Campus wide

Curious great white shark plays with camera

Massey scientists captured some astonishing footage of a great white shark on a research expedition to the Southwest Pacific.

The three-to four-metre-long male shark was caught on film in Rangitāhua (Kermadec Islands), which lies 1000 kilometres northeast of the North Island of New Zealand. It was filmed in October using a baited remote underwater video set (BRUV), which is an arrangement of two video cameras and a canister of bait attached to a steel frame, which is deployed on the sea floor for 60-90 minutes as a means of surveying marine life.

Massey scientist Dr Adam Smith led the BRUV project, along with postgraduate student Odette Howarth, marine technician Emma Betty, and shark scientist Clinton Duffy.

Dr Smith, from the Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, says the encounter left the team “buzzing”.

“The shark calmly circled the bait for a few minutes before approaching the gear and giving it a few ‘curiosity bites’. It then effortlessly picked up the entire BRUV set, swam with it up to the surface, and then dropped it back to the sea floor. It did this a total of three times, before losing interest and swimming off.”

The project aims to quantify patterns in fish biodiversity across the Southwest Pacific, by reference to particular habitats and environmental conditions, and human impacts. They also hope to gain a better understanding New Zealand’s marine ecosystems in a regional context, and plans to do similar surveys in the Hauraki Gulf region in the coming months.

Shark caught on camera.

The male shark as caught on film in the Kermadec Islands.

Annual Finance event greets new Minister

Students meet new Finance minister

Massey University top finance and economics students Mia Davis and Tony Carroll receive $1000 scholarships from Minister of Finance Grant Robertson. He is also pictured with Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett (left) and Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas (right).

In the first-ever appearance by a Labour Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson gave a wide-ranging speech at Finance 2018 that covered housing, productivity, tax reform, education and training, infrastructure and sustainability.

The Minister told the gathered members of the business community, academics and media that the Government wanted to support the growth of human, natural, financial and social capital. He said to expect a “wellbeing” Budget in May.

“This will be a very different way of presenting a Budget and there will be a very different set of success measures,” Robertson said. “The child poverty reduction targets are the first indication of where we are going.”

Finance 2018 was the ninth event co-hosted by Massey University and the Auckland Business Champber. The profits from the annual luncheon support promising economics and finance students at Massey’s Auckland campus. The top first-year finance student, Mia Davis, and the top first-year economics student, Tony Carroll, were each presented with a $1000 scholarship by the Minister of Finance.

Research grant leaves staff buzzing

Two Massey University researchers have received more than $129,000 in funding to undertake a two-year exploratory study on teaching and learning.

Dean of research Associate Professor Tracy Riley and Distinguished Professor Anne Noble from the School of Art will work with teachers from Newlands and Avalon Intermediate Schools in the Wellington region, to explore how teachers tailor their response to pupils of differing learning abilities and background.

The project, which utilises mixed method action research techniques, will see a colony of bees installed in an observation hive, known as an Apiscope, in the schools. Researchers will look at the potential of the hive to create authentic learning experiences across many areas of the curriculum.

Their project was one of eight to receive funding as part of the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative, which awarded more than $1.3 million in funding last month to projects that aim to improve outcomes for learners.

Dr Riley says there is a huge potential for the Apiscope. “There is the potential to explore big concepts like sustainability, patterns and relationships, and it’s also an opportunity to involve new kinds of communities in the life of the schools.”

The 10-year-old project is the brainchild of University of Orléans physicist Dr Jean-Pierre Martin who has overseen the installation of 80 apiscopes in schools throughout France. Dr Martin and Professor Noble initiated the New Zealand Apiscope project while working together on an exhibition project in France three years ago.

The Teaching and Learning Research Initiative has been operating since 2003. To date 145 projects have been funded. The fund has an annual budget of $1.5 million, available for projects that run for one to three years.

Massey’s School of Aviation chief executive Ashok Poduval and Palmerston North Airport chief executive David Lanham at the construction site.

Construction under way on new School of Aviation facility

Construction is well under way on a state-of-the-art training facility for Massey University’s School of Aviation. Being built by Palmerston North Airport, the facility will accommodate all the school’s students and staff members together in one location for the first time.

The airport is investing $5 million for the 2200 square-metre facility in the Ruapehu Business Park, a 20-hectare development for aviation maintenance and training and commercial, logistics, retail and light industrial development.

Massey’s School of Aviation has been operating from its current Milson Flight Systems Centre at Palmerston North Airport since 1994. The school’s chief executive Ashok Poduval, says the new training facility will pave the way for growth in student numbers.

“It presents a much more attractive proposition for overseas flight training contracts,” he says. “More importantly, it will improve synergy and efficiency by bringing the entire school to one location for the first time.”

The new facility will be constructed in two stages. Stage one, due for completion mid-year, will accommodate the existing airport-based students, staff and aircraft maintenance activities. Stage two, due for completion in June 2019, will accommodate the aviation faculty and administrative staff currently based at the University’s Turitea site.

Palmerston North chief executive David Lanham says the development will build on the reputation the School of Aviation already has for delivering a world-class aviation training programme.

“The new facility will assist the school to further promote its capabilities to an international audience at a time when the demand for pilot and aviation management training is continuing to grow,” he says. “it will also be an exciting addition to Ruapehu Business Park and it is expected to act as a catalyst for other adjacent developments.”

$6 million funding for occupational disease and alcohol policy research

Professor Jeroen Douwes

Professor Jeroen Douwes

Professor Sally Casswell

Professor Sally Casswell

Two health researchers from Massey University’s College of Health have been awarded more than $6 million in the latest round of funding from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC), targeting occupational disease in New Zealand as well as international alcohol policy and its impacts.

Professor Jeroen Douwes, director of Wellington’s Centre for Public Health Research, has been awarded $4,999,989 over five years – the largest grant in this year’s funding round. His research, entitled Interventions to reduce occupational disease, will centre on three intervention studies targeting agricultural, construction and vehicle collision repair workers exposed to pesticides, silica and solvents.

Professor Sally Casswell, co-director of the SHORE and Whāriki Research Centre in Auckland, has been awarded a project grant of $1,188,701 over 36 months. The research project, entitled Assessing and comparing national policy to reduce harmful use of alcohol will use unique data from the International Alcohol Control study to develop two new IAC Policy Indices, one for youth and one for adults, comparable across high-and middle-income countries.

For the first time, this will include both policy input (legislation and regulations) and policy impact (measures of the environment affected by the policies) for a range of key alcohol policies.

First Māori director of clinical psychology

Massey University’s first Māori director of clinical psychology training says excessive emphasis on deficit models of mental wellbeing have been disadvantageous for Māori.


Dr Simon Bennett

Dr Simon Bennett.

Dr Simon Bennett (Ngāti Whakaue, Patu Harakeke, Kati Waewae) stepped into the Director role this year and says while the negative statistics around Māori mental health and tragically high rates of suicide are well known, a heavy focus on the problems has overshadowed the promotion of Māori solutions.

He believes there’s been a marginalisation of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) from our health system. He says “Resources in the form of tikanga (custom), that we as Māori take for granted, such as whanaungatanga, (kinship) whakatauki, (proverbs) and karakia (prayer) aren’t frequently seen in our mental health services due to a lack of awareness of the important role that culture can play in facilitating good mental health”.

Dr Bennett says the appointment of a Māori as the Director of Clinical Psychology Training is a significant step forward for the profession of clinical psychology in New Zealand. “I’m immensely grateful for this opportunity to contribute to the continual advancement in how we train clinical psychologists to work in Aotearoa. I’m also humbed to be working with a fantastic team in the Clinical Programme at Massey who are absolutely committed to training clinical psychologists with the dual competence to work effectively as psychologists with whānau Māori.”  Dr Bennett says psychologists with greater cultural awareness will have the impact of improving outcomes for clients.

Dr Bennett completed his PhD at Massey University in 2011. His research looked at the cultural adaptation of a mainstream psychological intervention by drawing on Māori values, customs and indigenous perspectives. He was a Fulbright Scholar in 2014 which he undertook at the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health in Denver, Colorado.