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the unitec magazine of innovation and research SUMMER 08

Ring tones The educational value of smart phones – p5

People over profit Unitec’s unique course develops not-for-profit managers – p6

Assistive technology Viewed as a friend, guest or intruder by older people? – p8

In the limelight Artist Fran Marno goes face to face with older women – p11


Village in Pt Chevalier, on page 8, is investigating the role assistive technologies can play in residents’ wellbeing, for example, when email acts as connective tissue in extended family communication. Ageing is also the subject of a fellowship by artist Fran Marno. The Unitec School of Design has been hosting this post-doctoral Kate Edger award in which Marno has shaken up the discourse on older women and the female gaze. See page 11 for more details. Also in the Design School, Adjunct Professor Alan Preston’s long career as a jeweller is being justly celebrated, see page 3.

editor Jade Reidy design Luisa Cosio cover image Sav Schulman printing Norcross Printing Group Advance is published by Unitec New Zealand ISSN 1176-7391 phone +64 9 815 2945 freephone 0800 10 95 10 web address Carrington Rd, Mt Albert, Private Bag 92025, Auckland Mail Centre, Auckland 1142, New Zealand

Technology is undoubtedly reshaping education and creating new opportunities in the learning environment. For our students, technologies such as cell phones, iPods, Facebook and YouTube are as seamless as an Olympic swimmer’s togs. If swimmers go faster in gear designed for astronauts, equally, it is hoped students will learn faster with new technology and, rather than demanding that they turn their ‘entertainment’ off when entering the classroom, we should be utilising these avenues for enhancing learning. Thom Cochrane at the Unitec Centre for Teaching and Learning has been investigating the potential of smart phones such as the Apple iPod touch. See page 5 for more details.

Disclaimer Unitec New Zealand has used reasonable care to ensure that the information in this publication is accurate at the time of publication. However, to the extent permitted by law, Unitec is not liable for, and makes no warranties or representations as to such accuracy and may change or correct any such information without prior notice.

daniel (haixian) Zhao certificate in horticulture

It’s important for our students – the nurses, community development workers and trades people of tomorrow – to understand that technology is both a guest and an intruder in older people’s lives. An informative five-year research project with nursing students at Selwyn Retirement

This issue features the Unitec course most highly rated by students – the Graduate Diploma in Not-For-Profit Management. New research is shedding light on what has become a significant sector of our economy. See page 6. Associate Professor Regan Potangaroa’s lightning response to this year’s earthquake in the Sichuan province of China is highlighted on page 10. The results of his on-the-spot data gathering will inform reconstruction in China for the next 15 years. To conclude, this will be my last Advance magazine, as I leave Unitec to take up a new position as Dean of Business and Law at Deakin University in Melbourne. I extend my sincere thanks to Jade Reidy, who, supported by the Advance magazine board, ably and with considerable flair does an excellent job of putting together this magazine. Thank you. CONTACT Prof Gael McDonald Vice-President, Research email


A feast for architectural eyes New Zealand film and cuisine have taken their place at top banqueting tables around the world in recent years. It was architecture’s turn in Italy this May, when Florence put on a spread curated by Tony Van Raat, Unitec Head of the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

Trenta Case: Thirty Houses in New Zealand showed models of 30 holiday and residential homes designed by 15 Auckland architecture companies. Over 5,000 people viewed the show during six weeks and it featured in the prominent Italian journal Abitare. The houses included Speargrass by Pattersons and the Jenkins House in Takapuna (seen here). At the Università di Firenze, Van Raat presented the ways in which our lifestyle and design have fused to produce unique houses that can be expensive but retain the unpretentious, relaxed quality central to the Kiwi psyche. Even in the city, he says, we tend to enjoy houses that look and feel like a holiday home. Invitations to exhibit Trenta Case have poured in from New York, Berlin, London, Beijing and other major cities, and Van Raat is busy sourcing funding to accept these invitations in 2009.

Identity through adornment Jewellery reflects the identity of the person who wears it. What we choose to adorn ourselves with also shapes the response we encounter from people and that encounter constructs new meanings. Made in Aotearoa is a national exhibition of three decades of jewellery by Alan Preston, who has been an Adjunct Professor in the School of Design since 2002. When the show opens at the Auckland Museum next March, it will coincide with the launch of a book on the jeweller who initiated the hugely influential Fingers Cooperative in 1974. Preston is a key exponent of the “bone stone shell” movement. A forager between the tides, he collects the debris that nature throws up and fashions it into art.

CONTACT Tony Van Raat Head of School School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Email:

Measuring blood flow in calf muscles Despite over 150 years of research, the mechanisms by which blood flow to the muscles is regulated remain incompletely understood. Strangely, the regulation of muscle blood flow during and following static and sustained muscle contraction has received little attention, even though this is the type of exercise regularly undertaken during lifting, carrying or pushing. However, various measurement techniques have been developed to measure blood flow including Venous Occlusion Plethysmography (VOP) and ultrasound Doppler (reflected sound waves). Unitec School of Sport Lecturer Dr Graham Fordy was interested in extending his PhD research on blood flow through the forearm muscles during different types of muscle contractions (using VOP), to blood flow through the calf muscles. Together with Dr Simon Green of Otago University, he set up experiments this year to gather data on the differences between the blood flow responses to repeated static and rhythmic contractions, measured using both VOP and ultrasound Doppler. The intention was to compare the two techniques

during graded intermittent calf muscle contractions. Dr Fordy will be presenting his collaborative research at the Medical Science Conference in Queenstown in November. The pair intend to further the study by looking at gender differences and vascular ageing. CONTACT Dr Graham Fordy Lecturer School of Sport Email:

Numerous trips to Pacific Islands over the decades have also inspired the materials and designs that have offered touchstones for migratory Pacific peoples navigating a sense of identity and belonging. At Unitec, Preston takes on a range of roles that influence how the art and craft of jewellery is taught and interpreted. Besides advising on course development and critiquing student work, Preston uses his international connections to build bridges for emerging jewellers. Between Tides is published by Random House and includes an introductory essay by Damian Skinner. CONTACT Alan Preston Adjunct Professor School of Design Email:

Advance Summer 08 3


To catch a kookaburra Unlike the kookaburra in New Zealand, Dr John Perrott’s interest in monitoring the iconic Aussie songbird has spread like a bushfire through the ornithological community. Kookaburras were introduced from Australia in the 1860s, where they fed off reptiles and snakes. The dense undergrowth of our forest systems also makes it hard for them to employ their native foraging habits here. Instead, the large, distinctive bird has adapted in small numbers by acting more like a kingfisher, supplementing its diet of beetles, birds, mice and insects with freshwater eels and crayfish. Despite this, anecdotal evidence suggests most nesting attempts fail due to starvation.

The kookaburra is known to practise syblicide and Dr Perrott is joining resources with Auckland University to determine whether there’s a hormonal basis for the birds eating their siblings. Auckland and Wellington zoos will each be taking two pairs of chicks to monitor breeding on a long-term basis and Te Papa Museum is funding equipment for locating some of the estimated 300-500 kookaburra that remain in the country. The largest population is believed to be in the Kumeu to Matakana area. CONTACT Dr John Perrott Senior Lecturer School of Natural Sciences Email:

The Feltex story: Stained carpet When Feltex Carpets listed on the stock exchange in June 2004, many New Zealanders saw an opportunity to invest in an iconic Kiwi brand and return it to national ownership. The company collapsed within two years. Was it just a case of bad luck during the bottom of the business cycle or did others significantly contribute to the collapse? Unitec Business School Lecturer Andrew Slessor has developed a case study to answer just that question. The case study traces the history of the company

and identifies the key players and the industry elements unique to Feltex. The initial public offering (IPO) document for $254 million of shares is analysed in detail. Within a year of that IPO, the organisation’s shaky health was revealed through a profit warning. The CEO was sacked, factories closed and management changes made. Despite these measures, the company went into receivership. As with investment in finance companies, says Slessor, investors need to exercise

due diligence when pursuing investment options and deciding how reliable profit forecasts are. Such controls include directors’ actions, audit reports and IPO information. Good or poor governance is highly relevant to the long-term stability of a company, and Feltex was no exception. CONTACT Andrew Slessor Lecturer Unitec Business School Email:

Building designs with digital fabrication technology Digital fabrication technology will soon enable architects to present full-scale 3D models of buildings to clients. Model-making is moving beyond representation of an object to true simulation of actual built space. To help architectural practices make business-related choices about the emerging technology, Danelle Briscoe, Lecturer in the School of Architecture, evaluated the costs of stereolithography fabricating services, and the capabilities of software programs Revit and Rhino. Stereo-lithography builds a 3D model from plastic parts layered one at a time by tracing a laser beam on the surface of a vat of liquid polymer, then combining those layers. It is just as efficient at constructing orthogonal (straight) or double-curvature forms. (A twisting form is pictured.)

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All local stereo-lithography services charge around $450 for printing. This “build” process used to take two days by hand but now takes less than two hours. Printing as a honeycomb hollow interior gave a structurally stronger model than a solid print. Revit offered major advances in efficiency by automating changes to the model and being able to print it. Rhino is the preferred tool for capturing complex virtual curves, such as a double curving wall, and proved easier to export to a .stl file for fabricating than Revit. Unitec offers a course in stereo-lithography using Revit software. CONTACT Danelle Briscoe Lecturer School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Email:

FEATURE technology

Smart phones may enhance learning Getting students to engage with a lecturer, rather than with their mobile phone, can be like swimming against a generational tide. Unitec Academic Advisor Thom Cochrane decided to go with the technology flow and see if switched-on smart phones could be a positive presence in and out of the classroom. Mobile technology is the backbone of Gen Y students’ social life and entertainment. Extending the features of wireless mobile devices such as smart phones from social networking to student learning may require lecturers to learn a few new skills themselves. Thom Cochrane is an Academic Advisor at Unitec’s Centre for Teaching and Learning. He is combining his own doctoral research with ways in which devices such as smart phones can use Web2.0 or ‘social software’ tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasting and other interactive online tools to support and enhance student learning. “What I’m really interested in is how to engage students with some real experience using technology that’s relevant to their programme,” says Cochrane, who has armed students from three different Unitec programmes with smart phones they can use as part of their studies.

THE DIFFERENCE A DEVICE MAKES The latest students to participate are from the Diploma of Contemporary Music programme. Earlier this year twelve students were given use of an iPod Touch. They spent a whole semester mastering the features of the Version 2 software, which opens directly to the iTunes store for downloading music applications. It can create and record songs and is WiFi enabled so students have been posting video shows each week on YouTube for their fellow students to watch. “The iPod Touch has a much better user interface and better screen than many smart phones do, which is great for web browsing,” says Cochrane, “but the downside is that it doesn’t have a camera and it’s not a phone.” Bachelor of Product Design and Diploma in Landscape Design students have been getting to grips with the Nokia N80 and Nokia N95, and the Sony Ericsson P1i. All three groups of students have set up individual blogs, which they use to communicate with each other, share videos and diary progress of certain

Academic Advisor Thom Cochrane with a new iPod Touch.

projects they have been working on from start to finish, including last year’s Ellerslie Flower Show. A small group of senior students took their Sony Ericssons to Japan in September.

there was no point lugging one about if they weren’t going to use it,” he says. “They were a device students wouldn’t usually buy themselves, which is why we had to look at other smart phones.”

“One of the key findings so far has been the students’ ability to communicate with other students and with staff wherever they are,” says Cochrane. “They communicate either by accessing emails or texting, and there’s the ability to record content wherever they are, be it on camera or some music they have heard or written.”

Despite some early glitches, Cochrane can see how the affordability and availability of mobile technology could benefit students’ learning experience.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT DEVICE While most students have adapted the mobile devices to their daily learning, there have been some pitfalls with using them, says Cochrane. At the outset of his research two years ago, Cochrane purchased PDAs but the lack of wireless hotspots available at the time meant these devices were unpopular with students. “PDAs were an extra device to carry when they already had cellphones so

“Cellphones are becoming cheaper and the things you can do with them are just going through the roof,” he says. “They’re definitely more cost effective than investing in a laptop and even if you do have a laptop, why would you want to carry something that heavy and easily stolen when you can do almost the same things with today’s mobile devices?” If the trials prove successful, Cochrane hopes to complete his doctorate by the end of next year. CONTACT Thomas Cochrane Academic Advisor Unitec Centre for Teaching and Learning Email:

Advance Summer 08 5

community development

The skills to transform communities From communicator guides for deafblind people to the running of literary festivals, the “third sector” now commands a larger share of our GDP than the construction industry. Unitec’s notfor-profit management programme is the only qualification offered in New Zealand and the Pacific that addresses the complexity and unique challenges faced by people who put people at the heart of their values. Bridgman. “Its 12 lecturers are dynamic leaders within the sector.”

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION Now, emerging results of a research survey sent to 600 graduates of the course show just how wide and deep it is reaching into this economically important “third sector” of society. The aim of the seven questions in the survey was to find out the spread of organisations that graduates worked in, held directorships in or were networked to. (The main criterion for enrolling in the course is to be working as a manager or co-ordinator, or to be a board member.)

Programme Director Hilary Star Foged.

During the 1990s, the not-for-profit sector in New Zealand increased dramatically, with about twenty new voluntary associations being formed every week. By 1996 there were 32,000 such associations and in 2008 that number has tripled, to 97,000 according to a multi-year partnership study by John Hopkins University. The sector accounts for 4.9 percent of GDP. Since 1996, Unitec has been offering the only tertiary qualification in not-for-profit management, both nationwide and in the Pacific. As with much of the work quietly carried out by volunteers, the Graduate Diploma is an unsung hero. For the past three years students have voted it as the best course offered by Unitec; with quality teaching, clear goals, practical application and value for money. “The programme is also at the leading edge in its delivery of content,” says Associate Head of School Geoff

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“We know anecdotally that we’re getting a huge representation of small to medium size organisations across a range of industries beyond the big ones of health, welfare and education but this survey provides the evidence,” says Garth Nowland-Foreman. “Using the data, we can work out a percentage of those 97,000 organisations that we’re reaching.” Nowland-Foreman is a founding lecturer on the graduate diploma and chair of the New Zealand committee guiding the Hopkins study, which can be accessed at

use the diploma programme because philosophically the not-for-profit sector is more consistent with the management model of those agencies than the profit sector,” says Bridgman. Scholarships are offered by the Tindall and J.R. McKenzie foundations. “The Tindall Foundation sees the programme as one of the keys to sociological and environmental change in New Zealand,” says Bridgman. “NGOs are the cradle of innovation. Their size and structures give them flexibility, room to move.” The survey is revealing that 75 percent of students are enrolling by word of mouth. A large percentage report that the skills they’ve learned are increasing the capacity and the efficiency of their organisation, whether it’s a multimillion dollar agency or a shoestring operation with just two people. Graduates learn to manage multiple stakeholder relationships with staff, volunteers, boards, funders, clients and communities. Their self-awareness, relationship management skills and ability to manage from a clear values base improve. They also gain a better understanding of the policy and legal

support for leaders The additional information from the Unitec survey is important for a number of reasons, not least because the Graduate Diploma is annually funded to the tune of $100,000 by the Ministry of Social Development. The Ministry recognises that as responsibility for social wellbeing continues to devolve from the Government to the community, it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that those who offer services are equipped and qualified to do so. Ninety percent of not-for-profit organisations in this country have no paid staff. The course even attracts civil servants. “People from Government agencies

A past NFP course student Zen Buddhist teacher Sensei Amala.

community development

Three Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust employees are students on the Graduate Diploma in Not-For-Profit Management. From left: Josie O’Dwyer, Programme Director Hilary Star Foged and Lorraine Symons and Elenalini Asekona.

environment and how to influence them; and develop an understanding of how to research, monitor and evaluate their organisation for mission and Treaty of Waitangi effectiveness. “The other area of change seen by MSD is the difference in the way managers we train write reports, in their governance structures, in the way they handle staff. That’s why they want to support the programme,” says Bridgman.

GROWING PAINS A number of organisations whose managers have graduated from the course have started small and grown exponentially. “Barnardos and Oscar are two great examples,” says Programme Director Hilary Star Foged. “The Oscar Foundation was started by one of our course lecturers Sandy Thompson and is now a national organisation with huge credibility in government. Barnardos now has international contracts.” A large number of survey respondents said the course improved their knowledge and understanding of the sector. And while many of the characteristics of not-for-profits are unique, they share with businesses the growing pains.

“Organisations go through a life cycle. The diploma helps students recognise where they are in the life cycle so they can identify when it’s appropriate to transition to a larger framework. Those transitions take a specific sort of skill,” says Star Foged, “such as mobilising resources, raising funds and managing for financial sustainability.” The growth is from a very different value base however, says Star Foged. “It’s about people having a say in the solutions to their needs and networking with each other to find those solutions.” Good governance is another characteristic shared with business, although with a unique emphasis. “You can’t have good democratic processes without good governance practices,” says Bridgman. Twenty percent of graduates said the diploma had increased their confidence and at least half can’t wait for the development of a Masters programme. With rigorous research skills under their belts, they can take those skills back into their own organisation and apply them. An equally high number want more community development and human resource skills. Some organisations have up to 560 volunteers on their books.

THIRD SECTOR CONFERENCE November sees Auckland hosting the Ninth Biennial Australia New Zealand Third Sector Research Conference. Called Demonstration, this year’s conference is a challenge to academics to present research processes in illustrated and multimedia forms. Unitec is coordinating one of three themes; that of organisation, governance and management. The Clearing House research website will publish all submitted papers at The journal Third Sector Review will also publish a special edition on the conference in 2009. And, while the Government is demanding that tertiary organisations withdraw their courses back into their own regions from next year, the Graduate Not-For-Profit Management Diploma is excepted. Unitec will retain its contract to deliver the course in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, as well as in the Pacific. CONTACT Hilary Star Foged Programme Director School of Community Development

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health science

Friend or guest: technology for retirees By 2020, a projected 200,000 New Zealand residents will be over the age of 80. A Unitec nursing research project is shedding light on the ambivalent relationship older people have with technology and how it affects their quality of life.

language. They also wanted to ensure, by analysing the data themselves and writing the reports, that the results they handed the Selwyn Foundation Council were rigorous and dependable. “The objectives are four-fold,” says Ward. “Carrying out a hands-on, interview-based research project like this demonstrates to the students why rigour is required. It opens their eyes to the realities of everyday life as an older person. It gives the residents an additional something to look forward to each week. And, given the trends we’re seeing after four years at Selwyn, the project is likely to confirm for the Council their common-sense understanding of what needs to be considered when redeveloping their facilities.”

Lecturer Frances Ward and Selwyn Council member Bruce Lovett discuss the accoutrements of older age.

Technology reigns supreme in the lives of young people – they wouldn’t be without it. For older people, the need for certain technology can be an unwelcome intrusion, bringing them face-to-face with the ageing process. Mobility scooters, talking book machines and bathroom grab handles symbolise increased dependence and physical frailty. On the other hand, the cell phones and email their grandchildren depend on are vital ways of staying connected to family, especially those overseas. For the past four years, the Unitec Nursing School has been bringing the two generations together to discuss whether assistive technology is a friend, guest or intruder in the lives of residents at Selwyn Retirement Village in Pt Chev.

TECHNOLOGY AND WELLBEING Established in the early 1950s, Selwyn Village is now one of the largest retirement centres in the Southern Hemisphere, with about 650 residents across a spectrum of needs and an average age of 88. As the name ‘village’ implies, Selwyn has its own medical centre, mini mart, gym, post office and other services.

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Despite that sense of permanence, the average life span of a person who goes into a retirement complex is just four years. While the factors that underlie that statistic are complex, technology combined with an increased understanding by health professionals of its possibilities and limitations, could markedly improve the residents’ wellbeing – at least that’s the theory says School of Nursing Lecturer Frances Ward. “In spite of the growth in large, privately run retirement complexes in this country, very little research has been carried out into what technology is available and what needs to be considered when providing services in the future,” she says. “The same dearth of information exists in knowing how dependence on assistive technologies affects older people’s quality of life.”

REAL, RIGOROUS RESEARCH Ward and Nursing School colleagues Elizabeth Niven and Dianne Roy wanted to make complex research language and methodology more easily graspable for the 100 or so second-year nursing students who enrol each year, many of whom have English as a second

Residents at Selwyn live in a range of accommodation. Some of the independent living cottages date from its early post-war years. These residents have the safety of a monitored alarm system by their beds but as the Selwyn Foundation continues to build apartment blocks up to eight stories tall, more sophisticated technologies are being installed. This redevelopment is where the major benefit of the Unitec research lies. Independent Living Manager Mike Hablous says the new apartments will be digitally wired to be capable of sensing potential danger such as a pot burning on the stove, or a person not out of bed at an expected hour. “The two buildings under construction will have emergency call systems, digital phone systems with VOIP and a host of assistive technologies that people don’t always associate with, the word ‘technology’,” he says, “like grab handles in bathrooms and kitchen cabinetry consisting solely of drawers rather than cupboards.”

CHANGING PERCEPTIONS OF AGE Adaptations aside, the Selwyn project is giving students a valuable insight into the possibility that 88-year-olds can have very active social lives, be quite au fait with modern technology and completely independent. A sizeable

health science

“Acute episodes will be a small part of nursing as it evolves,” says Ward. “Nursing students need to know what wellness looks like, to have a touchstone for normality.”

FRIEND AND INTRUDER There are some residents, says Val Horne, who don’t want anything to do with computers. Equally, they may have an ambivalent relationship with other assistive equipment, such as hearing aids, glasses and grab handles. “People resent becoming old,” says Frances Ward. “Geriatric equipment brings age home to them. Rather than appreciating a hearing aid for the increased communication, they get frustrated with even the most expensive, new devices and refuse to accept help when they don’t appear to work properly. Some people would just rather not use them.” Nursing students Hallie Dempster and Neil Dizon interview Selwyn resident Joan Brennan about assistive technology.

proportion of the Selwyn residents are active in the wider community, and on trusts and company boards, as directors and trustees. The mental acuity they brought to their professional lives is being channelled into gently helping the budding nursing researchers with their interview techniques. “That’s an eye-opener for many of the students,” says Val Horne, Secretary Treasurer of the village’s residents society. He has been instrumental in getting fellow residents to participate in the project. “I tell them assistive technology has a much wider meaning than just computers and it’s a chance for social discourse with young people and new ideas.”

The international students, who have very little contact with their own grandparents because of distance, have made meaningful connections with older people and gained an increased understanding of life and culture in New Zealand. The profession of nursing has undergone a shift in emphasis in the past decade, from responding to acute ill health to also addressing primary health care. Community nursing is an increasingly available career choice for registered nurses.

Technology such as email and cell phones is a routine part of many residents’ day however, and some of the residents tutor their peers at SeniorNet classes. Early results of the study show that cell phones and email are appreciated as ways of keeping in touch with family scattered across the globe, as well as for doing community work, although most older people find the key pads and letters too small. CONTACT Frances Ward Lecturer School of Nursing Email:

ETHICS AND ETIQUETTE The project has the informed consent of every resident who takes part. Residents whose consent may be impaired by a medical condition are not involved. Several weeks of preparation go into each year’s component of the five-year study. Before the students set foot in the village they learn the fundamentals of research. They role play interviews and are advised on how to present themselves. “We tell the students to be freshly showered and well groomed – no baseball caps or hoodies,” says Ward. “And just as importantly, to be on time. Older people are very particular about their routines, so it’s absolutely no point turning up late when lunch is about to be served. That knowledge will serve them well in their professional careers.”

New apartment buildings at Selwyn Village.

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Lessons learned in devastation Natural disaster relief efforts in 2008 have juxtaposed the preparedness of governments and international non-governmental organisations to respond with speed and humanity. When the Sichuan earthquake registered 7.9 on the Richter scale, Associate Professor Regan Potangaroa got moving. in other countries and that China’s hierarchical political structure enabled a speedy internal response, which was pivotal. “There was the same potential for the kinds of problems we saw in New Orleans and in Burma but the Premier’s word cut through every obstacle,” says Potangaroa. “Because Wen Jiabao said, ‘get it done’ it was.”


Temporary refugee camp in Mianzhu, set up immediately after the Sichuan earthquake.

The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “In action it is timeliness that matters”. Unitec Associate Professor Regan Potangaroa entered his classroom the morning after Sichuan province was hit by the country’s worst earthquake in 32 years and within hours, he and two PhD students were on a plane. They became one of the first international research “teams” to gain access to the devastated areas in which 70,000 people died on 12 May.

NO STRANGER DANGER Potangaroa is no stranger to disaster. A member of Engineers for Disaster Relief (RedR) he has flown to some of the most devastated places on earth and knows how to cut through the bureaucracy and avoid common pitfalls. “People make a lot of mistakes in times of crisis,” he says. “They go to where the death toll was, where the buildings have collapsed, but that’s not where the living problem is. In the UN system it will be two weeks before any preliminary responses are in place and six to eight weeks before any help hits the ground. We checked with the Red Cross, through their contacts, and figured out where people had shifted to. No-one else got in there early enough.” Those rural towns were up to 50km away from the epicentre of the quake. The team of three from Unitec and Auckland University gathered 10

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volunteers from postgraduate teachers already working on the site, based at a makeshift camp of 200,000 homeless people. Their task was to rank the needs of the earthquake victims using a quality of life survey called the DASS42. The survey’s 42 questions give an accurate picture of where people actually are on the disaster-life continuum. “Professional internally displaced people say they’re the worst case in everything,” says Potangaroa. “The DASS42 can differentiate because it separates responses based on anxiety from those based in depression. You can’t be both at the same time.”

In September, Potangaroa presented these results (the first from the disaster) to the Chinese Academy of Engineeringsupported Engineering Management Forum. He is finalising another paper on what to use and what not to use (and how to know the difference) for the reconstruction work following the Sichuan earthquake. This work will spread out over the next 15 years. Meanwhile, memorials to the dead, especially at sites where schools collapsed, have sprung up throughout the province. “It has started to become a sacred ground,” says Potangaroa. “There’s no atheist in a disaster.” CONTACT Associate Professor Regan Potangaroa School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Email:

RESILIENCE AND AUTHORITY For one of the students, Alice Chang, coming face to face with the human suffering of her own people was a highly emotional situation. “I had to tell her to suck it in. You can’t cry in front of your interviewees. Save it for later,” Potangaroa says. “Kelvin Zuo – the other student involved and based back in Auckland – had to quietly walk away as we discussed the research work on our return. And in the afterglow of the Olympics, the meaning of national pride and national feeling should not be underestimated.” Returning from China, the team began keying in the data. Results suggested that people were more resilient than

No atheist in a disaster: memorial to a young married couple killed in the Sichuan earthquake in May.

in the limelight

Face to face encounters with women Step into Fran Marno’s gallery of women and you come face to face with ageing, power, accomplishment and strong opinions. From the margins, these larger than life portraits leap into the discourse on art history and the female gaze. When Picasso tried to paint a portrait of the writer Gertrude Stein, he gave up after eighty sittings and rubbed out her face. “I cannot see you any longer when I look,” he said, and eventually painted a mask-like Gertrude from memory. Artist Fran Marno decided to take up her brush and the challenge of lifting away the mask in a series of ten paintings of her friends from photographs they had taken. This postdoctoral research project has been carried out through Unitec’s School of Design and supported by a Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust award. The paintings are being exhibited at Unitec’s Snowwhite Gallery from 1 December. “These women are everything Picasso couldn’t see,” says Marno. “They are lesbians. They are academics, creators, politicians, partners, lovers, grandmothers, priests and farmers. They are all over sixty.”


sensibility. Working fast and freehand on a large canvas grid, the drawings and then the brush took over and the photo was left considerably behind.

even more pertinent. Asylums were a place in which women “disappeared”. Their lives were invalidated and insanity frequently misdiagnosed.

By conventional norms, the paintings don’t conform to paradigms of beauty, and in their largesse can even appear a little monstrous. Painting, she says, exists not to represent the image. The image exists to represent painting, which has its twists and turns, its deceptions. The medium has a way of subverting the original intent.

Head of the School of Design, David Hawkins, believes that Marno’s visibility on campus is valuable for students.

A VISIBLE PRESENCE Marno came late to painting as a career, completing her BA in Fine Arts in 1994 and a PhD a decade later. While she paints from a studio at home, her space at Unitec has been a refuge for drawing and writing about the project, separating the two processes for the first time. Serendipitously, the space is one of the original inmate cells of the Carrington Mental Hospital, which makes her research on attitudes to older women

“To have an established artist working on a postdoctoral fellowship without the constraints of teaching is an important role modelling for students,” he says. “And to be in a different space changes the way you work.” “For the viewer, painting is a noun,” says Marno. “For me as an artist painting is a verb. Like life it contains invention. And, as Francis Bacon said, you work with intuition, luck, skill, strategy.” CONTACT Fran Marno Kate Edger Postdoctoral Fellow School of Design

Early portraits of men reflected their careers, while those of women tended to reflect what they wore – or didn’t wear. As people with autonomous lives, women were invisible. Marno’s works critique and dismantle the stereotypes, yet her subjects’ portraits didn’t correspond to the likenesses they carried in their minds, of who they thought they were. “The women I’ve painted had a hilarious time taking photos of themselves but were often disconcerted by the outcome. Each woman responded to certain features in their painting, some talked about what they saw as facial defects. They were all looking for the self they saw in the mirror.”

MEDIUM AND MESSAGE While the present fashion is for a brushless, slick surface with a slight edge of surrealism, Marno accepted the impossibility of likeness and chose instead to divulge what the photos were unable to, capturing character and

Artist Fran Marno with two of the 10 paintings resulting from her postdoctoral fellowship.

Advance Summer 08 11

news news in in brief brief

Books reveal hidden lives Two Unitec staff have new books published. Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime is the result of Joanne Drayton’s 2007 Alexander Turnbull National Library Fellowship. Unlike standard biographies, Drayton has taken a narrative line that begins with the birth of Marsh’s first novel and uncovers her life as if it were part of her detective fiction oeuvre.

launched at the Media Diversity Forum in Auckland. The book looks at communications in the Pacific Islands. Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres decribed it as a courageous undertaking in a neglected arena. The book was also launched at the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre Conference in Manila in July.

Publisher Harper Collins will be releasing a special edition of Drayton’s biography in the UK in 2009. This edition will coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Marsh Millions, when two of Marsh’s publishers collaborated to print 100,000 copies of each of her top ten titles. School of Communication Senior Lecturer Dr Evangelia Papoutsaki is the co-author of South Pacific Islands Communication: Regional Perspectives, Local Issues, which was recently

Closer links with Korea Koreans in New Zealand and abroad are to benefit from an agreement between Unitec and the Korean Society of New Zealand.

institutions through English language training, language teacher training, collaborative research projects and cultural exchange programmes.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations will help establish closer education links through the various programmes Unitec offers, particularly its English programme. Part of the agreement will also see Unitec establish formal links with Korean universities and tertiary

Korean Society Director Andrew Park says Unitec is highly thought of in the Korean community. The majority of the Korean community live on the North Shore where many of the language programmes are offered at Unitec’s North Shore campus.

Architecture students support KidsCan Sixteen Architecture students have spent the past seven months designing, planning and building a holiday home, all in the name of charity. The first year Masters in Architecture (Professional) students have been hammering away at the project as part of their course under the supervision of Lecturer Dave

Strachan and celebrity builder John ‘Cocksy’ Cocks. The house will be part of TV3’s Big Night In Telethon event taking place next year to benefit KidsCan, a charity that meets the basic needs of financially disadvantaged children. The students have been given the task of building the bedroom wing of the house, which will then be transported to Matarangi where the rest of the house is being built. Strachan says the project provides the students with the opportunity to learn some new skills as well as do something positive for a charity like KidsCan. He says the students have learnt new skills by dealing not only with the design aspect of the project but also seeking resource and building consents.

Second feature film for Tsoulis Unitec’s School of Performing Arts Lecturer Athina Tsoulis’ second feature film Jinx Sister made its worldwide premiere at the 2008 Auckland International Film Festival. Jinx Sister tells the story of Laura (Sara Wiseman) who returns home after ten years in Los Angeles to her sister Marie (Rachel Nash). The two have a strained relationship due to their past but come to discover the deceptive nature of the family secrets that have shaped their lives. Tsoulis’ first big screen film was I’ll Make You Happy, which starred Jodie Rimmer, Rena Owen, Jennifer WardLeland and her husband Michael Hurst. Jinx Sister has a strong association with Unitec, as a number of the cast and crew are graduates of the School of Performing and Screen Arts.

Auckland tops entrepreneur list Research data collected by Unitec has led to Auckland being named the most entrepreneurial city of 27 OECD cities surveyed. The international survey was carried out by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) based at the London Business School. Aucklanders head the table with 13.5 percent of the population being entrepreneurs. The next highest percentages were in Vancouver, Melbourne and Los Angeles. Tokyo was the least entrepreneurial. GEM New Zealand Director and Unitec Professor, Dr Howard Frederick, says Aucklanders, compared to those in other cities, tend to be lifestyle entrepreneurs rather than involved in high-aspiration ventures. Our contribution to the country’s wealth lags behind other OECD cities because we hire fewer employees, offer fewer new products, and are less active in the technology or creative sectors.

For more information about any of these news items, please contact Unitec’s Media Manager on +64 9 815 4321 ext 7601 or email

12 Advance Summer 08


Advance - Summer 2008  

Advance - Research with Impact. Innovative research from students and staff at Unitec Institute of Technology, in Auckland, New Zealand.

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