurch
Hospital has been working with the scanner
and everyone is impressed, says
Dr Butler.
So far, images of a mouse’s pulmonary tree
(lung and vessels in the heart) have been
captured and Dr Butler says they can now
begin to apply the scanner to humans. “At
the moment the technology is very complex
and very new, and as we build the scanners
and the technology, involved researchers
will have to learn how the technology can
help them and which diseases are best
suited to look at.”
Physicists for a long time have been working
on technology to record more with X-rays.
First discovered in 1895 as another form of
iodising particles, X-rays were also looked
at by UC alumnus Ernest, Lord Rutherford,
who worked on alpha and gamma particles
that are used in X-ray technology.
“People have continued looking at better
ways of detecting iodising particles for the
last 115 years and there has been a steady
improvement. Developing the Medipix
technology to adapt it to a colour X-ray
scanner is another step,” says Professor
“We anticipate that true full-colour X-ray
images will also be very dramatic and have
a positive impact on healthcare in New
Zealand and the world.”
The Medipix is an electronic chip similar
to the electronic imaging chip in a digital
camera. The prototype X-ray scanner
has already taken colour images of
laboratory mice and excised tissue (surgical
specimens). It is a portable, high-resolution
spectral CT scanner which currently is
being used as a research tool, studying
disease and excised tissue of animal models
of disease, but Dr Butler expects in the
next year dozens of labs will be using this
“We plan to export the technology, first
working on a desktop prototype that can
be built in New Zealand. It is estimated that
the technology could eventually generate
revenues of more than $400 million per
Professor Phil Butler (rear) and Dr Andrew Butler hope colour X-rays will help save more lives.
Summer 2008
By Naomi Arnold
Research by University of Canterbury engineers is likely to
transform the look and feel of the buildings of the future.
They are investigating new methods of construction with timber,
which up to now has been largely shunned as a material for taller
buildings. Now it is set to become an environmentally-friendly
building material that will be stronger and safer in earthquakes than
traditional concrete and steel structures.
A concrete column one metre tall is mounted outside the
Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering. Chunks
of cement are missing from its surface, revealing a framework
of battered steel rods. It looks like a memorial to a demolished
building or a monument to a natural disaster. In fact, it is a
disturbing example of what could happen to a traditional building’s
concrete supporting structure in a severe earthquake.
Inside the civil engineering department’s structures lab, engineers
are creating more. They are testing the strength of buildings in
extremes of weather, fire and seismic activity, working on uses for
a product that is destined to create exciting new opportunities in
the building industry. Charred slabs of wood, concrete and steel
are scattered around the floor. The superior benefits of wood are
obvious as researchers test the timber in the laboratory. The thick
slabs burn slowly, keeping the building standing for longer. A team
surrounds a furnace, timing how long a block of wood takes to burn
until charred through. Numerous stations are set up simulating
the effect of earthquakes of varying degrees of severity on steel,
concrete and timber joists and foundations. PhD student Michael
Newcombe is testing the strength of concrete floors mounted on
wooden joists.
Professor of Timber Design Andy Buchanan walks over to a scale
model of a building several stories high and shoves one of its
wooden edges. The mock-up frame, no bigger than a doll’s house,
bends under his hand and rocks easily back into shape.
“This means that in an earthquake the building will return to its
original position with no structural damage,” Buchanan says. “Of
course there’ll be some damage to the contents of the building, but
the clean-up will be a lot quicker.”
Left: Professor Andy Buchanan
Canterbury Magazine
Buchanan’s team is confident the model represents the future of the
building industry.
“We don’t have anything like this in the world yet, but we know
enough to get it started.”
Wood has moved from a commodity into an engineering material,
and the team is now researching its potential for the traditionally
cautious building industry, and finding ways to overcome the
perceived barriers to building with wood. Multi-storey stick frame
construction was popular for buildings of less than six storeys
in the 1990s, but there were problems with inadequate weatherproofing, leading to decay in untreated timber. Buchanan’s team is
overcoming this with strict new design and inspection procedures.
Buchanan and University of Canterbury structural engineering
colleague Dr Stefano Pampanin lead the team that has pioneered a
technique of pre-stressing wood beams that means stronger, bigger
and safer wooden buildings can be built than those that have come
before. “It’s about developing timber buildings that are just as
good as other materials. Wood can directly compete with steel and
concrete in many situations,” says Buchanan.
They use laminated veneer lumber, produced by Carter Holt Harvey
and Nelson Pine Industries for the past several years. It looks like
plywood, but comes in much larger and stronger panels. It can be
fabricated into large post-tensioned timber beams and columns,
where a steel rod is inserted through internal ducts and tightened. In
a severe earthquake a building made of these beams will sway on its
foundations, absorbing and dissipating the energy of the shock.
The team is negotiating a major research contract with the
Structural Timber Innovation Company Ltd (STIC), jointly funded
by industry and government through the Foundation for Research,
Science and Technology. STIC will undertake research to develop
large-span timber buildings for a wide range of eventual uses —
commercial, educational, industrial, recreational and residential
buildings in Australasia and overseas. The buildings will eventually
be up to 10 levels high, though Buchanan says they will start with
fewer storeys. A combination of government and industry will fund
the project for the first five years.
Perhaps most pertinent to New Zealand is the buildings’ ability to
withstand earthquakes. On the way out of the laboratory, Buchanan
gestures back inside. “Some of those model buildings in there have
been through 50 earthquakes and they show no signs of serious
damage. Severe earthquakes — six, seven, eight on the Richter
scale.” They have held up better than the shattered concrete beam
displayed outside.
As well as safety in earthquakes, extreme weather and fire, the new
timber building materials will change the building industry in other
ways too. Buildings made of wood will have less mass than concrete
— a cubic metre of wood weighs only half a tonne compared with
concrete at two tonnes — easing transport and foundation costs. As
many of the materials will be pre-fabricated off-site, the buildings
will also be easier and cheaper to construct.
Building design will also be a lot more flexible, says Buchanan.
“Finished buildings will have wide open spaces with partitions
that, because they’re not load-bearing, will be able to be moved.
So you can change the use of a building over its lifetime. You can
take panels out, make it look different, and also change its outside
appearance.” He says they will also offer excellent living and working
conditions with excellent acoustics and efficient heating and
cooling, as well as being more attractive.
Florian Ludwig (front) and Asif Iqbal work on shear walls that are typical of multi-storey
timber buildings.
By using wood, buildings of the future are also set to be more
eco-friendly. Sitting in his office, crowded with pieces of timber
stacked against the walls, Buchanan calculates the carbon dioxide
emissions from manufacturing the structural materials for a
six-storey office building. Using mostly steel would produce 1684
tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, concrete 1431 tonnes, and
timber 661 tonnes, he says.
In addition to the benefits of a timber structure, using wood to
replace materials such as aluminium window frames and concrete
cladding would result in negative carbon emissions overall. The
carbon locked up in the timber building materials can more than
offset the CO2 emissions from manufacturing all the other materials
in the building. A building made from wood will offset the emissions
from the manufacture of the other materials by acting as a carbon
sink, and their creation will contribute less CO2 into the atmosphere
compared to traditional construction.
To support New Zealand’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol,
after September this year the designers of all new governmentfunded buildings up to four floors high will have to consider using
wood or wood-based products for their supporting structures.
Worldwide focus on sustainable buildings, renewable materials
and reduced carbon dioxide emissions means wood has become an
attractive building resource, and STIC is making sustainability one of
its strong points.
Summer 2008
Rita Angus
in Christchurch
By John Coley
Who in the late 1920s would have
imagined that the shy young woman
attending to her studies with quiet
intensity at the Canterbury College
School of Fine Arts would become a
cultural heroine whose portraits and
landscapes would impress themselves
into the national consciousness?
Yet it seemed perfectly reasonable in 2006
that the iconic work Cass by Rita Angus
should be voted New Zealand’s most
popular painting in a poll taken by the
television arts programme Kalaidoscope.
Her 1936 oil of the rail shelter in Arthur’s
Pass surrounded by towering mountain
slopes has hung in both the McDougall
and new Christchurch art galleries for
many years, attracting the scrutiny and
admiration of visitors away from bigger and
more boisterous works nearby.
Character is perhaps the key ingredient in
the mix of traits that make an outstanding
artist. Other elements must, of course,
be present — exceptional visual sensibility,
painterly skills, an original and creative
mind. But it is character — self knowledge,
knowing what one wants to achieve, and
having the intellectual courage to be one’s
own most demanding critic along with a
drive to continue through every variety
of distraction life deals — that makes a
major artist.
Angus had character in abundance with all
the other qualities at the ready when she
entered the Canterbury College School of
Art in 1927, shortly after her 19th birthday.
Daughter of a successful builder, she was in
Canterbury Magazine
possession of a sound secondary education
received at Palmerston North Girls’ High
School where she had been a bossy but
respected prefect. She also arrived with a
solid technical foundation provided by her
art tutor George Eliot. From 1885 to 1905
Eliot had headed the Canterbury College
School of Art before becoming art master
at the Palmerston North Technical High
It had been Eliot who had written to the
School of Fine Arts recommending his
pupil for a place in the 1927 class, initiating
a 12 year, formative relationship with
The story of the artist’s rise is told in Jill
Trevelyan’s superb biography, Rita Angus:
An Artist’s Life, published by Te Papa to
accompany the major Angus retrospective
celebrating the centenary of her birth. A
wonderfully detailed account, meticulously
researched, written with wit, clarity and
insight, it illuminates a life that for all its
subject’s shyness and nun-like dedication,
was lived with a spiky individuality and zeal.
During the three decades from 1914-44 New
Zealand was stripped of an appallingly high
number of its young manhood, beginning
with World War I, and the influenza
epidemic in 1918 dealing another blow.
After these miseries, a devastating Great
Depression struck, soon followed by a
Second World War. With so much potential
creativity wasted, so much psychic pain
from the loss of loved ones and security, it
is little wonder that the general tone of New
Zealand’s visual art was subdued.
But there was also a spring growth in the
visual arts as an emergent generation
began to question imported models and
ventured fresh ways of interpreting their
land, its life and people. Among them
were young women artists — Ngaio Marsh,
Evelyn Polson, Rata Lovell-Smith, Margaret
Anderson, Doris Lusk, Olivia SpencerBower, Christabel Aitken and Cora Wilding.
Surrounded in Christchurch by such
exemplars, Rita Angus dedicated herself to
developing her “pure painting”.
In 1929, a number of Canterbury artists
including Marsh, Anderson, Aitken, Wilding
and Polson, formed The Group, to exhibit
in the Canterbury Society of Arts premises.
Thereafter the annual shows presented the
work of the most adventurous and original
In 1933, Angus exhibited with The Group,
along with Alfred and James Cook, and
showing regularly thereafter. She married
Alf Cook, seemingly to allow travel with him
on painting expeditions without arousing
scandal. After a few years they divorced.
Later the “Rita Cook” with which she had
signed work changed back to “Rita Angus”.
In 1937, 29-year-old Angus moved into
97a Cambridge Terrace near the Bridge of
Remembrance, adjoining a flat occupied
by Leo Bensemann and his lifelong friend
Lawrence Baigent, later Canterbury
University Librarian. The painter Sydney
Thompson owned the building, living and
working in the studio during his visits from
France. Over two years Bensemann and
Angus made many portraits of each other
Leo Bensemann (1938), Rita Angus, oil on canvas, Museum
of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Reproduced courtesy
of the Rita Angus Estate.
and of Baigent, both artists refining closely
related styles featuring crisp, accurate
delineation reminiscent of Renaissance
portraits. Works from this period, including
Bensemann’s gripping image of Angus as,
what Dr Peter Simpson called, “a Gothic
dominatrix”, her portrait of Bensemann as
a saturnine charmer and her miraculously
executed watercolour study of Baigent,
were included in an exhibition presented in
the Canterbury Museum, titled Rita Angus
and Leo Bensemann — the Cambridge
Terrace years.
The 1938 portrait of the two daughters of
Dr Frank and Margaret Birkinshaw, English
residents temporarily in Christchurch,
illustrates the originality of Angus’ painting
and its distance from British academism. It
is an intensely observed double portrait of
two vivacious little girls, its composition
worked out with clockwork precision,
immaculately painted with clean, sharp
colour. It is an animated image without a
trace of class pretension or flattering visual
rhetoric. Mrs Birkinshaw loathed it. As the
little girl Fay, grown to maturity as the
novelist Fay Weldon, said, “It broke every
rule in the Slade’s (art school) book”.
Angus moved to Wellington in 1941,
continuing to exhibit annually with
The Group.
It was at The Group show opening in 1960
that I had my only meeting with her. My
first showing with The Group, I was made
welcome by the old hands. Angus, down
from Wellington, wished to meet new
artists and I was sought out and ushered
up to her. I recall her distinctive, sharp
rather bird-like features, now familiar
through her numerous self-portraits, and
that she wore an elegantly cut dove grey
dress that chimed harmoniously with her
short cut silvery hair.
Top: Cass (1936), Rita Angus, oil on canvas on board,
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, purchased
1955. Reproduced courtesy of the Rita Angus Estate.
Above: Fay and Jane Birkinshaw (1938), Rita Angus, oil
on canvas, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
Reproduced courtesy of the Rita Angus Estate.
Jill Trevelyan’s new biography Rita Angus: An Artist’s Life
The particular memory of that night
was the gaiety typical of crowded Group
openings but made special by the presence
of not only Angus but some of the leading
champions of contemporary painting.
The 1960 catalogue lists Rita Angus’ nine
Island Bay works, two Colin McCahon
French Bay pictures and exhibits from
Juliet Peter, Russell Clark, Bill Sutton,
Quentin Macfarlane, Rudolph Gopas,
Toss Woollaston and others. Paintings
by Woollaston and Gopas were the most
expensive at 60gns. Those of Angus
ranged from 5 to 25gns. McCahon’s were
not for sale.
As the crowd departed I witnessed an elated
band of old friends among the exhibitors
— Angus, Rodney Kennedy, Charles Brasch,
Bensemann, Lusk, Spencer-Bower and
Sutton — joking with each other as they
discussed the evening’s highlights.
Previous page: Detail of Passionflower (1943), Rita Angus,
watercolour, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
Reproduced courtesy of the Rita Angus Estate.
Twenty-five years ago the National Art
Gallery organised the first comprehensive
exhibition of Angus’ work, the first time
the full scope and quality of her output had
been seen. In 1983, at the McDougall gallery
the show attracted record attendances. Her
memorable images, their distinctive style,
the strong connection they made with
New Zealanders elevated her high in the
pantheon of the country’s finest painters.
One of her fellow pupils in Palmerston
North had written a poem about the rather
stern but admired prefect who could make
marvellous drawings, the last two lines
Her sketches would entrance you —
they are famous for their beauty
Her paintings you’d remember all your days.
How amazingly true that young schoolgirl’s
prediction turned out to be.
Summer 2008
climate change theory undermined by a
Canterbury Magazine
Illustration: Tim Ingle
By John MacDonald
Scaling steep-sided ridges about a
hundred metres high and crawling over
fallen logs through prickly scrub and
clawing vines paid off handsomely for
graduate student Daniel Tovar and his
research supervisors.
Associate Professor Tim Davies and
Professor Jamie Shulmeister (Geological
Sciences) smile as they reflect on their
student’s “Vietcong-style” approach to
field work on the Waiho Loop, on the South
Island’s West Coast.
“This is a very steep-sided ridge,” says
Davies, momentarily losing his smile.
“It’s got a lot of great big rocks on the top.
It’s got a lot of great big trees in it, many of
which have fallen down, probably shaken
down by Alpine Fault earthquakes. He’d be
sweating and the whole thing would be
distinctly unpleasant.
in the area, in particular one known as
the Waiho Loop. A moraine is a ridge that
marks the end of an earlier glacier advance.
Scientists have long believed the Waiho
Loop was created during a brief cold snap
about 13,000 years ago that also affected
Europe and North America, and inspired the
Hollywood blockbuster movie The Day After
While the Loop moraine had been
widely used as evidence for direct interhemispheric linkage in climate change,
Shulmeister says its sediments had never
been studied.
“When Dan had a look he discovered that it
was mainly made up of a rock type known
as greywacke which is different to the rocks
that make up all the other moraines in front
of the Franz Josef glacier.
In their own words Tovar’s hot, sweaty field
work enabled the trio to pour cold water on
evidence that climate change is happening
simultaneously around the world.
“This rock type occurs about 13 kilometres
up the valley from the Loop. All the other
moraines are predominantly composed
of schist which outcrops near Franz Josef
township. The greywacke was also rather
more angular than the rocks in the other
moraines, suggesting it had not been
transported in water or at the base of a
But for all its significance, the outcome
could have been very different had they
not suffered the kind of setback which had
them back on campus looking at each other
wondering what to do next.
Shulmeister says getting a large deposit
of angular greywacke rock to the moraine
without diluting it with schist could only
have happened if it had been carried on top
of the glacier.
The story begins with Tovar asking Davies
and Shulmeister for ideas for his honours
“The easiest way to do this is to have a
large landslide well up the glacier in the
greywacke zone dump a huge volume of
rock on top of the glacier.”
“A young, fit, energetic, enthusiastic and
just slightly mad Mexican is just the sort of
person you need for this sort of field work,”
he says, the smile returning.
“Both Jamie and I had been interested in the
Franz Josef area for quite a long time. My
area is hazard management so I was keen to
push down in that direction,” says Davies,
who had previously studied the aftermath
of a 1995 event which deposited half a
million cubic metres of sediment on the
Waiho riverbed in one night.
“We thought it would be interesting to see
if there was any sedimentary evidence of
previous events farther down the river. So
that was the basis of Dan’s first project and
he did a lot of reading on it, went down to
Franz, poked around for a couple of days and
came back very depressed saying ‘nothing
like that down there’. At that stage we put
our heads together again.”
They suggested Tovar return to Franz
Josef to investigate a series of moraines
As far as Davies was concerned, the idea
the moraine could be the outcome of
something other than a climatic event made
sense, as he had always thought it “looked
a bit odd”.
“I’d always sort of wondered if it might
in fact be a landslide deposit because we
know that landslides that fall into glaciers
do strange things; that they cause glaciers
to advance and that can cause a terminal
moraine to develop. This was the first
chance we’d had to actually have a student
there digging around in some detail. He
came back with his story so we got very
excited by that.”
But Shulmeister says his excitement was
tempered by the fact that his student had
made the kind of discovery none of them
had anticipated when they started throwing
around ideas for research projects.
“I have to say my first reaction was that I
wasn’t sure I believed that Dan had correctly
identified that there was a difference. So
we sent him back out to quantify, to bring
samples back and demonstrate there really
was a difference. He came back and the data
really seemed to show that, so I actually
went into the field with Dan and within a
matter of a few minutes I realised that Dan
really did know what he was doing and had
stumbled onto something quite important.”
Shulmeister describes standing on the
moraine with rock in his hands as a “eureka
He had answered a question that, until
that moment, he had not even thought to
ask: that if the Waiho Loop represented a
regional cooling event that had caused all
the glaciers to re-advance, why was it there
were no other moraines like it in any of the
other valleys in the area?
“Once you saw it, it was obvious what it
meant. It was also obvious to me that the
whole climatic story was going to be in
quite a lot of trouble. And that was huge
because the Waiho Loop is a very famous
moraine. It’s been studied for over 30 years.
There have been numerous papers in top
flight international journals like Science and
Nature because it’s seen as the New Zealand
equivalent of this big event that happened
in the northern hemisphere. Once you’ve
identified that it’s a landslide then all of
those relationships come crashing down.”
As a result of their findings, which
have been published in the prestigious
international science journal, Nature
Geoscience, Shulmeister and Davies have
considered the cause of the landslide. They
have identified the South Island’s Alpine
Fault, which runs through the Franz Josef
township, as a likely cause.
“Our next move is to see if we can come up
with more general means for separating
landslide generated moraines from
climatic ones — and we think we can,” says
“If we can do this then we may be able
to use these glacial moraines as a tool
to examine past earthquakes and this
may ultimately contribute to hazard
management in high mountain areas.”
Summer 2008
Celebrity cook Richard Till is on a crusade to help New Zealand get over its culinary
cultural cringe and put classic Kiwi tucker back on the nation’s menu.
Maria De Cort reports.
Richard Till, whose day job is Technical Director and Designer
in UC’s Theatre and Film Studies department, has become a
household name with two successful series of his cooking show
Kiwi Kitchen screening on TV One and the associated DVD and
book selling like the proverbial hot cakes.
Canterbury University, so the family regularly opened its doors to
visiting international musicians and the young Richard enjoyed
watching his mother prepare fancy meals for the guests. Some of his
earliest food memories are of the delicious aromas that wafted up
the stairs to his bedroom.
In Kiwi Kitchen Till takes viewers tiki-touring around the country to
meet local characters who cook the food we remember so fondly,
from “boil-ups” to bacon and egg pie, to pikelets and the iconic
pavlova. He explores the origin of the dishes and explains why they
have become part of our cultural identity and even rustles up his
own modern takes on the classics in his home kitchen in suburban
Christchurch at the end of each episode.
Early in his career, while working as a set builder and painter for
several years in both Christchurch and Wellington, he made his entry
into the restaurant industry, working nights, first as a waiter, then
as “the cook”.
Till says what he is proudest of about the show is its celebration of
the ordinary.
“I think people like the fact it is not all ‘chefly’ and it’s not trying to
recreate restaurant food at home, which has sort of become a bit of
an obsession. It talks to people because it’s our own stories as New
Zealanders, and they’re all pretty ordinary stories, they’re not geed
up at all.”
He hopes that, as well as being entertained by the quirky, irreverent
celebration of Kiwi cuisine, he has given viewers “confidence in
liking what they like rather than feeling they should be liking
something more ‘evolved’ in a culinary sense”.
Till, who grew up in Christchurch and Dunedin, first developed an
interest in food as a young boy watching his mother managing
the family kitchen and “filling the tins”. His father is renowned
concert pianist Maurice Till, former dean of music and fine arts at
Canterbury Magazine
Till is completely self-taught — his early training consisting of
reading Julia Childs’ cookbooks and American Gourmet restaurant
reviews. In 1988, he opened Espresso 124, the first restaurant on
what was to become Christchurch’s “The Strip”, now home to some
of the city’s most popular bars and restaurants. He later opened a
second restaurant, The Worcester Street Dining Room.
Since 2002, Till has performed comedy cooking shows at a number
of festivals around the country, including the inaugural University
of Canterbury arts festival, Platform, in 2006. In adopting his alter
ego, Dick, Till’s sell-out shows Just Dick It, Dick Does Dinner and Dick’s
Entertaining Guide offered a gentle poke at celebrity chefs and food
fads and let amateur cooks in on some culinary secrets to help them
shine in the kitchen.
Earlier this year Till had six months’ leave from his University
position during which he opened a three-week-only restaurant
called Anderson Dining in a former foundry in the Christchurch
suburb of Woolston. Till describes the venture as an “interesting
experiment” and says it was a way he could enjoy the fun of
Richard Till rustles up his modern take on New Zealand classics from the comfort of his home kitchen.
returning to his restaurant roots while avoiding the “life sentence”
that he knew the role of a restaurateur could quickly feel like with its
long hours and hard slog.
Following the canapés, the first course was a seafood hangi cooked
on the steps of the hall in a contraption fashioned on a marae down
“New Zealanders tend to be rather enthusiastic about the next new
thing rather than having an ongoing relationship with something
over the years. I just wanted to seize that whole thing by the scruff
of the neck and turn it around.”
“When the plates all came back with finger marks and tongue marks
on that course I knew we were away laughing,” says Till.
However, the main reason for taking leave was a mass community
dinner he masterminded that was staged as part of the New Zealand
International Arts Festival in Wellington earlier this year.
The invite list for the NZ Post Writers and Readers Week Gala Dinner
included ambassadors, parliamentarians, captains of industry and
other “A-listers”, with the guest of honour being none other than
Ruth Reichl, former New York Times restaurant reviewer and current
editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine.
So what do you put on the menu when you are feeding a Big Apple
epicurean? Well, when you are Till you start with cheese rolls
and devils-on-horseback (prunes in bacon) and end the evening
with trifle, steamed pud’ and custard courtesy of the Poverty Bay
Women’s Institute, followed by Girl Guide biscuits and a brew.
The dinner was held in a school hall and Till enlisted an army of
volunteers from community groups to turn his vision into reality.
All the tables in the room were set with a different domestic table
setting bought off Trade Me. All guests received a little cookbook
in the style of the community cookbooks of yesteryear that most
nanas from Kaitaia to Bluff will have at least one well-thumbed copy
of in their kitchens.
“It was a bit of a surprise to the guests what style of dinner it
was and it was hugely successful, because it was cooked with all
that close attention, love for the food, pride and enthusiasm, by
amateurs rather than that sort of ‘off-hand just-another-day-at-theoffice disregard’. That’s not a critical thing, it’s just a matter that
those cooks out the back of those big catering kitchens don’t have
any investment in who it is dining today.”
The hangi was followed by a salad of tomatoes, grown by home
gardeners all over the country as, “let’s not beat around the bush,
there is something really better about backyard-grown tomatoes
than commercial ones”; and while professional chefs helped out on
Till’s play on colonial goose (hogget stuffed with duck) a mothers’
group took care of the veggies for the main course.
“Each table had to elect someone to carve and they got a carving
knife and an apron and the whole shooting match and so we served
that like a Sunday roast sort of scenario.”
Till says he is “really chuffed” with how the evening panned out.
“Ruth loved it. She seemed to be overawed by the whole thing. She
told her husband and son not to come because it was going to be
‘another of those boring chef’s dinners’, so she claimed to be very
embarrassed because it was so much better.”
Till says it was a triumph for unpretentious food.
“There’s this whole dogma of flash dinners and this belief that
there’s one way of doing it. But there’s just not. There’s a whole lot
of ways that are far more engaging and meaningful.”
So what else is on this busy foodie’s plate? In addition to his weekly
“Sounds Delicious” spot on National Radio’s Nine till Noon show
and column in the Sunday Star-Times, he is working on a cookbook
inspired by his eldest son going flatting, doing the odd product
demonstration and judging gig, and regularly popping up on our TV
screens giving commentary on food issues. He says there are ideas
being touted to take the Kiwi Kitchen concept abroad looking at
domestic culinary traditions beyond our shores, and in his tonguein-cheek way he also jokes that “Alison Holst is retiring so I suppose
there’s a sniff of an opportunity there”.
Summer 2008
Turning techies into teachers
By Jane Lucas
The days when “manual training”
teachers instructed classes on how to
make wooden key ring holders or jars of
lemon honey have evolved into a totally
new type of “technology” education.
“It is so much more involved now,”
says Wendy Fox-Turnbull, Deputy
Head of the School of Sciences and
Physical Education. “Technology is
now an academic subject and it leads
into a variety of career paths such as
engineering, fashion design, food
technology, as well as the traditional
building or metalwork apprenticeships.”
To meet the needs of teacher
trainees wanting to teach the “new
technologies”, the College of Education
is offering two new courses in 2009
within the Graduate Diploma that will
incorporate food and textile craft,
ICT (information and communication
technology) and workshop craft
The first course, EDTE310, is
compulsory if the student intends
to teach technology as a minor
or major subject in a school. The
second course, EDTE 311, is required
if the teacher trainee intends to
teach the subject as a major to a
senior level. Teacher trainees who
do not have a degree but have
experience in a technology field,
such as being a chef or a boat
builder, can teach technology as a
minor subject.
“Technology as a subject is
so different to that of the
3636 Canterbury
traditional manual skills-based training,”
says Fox-Turnbull. “We teach the
philosophical understanding of technology
education, the generic technology
knowledge, the curriculum and strategies,
rather than a set of prescribed skills.”
One exciting part of the course, she says, is
that the students will have the opportunity
to critique how the technology curriculum
relates to current practice within their
specialist field.
“This will be to show the school students
the real world application of their
technology,” says lecturer Paul Snape
(Sciences and Physical Education). “We
want them to behave like little mini
Over the years the number of teaching
students taking technology courses has
dwindled, says Fox- Turnbull. Previously
students came to the College of Education
with industry experience or an advanced
trade certificate but in recent years the
Teacher Education Council changed the
entry requirements and now requires
all teachers have a degree. This means a
woodwork teacher now has to have a degree
rather than a trade certificate in building.
“It sounds silly, but technology is now an
academic subject; although it is practical,
it requires specific knowledge,” says FoxTurnbull. “We want students who have
degrees in architecture, food technology,
fashion design, landscape design — all those
sorts of degrees.”
Fox-Turnbull says that the one fundamental
difference between the old manual courses
and technology courses today is that the
old manual woodwork class was designed
to build one set of skills.
“Technology education still hugely values
those skills, but the children learn the skills
when they need them for a specific project.
Technology education is a needs-based
learning. For example, I go running and I get
my shoes wet so I need someone to design a
fabric that doesn’t get wet. There are a lot of
skills there that need to be taught.
“In the old manual training everyone used to
do the same thing — it was an instructional
model — but that is not what technology is
all about,” adds Snape. “It’s now more about
student ownership of the design — the way
they intervene in the design process to
come up with a solution to the brief that has
been set. There is a problem to be solved or
an opportunity to be met.”
The changes in technology have meant
a whole new skill-set and mind-set for
teachers. They now have to be more cooperative, says Snape. “It’s more difficult as
a teacher will have a classroom of students
all doing different things in order to find
a solution to the set task. It’s scary when
you set a brief and you have no idea where
the groups of school students may take it.
There are issues that challenge teachers and
hence the need for change in the technology
courses offered by the College.”
Confident the new courses are the way
forward to develop budding entrepreneurs
the College’s new challenge is to attract
student teachers to take these new
technology courses. “It’s a challenge that
needs to take place,” says Fox-Turnbull.
Tricks of
the trade
By Naomi Arnold
If a bomb was dropped tomorrow, you
could probably spend the rest of your
life in a shopping mall, says University of
Canterbury senior marketing lecturer Dr
Paul Ballantine.
Malls today are designed to create an
experience and fulfil a shopper’s every
desire, he says. “Shopping malls started off
being just shops. You went there, got what
you needed and left. Then they brought
in the food courts to create this complete
experience — go shopping, get hungry,
sit down, have a drink, go back, do more
shopping. Now any good shopping mall is
going to have a movie theatre there too.
The longer you’re there the more likely you
are to spend.”
An expert on retail atmospherics, Ballantine
has spent 10 years researching how and
why retailers create different environments
to tempt shoppers into spending
The approach is twofold: stores create an
atmosphere to entice customers inside,
and then encourages them to spend as
much time there as possible. Ballantine
says though there are many different tricks
used depending on the retailer type, some
methods can be applied by all retailers.
Supermarkets position items to break up the
habitual nature of grocery shopping.
“The end caps, the display dumps, the pallet
of beer in the middle of the floor. It looks
disorganised to make it look a bit special.
You think ‘What’s that obstacle? It’s beer.
Do I need beer? Yes I do, I’ll pick it up and
put it in the trolley.’ It’s positioned in a way
to cause inconvenience, so you notice it.”
“There are a massive number of tricks,”
he says.
“Music is a classic one. Lighting says a lot.
Supermarkets, for example, display wine
differently than they do other goods. Dim
lights stereotypically denote classiness so
the wine section in the supermarket will
have its lights dimmed, or use wooden
panelling, so it will look a lot classier than
other things there. If you walk into a store
and see bright lights and loud music and
you’re in your twenties, it looks exciting,
it gets your attention and you go in. If
you’re a woman in your fifties, you know
automatically that you don’t belong there.”
Staff also play a part in helping customers
decide if they belong in a store or not, says
Senior marketing lecturer Dr Paul Ballantine admits that even he is vulnerable to retail tricks.
“As terrible as it sounds, what do the staff
look like? You judge whether you should
be there based on the staff. If you went
to a gym would you expect someone in
retirement age to be there? You want the
staff closer to who you are as a person. For
example, when McDonald’s wanted to cater
to the elderly during the day they put a lot
of people closer to retirement age there.”
Scent is another powerful tool. “It’s similar
to having to sell a house — real estate
agents will tell you to brew a pot of coffee
to create the feeling of home. In the
supermarket context, the trigger is hunger,
which makes you buy more or buy whatever
you can currently smell. The brutal reality
of most things sold there is that 100 years
from now you could probably still eat them,
but having fresh smells is about creating
that feeling that the food is fresh and
However, he says smell can also repel,
depending on who the store wants to
attract. “One that drives me nuts is
(cosmetics store) Lush, but for certain
people it works and for others it doesn’t.”
Despite having a PhD in retail behaviour,
Ballantine admits even he is vulnerable to
being wooed by retailers.
“I’m supposed to be one of the most
educated people out there in terms of
having an appreciation for the retailers’
tricks or absolutely moronic buying
behaviour — but I do silly things as well. It’s
easy to rationalise spending.”
Even knowledge won’t make you immune to
the siren song of retailers — but Ballantine
suggests being an active shopper and
consciously trying to understand what
behaviour retailers are trying to draw
from you.
“Will it change what you’ll buy? Probably
not, but you can appreciate what they’re
trying to do. It’s fun knowing it, because
you can go in and reinterpret the experience.
You can see some of the method to the
Summer 2008
hope for an
Island kingdom
When most people go away for an island holiday they return with a suntan,
holiday snaps and duty free. But when a group of University of Canterbury alumni
came back from a trip to Tonga, they returned home with a desire to make a
difference in the island kingdom they had fallen in love with.
Stacey Doornenbal reports.
The holiday, enjoyed in 2004, led to the establishment of a nonprofit organisation called the EcoCARE Pacific Trust. Its aim, says
the organisation’s Science Project Manager and a trustee, Russell
Taylor, is to help tackle health, education and environmental issues
in the Pacific.
“However, the idea of the trust isn’t to try and solve all these issues
on its own. What the trust does is facilitate and initiate collaborative
projects by accessing available funds and bringing people with
expertise and knowledge together with those who need their help,”
says Taylor.
A Canterbury MSc(Hons) graduate and marine ecology research
assistant in the University’s School of Biological Sciences, Taylor
says during the sailing holiday the group of friends became aware
of issues having a negative impact on the environment and lives of
the Tongan people, which they attributed to inadequate access to
information and expertise.
“Tonga has a small population of 100,000 people yet it spends
$100 million a year on fossil fuels for power generation and
transportation while having sustainable energy sources available to
them in the form of solar, wind and tidal energy. It has an amazing
fishery but is unable to manage it or utilise technology because its
people don’t have access to adequate information,” says Taylor.
“It is a third world country that should really be a first world country
contributing to the global economy instead of being supported
through aid programmes. It’s a ridiculous situation that can be fixed
by giving them access to information and expertise. That way the
people of Tonga can make it on their own — and it doesn’t have to
cost millions of dollars to do.”
Taylor says the “information breakdown” was initially highlighted by
a particular incident during the 2004 sailing holiday. Having taken
a lot of medical gear on the trip, the group decided to donate what
was unused to the hospital in Nuku’alofa.
Canterbury Magazine
“While there we were introduced to a family of five, two of
whom had just died from eating fish bought from the market.
Unfortunately the fish had been caught using some kind of toxin
and it had poisoned these two people as well.
“Apart from the shock of hearing the news, the really significant
part for us was that Tonga has a small population of relatively welleducated, religious and caring people, yet the guy who caught the
fish obviously had no idea of the consequences of his actions.”
Taylor said his initial thought was to start an outreach programme
in Tonga, “but the more involved we became the more we felt that
it was primarily to do with a breakdown in information and that
breakdown was a significant problem throughout the South Pacific,
not just in Tonga. We believed the formation of a trust that could
offer access to information and expertise was a good idea.”
The background and connections of the trustees has been an
advantage in opening up information pathways. As well as Taylor,
whose area of expertise is aquatic ecology, the trustees include
fellow Canterbury graduates evaluator Dr Jane Davidson (BSc,
1988), lawyer Simon England (LLB, 1991; BA, 1990), geneticist/
molecular biologist Andrew Catanach (MSc(Hons), 1997) and linguist
and freelance journalist Lisa Pringle (BA(Hons), 1998), general
practitioners Dr Janine Bailey and Dr Timothy Phillips, as well as
UC staff member Dr Malakai Koloamatangi (Political Science and
Taylor says the trust also has an extensive list of experts and
advisers who have indicated a willingness to share their knowledge
and help with projects. Twenty-eight Canterbury staff members
from disciplines such as forestry, engineering, biological sciences,
chemistry and geography also support this initiative.
While Tonga is the focus for the trust at present, Taylor says the
plan is to expand its activities to other Pacific countries once it has
developed a profile in the area — and it is making good progress
with this. Since its inception in 2005 the trust has helped facilitate a
number of projects in Tonga, including the collection, transportation
and distribution of educational material — such as computers, books
and stationery — to schools throughout the Tongan island chain
(thanks to free freight from Air New Zealand); the establishment of
a science competition for high school students; and the running of a
series of community outreach programmes.
In 2006 and 2007 the trust initiated a major survey of the habitats
of invasive mosquito larvae in Tonga. Carried out on 54 sites by
a research group from UC, led by Dr Jon Harding from the School
of Biological Sciences and funded through the Pacific Invasives
Initiative and the Critical Ecosystem Protection Fund, the aim of
the project was to find ways of restricting the mosquito population
to lessen the spread of potentially fatal diseases such as Dengue
Fever, the Ross River virus, the Western Nile virus and Haemorragic
Encephalitis, as well as animal diseases like Avian Malaria.
Taylor says the effects of such diseases can be both socially and
economically devastating for a small country such as Tonga, so it is
important that information about how the diseases are spread and
how they can be controlled is communicated widely. The results of
the survey, which found man-made environments such as disused
water tanks and old car tyres were preferred habitats for larvae of
invasive species, were passed onto the Tongan Government and its
Ministry of Health.
“I also gave some presentations and gave out bilingual posters
and pamphlets to schools and communities, describing the issues
associated with invasive mosquitoes and some simple methods of
mosquito control,” says Taylor.
The mosquito project is ongoing and return trips to Tonga have
shown a number of attempts at community level to limit man-made
larvae habitats.
Another major project supported by the trust was the installation of
a water filtration system on the low-lying islands of Ha’apai. Taylor
says rising sea levels and deforestation of mangroves means that
during storms at high tide, salt water incursion forces raw effluent
from septic tanks to contaminate groundwater, leading to problems
with typhoid.
For more information about the trust and its activities,
check out the website at
or email [email protected]
“The new filtration system we set up at the hospital in Pangai, made
possible with funding from the Rotary Club of Christchurch, now
offers the only safe water for the 3000-4000 people who live there.”
Taylor says the trust is currently working on securing funding
to install more water filtration systems in Tonga, wind power
generators at Tongan high schools, and utilising island research
facilities the Tongan Ministry of Education has offered the trust.
The wind project will be carried out by the Auckland and Canterbury
university branches of Engineers Without Borders with local
assistance, and the island research funding will help support 10
projects proposed by any New Zealand tertiary institution that will
be of benefit to Tonga and can involve Pacific tertiary students.
“While the trust can offer access to both information and expertise,
we’re not about deciding the best way forward,” says Taylor. “It’s
all about giving Pacific communities access to the information and
expertise they need so they can make it on their own.”
Summer 2008
Books in Brief
My Father’s Shadow: A portrait of
Justice Peter Mahon
Finding Our Own Voice: New Zealand
English in the Making
Sam Mahon
Elizabeth Gordon
Longacre Press, 2008, RRP39.99, paperback,
ISBN 978-1-877460-17-3
Canterbury University Press, 2008,
RRP$24.95, 108pp, paperback,
ISBN 978-1877257-77-3
My Father’s Shadow is an account,
by North Canterbury-based artist
Sam Mahon, of the life of his
father Justice Peter Mahon and the
relationship he had with the man
who is best remembered as the Royal
Commissioner who carried out the
inquiry into New Zealand’s worst
air disaster, the crash of an Air New
Zealand sightseeing flight on Mt Erebus in Antarctica in 1979.
More a memoir than a biography, My Father’s Shadow looks at
Justice Mahon as a soldier during World War II, a lawyer, judge,
father, colleague and husband. The portrait drawn by his son is
one of a complex, astute, moral and rational man, but a father the
author hardly knew.
Written with honesty and humour, My Father’s Shadow is a
captivating account of a remarkable New Zealander who was also a
University of Canterbury alumnus. Justice Mahon graduated from
Canterbury with an LLB in 1948.
Sam Mahon is a painter, sculptor and printmaker. This is his third
book, the other titles being The Year of the Horse (2003) and The
Water Thieves (2006).
The Kiwi accent, our lingo and
attitudes to our distinct variety of
English are the subject of a new book
by one of New Zealand’s leading
Finding Our Own Voice: New Zealand
English in the Making features the
three Macmillan Brown lectures delivered by University of Canterbury
Adjunct Associate Professor in Linguistics, Elizabeth Gordon, in 2005.
The first chapter looks at the development and evolution of the
New Zealand accent, from the earliest days to when people began
to accuse children and others of speaking with a “colonial twang”.
The next section illustrates how the words we use reflect life in
New Zealand, and how the uniqueness of our vocabulary has been
determined by Mäori input. The final chapter explores the prevailing
attitudes to New Zealand English.
Gordon is a sociolinguist with a special interest in New Zealand
English, especially the New Zealand accent. She taught at the
University of Canterbury for 35 years and was a co-leader of the UCbased project on the Origins of New Zealand English (ONZE). Now
retired, she continues to carry out research into New Zealand English
and writes a weekly column on language in the Christchurch Press.
The Natural History of Canterbury
Edited by Michael Winterbourn, George
Knox, Colin Burrows and Islay Marsden
Canterbury University Press, 2008,
RRP$195, 924pp, hardback,
ISBN 978-1-877257-57-5
Natural scientists throughout the
country will need to make some
space on their bookshelves for
the expansive third edition of The
Natural History of Canterbury.
At 924 pages, the book provides
a comprehensive, up-todate account of knowledge of Canterbury’s flora, fauna and
environment. Written with a broad audience in mind, the book’s
27 chapters draw on the wide-ranging experience and expertise of
more than 40 scientists and academics. The majority of the authors
are Canterbury residents or have strong links with the region, and
more than half of them have University of Canterbury connections.
Topics covered include the geology, geomorphology and geography
of the region, its climate and soils, and the history of Mäori
colonisation and life. Vegetation, past and present, is dealt with
in detail, as are fossil and present-day faunas, including birds,
amphibians, reptiles and marine mammals.
The ecology of terrestrial, marine and freshwater habitats is
comprehensively examined, and timely and thought-provoking
chapters deal with ecological restoration, conservation issues and
environmental management.
The Natural History of Canterbury was published with the support of
the Canterbury Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the
Canterbury Community Trust.
Canterbury Magazine
Living with Natives
Edited by Ian Spellerberg and Michele
Frey, photographs by John Maillard
Canterbury University Press, 2008,
RRP$39.95, 224pp, paperback,
ISBN 978-1-877257-68-1
Living with Natives is a
celebration of New Zealanders
and their passion for native
Edited by Professor Ian Spellerberg of Lincoln University and Napierbased environmental and planning consultant Michele Frey, it is a
collection of 44 moving and informative narratives by people of
all ages and from all walks of life who talk about their love of, and
experiences with, native plants.
Sumptuously illustrated with images taken by Christchurch-based
photographer John Maillard, each garden story records the author’s
successes and failures with native flora, and also offers many helpful
tips to the reader.
Those telling their gardening tales include Untouched World
founder Peri Drysdale, Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons,
Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt, children from Kimbolton School
in the Manawatu, Coromandel potter Barry Brickell, Canterbury
botanist Hugh Wilson, Black Cap Mathew Sinclair, plus a host
of conservationists and native plant enthusiasts from around
the country.
The book follows on from a previous publication Spellerberg edited
with the late botanist David Given, called Going Native (Canterbury
University Press, 2004).
Native Wit
Hamish Keith
Random, 2008, RRP$45, paperback,
ISBN 978-1-869418-43-4
Prominent New Zealand cultural
commentator and University of
Canterbury graduate Hamish Keith
takes readers on a tour through
a well-lived, rich and varied life
in this witty, entertaining and
revealing autobiography.
Sharing stories from his many life
experiences, both the good and the bad, Keith gives a personal view
of New Zealand and its development over the past seven decades.
A colleague of Colin McCahon, chairman of the Arts Council,
husband of Oscar-winning costume designer Ngila Dickson, bon
vivant and accomplished chef, and arch enemy of doddering
bureaucrats, Keith delivers a colourful read with his dynamic
personality, sharp wit and trenchant analysis.
Keith graduated from Canterbury University in 1957 with a Diploma
in Fine Art. He has written a number of books on art, social history
and cooking, and has contributed reviews and comment to
magazines and newspapers for many years. His arts documentary,
The Big Picture, which traced the story of New Zealand’s art
heritage, was screened by Television New Zealand in 2007. It was
accompanied by a best-selling book of the same title.
On Zealand’s hills, where tigers
steal along
A Stroll Through
Brown Trout Country
Les Hill and Graeme Marshall
Canterbury University Press, 2008,
RRP$39.99, 152pp, hardback,
ISBN 978-1-877257-55-1
Readers will be taken on a
photographic journey through
some of the South Island’s
most beautiful angling
locations in A Stroll through
Brown Trout Country.
Published by Canterbury University Press, the book features stunning
photographs by Hokitika-based photographer Les Hill, complemented
by vivid descriptions of people, places and fish, written by South
Canterbury-based fly-fishing guide Graeme Marshall.
Taking in the amazingly varied landscapes and waterways of the
South Island, the book is a celebration of the joint exploration of
brown trout habitats by Hill and Marshall, who have been trout
fishing companions for more than 30 years.
This is the fifth angling book Hill and Marshall have produced
together and follows Stalking Trout (1985), Catching Trout (1991), Images
of Silver (1993), and Stalking and Catching Trout (2005).
Hill is one of New Zealand’s leading trout fishing photographers. His
images have appeared in fishing magazines worldwide, including Fish
and Game New Zealand and Australian Flylife.
A part-time teacher as well as a fly-fishing guide, Marshall also
contributed to fly-fishing book Brown Trout Heaven (2000).
Janet Holm
Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime
Steele Roberts, 2008, RRP$44.99,
184pp, hardback, ISBN 978-1-87744825-6
Joanne Drayton
On Zealand’s hills, where tigers
steal along brings to life the
stories of some of the many men
and women who came to New
Zealand in the 19th century to
start a new life in a remote and
untamed new world.
Written by University of Canterbury alumna Janet Holm (MA(Hons),
1985), it gives readers an insight into the difficulties these early
settlers endured and the daunting obstacles they faced with
courage and determination as they struggled to build lives in the
bush and the high country.
Among the characters readers will encounter are surveyors
William Mein Smith and James McKerrow; former New Zealand
Premier Alfred Domett; gold-digger Frank Mathias; Commissioner
of the West Coast Goldfields Professor George Sale; and soldier,
shipwrecked sailor, navvy, gold-digger and sealer Donald
On Zealand’s hills, where tigers steal along is Holm’s third book. Her
previous works are Nothing But Grass and Wind: the Rutherfords of
Canterbury (1992) and Caught Mapping: The life and times of New
Zealand’s early surveyors (2005). She was awarded the Canterbury
History Foundation’s A C Rhodes History Medal in 2005 for her
contribution to the understanding and appreciation of history in
HarperCollins, 2008, RRP$59.99, hardback,
ISBN 978-1-869506-35-3
University of Canterbury alumna Dr
Joanne Drayton (PhD, Art History,
2000) turns detective in her fourth
book, Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime,
as she investigates the life and career
of New Zealand’s queen of crime
fiction Dame Ngaio Marsh.
Internationally renowned for her
detective tales, Marsh produced 32
novels during her writing career and was, along with Agatha Christie,
Dorothy Sayers and Margery Allingham, dubbed one of the four
“Queens of Crime” who dominated the genre in the 1930s and 1940s.
Marsh, a Canterbury fine arts alumna, also established a reputation
as a director of Shakespearean theatre and as a painter.
In this biography, Drayton, who was awarded the Alexander Turnbull
National Library Fellowship in 2007 to work on the book, investigates
the woman behind the public persona by piecing together the
evidence from Marsh’s writing and theatre productions.
Drayton is the author of three previous books — Edith Collier: Her Life
and Work, 1885-1964 (1999), Rhona Haszard: An Experimental Expatriate
New Zealand Artist (2002) and Frances Hodgkins: A Private Viewing
(2005). She is currently a senior lecturer in art and design history and
theory in the School of Design at UNITEC in Auckland.
Summer 2008
10-12 October 2008
More than 400 alumni descended on their
alma mater over 10-12 October to spend a
weekend catching up with old classmates
and to walk down memory lane.
The inaugural Alumni Reunion Weekend —
for graduates, former students and staff of
the era up to and including 1968 — attracted
430 guests, including alumni and staff of
the former Canterbury College and former
Christchurch Teachers’ Training College.
Twenty-eight events featured in the
programme for the weekend, which included
a number of campus-wide activities as well
as those organised for alumni of specific
colleges, departments and halls of residence.
Tours of the campus, the Macmillan Brown
Library, the James Logie Memorial Collection
and the University’s former town site were
also on offer.
People came from far and wide to attend —
from Canada, the United States, the United
Kingdom, Australia and Samoa, as well as
from around New Zealand — and ranged in
age from their early 60s to 93.
All disciplines were represented, and the
largest single department event was the
Biological Sciences Brunch and Tour, which
attracted 108 botany and zoology alumni
and staff. Professor Brian Butterfield, who
led the committee organising the event, said
he was absolutely delighted with the turnout. He said it gave him the opportunity to
meet with many old friends he hadn’t seen
for more than 40 years.
“Passing the microphone around at the
brunch encouraged many alumni to recall
amusing stories from their student days and
many would have liked to stay chatting all
Nostalgia ran high throughout the weekend,
with numerous stories and memories
rekindled. It was also an opportunity for
alumni to catch up on the latest in teaching,
research and facilities in their subject areas,
with many seminars and displays put on by
staff and students.
Alumni Relations Manager Chanel Hughes
said the three-day reunion was the first to
cover the entire campus for graduates of 40
years out. Previous reunions have targeted
specific departments or colleges.
“The intention is that such an event will now
be held on a regular basis at the same time
each year, when the campus is at its spring
best. Next year we also look forward to
celebrating a number of anniversaries during
the festivities, such as the 100th anniversary
of History and the 90th anniversary of former
residential hall Rolleston House.”
Among the main events held during the
celebrations was a Gala Dinner at the
Wigram Air Force Museum. Hosted by
Chancellor Dr Robin Mann, the evening
included guest speakers Edmund Bohan
(MA(Hons), 1959), historian, author and
former opera singer; and Dr John Wood
(LittD honoris causa, 2006; MA(Hons), 1966),
a former New Zealand ambassador to the
United States, current University Council
member and University of Canterbury
Foundation trustee. Head of the School of
History Professor Geoffrey Rice (PhD, 1974;
MA(Hons), 1970; BA, 1968) was Master of
The UC Foundation also used the weekend
event to launch the Beatrice Hill Tinsley
Scholarship Fund which will provide
scholarships for high-achieving school
leavers from around the country wishing to
study physics and astronomy.
Beatrice Hill Tinsley, who graduated from
UC in 1962 with an MSc (first class honours),
was a leading astronomer who became a
professor of astronomy at Yale University
before her untimely death from cancer in
1980. Her former husband Brian Tinsley (PhD,
1964; MSc(Hons), 1961) was among the guests
at the reunion.
The reunion ended on the Sunday with an
ecumenical service in the College House
Chapel, presided over by University Chaplain
Reverend Tom Innes, and a gourmet buffet
barbecue lunch at the University Staff Club.
For details of the next Alumni Reunion
Weekend, bookmark the website www. and make sure
your contact details are up to date with the
UC Alumni Office, ph: 0800 UC ALUMNI
(0800 822 586) or +64 3 364 2344, email:
[email protected]
Clockwise from top left:
Austin Forbes QC, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Law) Professor
Scott Davidson and Justice Graham Panckhurst;
Gala Dinner, Wigram Air Force Museum;
Suse Benzie and Dr Elizabeth Edgar;
Professor Ken Cunningham and Marjorie Cunningham;
Dr Robert Blackmore and Valerie Blackmore;
Jim Thornton and Dr Tom Seed;
Group tour of the former Canterbury College site, now the
Arts Centre of Christchurch.
For the graduating classes of 1968 and preceding years
Canterbury Magazine
Reconnect, reminisce, celebrate!
Summer 2008
Event Diary
Mark these dates on your calendar
To receive regular event
invitations and updates,
please ensure your contact
details are up-to-date at the
UC Alumni Office:
10 December 2008
7 April 2009
Graduation, Rotorua Convention Centre
Canterbury Challenge Quiz, UCSA Ballroom
1.30pm: Faculty of Education
UC Alumni Office
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
14-18 December 2008
Join in the madness and mayhem of the
Alumni Association’s annual graduation
team quiz event to see which department,
faculty or college has the superior general
knowledge. Open to UC staff, students,
alumni, friends and family.
Ph: 0800 UC ALUMNI (0800 822 586)
Or +64 3 364 2344
Fax: +64 3 364 2679
Email: [email protected]
Online Events Calendar
You can also see campus event updates
at This site
enables users to search on a wide range
of events, from concerts and seminars to
reunions and exhibitions. There is also an
“add to calendar” button which allows
you to save an event into your Microsoft
Outlook calendar.
Contact: Adrian Carpinter, ph: +64 3 364 2987,
ext 6966, email: [email protected]
Inorganic Chemistry Conference IC08, University
of Canterbury
The Royal Australian Chemical Institute and
the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry invite
you to participate in IC08, to be hosted by the
University of Canterbury.
The conference will cater for all fields of
inorganic chemistry, from bioinorganic
chemistry, through classic co-ordination and
organometallic chemistry, to supramolecular
and materials chemistry. Please visit the
conference website for further information at
Contact: Merrin McAuley, ph: +64 3 364 2162,
email: [email protected]
17 & 19 December 2008
Graduation, Christchurch Town Hall
Three ceremonies over two days:
10am, 17 December: Faculty of Education and
UC Opportunity (Adult Literacy and Teaching)
2pm, 17 December: Faculties of Humanities
and Social Sciences and Science
10am, 19 December: Faculties of Commerce,
Engineering and Forestry, Law and UC
Opportunity (Business)
Contact: Carolyn Stewart, ph: +64 3 364 2987,
ext 8979, email: [email protected]
19-21 January 2009
21st Australasian Tax Teachers Association
Conference, University of Canterbury
The 2009 conference is particularly special
as it will be the 21st conference for ATTA, with
the chosen theme: “Tax and Sustainability”,
a particularly topical issue globally. The
conference will include sessions on tax
teaching and tax doctoral work, as well as
policy, technical and empirical tax research.
Please visit
atta09 for information relating to the call for
abstracts, draft programme, sponsors and
Contact: Merrin McAuley, ph: +64 3 364 2162,
email: [email protected]
Update your address details online at
Contact: The UC Alumni Office (see sidebar)
7 & 9 April 2009
Graduation, Christchurch Town Hall
Four ceremonies over two days:
10am, 7 April: Faculties of Science and
Creative Arts
2pm, 7 April: Faculties of Humanities and
Social Sciences, Education and UC Opportunity
(Adult Literacy and Teaching)
10am, 9 April: Faculty of Engineering and
2pm, 9 April: Faculties of Commerce, Law
and UC Opportunity (Business)
Contact: Carolyn Stewart, ph: +64 3 364 2987,
ext 8979, email: [email protected]
28 May 2009
UC Alumni Association Annual General Meeting
Time and venue to be confirmed.
Contact: The UC Alumni Office (see sidebar)
16-18 October 2009
Alumni Reunion Weekend 2009
This occasion marks the second annual reunion
celebration for alumni who graduated 40 years
ago or more, along with alumni celebrating a
special anniversary. Staff and former students
are also warmly invited to participate. The
2009 event is for individuals who graduated in
1969 or earlier and all alumni connected with
the following anniversary celebrations:
History — 100th Anniversary
Rolleston House — 90th Anniversary
Journalism — 40th Anniversary
Sports Science — 20th Anniversary
Contact: The UC Alumni Office (see sidebar) or
16 & 18 December 2009
Graduation, Christchurch Town Hall
Details of individual ceremonies to be
Contact: Carolyn Stewart, ph: +64 3 364 2987,
ext 8979, email: [email protected]
UC Alumni Networks
UC Alumni Association
The University of Canterbury Alumni
Association is 38,000 members strong,
covering 96 countries around the globe, with
ages ranging from 20 to 100. Membership
is free and automatic to all University of
Canterbury graduates, former students
who have completed at least 12 points or
equivalent, and current and former staff.
It is also open to friends and supporters
of the University. If you know someone
who is not receiving Alumni Association
communications and benefits to which
they are entitled, please encourage them
to contact the Alumni Office, ph: 0800 UC
ALUMNI (0800 822 586) or +64 3 364 2344,
email: [email protected],
Need to update your alumni details?
Keeping track of Canterbury alumni is a fulltime job, and sometimes we don’t get the
right messages to the right people in time
for them to hear about important reunions
or events. You can help us by letting us know
not only your address details but all of your
Canterbury connections — subject majors,
clubs, halls of residence, employment, etc.
Simply complete the enclosed Alumni Update
Form or the online form at www.canterbury., or phone the
Alumni Office at: 0800 UC ALUMNI
(0800 822 586) or +64 3 364 2344. Don’t miss
out on a reunion that’s meant for you.
Wellington UC Alumni Chapter
Contact: Brian Lynch
Ph: +64 4 970 3444
Email: [email protected]
International UC Alumni Chapters
Contact: Harry Tan and David Tan
Beijing, China
Email: [email protected] or
[email protected]
Contact: Silke Deselaers
Frankfurt, Germany
Mobile: 0 171/5474747
Email: [email protected]
(University of Canterbury Alumni, Malaysia)
Canterbury Historical Association
Contact: Richard Tankersley, President
PO Box 10565
50718 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Ph: +60 3 2141 0822
Email: [email protected]
Meets monthly for presentations on
historical topics by UC staff, visiting
lecturers, postgraduate students and local
Contact: Professor Geoffrey Rice
Ph: +64 3 364 2283
Email: [email protected]
UCAM — Sibu Chapter
JET Alumni Association (South Island)
Contact: Tony Wong Siew Tung
Sibu, Sarawak
Ph: +60 16 8941 326
Email: [email protected]
Past participants of the JET (Japan
Exchange and Teaching) Programme
are encouraged to get involved in
JETAA. Catch up with fellow alumni and
participate in events and activities to
promote Japan and the JET Programme.
Also, people who are interested in Japan
are invited to join us for Japan-related
events. To join, please see the website at
Contact: Leila Chacko
Ph: 021 202 7717
Email: [email protected]
United Kingdom
Contact: Tony Bretherton
3 Webber Road
Shepton Mallet, BA4 4AL
Ph: +44 1749 345 528
Mobile: +44 773 8993809
Email: [email protected]
Other Associations
New Zealand Federation of Graduate
Women Inc (NZFGW)
The NZFGW is open to all women graduates
of New Zealand universities, polytechnics,
colleges of education and Wänanga, and
currently has 15 branches nationwide, with
links to the International Federation of
Graduate Women. Contact the National
Secretary for your nearest branch (PO Box
3057, Wellington, email: [email protected]),
or see
NZ MBA Association
Contact: Mike Blackburn, President
PO Box 105 026
Private Box 105026
Auckland City
Email: [email protected]
Christchurch Classical Association
Meets regularly to hear lectures from
invited speakers.
Contact: Secretary, UC Classics Programme
Ph: +64 3 364 2987, ext 8580
Email: [email protected]
New Zealand Geographical Society
(Canterbury Branch)
Meets monthly for seminars and discussion.
Contact: Secretary, UC Geography Department
Ph: +64 3 364 2900
Email: [email protected]
Contact: Martin Lohmeyer
Email: [email protected]
Summer 2008
Bray, Dorothy Anne (née Suckling),
Associate Professor, PhD (Otago), BA, 1972
(Cant), b. 21 September 1944, d. 18 June 2008,
was a prominent researcher in the field of
intellectual disabilities, leading the Donald
Beasley Institute for more than 20 years.
Hit by German gunfire at Al Alamein in 1942
while carrying rations to soldiers trapped
by mortar fire, Midgley lost an arm but met
future wife Joan during his recuperation at
Queen Mary Hospital and was awarded the
Military Medal.
Born in Christchurch, Bray’s life-long
commitment to improving the lives of
people with intellectual disabilities came
from her experiences growing up: a younger
brother Michael, with Down’s syndrome,
was raised at home and attended school
with his siblings well before mainstreaming
became the norm.
Returning to Christchurch, he resumed
accounting studies at the University of
Canterbury, graduating in 1948 to join Frank
Rhodes in partnership at Rhodes and Midgley,
later establishing Midgley and Co, before
merging with KPMG Peat Marwick where he
worked as a consultant.
After studying at the Christchurch
Teachers’ Training College and University of
Canterbury, she became a teaching fellow at
Canterbury in 1974 before being appointed
as a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at
the University of Otago in the late 1970s,
where she completed her PhD.
In 1984 Bray was appointed assistant
director of the New Zealand Institute
of Mental Retardation (now the Donald
Beasley Institute), becoming director in
1986. Diagnosed with cancer in April 2005,
she handed over the directorship to Dr
Brigit Mirfin-Veitch in July 2007 to become
the institute’s professorial research fellow.
Mirfin-Veitch says of her colleague: “I don’t
think it is possible to overestimate the
extent to which Anne has influenced and
impacted on disability policy, disability
practice, or disability research in this
Bray forged strong research links between
the Donald Beasley Institute and Otago
University, and was appointed associate
dean, health science, as well as associate
research professor at the university.
She contributed to a number of other
organisations in her work, including the
Otago Health Board and the National Ethics
Committee. Her lifetime of service was
recognised in 2006 when she became an
Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit,
and a Fellow of the Association for the
Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability
in 2007.
Knox, George Alexander, Emeritus
Professor, MSc, 1949, b. 16 December
1919, d. 4 August 2008, was a leading
biology researcher who pioneered the
establishment of Antarctic Studies at
Canterbury and was renowned for his
contribution to knowledge of the Antarctic
and Southern Ocean.
Born in Pleasant Point, Knox began studies
at Canterbury College and the Christchurch
Training College in 1936. He worked as
Canterbury Magazine
Emeritus Professor George Knox receiving the New Zealand
Antarctic 50th Anniversary Award in 2007.
a primary and secondary teacher before
graduating MSc. Appointed assistant
lecturer in zoology in 1949, Knox remained at
Canterbury until retirement in 1984, heading
the department for almost 20 of those years.
Appointed to the National Committee for
Antarctic Research in 1959, Knox established
Canterbury’s Antarctic marine biology
programme in 1960, and in 1962 established
the Kaikoura field station. The annex added
to the field station in 1986 was named the
George Knox Research Laboratory.
Appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society
of New Zealand in 1963, he led Antarctic
research at an international level as the
New Zealand delegate to the Scientific
Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) in
1974, where he served as secretary and then
president. His Biology of the Southern Ocean
remains a standard reference on Antarctic
marine biology. Knox also contributed to
other areas of ecology, one of his most
prominent recent contributions being his
co-editing of the 2008 edition of The Natural
History of Canterbury.
Knox became a Member of the Order of
the British Empire in 1985 and an Officer
of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2001.
His extraordinary contribution to Antarctic
Science was further recognised in 2007 when
he was awarded the New Zealand Antarctic
50th Anniversary Award.
Midgley, John (Jack) Brayshaw, BCom,
1949, b. 15 April 1919, d. 13 June 2008, was an
accountant and Christchurch community
figure. Growing up during the Depression,
Midgley left Christchurch Boys’ High
School early to help support his family,
then undertook night classes in accounting
at Christchurch Technical College until
interrupted by the onset of WWII whereupon
he joined the army.
Midgley was made a life member of the
Christchurch Businessmen’s Club (whose 75th
anniversary history he penned in 2006) and
the New Zealand Society of Accountants. His
community service, including work as a JP
and bail bonds officer, was recognised with
the Queen’s Service Medal.
Poole, Alick Lindsay, DSc, 1999 (Cant), MSc
(Vic), B(For)Sc, 1930 (Auck), b. 4 March 1908,
d. 2 January 2008, was considered the elder
statesman of New Zealand forestry and one
of New Zealand’s best known botanists.
Born in Gisborne, Poole completed
undergraduate studies in Auckland and
joined the Botany Division of the DSIR in 1937.
He became scientific liaison officer for the
DSIR at the New Zealand Embassy in London
in 1941, moving to Germany after the war to
work with the German Forest Service. Poole
returned to New Zealand in 1947 to complete
his MSc at Victoria University and became
director of the DSIR’s Botany Division in 1949.
Poole joined the Forest Service in 1951,
later serving as its director-general from
1961-1971, allowing him to play a key role
in the establishment of the University
of Canterbury’s School of Forestry, the
country’s only forestry school. Poole’s
academic contributions to his field were
also substantial: he distinguished mountain
beech and black beech as two separate
species, wrote a variety of books on New
Zealand flora and authored close to 100
journal articles.
Awarded a CBE in 1971, he also became
chairman of the Soil Conservation and Rivers
Control Council, a position he held until
retirement in 1978. He was a Fellow of the
Royal Society of New Zealand from 1962,
later becoming a Fellow of the New Zealand
Institute of Forestry (NZIF), and an Honorary
Fellow of the British Institute of Chartered
Foresters. Poole was awarded an honorary
Doctor of Science in 1999 and in 2002 received
the NZIF’s Kirk Medal.
Alumni Benefits
Keep in touch
In many instances you will require an Alumni Association Membership Card
to access these benefits.
This card is free upon request to the UC Alumni Office.
For information about all
alumni benefits and services
and to maintain your links
with your alma mater, please
ensure your contact details
are up-to-date at the UC
Alumni Office:
Internet access
Off-campus benefits
Enjoy ongoing Internet access through
UC’s Information and Communication
Technology Services. For more information,
phone +64 3 364 2060,
email [email protected],
or visit
Alumni House Bed & Breakfast
Find a friend with CATS
The Canterbury Alumni Tracking Service
allows you to get in touch with friends and
colleagues who may be registered on our
alumni database. Contact the UC Alumni
Office with name, degree/course and years
of study, if known.
Note: the Alumni Office complies in all
respects with the Privacy Act and will not
give out personal information without the
individual’s permission.
Use the Library
Continue to enjoy borrowing rights at one of
New Zealand’s top university libraries with
a 25% discount on the standard external
borrowers’ fee: $150 per annum or $75 for six
months. Note: applicants must reside in the
Christchurch area. Phone +64 3 364 2987, ext
8723, or visit
Maintain your gym membership
The UC Recreation Services & Sports Science
Centre offers alumni competitive rates for
gym membership. Services on offer include
weight-training, circuits, aerobics (step,
pump, spin, etc), squash, team sports,
recreational classes, climbing and much,
much more. Phone +64 3 364 2433 or visit
Sign up for CareerHub
UC students, recent graduates and
employers can take advantage of the
Career Development and Employer Liaison
Centre’s excellent website, CareerHub,
which provides information on recruitment,
vacancies, events, employer details,
seminars, web links, news and articles.
(51 Middleton Road, Riccarton, Christchurch)
Receive 15% discount on standard rates.
Ph: +64 3 980 9000
Email: [email protected]
40 Thornycroft Street Bed & Breakfast
(Fendalton, Christchurch)
Receive 10% discount on standard rates.
Ph: +64 3 351 8228, fax: +64 3 351 8820
Email: [email protected]
Melton Estate Vineyard
(Weedons Ross Road, cnr of Johnson Road,
West Melton)
UC Alumni Office
Level 5, Registry
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch, New Zealand
Ph: 0800 UC ALUMNI (0800 822 586)
or +64 3 364 2344
Fax: +64 3 364 2679
Email: [email protected]
Enjoy local wines and vineyard café dining
at Melton Estate Vineyard. Melton Estate is
just 20 minutes from Christchurch, located
in West Melton.
Receive 10% discount off standard prices at
the vineyard café and for cellar door wine
Ph: +64 3 347 4968
Email: [email protected]
St Albans Pharmacy &
Receive 10% discount on all purchases
(excludes prescriptions & photos).
Present your UC Alumni Association
Membership Card to the staff members
serving you or type “Canterbury Alumni”
in the message section of your online order
to receive your discount.
1073 Colombo St, Edgeware Village
Christchurch 8001
Ph: +64 3 366 0404, fax: +64 3 379 3183
Email: [email protected]
For online pharmacy healthcare see
Register at
Join the University Staff Club
Enjoy the Staff Club’s excellent hospitality
for $84 per year. Contact the Alumni Office
for an application form (not open to
current students).
Update your address details online at
Summer 2008
Canterbury Magazine

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