NZSA Online Newsletter Conference Page

NZSA Homepage

Newsletter 70 Index

Australian &
New Zealand Journal of Statistics

Newsletter Archive

Join the NZSA

Feedback to Editor

New Zealand Statistical Association Newsletter 70

September 2009

NZSA 2009

Coming Events
Palmy One-Day Meeting
Biometrics on the Lake

NZSA 2009 Conference
Victoria University of Wellington
September 1- 3

(Photo by Dean Pemberton of the view from the 5th floor of the Cotton building used and relicensed under Creative Commons)


The Victoria University of Wellington School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research hosted the 60th Annual Conference of the New Zealand Statistical Association on 2-3 September 2009, with John Haywood the Conference Chair.

Things seemed to go very well, and there were numerous photos taken by Harold Henderson and Rod Ball (among others!). One highlight was the presentation of the Campbell Award to Emeritus Professor David Vere-Jones, which occurred at the Conference Dinner on 2 September 2009. The purpose of the award is to promote statistics within NZ and to recognise an individual’ s contribution to the promotion and development of statistics. Throughout his career DVJ has generously contributed to statistics education at all levels - inside and outside Victoria University - and he has an outstanding research and publication record. We are delighted to celebrate the award of this honour with David. A further highlight at the Conference Dinner was the awarding of Honorary Life Membership of the NZSA to Robert Davies, in honour of his long and distinguished record of service to the Association. These highlights are mentioned in more detail later in this issue.

David Vere-Jones (centre), who received the Campbell Award 2009, with family members at the Conference Dinner.

There was a total of 76 verbal presentations at the NZSA Conference over the two days, including three plenary sessions by Matt Wand (University of Wollongong), Vijay Nair (University of Michigan) and a session concerning the future of the ANZJS with four brief talks. There were 15 contributed student talks, 44 contributed talks from non-students, a set of five single-session talks on Statistical Education, a further six Statistical Education workshops and eight poster presentations were displayed around the area used for conference refreshments, which made some welcome lunchtime reading. In addition there was a one-day workshop on Semiparametric Regression given by Matt Wand that preceded the conference on Tuesday 1 September, and a three-hour introduction to SAS Enterprise Guide software on the morning of Friday 4 September. Further details, including the online and pdf versions of the programme, with abstracts for all the talks and posters, are available at the conference web page.


John Haywood with Vijay and Corinne Nair



In addition to Offlode’s student prizes, thanks to the other conference sponsors for their generosity: SAS, VUW School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research, and Statistics New Zealand. The rest of the Organising Committee deserve thanks too: Richard Arnold, Stefanka Chukova, Ivy Liu (all VUW), Catherine Cameron, Harold Henderson, Roger Littlejohn (all AgResearch), Mike Camden (Statistics New Zealand) and Ian Westbrooke (DOC). A big thanks for administrative support from local (VUW) staff and students, with special mention for Rowan McCaffery, Christo Muller and Ginny Whatarau.

Members of the Local Organising Committee, Stefanka Chukova, John Haywood, Ivy Liu and Richard Arnold.


Student Prizes

Thanks to Offlode for providing NZ$1000 in student prizes, and for presenting those prizes at the conference dinner. The results for the top student presentations were:

Paul Bracewell from Offlode with student prize co-winners Ting Wang and Tilman Davies

Best student talks:

1st equal: Tilman Davies: “On adaptive kernel estimates of spatially dependent disease risk”, and

1st equal: Ting Wang: “Hidden Markov models and mutual information investigation of possible link between GPS measurements and earthquakes”

3rd place: Keng-Hao Chang: “Robust regression using nonparametric scale normal mixtures”

Best poster: Lisa Woods: “A probabilistic method of tectonic stress estimation”

Student Perspectives

I like nothing more than to arrive at a conference sweating and out of breath. Which is precisely why the mostly uphill city of Wellington and its Victoria University provided an ideal setting for the 2009 NZSA conference. Luckily, though, there was plenty of chance to rest and take in some exceptional sessions from both academics and postgraduates.

I found the room for the workshop on semiparametric modelling to have moderately comfortable seats. Oh, and the course itself, given by Matt Wand, was extremely well-led and full of interesting stats. The workshop led to two more days of talks; I mostly attended the student sections.

 Funnily enough, I found myself actually understanding parts of various presentations to the point of even having questions to ask. This reflects the quality of the talks as well as my slowly increasing ability to listen to things that don’t directly concern me or my Playstation – and in spite of the rather odd student breakfast of spring rolls and wontons, the organisers of NZSA 2009 deserve a great deal of credit for supporting these fun and informative discussions.

Tilman Davies

Attending the NZSA conference was a great opportunity to attend talks from different areas of statistics. The successful applications of statistics to a variety of disciplines proved the value of statistics in solving real-world problems. Students from throughout New Zealand were able to present their work, and generous prizes for student talks and posters were awarded.

Apart from what I have learnt from the contributed talks, I really enjoyed the one-day short course and the plenary talk given by Professor Matt Wand on Semiparametric Regression. When I was doing my Masters back in China four years ago, we had a course on Nonparametric and Semiparametric Analysis. It was purely a theoretical course. Professor Wand not only introduced the theoretical background and the recent development of semiparametric regression, but also illustrated principles and practical use of the method using R scripts. It made us appreciate the power of statistics and the modern technology.

The special social activity for young statisticians, the Young Statisticians’ Breakfast, provided a good environment for the students to network.

Ting Wang

Young Statisticians’ breakfast

One Day Meeting of Palmy-Statisticians

Presented by
Institute of Fundamental Sciences
Massey University
Palmerston North

Venue: Bernard Chambers A - Fernwood Rm
Date: 23 October 2009
Time: 9 am - 5 pm
Keynote Speaker: Dr Ross Ihaka

The purpose of this forum is to bring statisticians in and around Massey University together for a day at our Institute for the presentation of their current research work and group discussion on issues relevant to applications.

Contact Ganes:

The International Biometric Society Australasian Region will hold its biennial meeting from Sunday, 29 November - Thursday, 3 December 2009 at the Suncourt Hotel and Conference Centre on the lakefront in Taupo. Click here for the conference website.


The scientific conference program will comprise a well-balanced mix of invited and contributed oral presentations as well as provide opportunity for networking, discussion and catching up with your biometric colleagues. The full programme will be available on the conference website soon. Abstracts have closed but you can still register for the conference and join the over 90 who have already registered. For full details go to

Invited speakers

There is an impressive array of keynote and invited speakers:

  • Martin Bland, University of York

  • Thomas Lumley, University of Washington

  • Louise Ryan, CSIRO

  • Chris Triggs, University of Auckland

  • Ross Ihaka, University of Auckland

  • Kaye Basford, University of Queensland

  • Alison Smith, Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute


Some financial assistance for student presenters is offered.


Prizes will be awarded for the best talk and poster presented by a "young" statistician. For the definition of “young” go here.

Social Program

The social program is aimed to provide a welcome distraction from scientific talks but hopefully not from meeting other delegates and exploring some of what po and its surrounds have to offer. There is a welcoming reception on Sunday evening, a young statisticians’ gathering and dinner on Monday evening, social activities on Tuesday afternoon and the conference dinner on Wednesday evening.

Satellite Courses

Two conference satellite courses will be held in Auckland during the preceding week.

Satellite course presenters: Martin Bland and Thomas Lumley

Cluster Randomised Trials

Martin Bland University of York, UK.
Wednesday - Thursday 25-26 November
City Campus,
University of Auckland

An R Workshop - Summer Fun with R

Thomas Lumley University of Washington
Friday 27 November 9:30am - 4:30pm
Maths and Physics Building
University of Auckland


Return to top