Richard Walker teaches journalism in the School of Media Arts. His research builds on his journalism background, which included 20 years working at the Waikato Times before finding his way to Wintec via a stint of freelancing.
He’s enjoying the freedom of his academic role to tell Waikato stories in more depth than the newsroom allowed.
Most recently he worked with several Media Arts colleagues on an exhibition at the Waikato Museum telling the history of Hamilton’s ring road. Richard provided the content and his colleagues provided the creativity, including a superb contoured model of Hamilton created by design tutor Luke McConnell.
That exhibition was a slight detour from the main route, which is a book that will tell the same history once the ring road is complete. That will happen when Wairere Drive breaks through to Cobham Drive, probably in 2020. The story stretches back five decades or more, and takes in a political stoush that made the front page of the Waikato Times, an award-winning social media campaign and the preservation of a green belt.
The book came from a writing project he did with a group of journalism students. And that came from a dog walking moment when he noticed a ribbon of paddocks in Fairview Downs was finally being developed for a much-delayed arterial route. The book is intended as a highly visual, readable account of the road’s development to appeal to a broad Hamilton readership.
Richard is also co-writing a book marking 50 years of Fieldays, commissioned by the Fieldays Society. What was quite possibly the world’s biggest-ever working bee has become a slick event attracting 130,000 visitors a year and showcasing the best of agricultural innovation. He and co-author Geoff Taylor have focused on the people stories behind the event, including the volunteers who have been there from the start. The book will be launched at the Society’s annual dinner at the end of the year.
Sadly, Richard’s dog barks no more, and he has turned to gully restoration for his outdoors activity. He is hoping to make the Hamilton gully system the subject of his next book.