Driving force of volcanic super-hazards uncovered

Source: Massey University

Associate Professor Gert Lube.

Massey volcanologists have discovered the driving force behind superheated gas-and-ash clouds from volcanic eruptions, which may help save lives and infrastructure around the globe. 

Endangering 500 million people worldwide, pyroclastic density currents (or pyroclastic flows) are the most common and lethal volcanic threat, causing 50 per cent of fatalities caused  by volcanic activity. During volcanic events, these currents transport hot mixtures of volcanic particles and gas over tens of kilometres, causing damage to infrastructure and loss of life.

One of the issues to studying these phenomena is that they are impossible to measure in real life. Using Massey’s Pyroclastic flow Eruption Large-scale Experiment (PELE) eruption simulator facility, the team were able to synthesize the natural behaviour of volcanic super-hazards and generate these flows as they occur in nature, but on a smaller scale.

Until now, scientists could not find the mechanism responsible for the super-mobility of these flows, and previous models were unable to accurately predict their velocity, runout and spread through hazard models, which put lives and infrastructure at risk. 

Massey University’s Associate Professor Gert Lube says that through their unique experiments, the enigmatic friction-cheating mechanism was found.

“With several tonnes of pumice and gas in motion, our large-scale eruption simulations uncovered the flow enigma that has been baffling researchers for decades. We measured a low-friction air cushion that is self-generated in these flows and perpetuates their motion. We were able to mathematically describe the resulting flow behavior. There is an internal process that counters granular friction, where air lubrication develops under high basal shear when air is locally forced downwards by reversed pressure gradients and displaces particles upward.

“This explains how the currents are able to propagate over slopes, bypass tortuous flow paths, and ignore rough substrates and flat and upsloping terrain, without slowing down.”

“The discovery necessitates a re-evaluation of global hazard mitigation strategies and models that aim to predict the velocity, runout and spreading of these flows. Discovery of this air-lubrication mechanism opens a new path towards reliable predictions of pyroclastic flow motion and the extreme runout potential of these lethal currents, thereby reducing future casualties. It will be used by hazard scientists, as well as decision makers, and is envisaged to lead to major revisions of volcanic hazard forecasts.”

The article, Generation of air lubrication within pyroclastic density currents, was published in Nature Geoscience.

Authors include Massey’s Professor Jim Jones, Dr Luke Fullard, Eric Breard and Joseph Dufek of the University of Oregon, Shane Cronin of University of Auckland and Ting Wang of the University of Otago. Funding includes Royal Society Te Apārangi Marsden Fund and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund.


2019 graduation season begins

Source: Massey University

2018 graduands parade down Hurstmere Road to the Bruce Mason Centre.

More than 1400 students will graduate next week, marking the end of their study journey and the beginning of Massey University’s graduation events for 2019.

The ceremonies, held at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna, start on Tuesday morning, and occur twice daily until the final ceremony on Thursday afternoon. There will also be events to celebrate Pasifika and Māori graduates on Tuesday and Wednesday evening.

A total of 1437 students will graduate, including 18 with doctorates and 286 receiving master’s degrees. Graduation ceremonies will also take place in Palmerston North and Wellington next month.

Look out for Massey staff who will be on hand to take photos for social media before and after each ceremony. It’s a great chance to get some more casual photos with family and friends. These photos will be posted on Facebook, for students to share, like and comment on. We encourage Massey staff to engage with this content. It can be a great outlet for congratulating students, wishing them well for their next stage in life and inspiring future students.

Twitter and Instagram users attending graduation day, whether they are graduands, family, friends or staff, are encouraged to share highlights using the hashtag #MasseyGrad.

You can watch a live stream of each ceremony here.

Auckland Graduation Ceremonies 16-18 April 2019

Ceremony One – Tuesday, April 16 at 10.30am

Massey Business School – A

Ceremony Two – Tuesday April 16 at 2.30pm

Massey Business School – B

Ceremony Three – Wednesday, April 17 at 10.30am

College of Sciences

Ceremony Four – Wednesday, April 17 at 2.30pm

College of Creative Arts

College of Health

College of Sciences

New Zealand School of Music

Professional and Continuing Education

Ceremony Five – Thursday, April 18 at 10.30am

College of Humanities and Social Sciences – A

Ceremony Six – Thursday, April 18 at 2.30pm

College of Humanities and Social Sciences – B

Celebration to Honour Pasifika Graduates – Tuesday, April 16 at 6.30pm

Celebration to Honour Māori Graduates – Wednesday, April 17 at 6.30pm


Social and economic benefits ranking places Massey 38th in world

Source: Massey University

The social and economic benefits of universities have been recognised for the first time in a new rankings measure devised by Britain’s Times Higher Education in what it calls Impact Rankings.

Based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the rankings measure each university’s contribution and performance in relation to each goal, such as health and wellbeing, reducing inequality, gender equality, climate action and quality education.

Massey University, with a ranking of 38 in the world out of more than 500 universities that submitted data for the new measure, is one of several New Zealand universities to perform exceptionally well, Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says. “The University of Auckland is to be congratulated for an outstanding performance as number one in the world. I believe that reflects well on the entire nation.

“This exercise is valuable to the universities,” Professor Thomas says. “It makes us pause and take stock of what we do, align with collaborative global goals and examine our contributions against these goals in a way that can be globally benchmarked.”

She says it reflects very positively on the commitment staff have to their communities and the general wellbeing of the nation and Massey University’s place in the Pacific and the world.

Traditionally, rankings measure research outputs by the numbers of citations academics receive from other academics, ratios of academic staff to students, employer perceptions of the quality of graduates from particular institutions and academic perceptions of the quality of research undertaken by other academics. Times Higher Education says the impact rankings demonstrate an institution’s commitment to supporting the UN sustainable development goals in teaching, research and knowledge transfer but also embodying them in its internal practices.

The rankings system focused on 11 of the 17 goals and Massey received rankings in the top 200 for all 11 of them. Seven of those were in the top 100 and four of those in the top 50, with its highest ranking – 15th in the world – for its contribution to the Sustainable Cities and Communities goal.

Its next highest ranking was 21st for the Gender Equality goal, followed by Partnership for the Goals (31), Decent Work and Economic Growth (46), Responsible Consumption and Production (51=), Reduced Inequalities (74), Good Health and Wellbeing (94). It ranked between 101 and 200 for Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Climate Action, Quality Education and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Examples of what Massey does to achieve the Sustainable Cities and Communities goal include allowing public access to its libraries, historic buildings, galleries, artworks and green spaces along with its contributions to local arts and theatre groups and its ownership of the Massey University Press.

For Gender Equality, it offers a range of policies, facilities, courses and mentoring schemes aimed at supporting women students and staff. For Decent Work and Economic Growth, it recognises unions and labour rights and offers collective bargaining and its Equal Opportunities Policy is aimed at preventing discrimination in the workplace and it tracks and addresses pay scale gender equity through its Pay and Employment Equity Implementation Group.

More information about the rankings and the performances of all universities is available on the Times Higher Education website.


Massey researchers to present at World Conference on Health Promotion

Source: Massey University

Felicity Ware from Te Pūtahi a Toi: School of Māori Knowledge, will have an exhibit at the World Conference on Health Promotion, and present on teaching whānau how to weave their own wahakura – woven harakeke basket for babies to sleep in.

Massey University staff and students will be well represented at the 23rd World Conference on Health Promotion, to be held in Rotorua from Sunday.

The theme for this year’s conference is Waiora: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All. The conference, which is run by the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE), is held every three years, around the world. This is the first time New Zealand has hosted the conference, which will involve up to 3000 delegates from New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific Islands, the wider Asia-Pacific region, Europe, Americas, Middle East and Africa. The conference will have a strong indigenous component around Māori and Pasifika and will be the biggest event ever held in Rotorua.

The College of Health has more than 17 staff and PhD students presenting, including College of Health Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Mills.

Dr Victoria Chinn will present her research, entitled Women unveiling their health potential: A way forward for empowering health promotion interventions.

“Health promotion adopts a positive, holistic, participatory and empowerment focused approach to health, yet many women’s health programmes set weight-loss as the primary goal for success, which has not only proven to be largely ineffectivebut also damaging to women’s health,” Dr Chinn says.

“This study introduces a health programme that aligns to the values of health promotion and with prospects to create sustainable change conducive to women’s health. The programme, Next Level Health, applies participatory methods for women to determine their own goals across six key health areas: physical activity, sleep, nutrition, eating behaviour, stress management and self-care, with the core aim of gaining more control over their health.”

Sixty women took part in the programme, which ran over a six-month period, and included a twelve-month follow up. Each month the participants met to reflect on the goals they had set, and to set new ones, with the aim to progress their self-defined goals by the end of the programme. Data was collected via a series of questionnaires at the beginning of the programme, at six months and at 12 months.

“Women progressed across an average of 29 levels, out of a possible 36, and significantly gained greater control over their health. The programme enabled women to create health routines in their everyday lives; broaden their health perspective to consider physical, mental and social dimensions as relevant to their health; improve their functional, interactional and critical health literacy; and more fully realise their potential for health in a process of self-actualisation,” Dr Chinn says.

“These findings suggest a holistic approach to health may be more effective for sustainable behaviour change focused on a balance of positive health behaviours rather than a weight-loss focused approach.”

Felicity Ware, Ngāpuhi, a lecturer from Massey’s Te Pūtahi a Toi: School of Māori Knowledge, will have an exhibit at the conference, and present on teaching whānau how to weave their own wahakura – woven harakeke basket for sleeping baby (pēpi).

“Wahakura are individual hand-made safe sleep spaces for pēpi woven out of harakeke, using the tradition of rāranga [weaving]. They were developed as a contemporary kaupapa Māori innovation to safe co-sleeping, particularly for Māori who have a disproportionately high rate of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy [SUDI]. Wahakura also promote bonding, responsive parenting, breastfeeding and smokefree environments,” she says.

“Wahakura embody the significant connection between the Pā Harakeke [plantation] as a model of whānau development and te whare tapu o te tangata [womb]. The atua Hineteiwaiwa, goddess of female arts, presides over both, strengthening the link between harakeke, weaving, wahakura, and raising tamariki [children]. Wahakura have their own mana [spiritual vitality] and mauri [physical vitality] inherited from Papatūānuku, Hineteiwaiwa and the whānau and weavers involved,” Ms Ware says.

“Teaching whānau how to make their own wahakura is empowering them to literally and symbolically create their own pathways to wellbeing. It contributes to the revitalisation of Māori culture, positive cultural identity, and mana motuhake/rangatiratanga [self-determination], especially important for Māori who have been displaced or marginalised.”

The waikawa weaving style was developed as the most simplest version in order to teach those new to weaving how to create their own, she says. “Wahakura take about two full days to make from harvest to finish for a new weaver. Once dried, quality assured and fitted with a breathable mattress, a cotton sheet and a natural fibre blanket, wahakura are safe to sleep babies from newborn until about four to six months, and can be re-used as long as they meet quality standards.”

Massey University staff and students presenting at the conference:

Associate Professor Mary Breheny – Importance of early lives to inequalities in older age (research presentation)

Dr Victoria Chinn – Women unveiling their health potential: A way forward for empowering health promotion interventions (research presentation)

Dr Beven Erueti – Wairuatanga:  Integrating the fourth article of Te Tiriti o Waitangi into health promotion and health education (workshop)

Dr Geoff Kira – “Sometimes I just didn’t have the money”: Removing the barriers to consuming more fruit and vegetables. An exploratory study (research presentation), and Promoting Indigenous food sovereignty for enhancing food security, nutrition and health equity (symposium)

Professor Marlena Kruger – Dietary patterns associated with adiposity and bone mineral densityin older urban black South African women (research presentation)

Adjunct Dr Mat Walton – Implementing a health promotion initiative to achieve systems change: lessons from evaluation of Healthy Families NZ (research presentation) and Using Developmental Evaluation to inform systems change for health (oral presentation)

Professor Jane Mills – What can we do to address health challenges faced by communities? (sub-plenary session)

Christine Roseveare – Engaging public health students with equity: An innovative approach from an on-line New Zealand undergraduate course (oral presentation)

Sudesh Sharma and Associate Professor Rachel Page – Tobacco and alcohol use are playing critical role in the interaction of social determinants of non-communicable diseases in Nepal: a systems perspective (research presentation) and Health and social system challenges to tackle social determinants of non-communicable diseases in Nepal: a systems analysis (research presentation)

Dr Christina Severinsen and Angelique Reweti – Wai ora: Connecting tangata (people), hauora (health), and taiao (environment) through participation in waka ama (film screening and research presentation)

Professor Christine Stephens – The importance of housing to health: A Capabilities Approach to unequal trajectories of healthy ageing (research presentation)

Dr Agnes Szabo – Alcohol use across the life course: Influences on health in old adulthood (research presentation)

Dr Agnes Szabo, Associate Professor Mary Breheny and Professor Christine Stephens – Environments for health equity in older age: Taking a life course perspective (symposium) and Advocating for health equity (moderated discussion)

Chris Vogliano – Can leveraging agrobiodiverse food systems help reverse the rise of malnutrition while providing climate change resilience in Pacific Small Island Developing States? (research presentation)

Felicity Ware – Wahakura (art) and Wahakura wānanga (weaving workshop – oral presentation)


$300k for Massey health projects

Source: Massey University

(Left) Associate Professor Vyacheslav Filichev, Professor Geoff Jameson, and Dr Tracy Hale

Two Massey projects have received a combined $300,000 to study the mental health of Māori women and a new model for studying cancer biology and regenerative medicine.

Dr Natasha Tassell-Matamua, of the School of Psychology, and a team from the School of Fundamental Sciences, were two of the fifteen projects to be granted funding. Each will receive $150,000 as part of the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) Explorer Grants.

The Explorer Grant scheme seeks to attract and fund transformative research ideas with the potential for major impact on healthcare.

Interpretation of anomalous experiences: Implications for wāhine Māori

An indigenous framework to assess mental health diagnoses is at the centre of this study to determine why a disproportionate number of Māori women are diagnosed with mental illness.

Principal investigator for the two-year study, Dr Natasha Tassell-Matamua, is leading a research team of four Māori women – three clinical psychologists and one professional clinician – from the School of Psychology for the study, entitled Interpretation of anomalous experiences: Implications for wāhine Māori.

The team will create a series of hypothetical case studies – based on real world examples – that could be interpreted as abnormal from a clinical psychology perspective, or as extraordinary or unusual from a lay perspective. They will present the case studies to both Māori and non-Māori women to see how they interpret the experiences in the case studies.

Dr Tassell-Matamua says the team will focus on the Māori concept of pūrākau – meaning ‘incredible stories’ such as myths and legends, or what might be deemed spiritual experiences – as a way of introducing a cultural dimension into mental health. Her hope is that it may offer a more accurate way to understand the experiences of Māori women within the mental health system and potentially identify those who may not be getting the appropriate help.

Transforming the paradigm of functional genome organisation

The study team, comprised of Dr Tracy Hale, Associate Professor Vyacheslav Filichev and Professor Geoff Jameson, aim to explore the development of a new molecular model that may transform studies in areas such as cancer biology and regenerative medicine.

Dr Hale says, “Heterochromatin Protein 1α (HP1α) is a major architectural protein that organises the genome into highly compact domains of heterochromatin, preventing access to certain genomic locations. Maintaining this organisation is essential for normal cellular function, as its disruption is implicated in cancer and ageing. However, the current paradigm of genome organisation is still primitive as it does not address the existence of non-canonical DNA structures.

“We hypothesise that the interaction of HP1α with non-canonical DNA structures is a key determinant of heterochromatin architecture, and will employ structurally sensitive techniques to propose a new molecular model of heterochromatin formation.”


NZ Super is not enough, but most retirees doing ok

Source: Massey University

The Retirement Expenditure Guidelines measure the real cost of retirement.

The latest Retirement Expenditure Guidelines confirm New Zealand Superannuation is not sufficient to fund the retirement most people want, but most retirees are satisfied with their level of retirement income. 

The guidelines, which are produced annually by the Westpac Massey Fin-Ed Centre, calculate what retirees currently spend to maintain either a ‘no frills’ retirement, or a more fulfilling ‘choices’ lifestyle that includes some luxuries. Costs are calculated for one and two-person households in both metropolitan (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) and provincial areas.  

The report, which covers the 12 months to June 30, 2018, shows all households, including those groups with a ‘no frills’ lifestyle, have a gap between expenditure levels and New Zealand Superannuation. Report author, Dr Claire Matthews from the Massey Business School, says a two-person household living in a city would have to save $785,000 to fund a ‘choices’ retirement, while a couple living rurally would need to save $492,000.

“While living on New Zealand Super is possible, for the vast majority of New Zealanders it doesn’t support the lifestyle they wish to have,” she says. “This report reinforces the need to save for retirement if you want to set yourself up to have the retirement that you want.

Housing-related expenses were the main contributors to rising costs for retirees, including home ownership, property maintenance, property rates and insurance. This was offset to some extent by reduced spending on fruit and vegetables and recreation.

Report author Dr Claire Matthews.

How prepared are most Kiwi retirees?

For the first time, the Retirement Expenditure Guidelines report also includes insights into the preparedness of both pre-retirees and retirees. The insights come from the thesis of Massey PhD graduate Dr Bob Lissington, who analysed data collected from 1000 New Zealanders.

The survey data showed some key differences between pre-retiree (those aged 50-64) and retiree (those aged 65-80) respondents, including home ownership rates and expectations around working and retirement income.

The report highlights a small reduction in home ownership for future retirees, which could have an impact on their financial outcomes, Dr Matthews says.

“Of those aged 50 to 64, 52 per cent report still having a mortgage, while 79 per cent of the respondents who had reached retirement age were mortgage-free. If greater proportions of retirees have mortgage debt in future, it will become of more concern.”

Just 40 per cent of pre-retirees believed they were well-prepared for retirement, and 57 per cent considered retirement to be a concern. 

A wake-up call 

Westpac NZ general manager of consumer banking and wealth, Simon Power, says the findings should be a wake-up call for workers approaching retirement age. 

“Every New Zealander deserves to go into retirement with peace of mind and security,” Mr Power says.  

Mr Power says all New Zealanders should think about their retirement and how much money they’ll need to enjoy the lifestyle they want. 

“You’re never too young to be regularly reviewing your retirement plans and whether your investments are best suited to helping you achieve your lifestyle goals.

“Interestingly, the report found that retirees and pre-retirees are making limited use of financial advisors. People who are worried about their financial independence as they approach retirement should consider talking to formal advisors or educators. 

“At Westpac, we run free Managing Your Money workshops for customers and non-customers alike. We also have a Budget Calculator and CashNav app, which help people monitor and manage their spending.”

Dr Matthews notes that most actual retirees rated their current level of income adequate to fund their desired retirement lifestyle. 

“Despite the concerns of pre-retirees, the good news is it’s likely the majority of Kiwis will hit retirement having done enough if they remain focused on saving,” she says. “They obviously need to remain focused on saving for retirement, but most retirees, when they get there, are saying they are actually ok.”

About the Retirement Expenditure Guidelines

The Westpac Massey Fin-Ed Centre, or Financial Education and Research Centre, is a joint initiative by Westpac and Massey University that aims to improve the financial wellbeing of New Zealanders.

Workplace Savings NZ provides financial support to produce the Retirement Expenditure Guidelines, which are based on figures from Statistics New Zealand’s triennial Household Economic Survey, adjusted for the effect of inflation. 

It is important to note that the guidelines do not represent recommended levels of expenditure, but reflect actual levels of expenditure by retired households.

Read the full report.

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Opinion: Supporting those traumatised by terrorism

Source: Massey University

For many, returning to ‘normal life’ will take a lot of support from friends, family and their places of work.

By Dr Fatima Junaid.

Today, many Muslims in New Zealand will be returning for Friday prayers. Some might feel anxious, others may feel it’s important to go as a sign last Friday’s terror attack has not affected their resolve or faith.

At the same time, many might have returned, or are thinking of returning to their workplaces – resuming work with fears, anxieties and post-traumatic stress. On top of all this, there will be all the usual stresses of their work.

Collectively, these can be detrimental for both the employees and the organisations. Stressed employees are often not very productive. They can also behave in unpredictable and sometimes even destructive ways.

Trauma of losing loved ones

Losing a loved one is traumatic. The people of Christchurch already know that. However, trauma due to man-made disaster (such as last Friday’s act of terrorism) may be different from the trauma that results from a natural disaster like the sequence of earthquakes Christchurch has experienced. Terrorism instigates fear. The malevolent intent of harming others and the helplessness of the victims can cause anger that can lead to hatred.

The Friday attack clearly affected victims and their families in Christchurch and the wider Muslim community, but the event has also had an effect on the rest of the New Zealand population. There are many layers in which it has affected people, and it is important to understand the ways in which it will continue to do so.

The process 

Many migrants to New Zealand fled their home countries and came to New Zealand because it is a peaceful place. For them, this event means remembering the horrors they might have lived through before they came to New Zealand. This gives them a heightened sense of danger.

It is different from the population in New Zealand at large because many New Zealanders have not known what it means to feel unsafe. The families of the victims of Friday’s shootings, and many in the Muslim community, know this feeling too well. Now they are reminded of it.

Dr Fatima Junaid.

How organisations can help

Organisations can provide a sense of safety and security to their employees and communities in general. They can brief them about the safety and security measures that have been put in place. Research has shown when people feel physically safe in a place, they feel less stressed. We should follow the New Zealand prime minister and constantly remind people they are safe.

Notwithstanding this, there will be people suffering from post-traumatic stress, which can often go undetected. Those suffering from it may not even know it. But it often surfaces in different ways and manifests itself in various behaviours.

The Friday attack might have caused trauma to many beyond the victims and their families. Some might have greater psychological resilience to combat the traumatic stress; those who don’t can collapse. Psychological resilience comes (or can be built) through social support, from community and also from organisational support. 

Organisations and workplaces should allow those employees who want to return to work to come back, but then provide them with space, time and support so they can go through their grief in their own ways. They may come back seeming fine – but this may not be the full story. They may be desensitised to violence due to multiple exposures, or simply developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Organisations can offer flexible work hours or flexible work days in times of grief to enable people to continue working. Many people will choose to come to work, rather than stay at home. Work can provide a sense of meaning and also a sense of control over their life because disaster trauma leads to a sense of loss of control (real and perceived).

Having a sense of control over some things can be emotionally strengthening because everything else seems to be very out of control. The routine nature of a job can provide a sense of normalcy, in an emotionally chaotic time.

Impact of terrorism

The altruism and demonstrations of solidarity that have been borne out of this suffering may actually unite people. That surely would be everyone’s hope. Thousands of New Zealanders have laid flowers at mosques and attended vigils in solidarity with the Muslim community. 

But not all Western media internationally have communicated this event with the same humanity that has characterised coverage in New Zealand. There will be people who see the perpetrator and feel encouraged to do the same. There will be others who see the victims and feel angry and revengeful, which means the division, ugly insensitivity and hate may find more fuel.

Terrorism is known to lead to political extremism, dividing communities with a strong feeling of “them” and “us”. This has been evident in many incidents in many countries.

So, we should take this opportunity to increase our communication with and engagement in our communities, at work and outside of it. Embrace the diversity in your organisation – talk to someone who’s different in colour, in religion, in background. 

From my own experience of losing my father in a suicide bombing during the Friday prayers in a mosque in Pakistan, I know what support can do. I had the support of my colleagues and my organisation – it helped me heal and grow.

I know many who didn’t have this support. They still suffer from post-traumatic stress, and some have gone on to be a destructive force in their own lives without realising it. There is much we can do as organisations and individuals to make people feel connected and supported, and to build their psychological resources.

Dr Fatima Junaid is a lecturer with Massey University’s School of Management.

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Massey ranks third in Australasia for accounting research

Source: Massey University

Professor Michael Bradbury and Professor Ahsan Habib both ranked amongst the top 10 most prolific accounting researchers in Australasia.

The Massey Business School has been ranked third in Australasia and first in New Zealand for accounting research impact and productivity. Two academics from the School of Accountancy were also ranked amongst the top 10 most prolific authors.

A peer-reviewed article, published in the academic journal Accounting and Finance, examined accounting research published in the discipline’s top 10 Australasian journals from 2015 to 2017 to identify the most cited articles and the most prolific authors.

Professor Michael Bradbury, whose research focuses on voluntary disclosure, financial reporting and analysis, auditing and International Financial Reporting Standards, was ranked the second most prolific author in the region. 

Professor Ahsan Habib, whose research interests include market-based accounting, corporate governance and auditing, was ranked 10thin the list of most published researchers.

Both professors also contributed to the Massey Business School’s third-place ranking for accounting research citations, which measures the importance and impact of research outputs. This was the highest ranking of any New Zealand university and followed only the University of Sydney and University of Queensland.

Research with impact

Massey Business School Pro-Vice Chancellor Stephen Kelly says,“We are immensely proud of Professor Bradbury and Professor Habib, along with all their colleagues in the School of Accountancy who have contributed to this outstanding result.

“At Massey we are very focused on research that has impact, both within the academic community and with industry and practitioners. To be producing work that is heavily cited by others is an indication of the value of our work in one of the largest disciplines in business research.”

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Opinion: Protecting religious diversity in NZ after Christchurch

Source: Massey University

On Friday night, the Prime Minister Jacinda Arden argued that the very reason that our nation was targeted by a terrorist event was because of its diversity. She noted that New Zealand has “200 ethnicities, 160 languages, and amongst that diversity we share common values.” 

The language focused solely on ethnic diversity and did not mention religion or religious diversity. This follows a general trend occurring across the country where religious diversity has been collapsed into broader discussions of bi-culturalism, ethnic diversity and superdiversity. 

Across New Zealand universities, the study of religion has rapidly fallen into decline. This may be evidence of the decline of the humanities, or perhaps it is an assumption that secularization and the belief that religion is receding in importance becoming a dominant paradigm within our universities and views of New Zealand community? Regardless, the result has been that our university’s lack the expertise to talk to the New Zealand state and citizenry about the contemporary challenges occurring around religious diversity. My argument is that this lack of emphasis on religion is highly problematic for understanding social cohesion and healing after Christchurch. The critical study of the historical, cultural and philosophical dimensions of religions – in schools and universities – counters ignorance and helps to foster tolerance and understanding.

My longitudinal research has clearly showed over the last 50 years, that while Christian belief has generally been in decline, the diversity of religious belief has multiplied across New Zealand. Buddhist and Muslim communities have become significant features of our religious landscape and in our cities. These religious communities draw membership from a broad variety of ethnic groups drawn from across South East Asia and the Middle East. Social cohesion and interfaith dialogue across our religious groups does occur but it receives little attention. 

Data from my 2008 research still underpins the New Zealand Government’s Statement of religious diversity released in 2009. The Statement’s data has not been updated for almost 15 years. The statement of religious diversity acknowledges our nations’ religious diversity and it offers a commitment to New Zealanders, of whatever faith or ethical belief, to feel free to practice their beliefs in peace and within the law and to respect the right of others to do the same. 

Crucially, the Statement does not set out to manage religious diversity, which is what we see occurring across Europe. It assumes that our communities will live in relative harmony and any minor incidents of disharmony will be addressed through a negotiation of human rights, religious law and cultural tradition.This leads me to ask the questions, have we become complacent about our diversity?Should we reconsider the notion that the academic study of religion was a 19th and 20th century phenomenon?

In the Christchurch attack, the unifying target was religion rather than ethnicity. Islamic belief is practiced across ethnic groups and it was this belief of a broad Muslim community that was attacked. This was a far-right terror attack of hate against a religious community that was also tied into broader issues of immigration and racism. 

Last weekend, I spent two funerary days in the local Cambodian Theravada Buddhist monastery in Wellington. Across New Zealand there are religious communities who are very similar to those in Christchurch and they are very concerned about the consequences for them. Across New Zealand, these multi-cultural and religiously diverse communities will be looking to the state for reassurance and protection of their safety and participation in civil society.

Proactive approach needed to ensure religious diversity is safe

Dangerously, the Christchurch attack has two consequences for thinking about religious diversity and the relationships between religious communities and the state. Firstly, State management of religion targets a religious group that represents a set of vulnerable New Zealanders and who have carefully managed their community to not fall prey to Islamic extremism. Secondly, it sets in place a responsibility for the government to consider whether it needs to set in place structures to manage religious diversity more explicitly. If this is the case, New Zealand’s relatively laissez faireapproach of the Statement of Religious Diversity and a lack of sociological focus on religion will no longer be sufficient. 

When it comes to State management of religion, across Europe we have seen that a lack of careful understanding of religious belief and practice has led to all sorts of problems around isolation, exclusion. This has led to a variety of social challenges and the risk of radicalization –all of which might lead to future forms of social tension and violence.

Vital for healing after Christchurch will be a careful engagement with experience of managing religious diversity. It will be necessary to think about social mechanisms of reconciling religious communities to the broader society. Goodwill will need to be fostered in our streets and suburbs. 

All of our nation’s vibrant population need to feel safe. Our Government will need to be sensitive and nuanced in this religious space. Particularly, our security agencies who will be tasked with increased prevention and surveillance responsibilities after this attack. Inevitably, these agencies will be at the forefront of managing this situation, which is inherently dangerous because it securitizes the management of religion. 

A key question will be, after the decline of the study of religion in New Zealand, how will we develop a sensitive and informed discussion and language of religious diversity where increased state management and community cohesion can function together to renew our nation as a safe and harmonious place that accepts all people no matter what they belief?

Dr William Hoverd is a Senior Lecturer at the Massey University Centre for Defence and Security Studies. A sociologist of religion by training, he is an expert in religious diversity and New Zealand national security.


Opinion: Mosque shootings – politics of hate ends our innocence

Source: Massey University

The mosque shootings in Christchurch marked Friday, March 15 as one of New Zealand’s darkest days, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

As New Zealand police continue to respond to events following shootings at two mosques in central Christchurch, the national security threat level has been lifted to high. Mosques across New Zealand have been closed and police are asking people to refrain from visiting.

So far, 49 people have been killed. According to media reports, 41 people were fatally shot at the Masjid Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue; others died at a second mosque nearby. 

Four people, three men and a woman, have been taken into custody in connection with the shootings. One man in his late 20s has been charged with murder.

In the hours after the attacks, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern made it clear this was a terrorist attack of “extraordinary and unprecedented violence” that had no place in New Zealand. 

She said extremist views were not welcome and contrary to New Zealand values, and did not reflect New Zealand as a nation.

It is one of New Zealand’s darkest days. Many of the people affected by this act of extreme violence will be from our refugee and migrant communities. New Zealand is their home. They are us.

She is right. Public opinion surveys such as the Asia New Zealand Foundation annual surveys of attitudes tend to show that a majority of New Zealanders are in favour of diversity and see immigration, in this case from Asia, as providing various benefits for the country. 

But extremist politics, including the extreme nationalist and white supremacist politics that appear to be at the core of this attack on Muslims, have been part of our community for a long time.

History of white supremacy

I completed research in the UK on the National Front and British National Party in the late 1970s. When I returned to New Zealand, I was told explicitly, including by authorities that were charged with monitoring extremism, that we did not have similar groups here. But it did not take me long to discover quite the opposite. 

Through the 1980s, I looked at more than 70 local groups that met the definition of being extreme right wing. The city that hosted many of these groups was Christchurch. 

They were a mixture of skinhead, neo-nazi and extreme nationalist groups. Some were traditional in their ideology, with a strong underpinning of anti-Semitism and a belief in the supremacy of the “British race”. Others inverted the arguments of Māori nationalism to argue for separatism to keep the “white race pure”.

And yes, there was violence. The 1989 shooting of an innocent bystander, Wayne Motz, in Christchurch by a skinhead who then walked to a local police kiosk and shot himself. The pictures of the internment showed his friends giving nazi salutes. In separate incidents, a Korean backpacker and a gay man were killed for ideological reasons.

Things have changed. The 1990s provided the internet and then social media. And events such as the September 11 terror attacks shifted the focus – anti-Semitism was now supplemented by Islamophobia. 

Hate speech online

The earthquakes and subsequent rebuild have significantly transformed the ethnic demography of Christchurch and made it much more multicultural – and more positive about that diversity. It is ironic that the this terrorism should take place in this city, despite its history of earlier far right extremism. 

We tend not to think too much about the presence of racist and white supremacist groups, until there is some public incident like the desecration of Jewish graves or a march of black-shirted men (they are mostly men) asserting their “right to be white”. Perhaps, we are comfortable in thinking, as the prime minister has said, they are not part of our nation.

Last year, as part of a project to look at hate speech, I looked at what some New Zealanders were saying online. It did not take long to discover the presence of hateful and anti-Muslim comments. It would be wrong to characterise these views and comments as widespread, but New Zealand was certainly not exempt from Islamophobia. 

Every so often, it surfaced, such as in the attack on a Muslim woman in a Huntly carpark.

An end to collective innocence

It became even more obvious during 2018. The Canadian YouTuber, Stefan Molyneux, sparked a public debate (along with Lauren Southern) about his right to free speech. Much of the public comment seemed to either overlook or condone his extreme views on what he regards as the threat posed by Islam.

And then there was the public protest in favour of free speech that occurred at the same time, and the signs warning us about the arrival of Sharia law or “Free Tommy” signs. The latter refers to Tommy Robinson, a long-time activist (cf English Defence League leader) who was sentenced to prison – and then released on appeal – for contempt of court, essentially by targeting Muslims before the courts.

There is plenty of evidence of local Islamophobic views, especially online. There are, and have been for a long time, individuals and groups who hold white supremacist views. They tend to threaten violence; seldom have they acted on those views. There is also a naivety amongst New Zealanders, including the media, about the need to be tolerant towards the intolerant.

There is not necessarily a direct causation between the presence of Islamophobia and what has happened in Christchurch. But this attack must end our collective innocence.

No matter the size of these extremist communities, they always represent a threat to our collective well-being. Social cohesion and mutual respect need to be asserted and continually worked on.

Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley is the Pro Vice-Chancellor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, with research expertise on New Zealand’s race relations, immigration and population.