Taking women’s health to the next level

Source: Massey University


During her research, Dr Victoria Chinn helped women set achievable goals to form daily habits across a wide range of health-promoting behaviours, including healthy eating, physical activity, self-care, stress management and good sleep.


As part of her PhD thesis, Dr Victoria Chinn created and delivered an empowering health programme entitled Next Level Health. It aimed to help women gain greater control of their wellbeing by making small, incremental changes to their lifestyle.

Her research provides a way forward for promoting women’s health in a way that focuses on sustainable, positive change relevant to their experience. “Beyond empowering women, this approach holds potential for promoting health in schools to our tamariki [children], empowering clinical populations that experience chronic illness and much more. My research is highly applicable to the real world given New Zealand’s current emphasis on mental wellbeing.”

During the programme, Dr Chinn helped women set achievable goals to form daily habits across a wide range of health-promoting behaviours that supported healthy eating, enjoyable physical activity, self-care, stress management and good sleep. 

“I was surprised by the power that making small, achievable changes can have on one’s outlook, not only for health, but on other areas of their lives as well,” she says.

“The findings from my research indicated that women made significant health improvements, in particular to their mental wellbeing. These benefits remained significantly improved six months beyond completing Next Level Health.”

Women’s responses after the programme indicated they were empowered by: approaching and experiencing their health in a more holistic way; creating routines that comprised a series of small, health-promoting adjustments to their usual lives; adopting a positive perspective that emphasised their personal strengths and accomplishments; and improving their health literacy for a wide range of health behaviours and their own unique experience of health.

Dr Chinn is currently working as a casual tutor at Massey University, and a part-time tutor at Victoria University in Wellington. She is also an Assistant Research Fellow at the University of Otago, Wellington, where she coordinates an outreach programme to engage primary school pupils in lab experiments.

“I’ve been fortunate to teach a variety of health topics to students of many ages, which is a very rewarding experience. Alongside these responsibilities I am publishing work from my thesis as well as writing publications for other side projects I am involved in. Over the next year, I will continue to build my profile with my eyes set on a post-doctorate to further progress my research.”

As well as her Doctor of Philosophy, Dr Chinn holds a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Anthropology from Pacific University, Oregon, in the United States. The 29-year-old, who is orginally from Portland, Oregon, is currently living in Newtown, Wellington with her partner who emigrated to New Zealand from the United States four years ago.

Massey celebrates NZ music history with Blue Smoke

Source: Massey University


Technical demonstrator Ryan Prebble was the sound engineer at the event.


Two of Aotearoa’s musical pioneers, the late Pixie Williams and Ruru Karaitiana, were honoured at a special commemoration event at the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington this week.

Wednesday 26 June marked the 70th anniversary of their iconic song Blue Smoke, recognised as the first record wholly written, recorded and manufactured in New Zealand, marking the birth of the New Zealand recording industry.

Written by Ruru Karaitiana and sung by Pixie Williams, the song was a surprise hit and sold over 50,000 records, and was even covered by American crooner Dean Martin.

Massey University has strong links to Blue Smoke – Massey’s official waiata, Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa, is sung to the tune of the song.

Mr Karaitiana had links to Massey through his Rangitane affiliations and through whānau members who attended the University, and the Karaitiana whānau generously gifted the use of the tune to Massey.

Massey was one of the major sponsors of the celebration, with music technology students and staff managing and engineering the sound and lighting, and debuting the new school PA and lighting systems.

Music technology student Troy Ward, who was systems tech for the event, and Head of the School of Music and Creative Media Production André Ktori. 


Head of the School of Music and Creative Media Production André Ktori attended the event, and says to mark such an important occasion in the music history of Aotearoa, “was our absolute honour.

“It’s special to be involved with a project that has strong links to our University, and to Aotearoa’s musical history,” he says.

The School of Music and Creative Media Production has donated its state-of-the-art recording studio for a new project to re-record Pixie Williams’ songs with contemporary artists.

With support from New Zealand On Air, a documentary featuring the story of Blue Smoke and of Pixie Williams’ life is also being filmed, to screen on Māori Television.

Spectacle of water and moving image for Matariki

Source: Massey University


Photo by Jeff McEwan, Capture Studios


This Matariki, a constellation of artists led by two Massey University academics are creating a unique cinematic experience on Wellington Habour’s lagoon.

Mana Moana is a collaboration between musicians, artists, writers and choreographers who have produced five short art films fusing poetry, dance, song, painting, photography and animation. But instead of a traditional film screen, these films will be shown on a screen of projected water.

The water screen – a feat of engineering – propels millions of water drops that fall and catch the light, creating an illusion of images that appear from the darkness and float on water. This allows Mana Moana to explore its themes of ocean, migration and diaspora.

The project is curated by Massey School of Art staff members and artists Rachael Rakena, Kāi Tahu, Ngāpuhi and Michael Bridgman, with producers Storybox.

Ms Rakena, a well-known artist whose own work frequently uses water, says having the films screen in this way affirms the project’s kaupapa.

“These films explore indigenous relationships and identities with the ocean. As we grapple with climate change, our futures will be linked in new ways. Water is connective tissue – the seas connect us all between the islands of the Pacific – and Mana Moana is literally projecting its stories on water.

“In the face of our climate emergency this work is timely and relevant,” says Ms Rakena.

Ms Rakena paired artists from different disciplines together, to cross-pollinate and create wholly new works.

Visual artist Robyn Kahukiwa’s paintings are animated and partnered with text by Massey graduate Tina Ngata, Dayle Takitimu and Michelle Ngamoki.

Massey graduate Dr Karlo Mila’s poetry is complemented by Michael Bridgman’s animated patterns, while fine arts doctoral graduate Dr Johnson Witehira’s contribution makes waves across three of the projects.

Louise Potiki Bryant has worked with dancer Rosie Tapsell with music by longtime partner, Paddy Free, and Massey music lecturer Warren Maxwell’s music links the films, threading its way through the sequence.

Ms Rakena says the outdoor experience audiences will have is going to be a “a bit of magic”.

Mana Moana runs nightly from Friday, June 28 to the Wednesday, 3 July from 6-9pm* at Wellington Habour’s lagoon. The screenings are part of Wellington City Council’s Matariki ki Pōneke 2019.


More information:

Friday, 28 June – Wednesday 3 July 6-9pm

Saturday, 29 June – 5.30pm – 6.30pm, 6.45pm – 9pm (Wellington Sky Show)

Film duration: 25 mins (loop starting on the half an hour)

Artists: Robyn Kahukiwa, Tina Ngata, Johnson Witehira, Rachael Rakena, Louise Potiki Bryant, Karlo Mila, Michael Bridgman , Dayle Takitimu, Michelle Ngamoki, Rosie Tapsell, Rio Hemopo-Hunuki, Paddy Free and Warren Maxwell.

$1.2m funding for allergy and asthma prevention research

Source: Massey University


Centre for Public Health director Professor Jeroen Douwes has been awarded nearly $1.2 million from the Health Research Council of New Zealand, to assess why biodiversity may reduce allergy and asthma risks in New Zealand children.


Asthma prevalence in New Zealand is amongst the highest in the world and there is no cure or effective prevention.

A grant from the Health Research Council of New Zealand’s annual project funding round will enable researchers to assess why biodiversity may reduce allergy and asthma risks in children.

Professor Jeroen Douwes, director of Massey University’s Centre for Public Health Research, has been awarded close to $1.2 million to carry out the research, over the next four years.

“There’s considerable interest in understanding how exposure to the natural environment may protect against asthma, and in identifying what specific aspects of biodiversity provide the most protection,” Professor Douwes says. “This is particularly important, in light of the excessive decline of biodiversity observed in the past few decades, which has coincided with a rapid increase in prevalence of allergies and asthma globally. 

“It’s a chronic health condition affecting 334 million people worldwide, and although treatment has improved, it’s not effective for all asthmatics. Also, there is no cure.”

In a previous research project, Professor Douwes and colleagues assessed the association between the natural environment and asthma in 49,956 children born in New Zealand in 1998. The children were followed until they were 18 years old. Researchers used satellite imagery and land-use data to assess children’s lifetime exposure to the natural environment and vegetation types.

“In that study, we showed that biodiverse green space was associated with a reduced risk of asthma. We hypothesise this may be due to increased environmental and human microbial diversity, which have been shown to direct the immune system away from developing allergies and asthma.”

The new study will involve 900 urban children from Wellington and will, for the first time, assess whether biodiversity reduces allergy and asthma risks through differences in exposure to microorganisms in the environment and the gut. The study will also investigate the specific immune responses involved, whilst taking into account the effects of nutrition, physical activity and stress. Participating children will undergo lung function and skin prick testing, and they will be asked to provide a blood and faecal sample. Dust samples will be collected from their home and the children’s schools.

“The overall objective is to increase our understanding of modifiable causes and mechanisms of allergies and asthma, enabling the development of novel and targeted interventions. Going forward, this research could help inform urban design with the aim of reducing the global burden of childhood asthma,” Professor Douwes says.

College of Health Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Mills congratulates Professor Douwes. “Professor Douwes and his team have developed a cutting-edge study design that has the potential to create a major change in the way we think about green spaces as a mechanism to improve the health of Kiwi children. The study originated from an earlier strategic investment grant from Massey to develop a programme of research on biodiversity and health. The College of Health is strongly committed to the promotion of wellness as the first line of intervention in ensuring the health of New Zealanders.”

The study, entitled Biodiversity and microbiota: a novel pathway to allergy and asthma prevention, will be carried out over four years, and begins in September. The study will be conducted in collaboration with researchers from University of Otago; Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia; and the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Portland, United States.

It is one of 53 projects awarded a total of $60.3 million in funding, and forms part of the HRC’s $81 million investment in new research projects and programmes announced today by Minister Megan Woods.

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Kiwis’ digital privacy must be protected

Source: MakeLemonade.nz

Wellington – Nearly 80 percent of New Zealanders are concerned about how their identity is managed online, Digital Identity NZ executive director Andrew Weaver will tell an international business conference in Singapore this week.

Weaver has been invited to speak at the Seamless Asia summit and says one of the major digital concerns for Kiwis is transparency and control.

“A total of 85 percent of people simply do not know what organisations are doing with the personal information that is entrusted to them, and they are concerned about who has access to it and who may be making money from it.

“Only one in 20 New Zealanders feels confident about their rights when dealing with organisations online. For those who don’t feel confident, 58 percent say they don’t know how to protect themselves.

“The figures are more disturbing for those who do have an understanding of security and privacy concerns, with 68 percent of people saying that they find it hard to protect themselves online because they do not have the necessary tools to do so.

“These sentiments are further highlighted when people are asked if they like the idea of being more in control of their digital identity, with 93 percent of people saying yes.”

“We recently commissioned a survey which found that 89 percent of people were worried about their data being shared with a third party without their permission. And 88 percent of people were worried their credit cards would be stolen and their personal data being leaked or hacked online.”

Weaver says Digital Identity NZ wants to see people in control and ownership of their digital identity, as personal information and data is rightly owned by the individual.

He wants to enable people to participate in the economy and society more easily with confidence and choice – this is about ease of access, as well as transparency and control.

“Our research survey showed a very large gap between what people want to see and what they are offered now.

“This highlights some significant paradigm shifts that we as a nation must address with some urgency. Personal data must be the property of every individual.

“This is a very important conference because the Asia Pacific region accounts for 40 percent of global e-commerce sales and by 2025, online sales are predicted to be worth $88 billion,” he says.

New Zealanders consider personal information or data in areas such as a driver’s licence or passport, transactions, contact details, names and addresses, employment details, online browsing, marital status, loyalty card usage, demographic details, photos and videos uploaded, date from apps, social media activity and posts and heritage and ancestry.

Digital Identity NZ is part of the NZ Tech Alliance and is seeking improve how digital identity is perceived and managed.

For further information contact Make Lemonade NZ editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188.

Photo: Andrew Weaver

Massey University and National Library partner to support emerging Pacific artists

Source: Massey University


Origins of Taboo by Lili Lovell-Wood.


Massey University’s College of Creative Arts has partnered with the National Library of New Zealand to develop a pilot Pasifika Arts Residency.

The residency grants a graduate student of Pacific descent free access to the Pacific Collections, research librarians and other staff and resources at National Library for a full business week.

2018 design graduate Lili Lovell-Wood is the inaugural artist and will be working and researching in the library from Monday 24 – Friday 28 June.

Ms Lovell-Wood is a designer working in Wellington’s film industry. Her work ranges from print, to motion graphics and art direction with a few photographs thrown in, both digital and 35mm.

Her 2018 project Origins of Taboo was an exploration of ancient Pacific rituals and their modern counterparts, depicting the interconnection and diversity of three Pacific cultures – Māori, Tongan and Hawaiian.

Origins of Taboo is a representation of the strength Pacific culture has within the English language and is also a chance to represent a part of my own kanaka [native Hawaiian] heritage within my practice as a young New Zealand designer,” she says.

“Spending time with the Pacific Collections at the National Library and Alexander Turnbull Library is an amazing chance to explore the interconnectedness and diversity of our incredible Pacific cultures, which will no doubt influence my practice.”

The Pasifika Arts residency supports emerging artists to be immersed in a place which can help shape and encourage their creativity. During the week, Ms Lovell-Wood will have an opportunity to meet staff at National Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library, explore the collections and research areas, and tour He Tohu, a permanent exhibition of three iconic constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Opinion: Defence Capability 2019 – reading between the lines

Source: Massey University

New Zealand’s defence forces will be upgraded over the next 30 years (photo/Wikimedia Commons)

A recognition of the looming challenges facing our Pacific neighbours through climate change and pressures on maritime resources has led to a shift in focus expressed in the just-released Defence Capability Plan 2019.

In line with the Government’s Pacific reset policy, the plan’s $20 billion dollar allocation on asset replacement over 30 years is aimed at a more strategic approach to regional security. But will new ships, new aircraft, new technologies and more personnel bring about a more secure Pacific? 

What stands out is the focus on rejuvenating maritime sealift and being strategically positioned to meet the deleterious impact of climate change in the Pacific. This takes precedence over the language of prioritising combat capability that we saw in the 2018 document. 

This is a sensible approach and reflects a pivot towards regional priorities, and it also perhaps reflects a change in focus occurring with the new Chief of Defence Force coming from the Airforce, rather than the Army. It does continue to position the prime role of the New Zealand Defence Force as a humanitarian and disaster relief tool. 

The other stark difference to the 2018 document is that it is less adversarial in nature – the previous document indicated that Russia, China and North Korea represented challenges to our defence priorities. Wisely, this language is now absent.

Size matters 

The newly-commissioned Manawanui naval ship is the latest acquisition in a list of priorities that extend in the next few years to new Hercules, a sister ship for the HMS Canterbury, an ice-capable patrol vessel, Seasprite helicopter replacements and extending the army to 6000 people by 2035.

Increasing the army size is the most ambiguous aspect of the plan. I suspect this doesn’t mean front-line infantry units, as much as it is a recognition that the support and role of the Army will need to evolve and this will simply require more people. But it doesn’t indicate a turn towards combat capability per se. 

Several commentators have previously noted that, over time, the Army will increasingly find it difficult to recruit physically fit and willing recruits, so getting to the 6000 may be a stretch. Lastly, there is understated mention of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) being purchased. When questioned, the Minister Ron Mark indicated that they would have a maritime domain surveillance role, but would not commit to saying whether they could deliver offensive payloads or not.

Nevertheless, when we compare this document to last year’s Strategic Defence Policy Statement, there is still little substantive discussion of investment in the defence workforce, arguably its greatest capability/asset. There is clear language that views defence personnel as being highly-trained professionals and that the workforce requires long-term planning, but no detail regarding the investments required to support these people.

Minister Mark also suggested that near future priorities will include a defence real estate plan and, perhaps innovatively, a strategic approach to questions of biodiversity and biosecurity.  

Dollars for welfare or warfare?

Quite rightly, as a media representative asked at the launch, should we not spend $20 billion on welfare and health? Minister Mark’s response was that this is long-term spending on the Pacific region’s and New Zealand’s future welfare and security. This is the strongest argument I have heard from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) for the significant spending allocation, but it remains starkly obvious what the money could do if invested elsewhere.

We need to be aware that the Minister has a particular perspective – he still sees himself as a member of the NZDF. Minister Mark has a deeply personal historical commitment to the NZDF and clearly, as a senior member of New Zealand First, there is a strong political agenda in the funding allocation. He is unlikely to advocate for a reduction in defence spending unless there is a strong NZDF rationale for such an event, something we are yet to see.

There was an argument made that our Five Eyes partners do not drive our procurement, which might be technically accurate, but does not reflect the fact that we primarily service our equipment, purchase from, and deploy alongside these nations. These factors do actually drive decision making priorities.

In the main, the document is sensible if the Government wishes to continue to prioritise the current capabilities of the NZDF, which seems to have cross-partisan support outside of the Green Party – and if it doesn’t wish to spend $20 billion elsewhere. 

What stood out, however, was the absence of women in uniform attending the Statement launch. The leadership present were old European men, and this lack of representation contrasted strongly with Minister Mark’s repeated emphasis on the “women and men of the NZDF” and, of course, the need for our defence forces to reflect the our region’s demographic diversity. Only then will our defence forces be truly fit for the 21st century.

Dr William Hoverd is a senior lecturer in the Centre for Defence and Security Studies

Massey’s College of Creative Arts to visit Auckland

Source: Massey University

Dancers shot by Matt Luani.

Year 13 students can bring their portfolios along to three Creative Arts portfolio review sessions at Nathan Homestead, Mangere Arts Centre and Ōtāhuhu College to meet with staff and learn more about studying at Toi Rauwhārangi.

Students can gain pre-approval into the Bachelor of Design, Fine Arts or Māori Visual Arts by bringing along current portfolios of work, which can be in the form of workbooks, online images, building or interior designs, videos, clothes, carvings, craft projects, posters, photography, illustration, painting, drawings, sculptures, prints and more.

2018 design graduate Matt Luani will be at all sessions to share his student journey and share his work on the artform of krumping. Matt’s Honours and now Masters project, the Kulture Project, focuses on the art of krumping, what he calls an “extremely elusive, physically intense, emotionally demanding, highly technical dance culture”.

 “The Kulture Project seeks to expose through documentary filmmaking Aotearoa’s underground Krump scene within the context of outsider culture and otherness. Pasifika are a marginalized community in Aotearoa, and Krumpers are a marginalized group within that. The marginalised within the marginalised, “ he says. 

Matt was born in Auckland, and recommends choosing to study at Massey because; “you learn so much more than what is said in the descriptions. Great tutors, great facilities and the papers they have to offer are interesting enough to gain a deeper understanding on the world,” he says. 

Students of any age and stage are welcome to bring their portfolios, meet Matt and Massey staff, and bring their families or supportive friends along too. To register, please click here.  

Toi Rauwhārangi College of Creative Arts at Massey University is world-class. Based in Wellington, the College expanded its offerings in 2015 to include degrees in Commercial Music and Creative Media Production.

Event details:

  • Monday, June 24, 3 – 6pm Nathan Homestead: 70 Hill Rd, Manurewa, Auckland 2102
  • Tuesday, June 25, 3 – 6pm Mangere Arts Centre: Corner Bader Drive and Orly Avenue, Mangere, Auckland 2022
  • Wednesday, June 26,  3 – 6pm Otahuhu College: 47 -78 Mangere Rd, Otahuhu, Auckland 1062 

If you have any questions or requests please contact:

Jeannette: j.a.troon@massey.ac.nz

Astrid: a.visser1@massey.ac.nz

Kiwis to celebrate international yoga day on June 21

Source: MakeLemonade.nz

Christchurch – Hundreds of thousands of Kiwis will celebrate international yoga day on June 21, Yoga NZ chair Heather Robinson says.

Yoga is practised by more than 400,000 Kiwis at more than 500 yoga studios and classes around New Zealand, making it one of the fastest growing physical activities in the country.

ExerciseNZ continues to support yoga through Yoga NZ, and the annual national hauora yoga conference. Yoga teacher education will feature in Exercise NZ’s annual roadshow being held in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch over the next week.

International Yoga Day has been celebrated on June 21 every year since 2015 after it was declared by the United Nations General Assembly.

The first yoga day was marked with 35,985 people, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and dignitaries from 84 countries performing 21 yoga activities in New Delhi.

Understanding of the benefits of yoga continue to grow. Robinson says yoga can decrease stress, anxiety and help with depression.

“Yoga is known for its ability to ease stress and promote relaxation. Studies have proved the effect of yoga on stress.

“Studies show that yoga may help improve heart health, which is an essential component of overall health reduce several risk factors for heart disease and improve heart conditions alone or in combination with a healthy lifestyle.

“It also improves quality of life. Yoga is becoming increasingly common as an adjunct therapy to improve quality of life for many individuals.

“Yoga NZ supports all teachers, practitioners and studios who involve themselves with the special event on June 21,” Robinson says.

For further information contact Make Lemonade NZ editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188.