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For first year student Kaia George, University was the best place for her to decide what she wanted to do with her life.

Kaia is one of 164 students who came to the University of Canterbury through the Te Kakau a Māui Scholarship programme that was set up to mark the University’s 150th Anniversary.

Earlier in the year, the University received a generous donation of more than $1 million from the McCall MacBain Foundation and UniLodge towards the Te Kakau a Māui scholarship programme. The programme also benefitted from numerous philanthropic contributions from the wider UC community.  

  • Kaia George is a Te Kakau a Māui scholarship recipient in 2023. She is studying Law and Criminal Justice

    Kaia George is a 2023 Te Kakau a Māui scholarship recipient. In 2023, 164 students from deciles 1-7 schools were awarded the scholarship, which covers full tuition fees for an undergraduate degree and a robust pastoral support programme to ensure students succeed and thrive at University.This was made possible through generous philanthropic support from the general public, and form the McCall MacBain foundation and UniLodge. 

The scholarship recipients have come from decile 1-7 schools in Te Waipounamu, the South Island. Kaia comes from Cave, a small town near Timaru which, in the 2018 census, had a population of 78 people.

“Before I came to uni, I was thinking about the practicalities of what I was going to do, what I was going to study, and if I’d even get in,” she said. She’s now pursuing a degree in Law and Criminal Justice, along with a few psychology papers on the side.

“Moneywise as well, I was thinking about how I could financially do it. I also had to consider the option of going straight to full time work.”

In the end, becoming a Te Kakau a Māui scholarship recipient sealed the deal and now that she’s at UC, there’s no place she’d rather be.

More than just financial support, Te Kakau a Māui scholarships also provide a robust support network for students to ensure they thrive and succeed.

“I get checked on every so often by Angus, the student success coach, which is great,” said Kaia. “We occasionally go out for food together so they can check on the group as a whole.”

The students are put into social hubs called Homebases that consist of about 10 students each, and Kaia recently went out to pizza with her homebase to talk about how their studies were going. “It’s nice to talk to other scholarship recipients and it’s easy to make new friends from the programme.”

It’s reassuring to know that there’s a team of people who she knows is supporting her and to whom she can turn if she had questions or needed help, she said.

The Te Kakau a Māui team also invited her to take part in self-development courses, including a Success Coaching session that helped her discover more about herself.

Throughout the year, the support programme for Te Kakau a Māui scholarship recipients will include study groups (peer assisted learning), success coaching, careers coaching, and there will be mentoring by UC alumni in the second semester, where scholarship recipients are paired with alumni in either a one-on-one or group setting based on common academic interests or the high schools they went to.

“One on one success coaching sessions with students provide a trusted forum for students to bring ideas, challenges or opportunities,” said Student Success Coach Angus Howat. “It’s a more holistic approach to support and helps connect students to other more pragmatic services that the University offers.”

“The careers coaching sessions are focused on getting students thinking about their future careers and exploring the skills that they’re learning in University and how to apply them in important areas like interviews, CVs, and cover letters, along with the skills associated with networking.”

Further social events will also be held for all scholarship recipients, including a three-day retreat to Living Springs in July.

“The support programme has been a success and we are happy with the growing engagement we are having with students,” said Howat. “We’re constantly working to find ways we can improve the service and delivery of the sessions, and working closely with student feedback to inform our next steps. The students who are highly engaged are absolutely enjoying it and feeding back how valuable the engagement has been so far, which is very heart-warming.”

A further 150 Te Kakau a Māui scholarships will be awarded in 2024 for students coming from decile 1-7 schools in Te Waipounamu, the South Island, and applications are opening in June. For students who aren’t sure whether they should apply, Kaia had some advice.

“Definitely do it,” she said. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s all the more reason to go to University. I looked at the scholarship and I thought I wouldn’t qualify, but my careers advisor said, ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re eligible for it or not; just go for it anyway because you can actually come out with a scholarship. Just tell the truth about yourself in the application.’

“Even if you only qualify for some of it, just do it anyway.”

To support UC students like Kaia and Te Kakau a Māui scholarships, please click here.

To see other UC projects and programmes that you can support, please click here.

The Human Interface Technology Lab NZ | Hangarau Tangata, Tangata Hangarau celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2022.

Known for its work in Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), games and human-computer interaction, the lab actively works on using technology to solve real life problems, many brought to them by external companies. 

The HIT Lab NZ receives support from philanthropic donations as well as corporate partnerships, and the lab also receives funding from many different companies and organisations such as Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) to find solutions using VR, AR and games.

Professor Rob Lindeman sitting inside the 'Ball', at work in the HIT Lab NZ. The lab specialises in finding solutions to real world problems using Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology, and is sought after by companies both local and worldwide to help them in research and development.

“We’re a very applied research lab,” said director Professor Rob Lindeman. “Many organisations come for service and advice. They know they want to use technology to change the way they do things, but they don’t really know enough about the technology, so they come to us. We understand the technology, how people use it effectively, and can give them some options.”

The Lab’s research is varied and spans across many industries, from firefighter training to creating convincing indoor AR fireplaces.

Last year, a team from the HIT Lab NZ led by Professor Stephan Lukosch worked with Kiwi athletes competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, athletes were unable to access the competition locations before the events.

Funded by High Performance Sport NZ and using VR technology , Professor Lukosch’s team recreated the slopes and the preparation areas so they could visualise and prepare their runs.

“It was very stressful but rewarding,” Professor Lukosch said of the experience. “For the athletes in the Paralympics, we created a simulation of the slope and went to [the HPSNZ’s Wanaka Performance Centre] to test it out.”

  • Professor Stephan Lukosch and his team worked with Snowsports NZ to recreate the slopes at Zhangjiakou, China, using Virtual Reality. This helped the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic athletes prepare for their events as, due to COVID travel restrictions, they were unable to access the site in person before the competition.

    Professor Stephan Lukosch's team worked on recreating the slopes at Zhangjiakou, China, with virtual reality technology for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic athletes to help with their preparations.

The three athletes who used the simulation for the slope remarked they felt that they really were there and they moved as if they were on the slope in Beijing. However, it was only when he saw Corey Peters win gold that Professor Lukosch was able to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that his team’s work had made a difference.

The simulations of the preparation areas were particularly helpful for newer competitors who’d never been to the Olympics before. “We recreated the scene, including reporters and flashing cameras, and some of the less experienced athletes said, ‘we weren’t expecting that’. They didn’t think it would be so stressful just making their way from the preparation area to the slope.”

With virtual and augmented reality becoming increasingly popular as training tools, such as flight simulators, driving simulators, fire-fighting and rescue operations, and surgery scenarios, making the technology comfortable to use is of paramount importance.

Professor Lindeman received funding from a large American company interested in communication and social networking for his research into cybersickness.

“The way I talk about it is ‘Comfortable VR’. VR can make people uncomfortable in many ways,” Professor Lindeman explained. “One of them is cybersickness, the other is fatigue, like I have to repeatedly hold my hand up to move stuff around, or I have to stand for long periods. These types of things are typically detrimental for people who want to continue using the systems or staying on task for training. When they get sick, they’re going to stop the training. And then there’s worry, such as when people worry they’re going to bump into things when they’re wearing a headset, or they’re going to get lost.”

Professor Lindeman and his students are working on several techniques that could help cope with those issues, including eye exercises that could help counteract the symptoms of eye fatigue. Much of it has to do with a phenomenon called vergence-accommodation conflict (VAC), caused by the eye and brain trying to focus on a virtual object that is simultaneously directly in front of the wearer’s eyes (on the VR headset displays), and also far away (in the virtual space).

They’ve found that moving the eyes in an infinity movement help with VAC, and that adding a physical movement element such as a shaking floor, helped to mitigate the effects of cybersickness.

Meanwhile, Professor Lukosch and Masters student David Turton are now working on incorporating geographic information systems into personal devices like iPhones, or ‘bring your own devices’.

The project is being funded by a scholarship from Trimble, an American technology giant that uses AR in mapping the environment in a lot of its work in the areas of building, construction, agriculture, geospatial, natural resources, utilities, governments, and transportation, amongst others. With that information, companies are able to carry out work without disturbing current infrastructure that can’t be seen with the naked eye, such as underground pipelines and cables.

Currently the geographic information systems, which are used for this sort of mapping, are run on high-tech devices, but the project would investigate the feasibility of putting these systems onto personal devices so that they would be more easily accessible.

“Cooperation with a company that can give me the resources to dive deep into emerging technologies has been a great opportunity and has helped me gain knowledge that will be vital for my career going forward,” said Turton.

“The project itself has given me a variety of interesting technologies to work with that has helped me to, hopefully, contribute to the fields of both geospatial data collection and augmented reality.”

If you would like to partner with the HIT Lab NZ, please visit their website here.

The collective nature, connectedness, and ancestral knowledge of Pacific communities play major roles in community resilience after major disasters.

University of Canterbury climate crisis research fellow Dr Suli Vunibola has been conducting research into how different communities in the Pacific, specifically Fiji and Tonga, have been responding to climate crises.

  • Researcher Dr Suli Vunibola in Fiji for the POCCA project

    Dr Suli Vunibola (right), of UC's Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, conducted research into how communities in Fiji and Tonga used indigenous knowledge and ancestral understanding to build community resilience in the face of climate crises and natural disasters. His research was made possible through philanthropic funding from the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust, as well as government funding. 

“When humanity is stripped to its very basics, what is left is their connection to each other, to the land, to the sea, and the experiences, including stories, of their ancestors who have experienced such catastrophes,” said Dr Vunibola.

His research is part of the MFAT funded Pacific Ocean Climate Crisis Assessment (POCCA), a partnership between UC and the University of South Pacific, which aims to provide a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, multi-methodological and integrated assessment of climate crisis and oceans covering 16 countries in the Pacific region.

His research further benefitted from philanthropic funding from the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust.

The communities that Dr Vunibola visited during his research included Yaro Village, Kia Island and Drawa Village in Fiji, coastal and inland communities respectively, and  ‘Atata Island in Tonga.

Yaro Village on Kia Island in Fiji was devastated by Category 5 Cyclone Yasa in 2020. The photo of the damaged village is displayed in the village hall.

In 2020, the category 5 Cyclone Yasa devastated Yaro, ripping down houses, destroying plantations and even the village’s fishing equipment, which the community relied on for their sustenance and economy.

Drawa, situated further inland on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island, is experiencing rising flood levels due to climate change. The soil becomes waterlogged, causing traditional crops like taro, cassava, kumala (kumara) and yam, upon which the community relied on year-round, to rot.

In Yaro, with their modern fishing gear destroyed by the cyclone, the community turned to an ancient moka – a stone fish trap shaped like a giant horseshoe that made use of the tides to catch fish – that had been built by their ancestors. By the time external help arrived weeks later, the people had already been feeding themselves with fish from the moka and foraged tubers, and preserving food, as in smoking extra fish for the future.

Many people in Yaro lived in modern housing with iron roofs and wooden frames held together with metal nails. When the cyclone hit, these houses with their rigid joints were ripped apart and the debris caused more damage than the wind itself.

Two years on, when Dr Vunibola went to Yaro, some people were still living in tents as they awaited the materials to rebuild. “In Yaro and (other places in the Pacific), people decided to build traditional houses instead, using readily available materials, and they were in a house in two weeks or so,” he said. Yaro was fortunate in that there were elders who still remembered the skill of building a bure (a traditional house), but this knowledge was increasingly endangered.

Some current scientific research found that traditional building methods and vernacular architecture complied with aspects of modern cyclone resilient building codes.

“There should be space for them to keep on building using their traditional designs and structures, but maybe supported by modern architecture and design – keeping in mind the accessibility and affordability,” said Dr Vunibola. At times modern science and technology may be either unaffordable or not present in rural areas, so Indigenous knowledge and practices is integral and a necessity. “Part of the POCCA project is to inform the development of policies that can help the preservation and incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems, and to help funders from other countries like New Zealand and Australia support these initiatives that will help build up communities’ resilience against climate change and crises.”

If you would like to support Dr Vunibola’s work, and the work of other researchers in the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, please click here.

Drawa, similarly, turned to ancestral knowledge to help them counter the devastating effects of flooding, including traditional food storage methods and drawing on traditional understanding of the environment to forage for wild yams, and traditional designs of built environment.

Dr Vunibola also went to Tonga to visit the residents of ‘Atata Island which was devastated by tsunami waves after the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai in 2022. Similar to the people of Yaro, who held a lovo (a feast similar to a hangi) immediately after the cyclone, the residents of ‘Atata helped each other to reach a few houses on higher ground, where they ate together, shared stories, songs, grief, and tears. “It’s that collective notion of sharing the burden, of sharing stress and difficult times, that really play a big role in their sense of resilience,” he said.

This could also translate to larger , more urban communities, such as in the North Island, where there is a concern for the mental health of people affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. The difference between an urban community and ones like Yaro, Drawa, and ‘Atata, said Dr Vunibola, was that urban communities are much more individualistic.

“We own land and properties individually. We build fences around it. When disasters strike, like Cyclone Gabrielle, your resilience is tested individually. For communities like Yaro, Drawa, and ‘Atata, everything is communal and collective – even the clean-up of the villages after disasters is collective. Moving forward, there’s huge learning from the projects that we’re doing in the Pacific that can contribute to societies like New Zealand.”

‘Atata also provided learnings that could inform the way we look at induced migration globally, when people are forced to leave their homes because of crises, whether it’s a climate event or war. After the volcanic eruption and the tsunami, the Tongan government vacated the island and decreed no one should live on it. The original residents were moved to a new settlement named ‘Atata Isi, Little ‘Atata, on the main island of Tongatapu. “You can move people, but their sense of wellbeing is connected with their homeland,” said Dr Vunibola. “And some of them want to stay, so the issue becomes about staying with dignity.”

In the middle of 2023, Dr Vunibola will return to Fiji to conduct some action and applied research, where he will take part in the construction of regenerative communities including sustainable food systems and help establish forms of community production to supplement their economy.


Click here to donate towards the work of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies so researchers like Dr Vunibola can have the resources they need to further their work.

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UC students isolating with Covid-19 were kept warm and well-supplied during the Omicron outbreak, thanks to the generosity of UC donors and supporters.

Led by Covid-19 Welfare Managers George Haswell and Katie Mills, a team of staff volunteers delivered care packages of essential provisions, groceries and other support to students with Covid-19.

This was all made possible through the generosity of those who donated towards Kono Iti, the student emergency fund, that was first launched at the beginning of the pandemic.

  • George Haswell, Tim Rowe and Katie MIlls

    Covid-19 Welfare Manager George Haswell, Wellbeing Coordinator Tim Rowe and Covid-19 Welfare Manager Katie Mills with care packs for UC students. Covid-19 welfare initiatives have been made possible through the generosity of UC donors and supporters. 

The team arranged urgent grocery deliveries to students who were isolating and included sweet treats along with fresh, nutritional produce in the care packages. Two students even received surprise birthday cakes as they were unable to celebrate with friends and whanau.

Volunteers also made welfare calls to those most in need.

“Feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive,” said Mills. “Sometimes they were surprised the University was calling to see how they were.

“For many, it was their first time away from home, so it was really important for the University to support those students and create a sense of belonging.”

Haswell added: “Each welfare call was different to the next. You could go from someone who was feeling fine, to someone who was quite poorly on the next one. It was all about ensuring that person got the right support they needed at the time.”

The care packages, along with the Winter Warmth Fund launched in June, ensured that students could focus on getting better and returning to their studies.

“We learnt that students were worried about bills and staying warm if they had to stay at home,” said Haswell. “It’s been a big concern.”

To determine who received the grant, the UC Welfare team focused on equity and ensuring those who needed it the most were prioritised.

“With the cost-of-living crisis, and lower quality of student housing, we wanted to be ready to support students in advance,” said Haswell at the time.

“We knew Covid-19 would have a long tail, and planed ahead to ensure students get the support they need, especially during exams and assignments.”

To support UC students in need, please click here

To see other UC projects and programmes available for support, please click here.

A pilot programme utilising mindfulness and pūrākau could soon be empowering tamariki and whānau across Aotearoa living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

University of Canterbury School of Health Sciences senior lecturer and clinical psychologist Dr Mairin Taylor, adjunct fellow Dr Kelly Tikao (Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu) and consultant clinical psychologist Kathryn Whitehead have teamed up to create MindKiwi, a programme for whānau with tamariki who live with ADHD that utilised mindfulness methods and pūrākau – traditional Māori stories of the atua and ancestors that teach history and values.

The research and programme were made possible through philanthropic funding from Te Tītoki Mataora MedTech Research Translator, Cure Kids, the Oakley Mental Health Research Foundation, and the UC Child Well-being Research Institute.

“We’d already heard from the community that there’s very little out there for whānau who don’t want to go down the medication pathway,” said Dr Tikao.

“Even getting an assessment has been a source of frustration and stress for a lot of whānau,” added Dr Taylor, who also lives with ADHD.

  • UC's Dr Mairin Taylor and Dr Kelly Tikao have teamed up to create an online programme for whānau with children living with ADHD, using mindfulness methods, tikanga Māori, pūrākau (foundational stories that teach history and values), Māori yoga, mau rākau, and other movement to empower tamariki.

    Dr Mairin Taylor (left), of UC School of Health, and adjunct fellow Dr Kelly Tikao (Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu) feature in a video for Mindkiwi, an early intervention programme for whānau with children living with ADHD using mindfulness methods and pūrākau. 

MindKiwi is a unique project involving experts from various fields. As well as Dr Taylor, Dr Tikao Dr Whitehead, MindKiwi’s team also included digital artists, animators, M3’s Jase Te Patu, a wellbeing advocate who contributed segments on yoga with te reo Māori, and mau rākau (Māori martial arts) expert Aaron Hapuku.

While mindfulness often conjures up images of still meditation with zen New Age music, the reality is a bit different. Sitting still for a long time does not suit all tamariki with ADHD, so the team uses ‘mindful movement’ involving yoga or martial arts, which were a great way to get children interested in focussing on something.

It’s important to have an accessible and culturally sensitive early intervention programme because, without appropriate support, people living with ADHD are more likely to experience poor mental health, drug and alcohol dependency, emotional dysregulation, and other issues. Approximately 2 to 5 percent of the population is affected by ADHD.

MindKiwi is unique because while most interventions work with a child one-on-one, this programme takes a whole-whānau approach, empowering whānau by providing them with tools that they can use to help tamariki learn to focus better. In particular, there is a focus on siblings as well as parents and guardians.

“We know there’s far greater effectiveness … if adults and siblings are also involved doing things differently, then tamariki have a much greater shot at changing their ways of responding,” said Dr Taylor.

Involving whānau had a much greater benefit that reached beyond the child with the diagnosis. “In my background in working in adolescent and youth in-patient mental health care, I found that I was most concerned about those who weren’t able to access support because they were a sibling,” said Dr Tikao. “So they might not necessarily have a diagnosis. However, they may also be showing symptoms only they’re not as severe so they’re not at the forefront of their whānau’s attention.

“However, what I was finding were secondary issues that were coming through from the siblings, either of a different nature or of a similar nature, but they were often unseen and not part of the treatment programme.

“Therefore, there was a lot of sadness around that and, often, I found that eventually, those siblings would come into care, one way or another or had this hidden sadness that followed them for many years because they weren’t the child that had all the attention and their issues were less dealt with.”

Through involving the whole family, not only would the child presenting with symptoms receive the support they need, but siblings would also acquire tools that they could use to help themselves.

Initially, the programme was designed as something that would be implemented face-to-face. However, COVID came along and every time the team tried to run the programme with a test group, there was a lockdown.

Limited by their options but fuelled by the urgency of whānau they’d been talking to, the team, with consultation from participants, took MindKiwi online, working with a team of digital artists and animators to create engaging sessions for participants. They have also received feedback from child health practitioners that the programme was trauma-informed and could work for tamariki experiencing issues other than ADHD.

The team is excited to be rolling out the programme nationally and begin learning from it. The online programme had the benefit of being accessible to people based in more remote parts of the country.

Once the results come in from the pilot programme, the team will be working towards making the programme more comprehensive and developing it further for face-to-face interactions.


To support MindKiwi, please click here. For more information about the programme, please visit their website at mindkiwi.org.nz

To see all the UC causes and projects that you can support, please click here.

Fossil forests in Hoon Hay and Halswell could inform the way Canterbury approaches the restoration of native ecosystems and climate change mitigation.

UC researcher and senior lecturer Dr Matiu Prebble (Kāti Irakehu, Ngāi Tahu) has been conducting research on a series of fossilised tree stumps that have been unearthed during the development of flood mitigation ponds and new subdivisions.

“Most of the evidence we’ve been drawing on so far strongly suggests those trees were killed 2500 years ago, long before the arrival of people,” said Dr Prebble, who specialises in paleoecology. Much of his work is to do with understanding the way in which vegetation has changed in response to large-scale natural events versus the impact humans have had on the environment over time. In the case of the Hoon Hay and Halswell forests, his focus is solely on natural occurrences that could have killed and buried the trees.

  • Dr Matiu Prebble is conducting research into ancient tree stumps unearthed during the development of new subdivisions and flood mitigation ponds in Hoon Hay and Halswell.

    Research into fossilised tree-stumps unearthed during the development of new subdivisions and flood mitigation ponds yields a lot of information about the ecosystems of the past and can help determine the way Waitaha Canterbury approaches the restoration of native ecosystems and climate change mitigation. These trees were killed about 2500 years ago when a large river system of the Canterbury plains buried them in a huge amount of silt and clay. 


“What those stumps are buried under is anywhere between half a metre to a metre of silt and clay that has been brought down by one of the large river systems of the Canterbury plains,” he said.

His research has been aided by a grant from the Brian Mason Scientific & Technical Trust.

“We know from other evidence throughout the city and the surrounds that the Waimakariri, which is the largest of the rivers to the north of the city had, at various times, avulsed, meaning it’s shifted from its current position, and we know that the last time it shifted, it shifted to the south of the city about 600 years ago.”

What causes a river to avulse is unclear, but evidence suggests that large seismic events such as earthquakes and long-term climate processes such as changes in rainfall and the volume of water flowing down those rivers could alter the course of river systems.

As well as stumps, the sites in Hoon Hay and Halswell also yielded the remains of invertebrates and large amounts of information about the sediment in which the stumps were buried. The insect remains found showed that there was a shift from forest-based animals to aquatic animals about 2500 years ago. In fact, the lower catchment of Hoon Hay Valley was a shallow lake for most of that time, up until the arrival of European settlers (including Dr Prebble’s ancestors, the Prebbles of Prebbleton) who then drained the valley as well as much of the city.

“Given what we know now about the changes that are occurring in the present climate, with changing rainfall patterns, but also with seismic events in our region, this tells us a lot about the dynamism of those river systems and how they could potentially affect our city into the future.

“What it does also suggest is that much of the Canterbury plains, instead of being under forest, was probably under more open wetland vegetation, which speaks to the kind of strategies that we should have in restoring different ecosystems and adapting to impending climatic changes.”

This research could also change the way we look at human interaction with the environment prior to the arrival of Europeans in Aotearoa. “Because there’s so few forests left and the early observations of European explorers found very little forest here, it’s been suggested that it was due to the firing of the landscape by Māori that led to this state of treelessness. But what I argue here is that, in fact, the river systems have been largely controlling the state of our forests for many thousands of years; far more so than the impact of fires.”

Dr Prebble is also conducting research on the islands of Wallis and Futuna, funded by the French Embassy, investigating the islands’ paleoecology, the influence of human settlement on the environment, and using that knowledge to build climate resilience for the future.

To donate towards UC's research and initiatives, please click here.

A generous donation from the Sir Campbell and Lady Leita Wylie Foundation will empower parents and whānau and give them the tools to help their tamariki who live with anxiety.

The latest programme from Triple P parenting courses, Fear-Less, is being run by the Pukemanu Centre, the Child and Family Psychology Services based at the University of Canterbury.

Clinic Director Suzi Hall said following the challenges experienced through the COVID-19 outbreak, there is a significant need for more services to help with anxiety and emotional well-being.

“We’ve had to regularly close our waitlists because of high demand, and we urgently needed to expand our support to families. The Fear-Less Triple P programme is evidence-based, resulting in good outcomes for managing anxiety. Its group format will allow us to see more families so that we can expand our support services.

“The additional funding means we’ve been able to provide more staff and resources to meet the needs of these families.

“We’re hoping to help up to 250 children over three years who we might not otherwise have been able to see.

"These are children aged 6-14 years who have moderate to high levels of anxiety that causes distress or impacts on their everyday functioning. It also targets siblings and parents.”

Ms Hall said research shows that fewer than one in five children with anxiety receive any kind of intervention and intervention is more effective if parents and siblings are involved.

Established nine years ago, the Pukemanu Centre provides free assessments and interventions on a short-term basis for more than 150 children and whānau each year who are unable to access other services for financial, eligibility or waiting time reasons.

The Centre is managed by registered psychologists and operates as part of the professional training course for Masters-level students and above, who are currently undertaking advanced post-graduate training in Child and Family Psychology at the University of Canterbury. Students are involved with all Centre activities, working alongside senior registered psychologists.

The Sir Campbell and Lady Leita Wylie Foundation is a long-time donor to the Child and Family Psychology Programme.

To support the work of the Pukemanu Centre for Child and Family Psychology, please click here.

To see other UC programmes and initiatives available for support, please click here.

Young people in Aotearoa will now have a one-stop digital shop as they navigate the complexities of love, life, and relationships, thanks to a new app developed for rangatahi.

University of Canterbury health lecturer Tracy Clelland is at the helm of developing the UC-led app Te Puāwaitanga: Beyond the Birds and the Bees.

The project leapt into action with the support of a UC Innovation Jumpstart award and was further supported by funding from Pegasus Health, KiwiNet, the Lottery Health Research Grant, and UC’s Child Well-being Research Institute.

Mobile phone

“The internet has ensured young people can access a lot of information on sex, relationships, gender and diverse sexualities. However, the sheer amount means much of it is unreliable or difficult to find,” said Clelland. “For the last 20 or 30 years, young people have been saying they want better sexuality and relationship education. There’s a need for a resource that is accurate, non-judgemental, interactive, culturally appropriate and, most importantly, designed by young people for young people.”  

A key aim of the app was to be a conversation starter, not only providing rangatahi with accessible and accurate information, but also empowering them to discuss these realities in their lives with whānau and peers. It would also be a tool that parents could leverage to start conversations with their children, rather than talking at them.

“Young people want the conversations around sexuality and relationships to change. They don’t necessarily want parents to be open about sex, but rather be open to communicating about the many facets that shape sexuality.

“When young people encounter pornography, they’re often just looking for information about sexuality and sex because they’re curious and want to know how the world works.”

Clelland and her team of researchers, including research assistant Jess McQuoid, Megan Blair, and Summer School PACE intern Amber Rose Te Huia, worked closely with groups of rangatahi mostly aged 14 to 17 to find out what they wanted and needed from an RSE app.

“In New Zealand, relationship and sexuality education (RSE) ends at Year 10. But what a young person wants to discover at Year 10 may be very different from what they want in Year 12,” she said.  

Te Huia, who helped run the focus groups and collect data as a part of her Summer School PACE internship programme, noticed that rangatahi were generally less interested in sex and more interested in identity, gender, and navigating relationships. “They want conversation starters about relationships and ways to open up a discussion with a partner,” she said.

Clelland said there were a lot of good Kiwi sites with helpful RSE information, but trying to find them was not easy for young people. Her team collaborated with various agencies such as Family Planning, Rape Prevention Education, Empowerment Trust, the Light Project, the Classification Office, Just The Facts, InsideOut, and rangatahi around the country to ensure the app brings together all of the informative and reliable information.

“Young people’s sexual and reproductive health cannot be left to chance. They have the same right as adults to knowledge and skills that support their sexual health and healthy relationships. Unfortunately, young people kept telling us that they could not talk to their parents about this,” said Clelland.

The app is one more tool that helps young people learn about relationships, sex and sexuality when they want it and when it is relevant to them and their lives.

To support UC research and initiatives like Te Pūawaitanga - beyond the birds and the bees, please click here

Does the warble of a kea mean the same thing as a laugh?

The answer may have far-reaching implications for the conservation of endangered animals.

The vocalisations of the cheeky snow-loving parrot suggest they are capable of feeling something that we would consider to be joy.

Professor Ximena Nelson has been researching kea vocalisations and expressions of emotion. She works alongside a team of international collaborators studying the emotional expressions of various animals, including dolphins and apes.

  • Professor Ximena Nelson is part of a team studying the vocalisations of various animals and what they mean in terms of how animals express their feelings. Professor Nelson has been focussing on kea because the facial anatomy of birds mean that they express themselves in a different way from mammals. Her research has been enabled by philanthropic funding from the Templeton World Charity Foundation. 

The research is being funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation, which, amongst its many priorities, supports research and discovery into diverse intelligences.

“People have much more empathy for animals that they understand, or with which they have a shared commonality,” said Professor Nelson. “The more we know that an animal is similar to us, the more we empathise. This has fundamentally changed not only how we manage pests in the environment, but also how we think about the way we expend the finite amount of money we have available for conservation.”

The Animal Welfare Act was established based on the realisation that animals, particularly mammals, could feel negative things like pain and anguish.  Understanding whether they could have more “esoteric” experiences, such as joy or other positive emotions, could create a greater empathy that would affect the focus of conservation efforts and the way humans interact with other species as our habitats continue to overlap.

Professor Ximena Nelson studies the vocalisations of kea and found that they produce a "warble" when they are about to exhibit playful behaviour.

With kea, Professor Nelson and her team of UC students started deciphering the meanings of their various calls through recording the calls of various birds in different areas and then playing them back to other kea to see if their behaviour would change. One call, that they named the ‘warble’, stood out. 

“It was one that we had already ascertained was typically done when the kea were playing,” said Professor Nelson.

“We did these playback studies and found that when they heard the warble call, it immediately triggered a play response. Interestingly, that happens even the kea is alone. So if the kea is by itself and it hears a warble call, it will just start tap-dancing by itself.”

It’s generally more difficult to measure positive emotion because such expressions were less universal than others. In most species, expressions such as a squeal or a wail are recognised as signs of pain or distress.

“One of the nice things about using kea in this particular work is that birds have a completely different musculature in their face compared with mammals, especially primates. Primates can smile; obviously kea can’t. Humans associate smiles with something positive. Birds can’t express these things we associate with positive emotion very easily so we need another way of measuring positive emotion in them.

“The reality is we see much more in common – and empathise – with the ‘cuter’ animals because they have baby-like attributes to which we have an innate disposition, for example large forward facing eyes, and it’s just an unconscious bias. But that unconscious bias can also be trained and reduced by improving the knowledge of the shared characteristics we have with other animals.” 

She hopes that her research into kea expressions of positive emotion might also lead people to think about other vulnerable, threatened or endangered animals, such as endemic geckos, tree wētā or katipō spiders, that don’t have mammalian facial musculature, and consider that they, too, might have more in common with us than we had ever thought.

To support UC research like Professor Nelson's, please click here

Using technical skills and community engagement, a group of University of Canterbury (UC) Humanitarian Engineering students installed drinking water treatment systems in schools in the Kingdom of Tonga.

UC Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering students Tamara Stratton, Tim Dunshea, Evan Caygill, George Mortlock, and Bryann Avendaño travelled to Tonga with Associate Professor Ricardo Bello Mendoza and Technical Officer Siale Faitotonu to install water filter and disinfection systems at Tupou College, Tupou High, and Apifo'ou High School in Nuku’alofa, Tonga. 

The Embassy of Ireland provided funding for the purchase of commercial water treatment systems through EcoCare Pacific Trust, who also shipped the equipment to Tonga. 

UC Humanitarian Engineers

“This was a valuable and rewarding experience for UC students; learning first-hand the importance and challenges of humanitarian work on an island that is highly vulnerable to tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes,” said Associate Professor Bello Mendoza.

He said the diploma helps students understand the challenges of working in humanitarian projects. 

“It develops and broadens their intellectual experience beyond technical knowledge and allows engineers to use their skills and knowledge to improve people’s quality of life.”

The UC team worked alongside staff and students at the schools to install and deliver the water treatment systems, which consist of membrane filters and a UV chamber to disinfect water for 2,500 students in the three schools, while engaging with local authorities and institutions to discuss opportunities for new UC Humanitarian Engineering programmes to continue working with Tongan communities. 

“We discussed ways to assist with water and sanitation infrastructure, renewable energy, and education and talked to high school students about UC as a destination to study towards careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths, particularly engineering,” said Associate Professor Bello Mendoza.

This mission highlights UC’s commitment to supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals. “It is an example of humanitarian engineers working with communities and other partners to provide clean water and sanitation to improve the health and life quality of communities in the Polynesian Islands,” he said.

The Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering at UC is leading an emergent discipline that focuses on improving under-served communities by increasing standard of living, capacity and resilience.

To support global humanitarian engineering projects like this, please click here

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Emperor penguin behaviour can tell us a lot about climate change.

More than just an iconic upright bird with bright yellow ears and a striking tuxedo, Emperor penguins are also a species whose behaviour reflects changes in the environment, due to their status as both prey and predator.

UC Associate Professor Michelle LaRue has been studying Emperor penguins since 2009, studying their global populations, distribution, and environmental factors that may influence change or fluctuations in their populations.

Her work has been greatly aided by philanthropic support, including the proceeds of the auction of ‘Moana’, a sculpture of a Hoiho | Yellow Eyed Penguin donated by artist Claire Cowles of Wild In Art.

  • Michelle LaRue in Antarctica with emperor penguins

    Professor Michelle LaRue studies Emperor Penguins in Antarctica as a way of looking at the effects of climate change and how to better conserve the species for future generations. Her research has benefitted from philanthropic support from the generosity of the wider community. 

Emperor penguins are a ‘meso-predator’ species, which means they are a predator of certain species of fish and krill, but they’re also hunted by apex predators such as leopard seals and possibly orcas.

“Because of that, they’re an important part of the food web and we also tend to use them as an indicator species for climate change because they rely on fast ice.”

‘Fast ice’ refers to the large ice platforms ‘fastened’ to the coastline. “As climate changes, we would expect ice distribution to decrease so, by understanding what happens to Emperor penguins, what they’re doing, how they’re changing behaviours and moving locations, we can learn a little bit about how the environment is changing.”

She is also conducting new research into their foraging ecology and space usage in comparison to other species in Antarctica such as Weddell seals and Adélie penguins.

Emperor penguins are a meso-predator’ species, which means they are a predator of certain species of fish and krill, but they’re also hunted by apex predators such as leopard seals and possibly orcas. This makes them an important part of the food chain.

She first started researching Emperor penguins in 2009 when her colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey realised they could track penguins on lower-resolution Landsat images. While the images were not clear enough to show the penguins themselves, they could show the guano stains that the birds left on ice. Since then, she has used high resolution satellite imagery to figure out populations of penguin colonies, and she also uses GIS and remote sensing systems to figure out how they fit into the ecosystem.

In 2024, Professor LaRue will be leading a team of UC students in conducting research on Emperor penguin diving behaviours. “By tracking them, we can figure out if birds in certain locations are diving shallower or deeper, how far away from colony are they going, and what’s going on in those different spots.” Currently, she is looking for funding to help with the research, including purchasing tags and other equipment, and paying for the students’ expenses. Each tag costs approximately $4,000.

“We’re hoping take as many tags as we can possibly afford down to Scott Base and, after some training, we’ll take a helicopter to Cape Crozier, the most easterly point of Antarctica’s Ross Island, where there’s an Emperor Penguin colony. We’ll capture some birds, make sure they’re safe, put a tag on their backs and let them go. Because these tags have the ability to transmit their locations, we can watch in real time and see what they’re doing and where they’re going, which is really exciting.”

On top of that, Emperor Penguins have “been around forever”, said Professor LaRue. “Just having a species that’s been evolving for 25 million years is quite incredible and I think we should learn as much as we can and preserve them for future generations.”


If you would like to contribute towards Emperor Penguin research, please click here.

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Pacific NCEA students will have the opportunity to participate in a free study programme during the holidays, thanks to the generous support of Graduate Women Canterbury (GWC).

GWC is a not for profit that operates the hire of academic regalia for graduating students, and uses the proceeds for scholarships and sponsorships at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury, Lincoln University and Ara Institute of Canterbury.

This year GWC is supporting UCMeXL, the University’s outreach programme that aims to help Pacific students achieve higher results in all NCEA levels and increase their likelihood of participating in tertiary education. Open to all high school students in Canterbury, the programme has been going for 10 years.

Nineteen-year-old Eseta-Claire Navunisaravi is currently working towards her BA at UC, with a major in Political Science and International Relations, and a minor in Māori and Indigenous Studies. She is also a recipient of the Takere scholarship, UC’s biggest Pacific and Māori scholarship.

Eseta-Claire attended UCMeXL in her final two years of high school.


“To be honest with you, it helped me in more ways than I thought it capable of. At first, I expected to be studying the whole time, but what I didn’t expect was the hands on tutoring, lessons to help us understand more, group activities and creating relationships with people that I still have today. It’s one of my most memorable experiences during high school, and it’s something that I can guarantee many other students in high school feel as well.” 

Luseta Filiai, also 19, participated in UCMeXL throughout her high school years.

“It helped me both with education and socially. I was able to get extra help with internal exams I had or work I was given during the holidays. It helped especially in Year 12 with the UE requirements.

“XL’s many activities and ice breakers, benefitted me socially as I got to know more students around Canterbury from different sides of the city. The team behind XL made themselves approachable throughout my experience which has given me a great feeling of safety being a current UC student studying Social Work.”

Megan Clayton, Chair of GWC, said they want to encourage a stronger community through further education for wāhine. In 2022 they are funding the UCMeXL Afterschool programme and the October study programme.

“We were pleased to have the opportunity to support UC’s UCMeXL because of its proven record of connecting Pacific students with opportunities for academic success through its study programmes.

“With young Pacific wāhine making up the majority of students in the October programme in 2021, we saw this as a way to contribute to creating opportunities for students who are under-represented in tertiary education. It’s a privilege to be able to partner with initiatives of this kind,” said Megan.

Viane Makalio, UC’s Pacific Engagement Coordinator, said he saw incredible growth in the number of Pacific students attending UCMeXL in 2021.

“Even with all the changes that we needed to make because of Covid, UCMeXL was a huge success last year. More than 130 students attended our July programme and over 150 in October. In the past, we’ve typically had between 60-80 in July programme and 90- 110 in our October programme.”

The latest initiative by GWC continues their support for UC. In 2020-21 they funded the Moana Rising programme, and last year the UC Women’s Research Symposium.


About GWC

GWC has seven trustees who make up the Trust Board. They have a shared commitment to the equity and advancement of women. They have experience working across New Zealand tertiary education, non-profit and business and as graduates from a number of tertiary institutions including UC.

To donate towards UC's Pasifika Development initiatives, including UCMeXL, please click here.

To see other UC initiatives and projects available for support, please click here.

The diagnosis of the common honeybee disease American Foulbrood (AFB) used to be a death sentence for hives.

A new cocktail created by a team of University of Canterbury researchers could soon be putting a stop to that with a cocktail of ‘phages’, viruses that infect bacteria, that attack and consume the bacteria causing the disease.

Since 2018, Dr Heather Hendrickson and her team at the Active Bacteriophages for AFB Eradication project (ABAtE) have been isolating bacteriophages to test their efficiency in destroying different strains of AFB, with funding from the NZ Honey Trust, the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT), and Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures. 

AFB is caused by Paenibacillus larvae. The bacteria attacks bee larvae, colonising their midguts and eventually killing the larvae. Worker bees cleaning out the remains of the dead larvae then end up contaminating food stores with the spores of the bacteria, which can stay alive in honey or on beekeeping equipment for more than 40 years, making them extremely difficult to eradicate.

It’s so contagious and deadly to apiculture that, in the EU, the law requires that infected hives and equipment be destroyed, while many states in the USA require infected hives to be burned completely.

Aotearoa’s bees, as well as being producers of honey and other bee products, are key pollinators that ensure the success of other agricultural industries. It's estimated that they contribute more than $5 billion to the economy each year simply through pollination services. Under New Zealand law, all equipment, bees, and products that have come into contact with AFB have to be destroyed within seven days.

That’s a heavy blow for our major pollinators, who have been experiencing population loss worldwide. In 2021, the Ministry of Primary Industries estimated that there was a loss rate of 13.6 per cent over winter in New Zealand.

Recently in January 2023, the United States Department of Agriculture approved a vaccine for AFB that embedded inactive P. larvae in the royal jelly that’s fed to larvae. “According to the literature, the AFB vaccine is able to prevent death in 30 to 50 per cent of honeybee larvae,” said Dr Hendrickson. “In New Zealand, this level of protection would still leave many infected honeybee larvae in a hive which would ultimately still need to be incinerated. However, phages have been shown to completely prevent AFB infection if the right phages are applied in advance to protect a hive.”

  • Heather Hendrickson and Danielle Kok examine phage samples that could be used to immunise beehives against american foulbrood.

    Dr Heather Hendrickson and post doctoral fellow Danielle Kok examine a phage sample that could be used to immunise honeybees against American Foulbrood, a disease that used to be a death sentence for hives. 

The phages were found to be naturally occurring in soil samples collected from apiary sites and sent to the lab by beekeepers from all over Aotearoa. The phages were filtered out and then poured onto a bacterial ‘lawn’ of P. larvae to see which areas were affected.

“All of the soil samples that contained phages have come from healthy hives,” said Dr Hendrickson, “which shows that healthy hives already have them and they protect honeybee larvae from an AFB infection.” So far, the team has discovered 26 new phages and combined these in four unique  ‘cocktails’ that successfully kill 93 per cent of all known strains of P. larvae, save two that originate from around the Otago region. The team is progressing towards finding the right match for them.

When that happens, it will be an exciting day not just for beekeepers and honeybees, but also for other primary industries such as kiwifruit, aquaculture, and cherries, which could use the same method for treating the different diseases that plague them in the future.

For now, however, Dr Hendrickson and her team would love for beekeepers, especially in Otago, to continue sending them soil samples.


To support the Active Bacteriophages for AFB Eradication project, please click here

Please click here to see other UC projects and initiatives available for support. 

If you would like a free soil-sampling tube and return envelope, please email danielle.kok@canterbury.ac.nz.

UC researchers dig deep into the chemical complexities of wine with generous funding from the Bragato Research Institute.

Sedimental Factors

When you open a bottle of wine, sometimes you might find extra sediment at the bottom.

That could be precipitated calcium tartrate, a harmless crystalline solid made from two chemicals, calcium and tartaric acid, that naturally occur in grapes. 

UC Associate Professor Ken Morison and PhD student Jack Muir received $166,047 of funding from the Bragato Research Institute to investigate factors that contribute to the formation of sediment in wine.

Precipitation in wine in a slow process, usually taking months. “You don’t know, when you’ve made a bottle of wine, when the customer opens it in six months’ time, whether there would be precipitate at the bottom or not,” said Morison.

While people in the past would decant the wine to remove the sediment, modern customers wanted perfect wine straight out of the bottle. 

Recently, winegrowers have noticed that there were more occurrences of precipitate found in their wines, but they weren’t sure why. So they turned to UC for help.

Morison and Muir are creating a simulation that can be used to predict the likelihood of precipitation.

Precipitation is influenced by several factors, including the pH level, the presence of certain ions (atoms or molecules with an electric charge), and other things like sugars and alcohol. 

Through initially analysing several varieties of wine from different areas, Morison and Muir will determine what typical compounds are found in wine and determine whether factors such as soil compositions and sprays employed by vineyards have any influence on the likelihood of precipitation.

All in a single chip

Fellow UC researchers Professor Renwick Dobson and Associate Professor Volker Nock also received funding of $65,000 from the Bragato Research Institute for his work on an affordable and portable diagnostic device that can measure the levels of various wine compounds, such as glucose.

Working with postdoctoral fellows Drs Julian Menges, Claude Meffan, and Azadeh Hashemi, and PhD student Daniel Mak, the team produced a plastic chip with neither moving parts or electronic elements that would measure glucose in a wine sample.

“The foundation of the project was a need in the diagnostic industry to have rapid tests that were really simple,” said Professor Dobson.

  • Professor Renwick Dobson with the portable "Lab-on-a-Chip" diagnostic device that can be used to analyse glucose levels in wine quickly and economically, enablng smaller wineries to do more testing.

    Professor Renwick Dobson with the portable "Lab-on-a-Chip" diagnostic device that can be used to analyse glucose levels in wine quickly and economically, enablng smaller wineries to do more testing. 

The device, which uses Lab-on-a-Chip technology, works due to a process called capillaric flow, which moved fluids through capillary action, akin to water being wicked by paper.

“One of the problems with capillary force devices is that their operations are tree like so if you’re going to do something that’s a complicated assay, in a diagnostic setting, you need to be able to stop [the movement of fluid] and start the flow again, mix things. These are much more difficult to do in a plastic chip with no moving parts or electronics.”

Drs Menges and Meffan developed a way to close off channels and prevent fluid movement in the chip, which allowed samples to be measured.

“We don’t make a lot of wine [in comparison to other wine producing countries],” said Professor Dobson.

“Our niche is that we do really good wine so to stay at the top of the market, there has to be a lot of testing. Almost every winery , big or small do various lab testing. A small winery might not have the equipment to do lab testing, so right now, they’d have to send it out to an external lab. It’s a cost to the producer. Each test costs around $25 and, for small wineries, it’s a significant cost and adds to their budget, especially during vintage.”

The diagnostic device would bypass that and still give wineries reasonably accurate results. “All they would need is to put the sample on the chip and it would tell you what the glucose levels are. It’s similar to a RAT (Rapid Antigen Test for COVID-19).”

The long-term hope of the team was that the chip could be used for medical diagnostics in the future.

For now, however, they’re sticking to perfecting their wine testing methods, expanding the tests to include diagnostics for malic acid, yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN), and alcohol. 

PhD student Daniel Mak is also working on commercialising the chip under the name of Winealyse, which led to him being named a recipient of Kiwinet’s Emerging Innovator Programme award. The project also won UC’s 2021 Innovation Jumpstart Award in the Greatest Global Impact category, and Daniel was Research Runner Up in the 2022 Food, Fibre and Agritech Supernode Challenge, and Research Runner up in the 2022 Food, Fibre and Agritech Supernode Challenge.

To see and support other UC research like this, please click here




A new scholarship has been established to recognise the significant contributions by Frank Tay during his 40-year tenure at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury.

The Frank Tay Scholarship offers financial support to a UC student to continue studying Economics in a research-based degree at the postgraduate level. The scholarship fund consists mainly of contributions made by former students and former colleagues, with the goal to raise enough funds for an endowed scholarship. To date, sufficient donations have come in to establish a $5,000 scholarship for 2023 onward. The ultimate goal is to increase the award to $10,000 per year.

Associate Professor Alfred Guender worked closely with Frank during his time at UC and is one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the fund.

“Frank Tay is a remarkable man with a long and distinguished service record at UC, which began in the early 1960s and endures to this day. He made a huge impact on many people as a dedicated teacher, supervisor, or mentor.

  • Frank Tay and Alfred Guender

    Frank Tay (left) and Associate Professor Alfred Guender. A new scholarship has been established in honour of Frank Tay, who served as the Head of the Department of Economics, the Dean of ARts, as Principal of Rochester and Rutherford Hall, and on several key committees of the Professorial Board during his time at UC. 

“He attracted bright and motivated students to the department – some of whom became first-class researchers and high-flyers – and was instrumental, together with Professor Bert Brownlie, in shaping UC Economics to become the leading national training ground for economists well-versed in modern analytical thinking.”

During his tenure, Frank served as the Head of the Department of Economics, as the Dean of Arts, and on key committees of the Professorial Board, including as the Chair of the Library Committee. He was also Principal of Rochester and Rutherford Hall from 1989 until 1994. Upon his retirement he chronicled the history of Economics at the University in 125 Years of Economic Studies at Canterbury, New Zealand (1879-2003).

The scholarship fund drive has been initiated to coincide with the centenary of the University’s Economics (and Finance) Department. Associate Professor Guender says the timing of the scholarship and its focus on intergenerational gifting is particularly fitting.

“Supporting academic excellence was always a top priority for Frank which is why a scholarship to recognise academic achievement, made by former students to future cohorts of UC students, is a fitting way to recognise Frank’s outstanding service now and in the years to come. Several former and current colleagues have already contributed to the fund which underscores that Frank is held in high regard by former and current staff members.

“We also wanted to recognise Frank’s painstaking chronicling of the establishment and evolution of our Department, which has played a pivotal role in enabling us to celebrate the Department’s Centennial. 

“Frank is aware of this initiative and humbled by the prospect of the Frank Tay Scholarship furthering the professional development of future UC students.”

To donate towards the Frank Tay scholarship, please click here

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Professor XiaoQi Chen, who was instrumental in establishing Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Canterbury and is now working in China, is donating three prizes that recognise  excellence in design projects.

Students working on a mechatronics project

Mechatronics Engineering is a relatively new discipline that integrates mechanical, electrical and electronic, and computer engineering systems. It is used to design ‘smart’ products, processes and systems in the likes of aircraft, dishwashers, toys, motor vehicles, automated manufacturing plants, medical and surgical devices, robots of all types and artificial organs. Almost everywhere you look, you will see a Mechatronic system.

“My wife and I just want to give something back to places where we have discovered more about the meaning of life, and encourage and inspire younger generation.”

The prizes are available to BE(Hons) students at each of the three professional years of the programme and promote learning through creativity and innovation.

They are awarded for:

  • 2nd year: The best-performing student in the Elevator and Line Following Robot projects.  The Elevator project requires students to programme a Logic Controller to control a scale model of a university elevator. The Line Following Robot project is also for second year students.  It gives them a taste of open-ended design allowing their creative side to come through.  The students need to devise a sensing strategy, construct custom printed circuit boards, and 3-D printed housings to control their robots.
  • 3rd year: The best-performing student in the RoboCup, a group project. Groups have two semesters to design and build an autonomous wheeled robot to drive around an arena, picking up objects. The project culminates with a competition between the groups in the class to determine the 'best' robot. This project brings together all the aspects of mechatronics that the students have been learning in their courses and gives them some practical experience applying their technical skills, but is also great for learning about working in teams, the importance of communication, and is a chance to exercise their creativity.
  • 4th year: The student performing best in the final year design project. This is an industry-funded project where students work in teams of four to solve an industry problem.

Professor Chen said Mechatronics graduates are much sought after by employers, and many have progressed well to PhD studies in more specialised research areas.

“It is also common that mechatronics graduates are very enterprising in technology innovation and uptake, such as the UC spin-off Invert Robotics.”

Professor Chris Pretty, Co-Director of Mechatronics at UC, said the programme is proving very popular.

“When I started working at UC in 2013, there were 30-40 students per year group in mechatronics. Numbers have grown fairly rapidly since then and we now have around 120 for each year group.”

Although now based at South China University of Technology Guangzhou International Campus, Professor Chen still keenly follows the UC Mechatronics programme, including continuous improvements that the current team is making. 

“I’m pleased to see that it is going from strength to strength. One thing I am looking into is the opportunity of a joint course offering between UC and South China University of Technology.”

Professor Chen leads a team of young academics delivering two new engineering programmes in intelligent manufacturing engineering and robotics engineering, and conducting research in extreme manufacturing, safe and intelligent robots, smart healthcare and device, and intelligent connected vehicles.

They collaborate closely with the UC team on mechatronics innovations for equitable healthcare.


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Velma & Bevan Clarke Joanne Lyall Eddie Tham
Bente Clausen Jeanette Lye Kiem Thia
John Clemens & Paula Jameson Richard & Barbara Mace John Thomas
Jeff Clendon Cameron MacPherson Chris Thompson
Ellie Compton Max & Helen Maginness Alison Thomson
Dean Cooper Graeme Mahoney Geoffrey & Diana Thomson
Kirsty Cooper Michelle Mahuika Anita Thorne
Kris Cooper David & Helen Maidment Jocelyn Thornton
Pauline Cotter Selwyn Maister Richard Thornton
Philipa Cotter Karen Mather Hon. Jan Tinetti
Sina Cotter Tait & John Tait Jane Mancer Brian Tinsley
Bob & Anne Couch Lloyd Mander Derek Tovey
Muir Coup Raf Manji Ngoc-Bich Tran
Greg Cox Robin & Annette Mann Helen Trappitt
Helen Crabb Susy Mannall Lorraine Trebilcock
Eric Crampton Jacqui Manson Parnell Trost
Michael Cree Anna Marshall Katherine Trought
Lindsay & Jillian Crossen Robyn Martin Nick Tunnicliffe
John Crowe Troy Matheson Matthew Turnbull
John Culley Nicholas Maxwell Barbara Turner
Yvonne Culling Kirsty May Roland van Bommel
Jonathan Cunningham John McArthur Christopher van der Krogt
Elizabeth Cunningham Margaret McArthur Ron van Til
Shanyn Curry Marg & Nigel McConnochie Norman & Tara Van Toai
Stephen Dahnke Tony McCormick Phil & Diana Veal
Hon. Lianne Dalziel, CNZM Judy & Allen McDonald Kathryn Venator
Anne Daniel Susan McDonald Inthu Vettivel
Sue Davies-Young Jade McDowall Adrienne von Tunzelmann
Cheryl de la Rey Bob & Val McFadden Neil Voyce
Mark Dineen Kelly McFadzien  Pamela Wade
Una Diver Janna McGuigan Margaret Wade-Wilson
Maureen Doherty Sally McIver Frian Wadia
Peter Dohrn Judith & Neill McKay Marinus Wagenvoort
Patrick Dolan Matt McKay Jacob Waitere
Martin Dorahy Kaye McKee Helen Walker
John Dowers Mark McKinstry & Gillian Calvert Justin Wall
Jo Dowling Rowena McNabb Verity Warn
Jenny Drake Struan McOmish Mathew Watts
Margaret Duncan Raina Meha John & Helen Waugh
Kathryn Ell Tony Menzies Jeff Wei
Mark Ellis Philippa Miller Moore Heather White
Noeline Ellis Kirsten Milliken Scott Whiteman
Matapura Ellison Frank Minehan Kirsty Whiteside
Sue Fahey Ross Mockett Anne Wignall
Leanora Fallon Alice Moore  Barrie Wilkinson
Roy Ferguson, QSO, & Dawn Ferguson David Moore Bryce Wilkinson
Peter Field Elizabeth Morgan David Wilkinson
Joe Finetti Jo-anne Morgan Rob Wilkinson
Andrew Flanagan John Morris Deborah Williams & David Minifie
Richard Flay Helen Mounsey Nicolas Williams & Catherine Levermore
Gwen Foong Alan & Gwynneth Moyle Sandra Williamson-Leadley 
Ewan & Marilyn Fordyce Carl Muller Jeremy & Merion Willis
Kirsten Forsyth  Tim Munro Andrew & Karen Wilson
Mark & Isadora Forward  Glenda Murphy Grant Wilson
Patrick Fraher Clare & Justin Murray Greig Wilson
Christopher Freear Anupama Narayanan Kutty John Wilson
Shelley Frost Rabindra Nathan Jill Winter
Julie Fry Amber Nell Jen Wong
Alistair Fussell Ximena Nelson John & Rose Wood
Ian Fulton Corallyn Newman Alan Woodfield
Andrew Fyfe & Nicola Cooper Murray Newman Gaye Woodlock
Richard Garland  Hoh Kong Ngiau John Wooles
Jennifer Garrett Andrew Nuttall Emma Woolford
Rosemary Gawn John O'Connell Bruce Wylie
Ian Gemmill Alison Oertly Janet Wynn-Williams
Jane George Jeremy Oliver Zelda Yates
James Gibb Nigel Oliver Corey Yeatman
Shelley Gibson Simon Olliver James Yetman
David Giles Rachel O'Neil Mike Yip
Luke Gillespie & Bridget Williams John & Jennifer Packer Joseph Yong
Gail & Phillip Gillon Sally Page Ashley Young
Lynette Glynn Gilbert Palliparampil Lee Young
Beth Goodwin Janet Palmer Anderson Graham & Ruth Zanker
Nick Gormack Leonie & Graeme Partridge Jody Zhang
Peter Gostomski Eric Pawson Sharon Zollner


Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand Enztec Ltd New Plymouth District Council
AECOM New Zealand Limited Ernst & Young - Knowledge Centre New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited
AFW and JM Jones Foundation Escea Ltd New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute
Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust European Commission New Zealand Business & Parliament Trust
Amazon Smile Org Central Fable Christchurch New Zealand Institute for
Minerals to Materials Research
Andrew W Mellon Foundation Fiddlesticks New Zealand Law Foundation
Anthony Harper Fire and Emergency New Zealand  New Zealand Steel
Antarctica New Zealand First Gas NZ Honey Trust
Apiculture New Zealand Fisher and Paykel Healthcare Oakley Mental Health
Aqualinc Research Ltd Fisheries Society of the British Isles Office of the Privacy Commissioner 
Ashley-Rakahuri Rivercare Group Foot Science International Limited Pacific Cooperation Foundation
Aurecon Forest Growers Levy Trust Pacific Development and Conservation Trust
Australian Institute of Nuclear Science & Engineering FrontierSI - Spatial Information Systems Research Ltd Papanui Combined Probus
AUT Ventures Ltd Goldman Sachs Matching Gift Programme Partners Life Limited
AW Fraser Google Asia Pacific Pte Ltd Pegasus Health
AW Trinder Ltd Google Australia Pty Ltd Pells Sullivan Meynink
Bank of New Zealand Government of Nanavut Penguins International 
Banqer Graduate Women Canterbury Power Systems Consultants Ltd
BECA Gut Foundation Precision Driven Health
Bead and Proceed HansaWorld New Zealand Ltd PreKure
Ben Gough Family Foundation Hefma Trust Pure Storage
Benevity Causes High Performance Sport New Zealand  PwC
Bragato Research Institute HOPE Foundation for Research on Ageing  Rata Foundation
Brian Mason Scientific & Technical Trust HP Re-generate NZ
Building Research Association of New Zealand Hugh McDougall Rankin Education Trust Research Council of Norway
Burleigh Evatt Ltd Ian Brookie Barrister Research First
Caliber Design InFact Research Foundation
Canterbury Ecological Research Trust Infrastructure Decision Support (IDS) Ltd Research Institute of Amin Azma Shargh
Canterbury Education and Research for Health of Older Person INSOL International Resilespur Consulting
Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Resource Development Consultants Ltd
Canterbury History Foundation Institute of Humane Studies Riccarton Rotary Youth Trust
Canterbury Medical Research Fundation Isaac Wildlife Conservation Trust Riley Consultants Ltd
Carsin Trust Jacobs New Zealand Ltd Royal New Zealand Ballet
Chalky Carr Trust Jade Software Corporation Ltd Royal New Zealand Navy
Chapman Tripp James K Baxter Charitable Trust Royal Society of Chemistry
Christchurch Adelaide Sister City Committee JD Reid Limited Roayl Society Te Apārangi
Christchurch Methodist Mission Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand Sir Campbell and Lady Leita Wylie Foundation
Christchurch Symphony Orchestra Kathryn Dalziel Barrister Society for Death Studies
CIGRE New Zealand National Committee Kea Aerospace Society of Petroleum Engineers
Colour Me Safe Kiwibank Limited Spark
Commonwealth Department of Industry and Science KiwiNet Stantec New Zealand
ConcreteNZ Learned Society Laura Ferguson Trust Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures
Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information Lighthouse Vision Trust Tait Foundation
CPA Australia Lilburn Trust Tauhara North No. 2 Trust
Crusaders Lincoln University Centennial Trust Taurus Group Ltd
Curators House Lottery Health Research Grant Te Puni Kokiri
Cure Kids Lyttelton Port Company Te Tītoki Mataora MedTech Research Translator
Dawn Aerospace Mainpower New Zealand Ltd Templeton World Charity Foundation
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Margaret and John Kalman Charitable Trust Than Hsiang Temple
Deloitte Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust The Pittsburgh Foundation
Department of Internal Affairs Maxwell Logistics U3A Godley
Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation McCall MacBain Foundation U3A Kate Sheppard
Doha Institute for Graduate Studies McCallum Whyte Family Trust U3A Okeover
Donnithorne Family Trust McMillan Civil Ltd UC Motorsport
Earthwise Group Limited Merck Partnership of Giving  UK Research and Innovation
EcoCare Pacific Trust Microsoft UniLodge
Electricity Engineers Associations Miss E L Hellaby Indigenous Université Paul Sabatier
Grasslands Research Trust
Embassy of France Mobil Oil New Zealand Limited Victoria Food Service
Embassy of Ireland National Institute of Standards and Technology VXT Limited
Embassy of the United States of America National Institutes of Health Whaka-Ora Health Harbour
Energy Education Trust New Zealand Navitas | UCIC WIDE Trust
Engineering New Zealand Neurological Foundation Wynn Williams
Environmental Defence Society New Phytologist Trust