Work-Integrated Learning leads to major event experiences

Source: Massey University


Massey alumni and New Zealand Rugby digital content producer Callum Smith interviews Canterbury player Nathan Vella.


Next week, Massey University Bachelor of Sport and Exercise graduate Callum Smith will be the guest speaker at the Beehive in Wellington for the New Zealand Association of Cooperative Education (NZACE) Conference, which promotes Work-Integrated Learning. The conference, which is sponsored by Massey University, will be opened by Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson.

Mr Smith is currently working for New Zealand Rugby as its digital content producer. During his final year at Massey he undertook work placement at the Manawatu Rugby Union as its match enhancement manager for the Manawatu Turbos.

“My experiences were challenging, yet rewarding and I accomplished tasks and pulled off events that I couldn’t have imagined,” he says. “The work environment was great and I received suggestions and help from a number of people.

“I developed my management skills through learning to effectively plan, organise, execute and control enhancement activities, and had the opportunity to develop a large range of contacts through networking with people from inside and outside the sports industry.”

He has already gained extensive mega-event experience, first working on the Masters Games in Auckland in 2017 as a venues assistant, before being employed at New Zealand Rugby as the marketing and ticketing coordinator for the New Zealand Sevens. He also went to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018 where he was a transport manager.

Professor Andy Martin, who coordinates Massey’s Sport Event Management and Sport Practicum courses and is the conference manager and board member for NZACE, says, “Callum has developed quite a remarkable event management and marketing CV in a short space of time. He’s a great example of where a Massey degree can take graduates and how the sport practicum provides a significant stepping stone to enhance graduate employability.

“The insights Callum will be able to share will highlight the importance of understanding how to add value through event design and planning, and marketing and communication. His new role also exemplifies the added value that graduates can bring to an organisation, particularly in the rapidly developing areas of digital communication, online marketing and social media,” Professor Martin says.

Massey’s new Sport Development major,within the revised Bachelor of Sport and Exercise, will help prepare students for work in the varied and growing area of sport development by providing knowledge in topics such as sport organisational structure and function, event and facility management and sport coaching, along with sociological, performance and business issues linked to sport.

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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.

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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

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Pasifika Director calls for media cultural awareness

Source: Massey University


Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi.


Massey Pasifika Director Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi has welcomed the censure of talkback host Heather du Plessis-Allanfor denigrating comments she made about the Pacific Islands, but says more has to be done to ensure our media is culturally aware. 

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) found Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan breached broadcasting standards in a radio programme when she made comments referring to Pacific Islanders as leeches. The comment caused widespread condemnation from Pacific peoples. 

Associate Professor Koloamatangi says, while the BSA’s decision is a clear indication that Ms du Plessis-Allan’s views were inflammatory and devalued the reputation of Pasifika people, it also highlights a general lack of understanding in the media of New Zealand’s place in the Pacific and Pacific people’s place within New Zealand. 

“Kiwi journalists should be able to understand our history as a Pacific nation, the role Pacific peoples play here in New Zealand and our relationship with the Pacific Islands but I suspect most have never had any training in this area and therefore report and make comment from a place of ignorance.”

Associate Professor Koloamatangi says news organisations should ensure their staff are given cultural awareness training that goes beyond being able to pronouce the names of Pacific sports stars. 

The BSA has ordered NZME, owner of Newstalk ZB, to broadcast a statement during Wellington Mornings with Heather du Plessis-Allan, summarising the BSA’s decision and to pay $3000 in costs to the Crown.

Note: Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi was consulted by the BSA to ensure the broadcast statement to be issued by the broadcaster is appropriate from the perspective of Pasifika cultures.

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Opinion: Royal Commission must be an inquiry, not an inquisition

Source: Massey University

The Prime Minister’s announcement of a Royal Commission into the Christchurch terror attack was inevitable. The country needs to know why this attack was able to be planned, and carried out to such dreadful effect.  

There are questions about how the accused gunman’s manifesto could be compiled – its length attesting to the time taken to distil and articulate it all in writing. How did the gunman effectively radicalise himself? Why did nobody notice anything sufficiently amiss with this individual to raise concerns? These are all valid questions that an inquiry needs to consider.

However, it needs to be an inquiry, not an inquisition. To be genuinely useful, the inquiry must create an environment in which those with the knowledge of current processes, decisions and resources are free to discuss it all.  If there are gaps, they need to be found and addressed – not hidden by individuals trying to avoid liability.

The inquiry needs to be broader than it is. Before 15 March, most New Zealanders assumed there would never be a terrorist threat here. Warnings or fears expressed were commonly dismissed as paranoia. New Zealanders did not care about preparing for terrorism, and politicians did not either. 

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies maintain terror watch-lists. These work well and in multiple countries have identified problem individuals, and intercepted them well ahead of them ever doing anything violent. The success of these preventative efforts is difficult to define, because in preventing a violent outcome, the evidence there was ever going to be any such outcome is eliminated.  

Watch-lists are a collation of individual names of people who may pose a risk because they have said, or done something to raise suspicion.  If evidence is found it will usually lead to increased surveillance and in many countries attempted terrorist attacks have been thwarted this way. New Zealand has also prosecuted a small number of people for engaging with extremist material. Who will ever know if these prosecutions actually ever stopped anything? 

But watch-lists do not always work.  In August 2018, a Sydney student was arrested in possession of what appeared to be plans to undertake a terrorist attack. Subsequent investigation revealed he had been framed. Omar Mateen, who committed the Orlando shootings in June 2016, had twice been on the FBI’s watch-list, and twice removed from it. He exhibited no sign of sinister or hostile intent – and the FBI dismissed him as a threat possibility.  His attack, when it came, killed 49 people. If the Christchurch offender had been on a watch-list, it does not necessarily mean anything would have been any different.  

The problem with watch-lists is that they are composed of every person identified as potentially posing some threat – even though the vast majority of those listed never commit any violent offence. Working through such a list is not like finding a needle in a hay-stack, it’s like finding a needle in a needle-stack.  The Christchurch offender looked like you or me, lived or travelled in several countries, and did not raise any suspicion in any of them.  

Isolated, aloof, and ruthless, lone actors are very difficult to find – especially if it is only in their twisted minds that their true intent is known. That is probably why law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Australia and New Zealand missed him.

The inquiry should address the Arms Act – the subject of criticism and a Parliamentary Inquiry in 2017.  Our Parliamentarians did not recognise the possession of military style semi-automatic weapons as a risk that needed mitigation. Had they done so, the Christchurch attack may still have occurred but the toll could have been much less.  

New Zealand’s terrorism legislation has languished – its cumbersome definition of terrorism, as well as its incoherence and impracticality, have rendered it useless. Any changes in the resourcing or powers of intelligence agencies have been reluctantly made, and only then amid protest from various groups opposing intrusion into our civil rights. All of this fed into the decisions about the resourcing of the intelligence and law enforcement coal-face. 

It will be of no value to attribute blame for gaps or poor decisions without understanding the social and political context, legislative and fiscal constraints that such decisions were taken in. The inquiry must recognise that the Christchurch attack was as much about our general complacency as it was about decisions taken by agencies on the watch for those who intend do us harm.

Dr John Battersby is a Teaching Fellow in the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at Massey University and a specialist on terrorism and counter-terrorism.

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Japanese language exponent awarded

Source: Massey University

Dr Penny Shino receieves her award from the Ambassador of Japan to New Zealand, Mr Hiroyasu Kobayashi.

She was among the first generation to learn Japanese at secondary school in New Zealand – now Dr Penny Shino has been recognised for her outstanding work teaching and inspiring the next generation.

Dr Shino received the Japanese Ambassador’s Award recently at a special ceremony held at the Ambassador’s residence in Wellington. The commendation was “in recognition of her distinguished service in contributing to the deepening of mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and New Zealand.” 

She was one of six recipients and the only one from the university sector. Two other recipients were her former distance students. 

As a teen, she was interested in foreign languages and had already studied French and Latin. “When the chance arose to take up Japanese in the sixth form (Year 12) I jumped at the opportunity.”

While the rarity and “exoticism” of Japanese was part of the appeal, she was; “totally entranced by the sheer beauty and stylishness of Japanese words. I still feel that way – the Japanese writing system further fuelled my fascination. I really just got hooked on it.”

The opportunity to learn Japanese back then also reflected New Zealand’s increasing interest in Japan, after Expo ’70 in Osaka, and the trade boost between Japan and New Zealand when the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community. “Japan was experiencing rapid economic growth, rather like China today,” Dr Shino says. “At the same time Massey had started offering Japanese and my teacher of Japanese at school [Keith McGill] had been in one of the first classes at Massey. So learning Japanese at school was also my first link with Massey.”

At the University of Auckland, she majored in Japanese and French, enjoying both. A short study trip to Japan at the end of her second year tipped the balance in favour of Japanese, followed by a two-year government scholarship to Japan after she graduated. 

Dr Shino spent six months studying Japanese at the Osaka University of Foreign Languages (Osaka Gaikokugo Daigaku, now part of the University of Osaka) and 18 months researching 10th century classical Japanese poetry at Nara Women’s University (Nara Joshi Daigaku), for her Masters.

“Although I spend most of my time these days teaching modern Japanese, my real love is for classical Japanese language and culture,” she says.

Her research in Japan coincided with marrying her Japanese husband. She taught English at a school, privately, and to company employees, but her focus was to help her husband establish himself as an artist, specialising in teabowls and ceramics for the Japanese tea ceremony. “We built his traditional kiln together in the mountains of Nara prefecture, living in an old farm house without electricity, plumbing or a bath. Except for the sub-zero winters it was an idyllic existence and I could see all the flowers and wildlife figuring in the old poetry on my doorstep.”

Returning home after three years with a baby on the way, she did some tutoring and embarked on a PhD analysing poetry by a fifteenth century Zen monk, taking up a lectureship at Massey in the process. She is currently researching the same poet’s travel diary.

Spreading the word in Japanese

As well as convenving Massey’s Japanese language programme from her base in the School of Humanities on the Manawatū campus, she is deeply involved in the initiatives of Japanese Studies Aotearoa New Zealand. It was established by a group of academics from tertiary Japanese programmes at a symposium she organised at Massey in 2013. Dr Shino was elected inaugural president and is now in her second term. 

In this role, she has organised symposia for academics as well as workshops for school teachers of Japanese, in cooperation with the Sasakawa Fellowship Fund for Japanese language education. With colleagues across the land, she has worked hard to maintain and raise the profile of Japanese in New Zealand; “at a time when interest in language learning is facing a number of obstacles, not least of all a perverse and deeply-ingrained mentality that English is the only language we need.

“It’s my hope that out of the tragedy of the Christchurch attacks, New Zealanders will realise the urgency and importance of learning more about and respecting other cultures, and the role of language learning.”

Japanese more accessible in internet age

Dr Shino says students today; “have a very different relationship to Japan and Japanese than we did as students. As a student I had virtually no awareness of Japanese popular culture; students today are huge fans and highly knowledgeable, mainly thanks to the Internet.”

She is delighted that this year, enrolments in first-year Japanese – offered at Auckland, Manawatu and via distance – are “unprecedented” even when compared with the boom years of Japanese studies in the 1990s, when Japan was the most popular the foreign language. Dr Shino thinks the Rugby World Cup in Japan this year, and the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next year, may have generated heightened awareness and publicity of Japan – and this surge in interest is also the focus of her MURF-funded study.

This positive trend has prompted Massey to launch a Japanese ‘nanocourse’ outside the conventional qualification structures, to be offered online later this year. 

“The course will serve the needs of athletes, their support crews, other professionals and family members travelling to Japan for the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics and Paralympics, teaching a little practical basic Japanese language alongside some cultural orientation, to make the experience in Japan as enjoyable, comfortable and fulfilling as possible,” she says.

When it comes to Japanese and jobs, she says the market is very different today, with more diverse opportunities. While few graduate with a specific career in mind (except the small group seeking traditional roles in teaching, academia, diplomacy or translation/interpreting), she says Japanese gives any graduate a competitive edge in a range of jobs and for this reason many students study Japanese alongside a more vocational or professional qualification, such as Business, Aviation Studies or Sports Management, completing Japanese as a second major, a minor, or even two or three elective Japanese courses. 

“Job opportunities are finite for students majoring in Japanese alone, but innumerable for those with a reasonable level of Japanese linguistic and cultural competency, and the transferable skills which the study of a second language confers.”

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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.

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Opinion: Health equity in older age

Source: Massey University

Associate Professor Mary Breheny discusses the findings of her team’s longitudinal research which shows that health in later life is closely related to childhood socioeconomic status.

By Associate Professor Mary Breheny

The media often focus on older people as a discrete group, whose needs must be balanced against the needs of younger groups. As a result, suggestions for healthy ageing tend to focus on promoting healthy choices among people who have already aged. But we know that there are marked differences in health and wellbeing among people of older age.

These differences do not just arise in later life; they reflect a life time of experiences. These may include health risks in younger years such as poor housing, workplace conditions, family experiences, and lack of access to resources and opportunities. Our research programme examines the differences between older people, based on their entire life experiences, rather than treating older people as if they were all the same.

Our longitudinal research shows five different profiles of wellbeing among older people over time. After following them for ten years, we found most older people (about two thirds of our sample) were in robust health or average good health. These groups were ageing well, maintaining good physical and mental health over time and remaining socially engaged. A smaller number experienced declining physical health whilst maintaining good social and mental health.

There were two groups who showed limitations in mental health and social wellbeing or vulnerable health across all domains. This represents a small but important group of older people with significant health limitations who tend to reach later life in poor health, rather than experiencing sharply declining health in old age. Taking this as a starting point, our research sought to uncover the specific lifetime and environmental factors that explain health differences in older age.

To answer questions about the factors which lead older people to reach later life in poor health, we used the Health, Work and Retirement longitudinal study of ageing. This includes life history data on childhood socioeconomic status, childhood health, and lifetime education and occupational status and health behaviours. These data are linked to our survey data which includes measures of quality of housing and neighbourhoods, as well as employment and living standards. Together, these data allow us to answer important questions on the factors which predict physical, mental and social health trajectories over time.

We found health in later life was significantly related to childhood socioeconomic status, which predicts standard of living in later life, and is strongly linked to physical and mental health. Later life living standards, satisfaction with housing, quality of neighbourhood, and social cohesion of neighbourhood – also influenced health and wellbeing. Even health behaviours, such as alcohol consumption, are best predicted by childhood family and socioeconomic factors. Once these health behaviour patterns are set early in life, they tend to persist over the life course.

Our research shows that the environments and health practices that influence healthy ageing generally reflect a lifetime of inequitable access to resources, rather than the result of individual abilities or choices. Policies to address this could focus on social and physical environments rather than suggestions for healthy activities in later life.

These research findings have important implications for public health and health promotion for older people. Current approaches neglect environmental effects across the life course on health and wellbeing for older people. Our research programme suggests that income support and housing are two of the most important areas for the health and wellbeing of older people. These provide clear opportunities for policy intervention, both to safeguard income support in later life and to ensure access to secure housing for older New Zealanders.

Recognising the factors that produce vulnerability shifts the focus from healthy behaviour in later life to environments that support health for all across the life course. These factors provide a clear focus for efforts to ensure health equity throughout the life course, and minimise the health disparities we see in later life in New Zealand.

Associate Professor Mary Breheny will present her findings at the IUHPE 23rd World Conference on Health Promotion in Rotorua from Sunday. This opinion peice was first published on the Health Central website.

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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)

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$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.”

MIL OSI