October 2009
her passions
Research that makes a difference
ISSN 1175-1428
ISSN 1175-1606 (Web)
Gearing up for BLOW
A lifetime love of lilies
World-leading research
and scholarship
Steve Maharey
New Zealand’s
future will be built on
research, science and
technology. We live
in the knowledge age
where the smartest
will thrive.
Excellent research is essential if New Zealand is to build a better future. Without it all
the talk of a knowledge-based, innovative, creative, dynamic market economy and society
will come to nothing. Our standing in the world will suffer. Teaching and learning in our
universities will be anodyne. There will be no knowledge to be transferred to end users.
It is, therefore, imperative to produce an environment in which excellent research can
thrive, research that will display the highest standards of international scholarship.
This is exactly what Massey University is about. As New Zealand’s defining university
we have always aspired to make a contribution through research and teaching that will
shape the nation’s future.
While agri-food is often used as the best example of Massey’s groundbreaking work,
there are many others. At Massey’s recent Research and Teaching Awards the outstanding
work of people like Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, from the Institute of Advanced
Study at the Albany campus, Professor Anne Noble, from the College of Creative Arts
in Wellington, and the Volcanic Risk Solutions team based in the Institute of Natural
Resources at the Manawatu campus, led by Associate Professor Shane Cronin, shows that
there is excellent work taking place in many areas.
During the past century, Massey developed an enviable reputation for research with
impact not only in New Zealand but around the globe. Indeed, it is noticeable that when
New Zealand universities are talked about around the world it is Massey that is most often
referred to.
But as knowledge and the application of knowledge become ever more important,
we do not intend to rest on our record. We aim to maintain a culture where first-class
research is the norm, where colleagues urge each other to greater heights and where
every researcher feels they are part of a rich intellectual community.
Our research strategy focuses on building a world class research environment, investing
in our areas of specialisation, growing our postgraduate programme, increasing private
and public sector investment in our research and expanding our reputation world-wide.
These goals reflect the University’s belief that New Zealand’s future will be built on
research, science and technology. We live in the knowledge age where the smartest will
In this issue of DefiningNZ you will find examples of the great work going on at Massey.
Carlene Starck’s study of structural biochemistry is the basis of work that has won the
Advancing Human Health and Wellbeing category of the MacDiarmid Awards, while
researchers working with Fonterra have helped develop a milk product that has become
the market leader in Asia.
Research Fellow Associate Professor Margaret Walshaw’s research sheds a fascinating
light on classroom politics, Associate Professor Peter Lineham discusses the Kiwi DIY
attitude to religion, and Associate Professor Claire Robinson shares her passion for
political spin and design as the Wellington campus prepares to hold its annual BLOW
creative festival.
If you like what you read, do not hesitate to contact us to discuss how we might work in
partnership with you, your business or your community to build a great future.
8 Creative festival
blows in
When good proteins go bad
Classroom politics
Creative festival blows in
Wellington’s creative campus gears up for it’s annual BLOW festival
and Associate Professor Caire Robinson shares her inspiration.
No bones about it
Listening key to teaching success
A life’s work with lilies
Reading, rituals and religion
Regular features:
Associate Professor Joachim Brand is one of 11 researchers to win funding, worth more than $7 million to the University.
18 Defining commentary
Associate Professor Margaret Walshaw takes an in-depth look at
classroom social interactions and how they affect girls’ achievement
in mathematics.
Carlene Starck has translated her passion for making a difference
into groundbreaking research in structural biochemisty.
A decade-long collaboration has helped develop a milk product that
has become the market leader in Asia.
Vice-Chancellor’s teaching award winner Sam Richardson says
teaching success comes from being willing to help.
A pioneering flower farmer and alumnus has translated a life-long love of lilies into a new book that will preserve 60 years of gathered knowledge for future generations.
Associate Profesor Peter Lineham has a fascination with all matters religious and spiritual. He discusses the Kiwi DIY attitude to religion – and his mammoth book collection.
Defining profile
Distinguished Professor David Parry shares his insight
into the method and motivation of good research.
OCTOBER 2009: DefiningNZ – published by Massey University
© Massey University 2009. www.massey.ac.nz
Editor: Kereama Beal email: [email protected]
For circulation changes/requirements please contact:
David Wiltshire email: [email protected]
When good
proteins go bad
MacDiarmid winner Carlene
Starck doesn’t believe all of life’s
answers can be found by looking
down a microscope, but her
passion for making a difference
lends itself to groundbreaking
research as Bryan Gibson
– Photographs: David Wiltshire
When Carlene Starck ended her final year at Feilding High School
it was veterinary science that drew her to Massey University, as it
does hundreds of other first-year students.
But it became clear before she even started that another path
“I went and worked on my sister’s farm over the holidays, and
there was a cow that was dying. I love animals and wanted to help
it survive but I realised I was more interested in why it was sick, the
details, so I thought maybe I shouldn’t be a vet.”
That decision led her to study structural biochemistry at the
Manawatu campus, and her work has now won the Advancing
Human Health and Wellbeing category of the MacDiarmid
Starck’s focus has been on the myostatin precursor protein:
the early, immature form of myostatin that inhibits excess muscle
growth in humans.
Proteins need to fold into their correct three-dimensional
structure to function properly. Starck says misfolding can be
genetic but may also be caused by stresses such as pollution and
a bad diet as cells cannot function properly when overwhelmed
with toxins.
Her research shows that the myostatin precursor protein could
be a factor in the development of sporadic inclusion body myositis,
a disease that leads to progressive muscle wasting and weakness.
“The findings add weight to the theory that proteins can
misfold if they have the conditions to do so, which means that the
environment and our diets are likely to play a big role,” Starck says.
“As well as bringing us one step closer to a cure for the disease,
the research highlights the fact that we may have some ability to
prevent it through a better lifestyle.
“My passion is understanding how the load we place on our
bodies ends up influencing our susceptibility to these types of
disease later in life.”
Starck’s research is supported by the Neuromuscular Alliance of
New Zealand, giving her interaction with people who have muscle
wastage disorders and their families.
“One of the most rewarding parts of my work is the knowledge
that these people consider me a hope for answers and treatments
for their debilitating disorders. My research brings together my
passion for science and my passion for helping people.”
It was a lecturer she encountered in her first year at Massey
who encouraged her initial foray into biochemistry. “I did a broad
science course and it was Stan Moore who made me fall in love
with biochemistry. He was just so passionate about it and he made
it all so interesting.
“It combines every part of science; it has all the cool genetics
stuff, and then has chemistry and has a bit of maths. It has
But she is not the type of scientist who thinks all life’s answers
can be found by looking down a microscope.
“I’m into the alternative, holistic approach to life, which is odd
for a scientist, apparently, but I don’t think so,” she says. “I think
that true health and wellbeing comes from the inside and is about
balance of mind and body and soul.”
Sport and the outdoors also play a big role in her life. “I train
horses and they are extremely humbling; just when you think you
are getting somewhere they do something to make you realise you
have so much to learn. You can’t take stress to the horse, so you
have to leave it at the door and they teach you to be in the now, in
reality, because sometimes research can take you completely away
from these things.
“Mountain biking does the same thing, but it is an extremely
physical workout which I find so fantastic for balancing out the
‘mind’ stuff. I always say that mountain biking and horse riding
are excellent for keeping you grounded – if you think too much
you hit the ground, literally.” She also has a love of music and plays the piano, while cooking
and travelling are also high on the list of things that help unwind
from the laboratory.
“I love trying new things,” she says. “Challenges are the good
stuff in life, they teach you so much. I think it’s so important to
always keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.”
The MacDiarmid award application process brought not only a
scientific accolade but also a newfound clarity to her work.
“I often say that I go
to work and play. It’s
like being in a sandpit,
making little tracks with
tractors. Only now the
tracks have real-life
– Carlene Starck
“It involved communicating your research to the general
public,” she says. “You have to write an essay and make a poster
that a 16-year-old could understand. It made me stop and think
about exactly what I was doing and made me think, ‘oh, this is why
I am doing this research’. It gave me perspective.
“The thing I like the most about my work is also the thing I hate
the most, and that is that you can’t see what you’re working with.
It involves constant problem solving and it’s not like you go to a
book and read up on how to do things. Sometimes you just have
to create them for yourself, and figure out how you are going to
answer each question. That is the cool thing. I often say that I go
to work and play. It’s like being in a sandpit, making little tracks
with tractors. Only now the tracks have real-life consequences.”
Starck will finish her PhD later this year and a job in an offshore
lab is the next step, although, typical of her approach to her
academic career so far, exactly where is still up in the air.
“This area of research is completely new, and so what I really
want to do is go and work in a laboratory that is actively working in
these areas, one that’s set up to answer all the questions that I’ve
got. I don’t know where that’s going to be yet.”
2009 || MASSEY
UNIVERSITY || defining
Rules and regulations in the classroom can
both encourage and inhibit girls’ achievement in
mathematics. Associate Professor Margaret
Walshaw talks to Kereama Beal and explains that
these rules are not always set by the teacher,
but by the pupils themselves.
– Photographs Graeme Brown
Associate Professor Margaret Walshaw says that being aware of
the effects of social positioning in the classroom is an important
tool for understanding achievement in mathematics, particularly
for girls.
Walshaw is based within the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy
in the College of Education and is co-director of the Centre of
Excellence for Research in Mathematics Education.
Historically, older theories suggested that it was not a woman’s
place to become educated, which Walshaw says helped form the
idea that women did not have the calibre to do mathematics.
“There was a movement around the 1970s in mathematics
education where people were beginning to say ‘Hey this can’t be
right’. This led to people questioning what goes on in classrooms
and how that might be used to explain why girls were not doing so
well in mathematics.”
Walshaw says the researchers at that time looked at how often
girls asked questions in the classroom and what they believed
constituted a good mathematics student.
“Girls came back with the answer ‘good, kind, and helpful’
whereas the boys’ answers tended to focus on intelligence and
ability. Girls’ work would be praised for being neat and tidy – but
not necessarily because it was good, or correct.
“This is an example of an idea or attitude operating in classrooms
at that time that didn’t allow some girls to develop as well as they
might in mathematics.
“The feeling was that maybe our classrooms weren’t conducive
enough for girls to actually do well. It was found that they asked
fewer questions, so it then became an issue of finding ways for
them to feel more comfortable to do so. This I think, was the
beginning of the turnaround.
“I believe that turnaround was useful because it allowed
influential people to come and say that girls can do anything, and
it made an improvement. It gave people a different perspective.”
She says that understanding the ways that girls do things is
important, as is the way any single person views themselves in a
social setting.
“My research has been built around ideas that try to unpack how
people are positioned in society and my work is directly related to
people in mathematics education. So I’m not as interested in the
way people perform in mathematics, but I’m looking at a microlevel of what happens in classrooms to try and explain how they’re
positioned in a social setting and how it might affect them.”
For a two-year Marsden study she looked closely at the interrelationships in the classroom of different decile schools and
found aspects of practice in the classroom that may not normally
have been visible.
She used microphones attached to individual pupils at their
desks to listen to their conversations, and then interviewed them
following the lesson.
“Many people assume that a lot of the conversations carried
out in the classroom by the pupils themselves are off-task
conversations, but in fact the pupils would often relate what they
were doing in their class work to their activities outside of the
classroom in their own life.
“The pupils were also very focused on their academic work, and
a lot of brainstorming would happen too, which was an interesting
Walshaw says that what was particularly interesting were the
conversations that happened in a year-12 classroom between two
girls who sat in front of two boys, all accelerated students studying
mathematics at a higher level.
“It was a fascinating exchange that I didn’t fully understand
until I interviewed the girls afterwards. In the girls’ view the boys
were trying to distract them and get them into trouble, by kicking
their chairs, and making them laugh – which was a no-no in this
“I saw a little of this happening, but the girls’ perception of this
may have been escalated. But what’s important is the way they
perceived what was going on and how it affected what they were
Dr Walshaw says that one of the students in particular, who was
prone to giggling, was significantly affected.
“The boys’ behaviour did prompt her to giggle in the class
which had the effect of creating a difficult relationship between
her and the teacher.
“Girls’ work would be praised
for being neat and tidy – but not
necessarily because it was good, or
– Associate Professor Margaret Walshaw
“It was difficult for her to get beyond this, and as a result she
didn’t feel she could do anything good enough for the teacher.
Over a period of time, in some way this incident contributed to
her disengaging with the mathematics and deciding herself that
she couldn’t do it, when in fact she was a gifted student.
“These are the sort of things you are able to pick up when you
look at the relationships within the classroom in a direct way.”
In a group interview, the girls had criticised the boys’ behaviour,
but Walshaw found that they were even more critical of the other
girls in the classroom, over seemingly minor things such as
gestures or expressions that other girls may have made.
She examined how social and structural processes interact
in the shaping of female subjectivities and looked at how girls
monitored and categorised the behaviour of other pupils in the
“I developed the idea that it isn’t just the teacher who sets
the rules and regulations for the classroom, but the pupils
“What emerged is a view of the very political and strategic nature
of classroom life, which we often don’t consider.
“Teachers are busy people and a lot of what goes on in classrooms
is not apparent, It’s only when you have the luxury of a fine-tuned
research investigation that you’re able to see what goes on.
“Teaching in any classroom is not an isolated event.”
College of Creative Arts communications adviser Jeanette Troon, College Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor Claire Robinson and BLOW‘09 festival director
Drew Naika pictured in the tea gardens of the Museum Building with exhibits which will feature in the Surplus and Creativity exhibition which takes existing
objects and puts them to different use.
blows in
Associate Professor Claire Robinson tells Paul
Mulrooney how a fasincation for political spin and
a love of design has inspired her, and helped shape
Massey’s annual BLOW creative festival which runs
from November 6-21 this year.
– Photographs: Mark Coote
2009 || MASSEY
UNIVERSITY || defining
It opens the night after Guy Fawke’s Day - and Massey’s creative
arts festival BLOW is a sure fire way to end the academic year with
a bang.
From November 6-21 the Wellington and Albany campuses will
be pulsating to an onslaught of arts, fashion, dance and especially
Associate Professor Claire Robinson, from the College of
Creative Arts, believes the Festival has come to represent so much
of Massey’s vision and expertise in the area of creativity.
While Robinson carries the official title at the College of
Assistant Pro Vice-Chancellor for Business and Operations, when
it comes to championing BLOW a more apt job description would
simply be cheerleader.
In three short years, she says, the fortnight long celebration has
cemented itself not just on the university consciousness but also
among other tertiary institutions. In Wellington.
Elements of this year’s festival include exhibitions, screenings,
performances workshops and public lectures.
“It’s really got a life of its own now. We want it to still be a Massey
thing but more than happy for Massey to be a facilitator and not
just show Massey events.”
Such a philosophy is also a neat fit for the Road to 2020,
Massey’s prospectus for the near future, which has creativity and
innovation at its core.
With preparations for BLOW’09 cranking up, the challenge
for organisers is to expand on the mounting reputation both the
college and the festival have already built.
Robinson shares the responsibility of shouldering that
challenge. Back in early 2007, a brainstorming session she led
helped push BLOW into being.
At the time the College staged separate events for its fashion
show and Exposure exhibition of work by graduating Bachelor
of Design and Fine Arts students – but the opportunity was ripe
for expansion.
A third event, the Hall of Fame dinner to honour illustrious
alumni, was added and soon the college was grappling with the
question of how best to present such a creative combination.
“We asked ourselves what were the defining points of a festival?”
Robinson recalls.
“In a city where there is nearly a festival every week we had to
come up with a point of difference – and that is when we came up
with the idea of ‘Fresh Creative Perspectives.”
Workshopping the first word of the phrase generated the name
BLOW – Nga hau e wha (four winds), with its connotations of a
breezy new approach to the arts and obvious associations with the
city’s windy reputation.
“You don’t have to be in Wellington long to realise the
concept,” laughs Robinson. What organisers hoped, but could
not predict, was how much of an impression the event had on
some, inadvertently leading to another expression with audiences
speaking of being “blown away”.
For the inaugural 2007 festival the Expose show, featuring the
best animation and digital productions by design graduates, was
a highlight. The ingenuity behind the boogie-board style Quash
board – a portable exercise unit for diabetic children, which
encourages play and exercise while measuring glucose levels, also
had tongues wagging.
In 2008 a treat was the visit of American film-maker and “media
ecologist” Gerry Fialka, the curator of the PXL This Festival of
movies made by the Fisher Price PXL Vision toy camera.
This year industrial design will be in the spotlight with two
separate shows.
Design Demystified exhibits work by School of Design staff, which
shows what is involved in the making of everyday products, while
the exhibition Surplus and Creativity features the re-invention of
pre-loved objects. A hot water bottle becomes a garden watering
can; a computer monitor is turned into a chicken coop.
In addition, the Exposure exhibitions in both Wellington and
Auckland will showcase innovative work by graduating students
from textiles to design, fashion, photography, while the festival
will be bolstered by the involvement of six international art and
design specialists.
Robinson’s involvement is also a bonus. Following last year’s
BLOW festival, the then head of the Institute of Communication
Design at the College, left the University after 15 years, to take up
a senior role within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Director of
Public Diplomacy and Outreach.
Less than a year later she was lured back to Massey.
“I was shocked at how risk averse and conservative the public
service was compared to the university environment. I missed the
energy, optimism and creativity that is at the heart of the College
of Creative Arts and Massey.”
It was the second time academia had triumphed over the public
service in her career, which started with a political science degree
from Victoria University and an early career in the public service,
including time at the State Services Commission, Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
While on a diplomatic posting in Kiribati she met up with
painter Robin White who inspired her to try some art classes on
return to Wellington. After night and summer school classes with
Basia Smolnicki, John Drawbridge and Kura Te Waru Rewiri the
seed was sown to move on to design school.
But first she had one last foray into the fringes of politics as
private secretary to then Social Welfare and Women’s Affairs
Minister Jenny Shipley in 1991.
It was the time of the benefit cuts and finance minister Ruth
Richardson’s “Mother of all Budgets” and when both politicians
were vilified across New Zealand. So unpopular was Shipley, “I’d
accompany Jenny around and everywhere we went we’d be egged”,
Robinson remembers.
Associate Profesor Claire Robinson pictured alongside the College of
Creative Arts’ Hall of Fame. Three more alumni will join it at an official
dinner to be held during the BLOW festival.
Back at the Beehive, her interest in political advertising was
piqued when an advertising agency was enlisted to try to sell the
benefit cuts.
“I became fascinated by political spin.”
By then she was pregnant with her first child and applied and was
accepted for design school at the former Wellington Polytechnic
– a world away from her previous impressions of academia and
the public service.
“I absolutely loved it. It was life changing. I couldn’t believe it
was possible to do a degree and enjoy every minute of the day
drawing pictures and creating new designs.”
With the advent of computer design, her graphic design talents
became so obvious she soon knew more than the tutors and was
offered a full-time job as a graphic design lecturer.
Between 2002-2006 she completed a PhD in political advertising
and marketing and became a popular commentator on election
campaigning in the news media, while progressively working her
way from being a senior lecturer to head of department where the
inspiration for BLOW was born.
This year, Robinson says events like Dance/Objectif, jointly
organised by final-year photography students at Massey and dance
performance students from the New Zealand School of Dance,
will illustrate the collaborative spirit behind the festival.
A researcher’s quest to uncover the mysteries of
quantum mechanics has won more than $800,000 from
the Marsden Fund. Associate Professor Joachim Brand is
one of 11 researchers to win funding, worth more than $7
million to the University.
Brand, from the Institute of Natural Sciences at the Albany
campus, will use the funding on the project Icy tornadoes in
the quantum world – Josephson junctions of Bose-Einstein
His research centres on quantum mechanics, a theory based
on the ideas of Heisenberg, Schroedinger and Einstein.
“Although we understand the theory of quantum mechanics
and what it predicts for small objects like electrons and
atoms to a very high precision, we do not understand what
it means for large and complicated objects,” Brand says.
“From the seemingly simple laws that govern billiard balls to
understanding consciousness and free will, there are many
mysteries in what quantum mechanics means for large and
complex systems.
“We will study theoretically the behaviours of tiny tornadoes in
ultra-cold atomic gases. With the help of computer simulations
we plan to make predictions for their behaviour, which can
later be tested in experiments.
“By doing this we want to not only understand how the laws
of quantum mechanics give rise to the familiar behaviour of
large objects but also see how the subtle and strange laws of
quantum mechanics can be utilised to play new tricks that are
potentially useful for precision measurements and information
Other researchers funded for the next three years:
Associate Professor Shane Cronin, Institute of Natural
Resources; Dr Barbara Holland, Allan Wilson Centre; Professor
Geoffrey Jameson, Institute of Fundamental Sciences; Dr Gert
Lube, Institute of Natural Resources; Dr Antonia Lyons, School
of Psychology; Dr Stephen Marsland, School of Engineering
and Advanced Technology; Professor Gaven Martin, Institute
for Advance Study; Dr Steven Pascal, Institute of Fundamental
Sciences; Dr Wayne Patrick, Institute of Natural Sciences; Dr
Vaughan Symonds, Institute of Molecular BioSciences.
Photograph: Geoff Dale
No bones
about it
Anlene is a fortified milk targeted at bone health. It is produced
by Fonterra and the science behind it was developed in partnership
with researchers at the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human
New Zealand Milk (a forerunner of Fonterra Brands) and Massey
University set up a collaboration about 15 years ago to form the
Milk and Health Research Centre with bone research as one of
its specific research aims. Even though there have been several
reorganisations and renamings for both partners, the relationship
has continued, and Massey’s Bone Research Group is still active in
helping to develop and innovate Anlene.
For almost a decade, Professor Marlena Kruger from the
Institute and Dr Linda Schollum, health research manager at
Fonterra Brands, have worked together to support the product’s
Schollum says there was a clear need for such a product in the
Asian market. “The Asian diet is very low in calcium, and so it was
a good opportunity to use milk to deliver a nutrient that almost all
of the Asian continent needs.”
The group started by testing milk itself to find out which
properties, apart from the obvious calcium, were helpful to bone
health, Kruger says. “Then we started testing what we could add to
milk to further improve bone quality. The research on Vitamin K
was part of that, and we’re looking at other components as well,
which may enhance calcium absorption, or benefit bone in other
Anlene has been on the market in Asia for more than 15years
and was released in New Zealand three years ago, but work
continues to improve it.
Schollum says the relationship Fonterra has with the University
has been a key to the product’s success.
“Anlene is a success because the science behind it is sound.
We have clinical evidence that it helps bone health; the science
isn’t just based on reading a paper somewhere and then adding
something to milk, we’ve actually done the research, which is very
The group is active in publishing all its findings, both positive
and those that haven’t shown strong benefits.
“Publication builds our credibility,” Schollum says. “We
publish even when we aren’t going to commercialise a specific
Fonterra is also looking at doing more research in the Asian
market, with Massey again as a partner.
“As new things come to commercialisation because the science
base is important, we want to involve people like Marlena as an
investigator to work with local researchers in Asia to conduct
testing,” Schollum says. “Many regulators now require research
2009 || MASSEY
UNIVERSITY || defining
A strong scientific base is the key to a milk product
that has become the market leader in Asia.
Professor Marlena Kruger from the Institute of
Food, Nutrition and Human Health and Dr Linda
Schollum, Health Research Manager at Fonterra
Brands, talk to Bryan Gibson about the product
they’ve spent almost a decade developing.
Massey’s Professor Marlena Kruger and Fonterra’s Dr Linda Schollum check
results from the DEXA scanner, a machine that uses x-rays to measure bone
mineral density.
that is done in their own country before allowing product claims
to be made.”
She says having an independent research centre helps give
credibility to the claims the product makes. “There is a sense that
if research is industry-funded then it’s tainted, so it’s important to
have Marlena on board to make sure it is robust, and is openly so.
We do not want to be accused of publishing biased work.”
The pair says the emergence of Anlene in Asia has been heart
warming, both from a professional and personal point of view.
“Part of our education is that you can take all the calcium you
want, but if you don’t keep active you’re not going to be able to
do the best for your bones,” Schollum says. “So we’ve got a lot of
activities around mobility and exercise. Last World Osteoporosis
Day, in Indonesia alone, we had 78,000 people walking down
the streets. It’s goose bump stuff, really. It’s a very powerful
Economics lecturer Sam Richardson
recently received the ViceChancellor’s Award for Excellence
in Teaching First-Year Students, and
tells Melanie McKay he is just doing
his job.
The key to
teaching success
According to Sam Richardson, it is a common misconception
that economics is just about money. He says it is about people,
their behaviour and what influences them.
It is this way of translating concepts and information into easily
understood language that contributed to Richardson recently
being given a top teaching award. The Economics lecturer at
the Manawatu campus received a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for
Excellence in Teaching First-Year Students. It was a humbling
experience for Richardson, who says he was just doing his job.
He puts his teaching success down to the fact that he is always
willing to help. “I make myself available and make it clear that
I’m more than happy to help so students can ask anything at any
time. Generally if they are asking for help they really want it and
really appreciate of the time you spend. I enjoy helping people to
succeed and to see the understanding dawning on their faces,”
he says.
Richardson decided to study economics after enjoying it at
school, even though it was not his best subject. He studied at the
University’s Manawatu campus, gaining a Bachelor of Applied
Economics in 1994, then a Masters of Applied Economics, before
taking a graduate assistant’s position in 1998. Coming from
a Taranaki farming family, his choice of career was considered
unusual, although his aunt is former Finance Minister Ruth
Richardson. Pursuing something you enjoy and that has piqued
your interest is not only advice that Richardson has followed
himself, but a key piece of advice he gives his students. “I think
first-year teaching is about giving students a taste of what they
might like to pursue. As a student, I think it’s critical that you
do something that you enjoy, that you are interested in and that
makes some kind of sense to you.”
To make topics relevant in his lectures, Richardson likes to
use real-life examples. He uses Trademe in his information
economics lectures to show how the discipline is about people
and their behaviour, as much as money. “Everyone knows that you
might get a lemon if you buy something on Trademe, because
the transaction is heavily dependent on the information the seller
provides. The seller’s incentive is to talk up the product in order
to get the best price, and the consumer’s to get a bargain. Each
knows what the other wants. It is those conflicting roles and desires
that are fascinating and warrant looking closer at.”
As well as teaching, 34-year-old Richardson is also completing
his PhD on the economics of public spending on sports events and
stadiums in New Zealand. In keeping with his approach to student
learning, he has picked a topic that is of interest to him. “I’m very
much a sports follower and am interested in whether investment
by Government in such facilities is the best use of public money.
As financial investments they are not viable for the most part, but
we need to ask whether they generate other economic benefits
such as economic growth or job creation, things they should do to
make them economically sensible projects.” Richardson plans to
finish his PhD at the end of next year, not long before the Rugby
World Cup 2011 is played at stadiums around New Zealand.
Lilies a
life’s work
2009 || MASSEY
UNIVERSITY || defining
Pioneering flower farmer and graduate Bill
Doreen has spent six decades dedicated to lilies.
His research and passion has culminated in the
publication of a new book that will preserve his
knowledge for generations to come.
– Photographs: David Wiltshire
Pioneering flower farmer Bill Doreen has preserved his life’s
work, publishing Lily Species Throughout the World to capture
his six decades of knowledge.
One of Massey’s early horticultural students, graduating from the
then Massey Agricultural College with a Diploma of Horticulture
in 1951, Doreen learned his craft under Dr John Yeates.
‘We would work for him even in the vacations, or for other
people in the city. I always worked, so by the time I graduated, I
had an idea of what I wanted to do in horticulture.”
That was to grow lilies.
“When we finished, I bought some lily bulbs from Dr Yeates and
we started to grow our own. I thought there was a market. No one
else was growing them commercially in New Zealand, and the only
ones on the market were Christmas lilies, the regale lily, and at
Easter, formasanum lilies.
Doreen and his wife, Carol, bought land on Levin’s Fairfield Rd
soon after marrying, starting with just 4ha, but expanding over
40 years to become New Zealand‘s largest flower wholesaler and
exporter of lilies, sandersonia, zantedeschia and freesias. The
company supplied almost every flower market and garden centres
in New Zealand with flowers and bulbs.
“Before going to Massey I had a years apprenticeship at the
Wellington Botanical Gardens, and completed the apprenticeship
after obtaining the Diploma of Horticulture in 1951,” he says.
Horowhenua’s geography and the fertility of the soil was a
deciding factor for the farm’s location.
“Like in the Mediterranean, the cloud formations get right
against the mountains [Tararua Range] and you get the light
reflected down onto the ground.”
Hard work saw the business expand to neighbouring land,
and the American grower Jan de Graaf invited Doreen to join
him for three months at his Oregon bulb farm, taking the
Doreens’ production further by giving him access to commercial
At that time growing was seasonal, but to be commercial and
competitive he knew he needed year-round production.
“I used to tell people that this was not just about growing flowers,
but an industry, the same as in any factory.”
Also known for his hybrids, Doreen’s most famous is Casa
Blanca, now the best know of all lilies throughout the world.
“The greatest excitement of being a hybridiser is looking at next
seasons crop of flowers. Every one is different. We were looking
for new varieties of upward facing flowers and new colours. It is an
absolutely magical time watching the new flowers open.”
Carol and the couple’s four children also worked in the business.
She recalls the days out in the fields by 8am, then evenings spent
doing the accounts.
“But is wasn’t work – it was fun and it was a challenge.”
Son Murray, also a Massey graduate, joined the business and
followed in his father’s footsteps, utilising the best of overseas
technology. An on-site tissue culture laboratory and giant
freezers and coolstores alongside more traditional glasshouses
complemented a highly sophisticated packhouse.
“We had children and grandchildren of earlier employees, and
our grandchildren, coming to join the team,” Bill Doreen says.
“We would work right up to Christmas Eve, getting flowers out
to get Sandersonia on the flight to Japan for their market. We
were known throughout the world, with visitors from Israel, the
States, Canada, Europe, and their families coming to work and
stay with us, and it was reciprocal, with our family having overseas
He and Carol retired afer an accident in 2002.
“I had long thought about writing a book on lily species, as it
had not been done before. Because I knew a lot of people, I asked
each of them to give me a list of species and the pictures. People
sent them and we collated them, then I researched, going back
over 100 years for species. I went right back to the 1850s.
Photograph: Geoff Dale
“I had long thought about writing a book on lily
species, as it had not been done before. Because I
knew a lot of people, I asked each of them to give me
a list of species and the pictures. People sent them
and we collated them, then I researched, going back
over 100 years for species.”
– Bill Doreen
“When I was at Massey there were about 75 or 80 known species,
but now there are 135.”
Lily Species throughout the World was launched in Christchurch
in September.
“We just thought after 60 years of gathering knowledge, we
did not want to have that knowledge lost. It is not about making
money, we did it because we enjoyed it.”
The Massey University Library has been gifted the book.
rituals and
Historian Peter Lineham talks to Jennifer Little
about faith, rituals and the Kiwi DIY attitude to
– Photograph: Geoff Dale
influence on me. It enabled me to explore questions without
Historian Associate Professor Peter Lineham grew up to question
being frightened of answers.”
the tenets of the Exclusive Brethren religion he was raised by.
His personal spiritual journey has invariably intersected with
A committed Christian, albeit not of the Brethren variety any
academic explorations, in such a way that has enhanced and
longer, his 30-year career as a scholar of religious history has
deepened his scholarly work without detracting from its critical
yielded a wealth of articles, essays and books on matters religious
strengths, he feels. He currently attends three different churches
and spiritual that have long fascinated him. His interest has
– the Anglican church, the Ponsonby Baptist Church and the
also led to That’s the Spirit – his weekly slot on Auckland’s bFM
Auckland community church at St Matthew’s-in-the-city.
student radio talking on aspects of religion, and a mammoth book
“I’ve been totally involved in living the story as well as writing
collection, the weight of which almost caused his Ponsonby house
the story. All these stories involve complex issues of interpretation
to collapse.
and end up in discussions about how you make sense of these
When Lineham came to Massey 30 years ago as a junior history
[religious ideas and practices]. When you turn a very careful
lecturer, the study of New Zealand’s religious history was still very
historical spotlight into any tradition, there are bits that make
new apart from limited work being done in theological colleges.
your blood curdle. Some of the things that were said and done in
Lineham had just returned from a several years in England where
the name of religion were not very nice.”
he’d won a Commonwealth Scholarship to do his PhD on an
An example from his own experiences with the Exclusive
obscure religious sect, the Swedenborgians, at the University of
Brethren is “the extraordinarily harsh treatment of people they
regard as sinners”. He also wrote a paper on Brethren childhoods,
Encouraged by the-then head of the history department,
examining “the grim way they brought up
Professor Bill Oliver, Lineham took a lead
in teaching the religious history of New
While New Age spirituality is no longer so
Zealand religious studies department in the usual one, not because of I had
the mid-1980s. “Since then I’ve had a huge many things but because I had 300 new, Lineham has a keen interest in noncartons of books. They weighed
institutionalised religion of the kind that
number of students, especially postgraduate.
flourishes readily in New Zealand, where
There was so much to do – it was uncharted
move house again.”
our spiritual landscape is bereft of ancient
territory academically.”
– Peter Lineham
churches, cathedrals and the traditional
Lineham, renowned for his highly
power and influence they wield. Witness
entertaining, colourful lecturing style which
with the steady trade in crystals,
means he is frequently called upon to speak at many university
trinkets and alternative spiritual writings traded on the internet,
functions, has himself researched, lectured and written on
he observes.
everything from New Zealand’s late 19th century Temperance
“New Zealand is not a very ritually rich country, and yet people
Movement, the fighting between Catholics and Protestants and
for rituals that mark significance – birth, death and other
emergence of Mäori Christian religious movements to name a
milestones. We are a do-it-yourself society and I’ve always thought
New Zealanders have an extraordinary level of DIY attitude to
“I tend to get absorbed by an interesting issue and I throw
religion, with all these strange sectarian groups and odd little
myself into that. Because of my background, I think the heart of
the history of religion is not the institutional story – that’s why
It could be that Lineham’s true religion is book-collecting – he
I use the term religious history, not church history, because its
has been at it since he was a boy. As a teenager he’d make a beeline
about what people do and believe and act on,” says Lineham, who
for the annual Whitcombe & Tombs book sale in Christchurch or
heads the School of Social and Cultural Studies at the Albany
a favourite secondhand bookstore every Friday. By then he had
built up a little library with its own card index file.
Although an authority on 18th and 19th century English
“When I went to England I began to focus my collection on
religious history, he has written extensively on New Zealand’s
English 18th and 19th century history, particularly rare books and
religious and spiritual developments, including Transplanted
writings of historians.” He had 15 cartons of books to ship home
Christianity, Weaving the Unfinished Mats: Wesley’s Legacy:
by the end of his time there.
Conflict, Confusion and Challenge in the South Pacific and New
When he moved from Palmerston North to Auckland in 1998,
Zealand Religious History: A Bibliography as well as his first book
“I had to get two trucks rather than the usual one, not because of
There We Found Brethren: A History of Brethren Assemblies in
I had many things but because I had 300 cartons of books. They
New Zealand.
weighed about 7½ tonnes – I couldn’t ever move house again.”
One of five boys, Lineham grew up in the remote Buller
He had to have the foundations of his house strengthened to
settlement of Karamea at the top of the South Island, where his
prevent the house from splitting under the weight of the books,
father drove a milk truck. Both parents were keen readers and
which are kept in every room – even the laundry.
valued education. Their interpretation of the Bible was not as
About 12,000 books – half the collection – are recorded
strict as some Exclusive Brethren, he says.
electronically as well as listed by author and title in his cell phone
His world opened up – academically and spiritually – when
so he can check whether he’s already got a copy of a book when
the family moved to Christchurch so their sons could attend
perusing bookshops.
Burnside High School, which was at the time New Zealand’s
It is most reassuring to hear he “limits” himself to buying one
largest secondary school, he says. At Canterbury University,
book a day – 365 a year – but makes an exception when friends go
where all five Lineham boys studied, he threw himself into the
overseas with offers to bring back fresh bounty.
interdominational Christian Union on campus. “It had a huge
Commitment to
the long term
If we don’t contribute to research
then we are not worthy to be
considered university academics.
Furthermore, without a research
emphasis at our university we
would fail to attract the very best
staff to teach and inspire the
next generation of researchers.
We owe our students the best
– Distinguished Professor
David Parry
What is research and why do we do it? The simple answer, of course, is that research
involves gaining new knowledge through experimentation and theoretical analyses, and
we do it because it is the nature of the human race to desire a greater understanding of
everything and everyone in the world in which we live.
As humans we have this urge to push the boundaries and gain greater insights into
every aspect of our lives. This is often a challenging and demanding occupation and
progress rarely comes easily, but when “the breakthrough” comes there are surely few
moments more satisfying in an academic’s career.
Why do we, in New Zealand’s defining university, invest our limited resources
in research? Again, the answers are straightforward. A university, as distinct from a
polytechnic, is defined as an institution dedicated to creating new knowledge and acting
as the conscience of society. If we don’t contribute to research then we are not worthy
to be considered university academics. Furthermore, without a research emphasis at
our university we would fail to attract the very best staff to teach and inspire the next
generation of researchers. We owe our students the best available. We can also achieve
much by collaborating with researchers round the world and bringing into the team
those with expertise that we lack. It’s fun. It’s rewarding and together so much more will
be achieved than could otherwise be possible.
Why don’t we just use research work generated overseas? It would be cheaper. There are
many reasons, of course, for rejecting such a concept outright. Firstly, economic progress
means that we must have an edge over our competitors. Secondly, New Zealand’s plants,
animals and social environment area are unique. Research generated elsewhere will
never be totally relevant here. Thirdly, if New Zealand is to be accepted as a partner in the
international research community it must give as good as it gets. If we didn’t contribute
to the pool of knowledge we would have little access to that generated elsewhere and zero
Should all areas of research be encouraged, even those with no immediate economic
benefit? Absolutely! Rarely can we predict with any certainty where research might
lead us. Did those involved in the development of computers, lasers, antibiotics,
microelectronics, the world-wide web, DNA fingerprinting, understanding of evolution at
the molecular level, the use of number theory in cryptography and e-commerce, genetic
engineering, semi-conductors, superconductivity, black holes, plate tectonics, space
travel, organ transplantation and novel surgical techniques, conducting polymers and
solar technology (to name but a few) have an end purpose in mind. Perhaps in some
cases yes, but in most cases no. All scientific research ultimately leads via technology and
engineering to commercial enterprises. It might take five years, it might take 50 years
but it will happen, it does happen. We must commit ourselves to the long-term and not
expect $10 of product to emerge from $1 of investment within a few years. History tells us
that it takes considerable time between the generation of a good idea and a commercial
product. We must be patient. This is not easy when political pressures demand a quick
To succeed at the highest international level in research those involved need to be
dedicated, determined and excellent. Never settle for being second-best.
David Parry
Distinguished Professor of Biophysics
BLOW09 Creative Arts Festival
BLOW09 Creative Arts Festival is a rare opportunity for the public to interact
with students of creativity, academics, researchers and international specialists
in creative fields.
The festival is held over two weeks looking at the future of design, art and
visual and performing arts through exhibitions, public lectures, performances
and workshops.
Events include performances from Toi Whakaari, New Zealand Drama School,
the New Zealand School of Dance and the New Zealand School of Music
Creative thinkers and design talents from the United States, Belgium, Australia,
the Netherlands and Britain will come to share exhibitions, discuss design-led
business ideas and hear about the creative hub behind New Zealand’s cultural
capital - Massey University
The Festival includes the Exposure exhibition in Wellington and the Design
Exposure exhibition in Auckland.
For more information including event venues and times, visit the website:
November Graduation Ceremonies – Palmerston North
Graduation is a celebration of achievement for new graduates who join the
Universities extensive network of accomplished alumni.
November Graduation ceremonies are held at the Manawatu campus for all
colleges across each campus
A monthly publication profiling research,
success and innovation from New Zealand’s
defining university.
Editor/design: Kereama Beal
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 06-350-5019
Published by Massey University External
Communications Director
James Gardiner
Email: [email protected]
Ph: 06-350-5255
Director – Projects
Lindsey Birnie
Email: [email protected]
Ph: 06-350-5185
Mäori Communications Manager
Lana Simmons-Donaldson
Ph: 04-801-5799 ext 62333
Email: [email protected]
Jennifer Little
Email: [email protected]
Melanie McKay
Email: [email protected]
2009 New Zealand Mathematics Colloquim
Kereama Beal
Email: [email protected]
Bryan Gibson
Email: [email protected]
The Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences at the Albany Campus
will host the 2009 New Zealand Mathematics Colloquium at the Albany
Campus in December.
The Colloquium runs for three days and will cover all aspects of mathematics
and its applications. Over the years it has provided a great opportunity for New
Zealand and overseas mathematicians to meet together.
Paul Mulrooney
Email: [email protected]
For more information visit the website: http://nzmc2009.massey.ac.nz
Massey University
Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North
New Zealand
Surf car for the future…
Dune buggy meets station wagon in this futuristic surf car by transport design student Jae Hoon Lee. Complete
with internal surfboard racks, compartment for wetsuits, built-in changing area and rubber seating on the bonnet,
it is currently being considered by auto manufacturer Hyundai.
Lee is the first student to complete a transport design Master’s degree at Massey’s Auckland School of Design.
Korean-born Lee, who has lived in New Zealand for most of his life, pitched the concept of the electricallypowered, four-wheel drive surf car, called Exodus, to Hyundai earlier this year and the company agreed to
sponsor him to develop the design.
He is pictured explaining design features of the surf car to British designer Tony Catignani, programme leader of
transport design at the Umea Institute of Design in Sweden.
Contact Massey University Tel: 0800 MASSEY Fax: +64 6 350 5618
Web: www.massey.ac.nz Email: [email protected] TXT: 5222
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