Category Archives: Awesomely Beautiful New Zealand

Rich? Scared about the Trumpocalypse? Try New Zealand – Daily Mail. 

Apocalyptic anxieties have been heightened after the symbolic “Doomsday Clock” was moved 30 seconds closer to midnight on the strength of Trump’s comments about nuclear weapons and climate change.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set it at two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, the closest it has been since the height of the Cold War in 1953.

The elevation of an unpredictable billionaire to the helm of nuclear-armed America has given fresh impetus to the idea of remote New Zealand as a bulwark for civilisation in the event of a global catastrophe.

The idea has pedigree — British science fiction writer John Wyndham’s 1955 novel “The Chrysalids” describes a post-apocalyptic landscape where Zealand (or Sealand) is the only place that has not sunk into barbarity.

The fictional Zealand escaped the holocaust because it was “somewhat secluded” and it seems that, in uncertain times, the real New Zealand is attracting interest for the same reason.

“The world is heading into a major crisis,” German-born internet mogul and alleged online piracy kingpin Kim Dotcom tweeted late last year.
“I saw it coming and that’s why we moved to New Zealand. Far away & not on any nuclear target list.”

After Trump’s election in November, about 17,000 Americans registered interest online in moving to New Zealand, a 13-fold increase on regular levels.

Immigration New Zealand also reported a spike in inquiries from Britain after the Brexit vote.

Just last week it emerged that tech titan Peter Thiel, one of Trump’s strongest supporters, quietly obtained New Zealand citizenship in 2011 and owns several properties in the South Pacific nation.

Other rich-listers who have either moved to New Zealand or bought land include Hollywood director James Cameron, Russian steel magnate Alexander Abramov and US financial services guru William Foley.

One of China’s wealthiest executives, Jack Ma, said last year that at least 20 former colleagues from his Alibaba empire had retired to New Zealand and he was considering purchasing a property himself.

The nation of 4.5 million people is nestled deep in the South Pacific Ocean, some 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) from Australia.

It is prosperous, has spectacular landscapes and Transparency International rates it the least corrupt country in the world, alongside Denmark.

The New Yorker magazine this month reported it had become the refuge of choice for ultra-rich Americans looking for a bolthole if Trump’s presidency goes disastrously wrong.

Peter Campbell of high-end construction firm Triple Star Management said wealthy Americans wanted helipads in their luxury escapes, but not necessarily underground shelters.

“It’s not like you need to build a bunker under your front lawn, because you’re several thousand miles away from the White House,” he told the magazine.

Daily Mail

Swimming in a river? Be ‘vigilant’, scientist says

Kiwis “must be vigilant” about swimming in our rivers, a freshwater scientist says, with data often showing high levels of E. coli in waterways.

Herald investigation last week revealed how samples taken from two Auckland spots were well above levels of the key faecal indicator that would be considered safe for swimming.

But a study by the National Institute of Water and Atmosphere (NIWA) shows that’s a regular occurrence in rivers around the country.

A recent analysis of 928 spots tested between 2009 and 2013 showed that all urban sites exceeded the minimum acceptable state for “primary contact” like swimming, as set out by the Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

This threshold was also crossed at 91 per cent of pastoral sites, 46 per cent of exotic forest sites and 29 per cent of “natural” areas of native forest.

About half of New Zealand’s river length is fed by catchments that are mainly influenced by indigenous land cover, while 45.7 percent are influenced mainly by pasture, 5.1 percent by exotic forest, and 0.8 percent by urban land cover.

NZ Herald

New Zealand’s greatest gifts: Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve – Siobhan Downes. 

New Zealand is known for its abundance of natural treasures on land – but to see one of its star attractions, you need to shift your eyes skyward.

While many people around the world have never seen a sky full of stars because of the damaging effects of light pollution, the skies above the heart of the South Island are blessed with thousands of glittering constellations, as far as the eye can see.

The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere, and one of only 11 in the world.

40 years on from the Bastion Point occupation: Where are we now? – Hannah Martin. 

On January 5, 1977, a small group of Maori pitched tents on top of a hill. It was the first day of what would become the 506-day occupation of Bastion Point. 

Their message was simple: Bastion Point is Maori land.

Under the leadership of brothers Joe and Grant Hawke and Jack and Roger Rameka, Ngati Whatua o Orakei set about to stop Auckland’s Bastion Point (Takaparawhau) from being used for a housing subdivision.

Forty years later, arguments over the proposed Ihumatao development in south Auckland – where 80 hectares of historic Maori land are set to be used for 450 new homes – beg the question: did enough people take notice of what happened at Bastion Point?

In 1840, Ngati Whatua chief Apihai Te Kawau signed the Treaty of Waitangi and gifted 3000 acres of land to the Crown to establish Auckland city.

Barely after the ink had dried, Ngati Whatua were virtually landless, left only with a quarter of an acre of land, for an urupa (cemetery).

So when plans for a high-end housing subdivision at Bastion Point were unveiled by former prime minister Robert Muldoon in the late 70s, the people of Ngati Whatua sat peacefully in protest to protect what little of their land remained.

“Gutter Holes” and “Sewer Pipes”. A New Zealand environmental crisis second to none – Chris de Freitas. 

It is an uncontroversial fact that the state of the country’s freshwater resources has for decades been moving towards ecological collapse.

Freshwater ecosystems are key features of New Zealand’s natural heritage. Plentiful precipitation feeds many hundreds of streams, more than 70 major rivers, about 770 lakes and numerous underground aquifers.

More than 700 lakes are classified as “shallow” and up to 40 per cent of these are nutrient-enriched and no longer capable of supporting fish life.

Until relatively recently, water has never been considered a scarce resource in New Zealand. Consequently, the economic and regulatory controls over its allocation and use have been neglected.

The greatest impacts, however, have not come from water use but from land use: Agriculture, Urban, Dams, Mining & Forestry. 

NZ Herald 

World famous in New Zealand: Hobbiton Movie Set. 

The Hobbiton Movie Set is located near Matamata, in the Waikato region. When a film location scout came calling in 1998, Ian Alexander had no idea his sheep and cattle farm would soon become the site of one of New Zealand’s top tourist attractions. In fact, he hadn’t even heard of The Lord of the Rings, let alone that bloke Peter Jackson. But he gave them permission to construct a hobbit village on his property.

At the end of the shoot for the first films, the set was dismantled, and the Alexanders started conducting guided tours around the remaining hobbit holes.

In 2009, the set was rebuilt for The Hobbit trilogy. This time, it was done so on the condition it would be permanent. Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world come to the farm, and are delighted to find The Shire really does exist.

Richard Dawkins urges New Zealand to offer UK and US scientists citizenship so they can escape ‘redneck bigotry’. 

Evoluntionary biologist Richard Dawkins has reacted to Donald Trump’s shock election victory by urging his fellow scientists to move to New Zealand.

“There are top scientists in America and Britain – talented, creative people, desperate to escape the redneck bigotry of their home countries. Dear New Zealand, you are a deeply civilized small nation, with a low population in a pair of beautiful, spacious islands. You care about climate change, the future of the planet and other scientifically important issues.

Science in the UK and US will be hit extremely hard: in the one case, by the xenophobically inspired severing of painstakingly built-up relationships with European partners; in the other case by the election of an unqualified, narcissistic, misogynistic sick joke as president. In neither case is the disaster going to be short-lived: in America because of the non-retirement rule of the Supreme Court; in Britain because Brexit is irreversible.

The contribution that creative intellectuals can make to the prosperity and cultural life of a nation is out of all proportion to their numbers. You could make New Zealand the Athens of the modern world. Why not write to all the Nobel Prize winners in Britain and America, write to the Fields medalists, Kyoto and Crafoord Prize and International Cosmos Prize winners, the Fellows of the Royal Society, the elite scientists in the National Academy of Sciences, the Fellows of the British Academy and similar bodies in America. Offer them citizenship,” 

The Independent 

At last, that black stain in Irish rugby has been removed, with a first ever victory over the All Blacks in 29 attempts. –  Irish Times. 

Ireland end 111 years of hurt to beat the All Blacks.

Fully deserved it was too. Soldier Field crackled with atmosphere, vast swathes of the 63,300 bedecked in green watched Ireland dominate vast swathes of the first-half and kept counter-punching in a riotous rollercoaster of a second half, ultimately outscoring the back-to-back world champions and runaway winners of the Rugby Championship by five tries to four, and thus end their world record 18-match sequence of test wins.

The Irish Times

The All Blacks have Fallen. Ireland break 111year drought. Dublin will be Inebriated for a month! 

Has there ever been a year like this? And now the mighty All Blacks have fallen in the Year of the Sporting Underdog.

Taking inspiration from the Cubs, it was another “Miracle in Chicago” as Ireland’s national rugby team ended an even longer streak than the Windy City’s baseball team has endured by doing what was considered impossible – beating the best team in the game’s history, the All Blacks.

There must be something in the water in Chicago this week. Before 62,000 fans at Solider Field, Ireland were magnificent in a magnificent sporting week.

And now their 40-29 victory over the All Blacks – the first in their history – has added an exclamation mark to an incredible sporting year where the underdog has ruled.

NZ Herald 

A historic date for ever more for the rugby mad Irish. Awesome. 

Giant Weta at Auckland Zoo. Video

Giant weta are several species of weta in the genus Deinacrida of the family Anostostomatidae. Giant weta are endemic to New Zealand and are examples of island gigantism. Wikipedia

Scientific name: Deinacrida

Higher classification: Anostostomatidae

Rank: Genus

Watch: NZ Herald – video

Tractors cross the finish line for Sir Ed’s hut. 

Three tractors on a journey to raise money for the conservation of Sir Edmund Hillary’s hut in Antarctica have made it to the finish line.

The Expedition South team collected donations towards the $1 million needed for the hut between leaving Piha Beach on August 23 and arriving in Mt Cook village about 2pm on Monday.

Doing the lawn is a nightmare

​Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, New Zealand is the world’s steepest residential street, according to the Guinness World Records. 

As with many other parts of early Dunedin, and indeed New Zealand, streets were laid out in a grid pattern with no consideration for the terrain, usually by planners in London.

At its maximum, about 70 metres (230 ft) below the top,[3] the slope of Baldwin Street is about 1:2.86 (19° or 35%).