Scouring Taupō’s silty bottom in search of spearfishers.
Last October, Chris and Jorinde Rapsey and their two children set off from Cape Reinga to walk Te Araroa, the 3000-kilometre track that runs the length of New Zealand. They lived outdoors for five months and walked an average of 20 kilometres a day. For nine-year-old Elizabeth and six-year-old Johnny, it was an immersive education—a form of learning increasingly absent from the lives of young New Zealanders, even as international research affirms the importance of children spending time in nature.
It seems like an ancient, static hunk of old rock, but the moon does seem to be tectonically active, according to new research based on four seisometers left on its surface during NASA’s Apollo programme. The devices recorded 28 shallow ‘moonquakes’ between 1969 and 1977. A recent paper published in Nature Geoscience analysed them in an attempt to pinpoint their epicentres. Researchers from the United States and Canada compared the epicentres to land features such as fault scarps, loose soil and rock deposits, and boulder movements, and say their findings may mean the moon is currently tectonically active.
On January 29, the Nelson Mail published a prophetic story: the fire risk in the region was the highest since 2001, a year of record drought. A week later, a contractor ploughing a paddock sparked a blaze that quickly covered 2000 hectares and threatened homes. “The start to summer was the third warmest on record for New Zealand,” says NIWA meteorologist Ben Noll. “The warm pattern has been a result of very warm sea-surface temperatures, both in New Zealand coastal waters and in the Tasman Sea, as well as a lack of cool southerly winds.” January 2019 is now the sunniest month on record for the entire South Island. Tasman experienced a 22-day dry spell—defined as consecutive days with less than 0.1 millimetre of rain—while Nelson has recorded 84 millimetres of rain during its summer, which would normally see 224 millimetres. Regional fire officers in the region report the highest fire-danger levels they’ve seen in 20 years. Scion’s fire buildup index, which reflects the amount and dryness of fuel, is more than twice as high as the historical average. In an average year, Nelson would have nine to 10 days of very high or extreme fire danger, says Grant Pearce, a fire scientist at Scion’s Rural Fire Research Group, but modelling shows that is likely to increase to 12-13 days on average, and 20-25 days in the worst years. It’s not the only region to experience change: “The number of severe fire-weather days is likely to increase in many parts of the country.”
Beneath the waters of Lake Waikaremōana is a lost world, a 2000-year-old tableau of the lake's surprising origin.
A study analysing the climate-change goals of various nations has ranked New Zealand among the worst performers. Along with China and Russia, New Zealand’s climate change polices would propel the world to five degrees of warming by the end of the century, says the study, published in November in the journal Nature Communications. Researchers looked at different countries’ climate-change policies and determined the temperature rise that would ensue if all other nations followed their example. The United States and Australia are ranked slightly better, but their policies would lead to more than four degrees of warming. Recently, the World Meteorological Organization’s 2018 Climate Report found the world was not on track to meet the climate-change targets determined in the Paris Agreement. Similarly, a United Nations report published in November found that emissions of carbon dioxide rose in 2017, the first increase in four years. To meet the Paris goals, emissions must peak by 2020.
Anke Richter has reported extensively on cults—and for the last six months, Gloriavale has been her focus.
Frustrated with the lack of government action on the looming spectre of climate change, Lisa McLaren helped start the campaign that resulted in the Zero Carbon Bill.
Yan Zhang starts work when most photographers put their cameras away. Rather than rely on the sun, Zhang uses moonlight, starlight and the frail beams from climbers’ headlamps to illuminate his landscapes, capturing a rare and ghostly vision of our high places.
Godwits and wrybills roost on chenier shell banks at Miranda, and the western shore of the Firth of Thames. Each year, godwits will embark on the longest non-stop migration of any bird in the world, flying from this site to the Yellow Sea in China, then to Alaska, and returning across the Pacific, direct, to New Zealand.
Deep channels lead inland from the harbour entrance. The edges are laced with mangroves and the shallows green with meadows of seagrass. These are nurseries for small fish and rich habitats for shellfish and other crustaceans.
Eagle rays bask in the warm, clear shallows of Parengarenga, one of the best preserved harbour systems in New Zealand.
In many of Auckland's older suburbs, stormwater and sewerage is combined. As the population has increased, infrastructure has failed to adapt adequately, and changes in climate make rainfall events more intense.
The irony is that the camera can't see far enough to properly document the worst sites in the Hauraki Gulf—they're too turbid to see more than a foot. So we're here, in the serene and relatively intact harbour environment at Leigh, to film human impact where the water remains clear enough to get a picture, but where our influence is becoming obvious.
At Pōnui Island, under the shade of picturesque pōhutukawa, effluent from a farm drains into the Waiheke Channel adjacent to the Te Matuku Marine Reserve. Stock roam freely through the waterway and the wetland above it. The smell, fortunately for the viewer, can only be imagined.
A Leigh Fisheries longliner reels in a catch with practiced efficiency. Target species—such as snapper—go to the fish bin and then to market, and a flick of the wrist dispatches non-target species back into the sea.
We are citizens of the sea. Māori arrived in New Zealand by sea, as did Pakeha, and our commercial centre of Auckland lies on the shores of two harbours and at the headwaters of the immense Hauraki Gulf, Tikapa Moana.
Snapper congregate in the shallows of Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve at an abundance and maturity that may closely reflect the original snapper populations of the Hauraki Gulf. There are three to four times the number of snapper inside the reserve as outside and up to ten times the number of crayfish.
Fishing effort, day after day, century after century, has changed the shape of this place. It’s still heaving with reef fish, but the predators are gone. It’s still resplendent with sargassum weed, but kina that were once devoured by snapper and other reef predators are tearing holes through the fabric of the ecosystem.
Thanks, you're good to go!
Thanks, you're good to go!
Ask your librarian to subscribe to this service next year. Alternatively, use a home network and buy a digital subscription—just $1/week...
Subscribe to our free newsletter for news and prizes