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All the right moves Miriam Harris wins international award for animated short film – p6

I was Russia Exhibition of postSoviet artists caps winning year for curator Marcus Williams – p8

NoMo Phobia How parents perceive their teenagers’ cell phone use – p10

Women and HIV Understanding how stigmas affect everyday life – p14


Many of the research projects profiled in this issue have been funded by the institute research fund. These include Zane Egginton’s work on Auckland’s geology, a major exhibition by Marcus Williams, Mark Farnworth’s research on rabbits and Yo Heta-Lensen’s work on early childhood education for Ma¯ori. We also take pride in Miriam Harris’ international award for her experimental animated film Soaring Roaring Diving and demonstrate how this excellence nurtures her students’ careers.

editor Jade Reidy design Brigitte Smits cover image Sav Schulman printing Norcross Group of Companies 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

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.

zoë carafice diploma in landscape design

Over the past few months we have been giving considerable thought to how best describe and communicate the role research plays for Unitec as a tertiary institution. How does what we do differ from other institutions such as Crown Research Institutes and universities? Staff and student research activity at Unitec is important for a great many reasons but in particular we have been considering the role our research plays in contributing to our community and our stakeholders. In what ways does our applied and practical focus add value, make a difference and have an impact on the economic, social and cultural life of our region and nation? If you, the reader, have some thoughts on this I would like to hear them.

The limelight in this issue is shared by some of our leading student researchers, starting with Dang Thi Anh Nguyet who graduated this spring with Unitec’s very first Doctor of Philosophy in Education, then Shanti Ravichandran’s timely Master of Computing thesis on the parents of teenage cell phone users and Jane Bruning’s Master of Social Practice thesis on women living with HIV. Also in this issue we profile some significant recent events – a temporary farewell to Jonathan Leaver for his fellowship at the prestigious MIT in Massachusetts and highlights of our recent Research Symposium. We hope this highly successful showcase day will be the first of many. Next year it will transform from being primarily internal into a larger scale event to which we can invite as many of our partners, stakeholders and readers of this magazine as possible. I hope you enjoy this issue.

I am pleased to report that we decided to expand this issue of Advance magazine to incorporate the number of stories we had. This is a positive indicator of the level of research activity at Unitec.

CONTACT Dr Simon Peel Dean, Research Email:


First doctorate in education Scrutinising the historical development of Vietnam National University, Hanoi has earned Dang Thi Anh Nguyet the honour of being the first student to gain her doctorate in education at Unitec. Dang, an international student from Vietnam, now holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Education to add to her Master of Science and Technology Management, which she gained at the same university on which her research is based. Her thesis examines the development of Vietnam National University using French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s theory to examine the origins of the social structure and practices of the university.

Hydrogen expertise recognised The impact and benefits of a hydrogen fuel-based economy may be at least 15 years into the future, but international activity is marked by a sense of urgency, to make the transition as seamless as possible. A team of world-leading engineers, including Associate Professor Jonathan Leaver of Unitec’s Dept of Civil Engineering, has gathered at MIT’s Laboratory for Energy and the Environment in Massachusetts to examine the future of various transport technologies to 2050. Leaver has spent the past six years providing computer-generated scenarios of the impact of hydrogenpowered fuel cell vehicles, as part of a $6m collaborative project with CRL Energy and Industrial Research. The model UniSyD now encompasses over 7,000 lines of code and 1,100 variables. Developed with assistance from

three research interns from Stanford University, the FRST-funded model has been internationally published this year in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. The group at MIT is assessing the impact of a range of technologies on the future energy requirements of the developed world – from battery electric to hybrid, fuel cell and conventional petrol and diesel vehicles. Leaver will return to Unitec in November, to focus on associated research into small scale generation of electricity from wind turbines, located at Mairaki Downs in the Canterbury Plains. CONTACT Associate Professor Jonathan Leaver Engineering Research Manager Dept of Civil Engineering Faculty of Technology & Built Environment Email:

A masterful move towards digital fire safety assessment To assess a building for fire safety code compliance or to conduct fire analyses, fire engineers need an accurate geometry. These building geometries are conventionally conveyed as printed drawings. Gathering information using paper-based methods is inefficient and error-prone, says Johannes Dimyadi, Data Analyst at Unitec’s Facilities Management department. Dang found the university’s philosophies and evolution had undergone two major phases of change, both of which influenced its structure. The first change occurred between the 1950s and 1970s with the establishment of its three founding institutions – a reflection of the political turbulence of that period – and then again in the 1980s when they were influenced by Communism and the economy. Her three years of research were supervised by Professor Tanya Fitzgerald, Dr Andrew Codling and Professor Carol Cardno (pictured above with Dang). CONTACT Professor Carol Cardno Dept of Education Faculty of Social & Health Sciences Email:

In his Master of Fire Engineering, Dimyadi investigated the feasibility of using cutting edge technology to share building information digitally with an industry standard cfd model, Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), via a non-proprietary open standard Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) building information model. He created a data mapping extension to an IFC parser and developed a web-based FDS conversion tool. These tools successfully converted a set of single-story building models created in Revit and ArchiCAD into FDS input data.

from the International Association for Fire Safety Science. Following receipt of the award, Dimyadi presented a paper at the 9th International Symposium on Fire Safety Science in Karlsruhe, Germany, and is now collaborating with colleagues in Europe and the US to develop an open source interface for FDS. CONTACT Johannes Dimyadi Data Analyst Facilities Management Email:

Potential benefits to the fire engineering industry include considerable time and cost savings in fire modelling and improvement in the quality of data being exchanged. Dimyadi’s research has been recognised by a prestigious award for excellence

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Enhancing Humane euthanasia and its effects surgical treatment Worldwide, animal welfare Almost two-thirds said that wearing leather gloves, a broiler suit and investigations result in the discovery of of rabbits a mask was helpful in detaching commercial farming operations where Little is known about how rabbits respond to surgery, despite their common use in laboratory experiments. The humane management of postoperative pain has been studied at Unitec by a group of researchers, led by Department of Natural Sciences Lecturer Mark Farnworth. The rabbits themselves are housed at the University of Auckland. Farnworth and his team scrutinised the animals via remote video, looking for behavioural pain indicators.

large numbers of animal are suffering. They require quick and humane euthanasia. These events, called ‘depopulation’ operations, are likely to be a traumatic experience for the personnel involved. In 2008, 13 animal welfare investigation students at Unitec voluntarily participated in a depopulation operation, helping MAF and NZFSA perform manual euthanasia on 5,000 chickens at a poultry farm that was being closed down for malpractice. Certificate in Animal Welfare Investigations Programme Director Arnja Dale, Research Assistant Jessica Walker and Social Practice Lecturer Dr Geoff Bridgman subsequently collaborated in devising a questionnaire to evaluate the physical and psychological effects on the students.

themselves from the task. Sixty-two percent experienced anger and over half experienced physical pain and sweating. Disgust, extreme shaking and grief were also in the moderate to extreme range. During the first few days following the operation 62 percent experienced intrusive memories and flashback and four students were still experiencing emotional responses at a concerning level four months afterwards. While none of the students regretted participating in the operation, 85 percent now view chickens and ducks differently. CONTACT Arnja Dale Programme Director Dept of Natural Sciences Faculty of Social & Health Sciences Email:

Knowing what you’ve got before it’s gone One of the team this year was a Masters student from Edinburgh University, writing her dissertation on the study and enjoying the opportunity for more one-on-one time with a supervisor than she would get at Edinburgh, with its large student population. Katherine Schweizer says they identified a number of indicators, including a change of posture into a tight huddle. Pain relief by itself may not be sufficient to alleviate suffering, Farnworth says, because pain operates on two levels: somatic and visceral. Some drugs deal with surface incisions but not displacement of organs. Technicians testing the effects of potential drugs on laboratory animals may need to employ a multi-modal analgesic regime to ensure experiments are conducted with the animal’s welfare in mind. The findings were presented in July at the 43rd Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology in Queensland. CONTACT Mark Farnworth Lecturer Dept of Natural Sciences Faculty of Social & Health Sciences Email:

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When a town or city grows into a logical place for tourists to refuel and refresh en route to their holiday destination, it becomes a transit zone. The core industrial base of a transit zone economy is often unrelated to the visitor industry. It may, for example, be agriculture, forestry or manufacturing. There is a very real risk, says Dr Ken Simpson of Unitec’s Dept of Management and Marketing, that local government agencies may underestimate the contribution temporary visitors make to the local economy. They may design regional strategic plans that fail to maximise such economic benefits.

Dr Simpson studied three transit zones: Waterford in Ireland, Buxton in the UK and Whangarei. Using data in the public domain as his starting point, Simpson then interviewed city administrators and surveyed community residents to gain a picture of how well the economic contribution of transient visitors was understood. In all three cities he found that local residents had a strong understanding of the social and environmental impacts of visitors while local government tended to ignore these intangible impacts in favour of a more limited economic perspective. These findings will be elaborated in the International Journal of Public Administration and have been presented to local government administrators in all three places. CONTACT Dr Ken Simpson Lecturer Dept of Management & Marketing Faculty of Creative Industries & Business Email:

FEATURE Civil engineering

How genetics can predict river flow The increasing global demand on water generates an ever-increasing need to better manage existing resources. Accurate forecasting of river flows is one challenge facing hydrologists. Unitec’s Dr Achela Fernando believes that Gene-Expression Programming may hold the key to producing a combined rainfall-runoff model that outperforms the best of conventional models. Population growth, altered land-use patterns and climate change are placing increasing pressure on traditional water supplies and aquatic systems. Extreme weather patterns cause wild fluctuations in river/stream flow rates, resulting in floods. Rainfall-runoff modelling plays an important part in the process of predicting the potential impact of both climactic events and human behaviour on water resources, agriculture and urban planning, says Dr Achela Fernando, Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering at Unitec.

HISTORY OF HYDROLOGY Hydrology was enacted long before Marcus Vitruvius described a philosophical theory of the hydrological cycle in the 1st century BC. In 4000 BC, the Nile River was dammed to improve agricultural productivity of previously barren lands. While science was able to accurately represent the cycle by the15th century AD, today’s hydrologists rely increasingly on theoretical models exploiting the recent advances in computing and information technologies. Most theoretical models are either a conceptual, mathematical or statistical representation of the underlying hydrologic system. Now Fernando and two colleagues are taking the best of available models and combining them, using advances in both computing and the study of genetics with the technique of Gene-Expression Programming (GEP).

GENETIC PRINCIPLES “Gene-Expression Programming is based on natural evolution,” says Fernando. “We now know that any genetic sequencing of DNA can be modified by evolution processes that include deletion, duplication, inversion, insertion, translocation, mutation to generate a population of ‘off-spring’ that has qualities different, and sometimes superior, to those of parents.” This same principle can be applied, she says, to solving engineering problems, by expressing the genotype as an algebraic function. The Gene-Expression

Dr Achela Fernando explaining the fundamentals of Gene-Expression Programming.

approach exploits the advantages of Genetic Algorithms (GA) and Genetic Programming (GP) while discarding some their weaknesses.

COMBINING MODELS Fernando took 10 years of daily runoff data from the Chu River catchment in Vietnam, covering around 2370km2. The synchronous forecasts of the river flows from four separate models were used as input to a powerful tool called GeneXproTools. It identified a relationship between the input variables, i.e. the daily river flow estimates on the Chu River, and the actual daily river flow value. “The combination model approach advocates synchronous use of simulated discharges from a number of individual basic models,” she says. “While a limited number of studies have dealt with multi-modal combinations of forecasts they’re what we describe as ‘black-box’. No attempts have been made until now to explore the nature and inner workings of this combination.”

This novel approach provides the exact mathematical expression that describes the combination of the existing rainfall runoff model outputs that produce the superior model. More research is required, says Fernando, on terminating the GEP when the fitness of the model for a validation set begins to deteriorate, and to test it beyond 10,000 iterations, but she is confident about the direction the research is taking. “GEP has tremendous potential to improve the accuracy and reliability of forecasts and predictions.” Fernando presented the study with coresearchers Dr Asaad Shamseldin and Dr Robert Abrahart in July at the IMACS Modelling and Simulation Congress in Cairns, Australia. CONTACT Dr Achela Fernando Senior Lecturer Dept of Civil Engineering Faculty of Technology & Built Environment Email:

Advance Summer 09 5

in the Limelight

Animated film scores Harris top award Three of the ten Homegrown short films in this year’s Auckland International Film Festival originated from Unitec. Soaring Roaring Diving by Senior Lecturer Miriam Harris was fresh from winning best experimental film at the Brooklyn Film Festival. whose career was influenced very early on by the novel idea that he could compose motion, just as musicians compose sound. Located within the literary avant-garde, Lye’s sense of movement was both kinesthetic and poetic. “He was uninterested in telling stories,” says Harris. “At the turn of the 20th century images became abstract; words became images – there was an overlap of concerns. Audiences were looking at texts and reading images. He wanted animators to be ‘free radicals’.”

Miriam Harris, Senior Lecturer in Design and Visual Arts.

Soaring Roaring Diving is a six-minute film co-directed by Miriam Harris that animates childlike drawings of sea creatures on mathsbook paper, along with adult representations of platform divers and a giant-headed Captain Cook on a tiny sailing tub, splicing these motifs and metaphors with grainy film footage of childhood summers amidst sand dunes and sea. The title, taken from a letter by Viriginia Woolf, describes the range of human experience. Harris, who lectures at Unitec in graphics and animation, collaborated on the film with an old university friend, Juliet Palmer, now a working composer based in Toronto. During the two years it took to cocreate visuals and sound, both

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artists lost a sister to a terminal illness, rendering Woolf’s title even more personal.

TRACING A CAREER The film also grew out of ten years’ research by Harris into the relationship between animated words and images. Harris has a fine arts background and a Diploma in Digital Animation from Sheridan College in Toronto. In 2001 she presented a paper called “Dynamite in the Diaper: The Coexistence within Animation of Child and Adult Influences” to the Society of Animation Studies. In 2003, back at Unitec full-time, her attention turned to Len Lye, pioneer NZ artist and filmmaker who scratched designs directly onto celluloid and

Her essay on Len Lye appeared in the 2006 book Animated Worlds, an anthology of essays by international animation scholars. Lye’s work is the subject of major exhibitions this year including Melbourne’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image and at the Gus Fisher Gallery in Auckland. Harris grew up on a diet of short animation films during the period Lye was making films, from 1929-1980, when shorts previewed feature films. “Short films remained embedded in my imagination. My own study of poetry also informs my film making – the use of recurring motifs. “I don’t aim for photorealism, more the expressive mark. It’s wonderful, for example, to make a child’s drawing move and when you merge different elements – such as childlike drawings with adult representations – new associations are formed.”

in the Limelight

POETRY VS NARRATIVE While Harris relates to a poetic structure, she teaches a range of approaches including narrative structures. As the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Harris became interested in how the narrative approach to animation could express the unspeakable. “Graphic novels such as the comic Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman and Bernice Einstein’s I was the Child of Holocaust Survivors provide a powerful means of releasing the hold of past memories,” she says. She continues to explore the work of animators and graphic novelists, the theories attached to the relationship between words and images, how and why they work together to express the unspeakable, in a PhD whose working title is “Words that Move”.

TECHNICAL VS TEXT Two of Harris’ students had their short films screened alongside Soaring Roaring Diving in the Homegrown section at this year’s Auckland International Film Festival. Grace by Niki Hiini was named best short film by an Auckland student, and won Hiini an internship with animation house Flux. Better Military Modelling, by Jill Kennedy, was the second film.

Students, she says, arrive at animation with training in fine art or graphics but are often clichéd in their storytelling ability. “Here, it’s important to us that the text be meaningful. What’s exceptional about our approach at Unitec is we teach students how to express a message and that animation flows in time.” Soaring Roaring Diving was funded by the Screen Innovation Production Fund, a partnership between Creative NZ and the NZ Film Commission. It screened in October 2009 at the influential Antimatter Festival in Vancouver, where Harris introduced the film, and will also be screened at festivals in Bulgaria, Siberia and the USA. CONTACT Miriam Harris Senior Lecturer Dept of Design & Visual Arts Faculty of Creative Industries & Business Email:

Animation students at Unitec get handson experience with Maya 3D software, the same software used by Flux and Weta Workshop. They graduate with more than just technical skills though. “I love high end digital tools,” says Harris, “but I’m more interested in aligning the tool with fine art skills than in the tools themselves, investigating how you can bring hand-drawn and tactile images into the high-end zone, translating two dimensions into 3D models.”

Animation from Soaring Roaring Diving by Miriam Harris.

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visual arts

Art for art’s sake, Russia for God’s sake For three months of this year visitors to the Dunedin Art Gallery were disarmed by the irreverent and dissident display of I was Russia, an exhibition of contemporary Russian artists co-curated by Unitec Associate Professor Marcus Williams. Does the subjectivity of human experience render each of us alone, and to what extent is identity shaped by socio-political conditions? These questions were central to I was Russia. Co-curated by Unitec’s Associate Professor Marcus Williams, the exhibition by contemporary Russian conceptual artists was at the Dunedin Art Gallery from June to September. A critique of post-Glasnost life, I was Russia unmasked the fragility of the ordinary person beyond the ideology.

I WAS RUSSIA The six artists or collectives of artists in I was Russia were chosen by Williams and co-curator Konstantin Skotnikov, Professor at the Novosibirsk State Academy of Architecture and Fine Arts. The two met in St Petersburg in 2004 while Williams was an artist in residence in Estonia and he subsequently returned

twice to Russia to gather the body of knowledge required to select the artists. “I met curators and visited dozens of artists plus one of the very first dealer galleries in Moscow as part of my background research,” Williams says. “If these artists were already chronicled in text books their work wouldn’t be contemporary. I had to go there.” This view echoes what William’s grandfather Bill Jermyn felt when, as a Communist, he visited the country several times during the cold war.

THE SIX ARTISTS Earlier this year the Factory of Found Clothing collective from St Petersburg stimulated debate and collaboration with their reconstituted clothing during a six-week residency at Unitec. Gluklya

‘The Candle of Our Lives’ by the Blue Nose Group (2004) caricatures Pushkin, Christ and Putin. Exhibited in I was Russia.

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and Tsaplya’s residency flowered into a nationwide series of exhibitions, seminars, talks and papers that also involved Unitec design students and graduates. The Blue Nose Group, from Siberia, are the clowns of the art world and Skotnikov is one of their core members. “Blue Nose draws on the ‘skomorokh’ tradition of the itinerant Russian clown who could critique royalty with impunity,” says Williams. “They critique Putin and the new Capitalist Russia in the same spirit.” The other four exhibitors in I was Russia were husband-and-wife team Alexander and Olga Florensky, performance artist and sculptor Oleg Kulik, creator of the dabloid cartoon strip Leonid Tichkov, and video artist Dmitry Bulnegin.


Increasing the toys in the kete The optimum age at which to learn a new language is from 0 to five years. Yet, training programmes in New Zealand struggle to support early childhood education students with appropriate resources to become bilingual teachers of te reo Ma¯ori me ona tikanga. Williams and Jowsey’s dyptich, The Correction, is the first photograph ever to win the Wallace Art Awards.



The artists attire themselves at times as anthropologists and social researchers, using farce among many techniques to reveal how ordinary Russians attempted to throw off iron-clad oppression but equally to point out how the West continues to stereotype Russia. The notion of producing art for art’s sake is not as embedded in the Russian psyche as it is in Capitalist countries.

The day after I was Russia closed Marcus Williams learnt that he and fellow Unitec Dept of Design and Visual Arts colleague Susan Jowsey had won the coveted Paramount Award at the 2009 Wallace Trust Art Awards. Their photographic diptych, The Correction, earned the pair a six-month residency in New York in 2010, at the International Studio and Curatorial Programme, where they’ll gain exposure to leading curators of US art museums.

“Their art scene is more deeply polemic than ours; it’s alive with political activism,” says Williams. “The spirit of constructivism is still strongly influential, which aligns art, architecture and design with function and purpose. The role of public art for the people was, in Soviet Russia, to move society towards enlightenment.” Over 48,300 visitors went through the gallery doors during the exhibition and Director Elizabeth Caldwell was delighted with the overwhelmingly positive response. “People seemed to really enjoy learning about aspects of contemporary Russian culture through this exhibition and particularly liked the humour in it”, she says. “The floor talk Marcus gave was intelligent, articulate and accessible – a winning combination – and it was very well attended by an appreciative audience. The exhibition has generated a distinct ‘buzz’ of interest, with both local and national media attention supporting the great attendance the exhibition received. ”I was Russia exhibited concurrently with Russian Art in New Zealand, curated by Peter Stupples. Williams’ discussion of the Blue Nose Group appeared in the August 2009 issue of Landfall.

In its 18th year, the Wallace Art Awards are now the longest-surviving and most prestigious annual art awards in New Zealand. Williams and Jowsey won the top award from over 450 entries and it’s the first time a photograph has won. “Photography has always taken second position in New Zealand art behind painting,” says Williams. “The award is a coming of age – for the medium, for us as artists and researchers, and for Unitec. We’ve spent the past 20 years building the photography department here, which turned 21 this year, working towards being ready to maximise the opportunities it presents. It’s so hard for New Zealand artists to access this kind of exposure to top decision makers. You’ve got to be either in New York or Berlin to be in the running,” says Williams. “That’s why both James Wallace and Creative New Zealand support this kind of award.” From late October a touring show of 44 entries for the prize is being displayed at the New Dowse Gallery in Lower Hutt.

Yo Heta-Lensen, Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Unitec, gathered a team of three researchers – Nicole Job, Lee-Anne Turton and Jennie Potter – to investigate the gaps in resources and how a kete, or resource-based approach could strengthen bilingual teaching practice. Toys and play, she says, are artefacts for cultural transmission. The lack of indigenous models of play and authentic Ma¯ori images in books that are readily available to parents as well as teachers has implications for Ma¯ori children’s educational outcomes. Embedding the project in one early childhood learning centre, focus hui and observations identified that immersion in experiences such as gathering flax, Ma¯ori games and prayer time provided authentic learning experiences. Success, says Heta-Lensen, resides with teachers’ willingness to allow Ma¯ori paradigms into mainstream education and their commitment to using the kete-based approaches that are available. Research findings will be presented in January 2010 at the Australian Research in Early Childhood Education Conference at Monash University. CONTACT Yo Heta-Lensen Lecturer Dept of Education Faculty of Social & Health Sciences Email:

CONTACT Associate Professor Marcus Williams Dept of Design & Visual Arts Faculty of Creative Industries & Business Email:

Advance Summer 09 9


NoMo phobia and the generation divide Inseparable from teenagers’ sense of identity, mobile phones have migrated from cool technology to body part. What do parents think about this psychological shift and its consequences? A thesis by Unitec Master of Computing graduate, Shanti Ravichandran, mapped their perceptions and concerns. “Because the generation gap between teenagers and parents’ is characterised by the pervasiveness of technology, their communication patterns are different and levels of acceptance vary,” says Ravichandran. “Fluid social networks are valued by teenagers over face-toface communication while parents tend to see this type of macro-coordination as potentially leading to anti-social activities.”

The term ‘NoMo phobia’ has been coined to express the dependence teenagers have on their mobile phones and the dread they experience when separated from them. In Finland mobile phones are commonly referred to as kännykkä – an extension of the hand – and hence an extension of a sense of identity, fixed to the body rather than fixed by location. Teenagers, says Unitec’s Professor Kay Fielden, are digital natives, also known as the ‘thumb generation’. Their parents or caregivers are digital immigrants whose own teenage years pre-dated mobile technology and who frequently experience concerns about the influence of mobile phones on their children.

“I was encouraged by other delegates to extend the topic,” she says, “and by my associate supervisor Dr Savae Latu. The subject tapped the real person in me, technology with a community conscience.” Ravichandran surveyed 115 parents or caregivers of teenagers living in Auckland, across a broad range of ethnicities, of which she personally interviewed seven. While interviewees acknowledged how useful mobile phones are for coordinating activities and for emergencies, 86 percent said negative impacts outweighed the positive.

CONTROL AND SAFETY Cell phones, she found, are both loosening and strengthening family ties. They strengthen bonds when family members are geographically scattered but in giving teenagers increasing autonomy to negotiate a separate sense of identity, cell phones can be disruptive of family time and dilute the control parents have traditionally had over their teenagers’ actions and access to information. Despite the loss of control, Ravichandran’s survey found low levels of insecurity among parents about unsupervised use of mobile phones. This may be due, she says, to parents not wishing to reveal their true feelings, rather than a true representation. They unanimously agreed that using mobile phones while driving was risky and supported the ban on both drivers and passengers using phones in cars. Over half (52 percent) said there should probably be a minimum age limit for possessing a mobile phone. The major safety concern, besides physical safety while driving, was bullying and abusive text messages. A 2005 Netsafe Survey had found that 23 percent of teenagers were receiving offensive, pornographic, abusive or threatening texts or pictures.

MAPPING PARENTAL CONCERNS Fielden was principal supervisor for a Masters student whose thesis explored New Zealand parents’ perceptions of the impact cell phones are having on their teenagers. Shanti Ravichandran had presented a paper in 2007 to the Australasian Conference on Information Systems, derived from her coursework at Unitec on the social consequences of cell phones.

Shanti Ravichandran (left) with her thesis supervisor Professor Kay Fielden.

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Maximising cell phone network capacity Girls, she says, are more inclined than boys to tell their parents if they’re being bullied, although a high percentage of both genders will alert parents to a bullying problem.

The spectrum available for mobile communications is limited, making capacity planning and the delivery of high-quality calls critical to success in the marketplace.

Traffic loading was also compared to estimate the point at which capacity is exceeded and the number of phone calls that will be dropped if traffic load exceeds certain levels.

Health issues explored in the research focus on decreased physical activity and sleep deprivation, resulting from thumbs working overtime through the night exchanging text messages.

ADDRESSING THE ISSUES Given the high level of disquiet expressed by parents, Ravichandran’s thesis includes recommendations for addressing negative consequences of mobile phone usage by teenagers. The boundaries between public and private lives are also becoming more blurred, undermining the capacity teenagers may have to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate usage of mobile phones. More rules, she says, would only increase secretive use because teenagers are so attached to their phones. “Education on appropriate use is a more effective route – by parents, teachers and the media. Mobile phone makers and service providers should also research the social context in which teenagers use mobile phones and promote products and services that take account of the research findings.” Teenagers themselves are ultimately responsible for making the best possible use of the device, and that, she says, is all part of growing up. Shanti Ravichandran graduated with first class honours in May 2009. Her thesis “Mobile Phones and Teenagers: Impact, Consequences and Concerns” can be read at the Unitec Library. CONTACT Professor Kay Fielden Dept of Computing & Information Technology Faculty of Creative Industries & Business Email:

The least important parameter for call quality was obstacles, as mobiles compare the signal from three possible cell sites and connect to the one giving the best quality signal.

Dr Samad Kolahi of Unitec’s Department of Computing & Information Technology points to this year’s stand-off between Vodafone and Telecom over interference created during Telecom’s launch of its XT network as one reason why his ongoing research into maximising the traffic capacity of a cell site is highly relevant to the industry. Kolahi wrote a simulation software model to test a cellular system under varying parameters: interference, distance and obstacles between mobile phones and cell sites, voice activity and call quality. Interference affects both call quality and system capacity. Kolahi investigated the effect of various tiers of neighbouring cells on the home cell (see the diagram opposite). While previous studies have found the maximum possible value for interference, i.e. the upper limits, Kolahi’s model generated the actual value. All calls in all neighbouring cells when combined measured only 60 percent of the interference created by calls from the same cell site. The first tier of neighbouring cells has the greatest impact on call quality, while the third tier onwards had little impact.

Before joining Unitec, Samad was a network designer, engineering consultant, and principal planning engineer for Telecom. He holds a PhD in Traffic engineering of CDMA networks using simulation and modelling. His research on the impact of various tiers of interfering cells on CDMA systems has been published by the World Scientific and Engineering Academy and Society.

home cell

Diagram of a home cell and its neighbouring cells in a network.

CONTACT Dr Samad Kolahi Lecturer Dept of Computing & Information Technology Faculty of Creative Industries & Business Email:

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landscape architecture

Ancient Auckland imagery recreated in digital detail for designers To produce a well informed landscape design, a landscape architect must understand the varied and complex geological history of the area. Unitec Lecturer Zane Egginton has recreated major events in Auckland’s formation as photorealistic snapshots – a visual language that designers understand. The geological history of an area is primarily described in scientific publications, in a technical language that sits outside landscape designers’ knowledge base. To bring that information into more familiar terrain, Landscape Architecture Lecturer Zane Egginton spent hundreds of hours working on a multilayered digital process that recreates four events that significantly altered the Auckland isthmus landscape: the Waitakere Volcano, Rangitoto, North Head and Lake Pupuke.

FORM INFLUENCES FUNCTION “Rudimentary sketches and diagrams that you typically find in scientific publications don’t convey the effects of volcanic eruptions on the landscape,” says Egginton. “Auckland city was built on an active field of 48 volcanoes that have all erupted in the past 250,000 years,” he says. “Behind the digital images I’ve produced lies a complex study of the stratigraphy, paleoecology, climatic and geological features of the isthmus. They’re realistic, but also easy to understand.”

Geology, he says, has a major influence on how a site is developed. “Knowing the form and function of the ground you’re dealing with influences how you develop a site. The imaginative process goes to work illuminating above ground what’s also below ground. You can’t separate the two.”

THE TECHNICAL PROCESS Having surveyed and researched the four sites in Auckland, Egginton moved on to creating a height-map of the existing topography of each. “This involves taking contour lines and converting them into a raster terrain model that uses a grey scale symbology to assign highest and lowest points,” he says. “This height-map can then be used to produce a procedural terrain in many 3D applications.” Egginton chose to use e-on Vue 7 Infinite for its ability to reproduce ecosystems, simulating organic plant species, terrain and physical environments such as clouds and lighting. “Its advanced procedural texture engine produces imagery of outstanding detail, well beyond that of CAD software,” he says. “Typically CAD packages choke at one million polygons but these images were no hassle with over 30 billion polygons. “I spent quite a bit of time learning the software and creating procedural textures for lava flows, burning foliage, snow capped mountains and so on. The workflow involved was technically challenging but the ability to visualise GIS data in a photorealistic manner is awe inspiring.”

Terrain editor within e-on Vue 7 Infinite, a 3D modelling and rendering package.

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Once located 15km off the west coast of the Auckland isthmus, erosion has reduced this volcano to its eastern flanks and some ejected boulders.

RENDERING THE IMAGES The first image Egginton worked on was the Waitakere Volcano. “The most interesting aspect was its size and position off the west coast. The isthmus 20 million years ago was no more than a seabed with the Coromandel mountain range to the west. To give the volcano more perspective I used a terrain model of the isthmus and placed a volcano that matched the geological description of the Waitakere Volcano.” This was the largest scale scene of the four. The smallest scale proved to be the most time consuming. Rendering Lake Pupuke’s eruption, complete with fire, water, smoke and foliage, took Egginton 20-30 hours to create in Vue, and the

landscape architecture

The eruption of Rangitoto approximately 600 years ago.

final model required eight Mac pros, each with dual-4 Xeon processors, and three days to render one still image. Egginton will be presenting his research at cumulus aotearoa, an art and design workshop hosted at the Unitec Marae on 9-10 November, just prior to the Melbourne Cumulus 38째 South conference. See unitec/conferences. CONTACT Zane Egginton Lecturer Dept of Landscape Architecture Faculty of Creative Industries & Business Email:

Lake Pupuke erupted some 140,00 years ago, engulfing trees as the lava found its way to a stream leading to the Waitemata River.

Advance Summer 09 13

social practice

Inquiring into the stigma carried by women living with HIV Thirty-three million people around the world live with HIV, almost half of them women. Jane Bruning has been HIV positive for 21 years. This September she graduated from Unitec with a Master of Social Practice, exploring the impact of stigma on women in New Zealand who have HIV. they began to realise how deeply their everyday lives were affected by stigma.” The five women met each week for five weeks, with Jane positioning herself as a research subject and allowing the participants to internalise the research method, to make it their own. Talking about the nature of stigma at the first session led to immediate action. “The teenage daughter of one of the women had a teacher in her sex education class at school say that HIV could be transmitted through sneezing and that people with the virus only live 10-15 years,” says Bruning. “She didn’t feel comfortable about correcting the teacher’s misinformation because it would have led her classmates to question her knowledge of the subject. She went home and said, ‘hey Mum, guess what? You should be dead by now’.” Despite 25 years of education, the stigma attached to carrying the HIV virus is still deep rooted. That’s what Jane Bruning discovered over five years working as National Coordinator at Positive Women Inc, a peer support organisation for women and families living with HIV. Bruning heard one story after another grounded in shame, fear, depression and isolation. She decided to study the roots of these internalised feelings.

Women in the group contacted schools, Family Planning and Auckland Hospital to investigate the accuracy of information being disseminated.

The innovative research method underpinning her thesis is called Cooperative Inquiry, and was developed by John Heron in 1996. It involves two or more people researching their own experience in alternating cycles of reflection and action. Face-to-face and collaborative, the method allows all those involved to be self-directed coparticipants in creating new knowledge, rather than validating previous theories.

Literature reviews discuss stigma in terms of “spoiled identity”, the blaming of people judged unworthy of social investment,

THE GROUP PROCESS “It took three months to get four other participants signed up,” says Bruning. “They initially said yes to help me out but the biggest surprise came when

14 Advance Summer 09

work. Another would break off a piece of her biscuit and give it to her child rather than let the child take a bite of it. I couldn’t find any literature for irrational fears held by people who live with HIV.”

CHALLENGES AND LIMITATIONS While Cooperative Inquiry eschews existing literature and mainstream analysis, the academic framework of a Masters degree requires a literature review, which Bruning based in feminist grounded theory. Critical analysis was replaced by reflective analysis. Supervisors Dr Helene Connor and Dr Ksenija Napan brought a balance of approaches to constructing the thesis. “They have different ways of thinking – on the spectrum of conservative academic to liberal minded,” says Bruning. “When you work with two

EMERGING THEMES Four themes emerged through the sessions. These were: internalised stigma, disclosure, self-esteem and unacceptable behaviour, and shame and fear of being judged.

“Many women say ‘I am HIV’, rather than ‘I’m a person living with HIV’,” says Bruning. “They wear it as an identity. The stigma is then reinforced by society. Those with cancer are more able to ask for support than those with HIV as it doesn’t carry the same stigma.” Irrational fears of accidentally transmitting HIV are internalised. “One woman stopped working because of her fears, another took her own mug to

Jane Bruning leading a training session on HIV at Mac Cosmetics, which supports HIV education through sales revenue of a branded lipstick.


supervisors they sometimes have contradictory approaches. Differing opinions can be enriching and complementary and we frequently had robust discussions and dialogue as the three of us worked together to decide how to structure and strengthen the thesis.” Less talk and more action by government, communities and individuals lie at the heart of making a positive difference to destigmatising HIV. While five weeks was insufficient time to develop a feminist grounded theory from the consciousness raising process, Bruning’s seven-month follow-up determined that transformative change had occurred in every woman’s life. Some had returned to work or study, others were engaged in further counselling and actions were also identified for Positive Women to follow up.

Founder of the Cooperative Inquiry method, John Heron, read Bruning’s completed thesis. “It seems to be very well done, with methodological finesse, including an honest appraisal of the accommodations made in adapting the inquiry to meet academic requirements, and with a very encouraging account of the transformative outcomes of the inquiry,” he says. “Really very worthwhile, liberating and radical.”

Following successful design work on a sustainable office chair made from bioplastics combined with natural fibres, Unitec and Dept of Design and Visual Arts Senior Lecturer Roger Bateman have signed a commercialisation agreement with Crown Research Institute Scion for manufacture of a test product (as reported in Advance Winter 09). Bateman has also been funded by TechNZ to audit and collaborate with a leading Auckland upholstery manufacturer keen to move into sustainable furniture manufacture.

The Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing has awarded Lecturer Dr Hong-yu Gong with an inaugural Xu Xiaoping Award for his research on the role of missionaries in the beginning of Western musical education in China. Dr Gong is now able to extend his research into teaching of English by missionaries in Late Qing China.

“Stigma and Women Living with HIV” can be read at the Unitec library. CONTACT Dr Helene Connor Programme Director Dept of Social Practice Faculty of Social & Health Sciences Email:

Julian Hooper returned late August from an artist’s residency at the Arts Initiative in Tokyo, funded by the Ishibashi Foundation. Hooper’s 2008 exhibition The Future’s Counsel at the Dunedin Art Gallery portrayed historical human forms using nonhuman elements and the three-month residency gave him the chance to apply that approach to contemporary subjects.

Unitec hosted a one-day workshop on Latin American Architecture in July, with guest speaker Roberto Segre, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Unitec Lecturer Cesar Wagner co-led discussions on contemporary Brazilian architecture, cities and social housing and urbanism in Latin America.

The Unitec research fund has awarded grants to: Dr Jenny Collins to investigate the impact of educational migration to New Zealand on the professional lives of South East Asian Colombo Plan scholarship holders; Dan Blanchon to further a project to determine if differences exist in the diversity of invertebrates under privet forest and native forest; and Dorothea Lewis for an evidence base for the effectiveness of narrative therapy.

Advance Summer 09 15


A diverse showcase of applied research The diversity of research taking place at Unitec was celebrated and discussed at a day-long symposium in late September. An inaugural event, presentations ranged from e-government in New Zealand to critical issues in global sustainability. Four sets of parallel sessions took place throughout the day, showcasing related research by staff and postgraduate students. One session highlighted multi-disciplinary research. Design and Visual Arts Lecturer John Pusateri and Dept of Natural Sciences Lecturers Dan Blanchon and Mel Galbraith presented aspects of their ongoing investigation of the linkages between art and biology, and how one informs the other. Art, they said, could be the genesis for a much larger scientific exploration into weed management, biosecurity and the biodiversity value of woody, invasive alien plant species.

Dr Simon Peel giving the opening address of the inaugural Research Symposium at Unitec.

One of the Research Symposium’s underlying aims was to nurture a research culture that’s more than the sum of its individual parts. “There’s considerable research energy bubbling along quietly here but few cross-campus avenues besides Advance magazine to communicate those ideas and outcomes,” says Dean of Research, Dr Simon Peel. “We all get stretched to the limits with demands on our time but the symposium created energy. It fired people up. They were inspired by and impressed with what their colleagues are doing.”

Executive Dean Dr Ray Meldrum chaired the multidisciplinary session. “I loved the passion and feeling generated in their struggles to make new things known,” he said afterwards. In the Pasifika research session Malia Talakai introduced a new concept of ‘the space in between’. Legal anthropology is a dominant western mode in the academic discipline of anthropology. Its methods are vertical – either up or down – a movement which displaces indigenous peoples. The space in between, Talakai said, can create a more balanced symbiosis of western and indigenous concepts and offer a new relationship to intellectual and cultural property.

One of the last events of the day had members of the audience lingering until after 7pm, unwilling to disengage from the discussion. The sustainability workshop was led by Logan Muller. His central message was that ‘business as usual’ is not an option for the global community. Issues such as food supply and over-population demand new thinking. The Research Symposium was attended by around 130 staff and students, and was held a day after Unitec’s annual Teaching and Learning Symposium. CONTACT Dr Simon Peel Dean, Research Email:

Unitec CEO Rick Ede (far left) attending September’s Research Symposium along with colleagues.

In his opening address, Dr Peel acknowledged the range of ways research can be generated and communicated besides the traditional pathway from literature review to publication of new knowledge. These included externally funded research contracts, consulting work with industry and government, exhibitions and performance, innovation and intellectual property. Whatever its genesis, the emphasis for research at Unitec rests in the word ‘applied’, says Peel. “One of the key criteria for funding research projects is to quantify what impact the proposed study will have on stakeholders and on our local communities.”

16 Advance Summer 09


Advance - Summer 2009  

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

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