Science and environment

NZ filmmaker documenting impacts of war in Ukraine

Nick Fisher is a New Zealand filmmaker who is travelling the world documenting what he calls "misunderstood parts of the planet" for his YouTube channel, Indigo Traveller. The channel has amassed more than 1.4 million subscribers. He has most recently crossed the border into Ukraine to film the impacts of the war. Nick joins us from Budapest in Hungary, where he is based.

NZ filmmaker documenting impacts of war in Ukraine
0:00 / 3:32
Science and environment

Supplementary science resource gets thumbs up from pupils

A quarter of the country's primary and intermediate schools are now signed up to receive The House of Science resource kits and the waiting list is growing. Former High School teacher, Chris Duggan founded the programme to supply hands on learning kits to subscriber schools aimed at raising science literacy. There's now a waiting list. She talks to Kathryn about the ongoing demand along with Ngongotahā Primary  principal Craig McFadyen who says there's much excitement at his school every time the Big Blue Box of House of Science goodies arrives

Supplementary science resource gets thumbs up from pupils
0:00 / 15:18
Science and environment

40 dead blue penguins washed up on Far North Beach

Climate change is being blamed for more than 40 little blue penguins washing up dead over a week at a Far North Beach. The lifeless bodies of the Korora were found on Tokerau Beach in Doubtless Bay between the 2nd and 8th of May. Charlotte Cook has the story.

40 dead blue penguins washed up on Far North Beach
0:00 / 3:16
Science and environment

All aboard? The cruise ship comeback

Cruise ships will be returning to New Zealand shores this summer. The tourism industry is hopeful of a swift rebound in passenger numbers, but is that really what we want? Our maritime border is about to reopen and cruise ships will soon be returning to our shores. The first one is due on 16 October – 946 days since the March 2020 lockdown stopped them docking. The cruise industry here is looking forward to a swift rebound as the days of being locked up on a boat where Covid-19 is running rampant are fading from memory. But tourism experts believe there is growing resistance to the arrival of hordes of cruise passengers swamping local communities, as the capacities of mega ships shoot up towards 8000. Otago University Professor of Tourism James Higham tells The Detail about the factors we should be considering as cruise ships return. He says Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has spoken about taking this opportunity to reset the operating model for tourism, into one that's far more resilient and sustainable. "The minister has said very clearly that the status quo cannot be the model for the direction of tourism in the future, because in the past it's been unsustainable and has lacked resilience. He stated….that we won't go back to how it was. "Now that obviously raises the question of, what will the future of tourism look like?" Higham says pre-pandemic tourism was based very much on visitor numbers and economic impacts. "But that lacked sufficient attention on some really important aspects of tourism, which we now realise we can no longer ignore." For cruise ships that includes environmental issues, the lack of quality time spent in New Zealand by passengers making one-day port calls, the fact that the cruise ship companies are the ones benefiting most from visiting our shores, and questions over labour conditions that the industry has largely ignored. Higham says now is the time to have those discussions, and to ask if cruising meets those important aspects of tourism. "If they do come with high costs – then we need to make them accountable for those costs." He's written an article for The Conversation saying new tourism should enrich Aotearoa New Zealand’s four kinds of capital: natural, financial, social and human/cultural. The cruise ship industry argues that New Zealand needs the business that cruises bring. In 2018, 131 cruise ships docked in Auckland, and it's estimated their presence boosted the economy by $200 million a year. There was a plan to build a wharf extension in the harbour to accommodate mega-ships, but it was strongly opposed and fell over under the weight of Auckland Council’s post-Covid-19 financial restraints. House of Travel's cruise expert Jeff Leckey disputes suggestions that passenger spending is disappointingly small, pointing out New Zealand tourism operators run shore excursions, and passengers visit local cafes, bars and shops. There are 17 new ships launching this year, and Leckey says a lot of lines are retiring the older, more inefficient ships that are costing them a lot of money. He says over the last 18 months they've had the chance to pause and look at what they can improve. That includes investigating alternative fuels and cutting the use of plastics on board. "It's baby steps, but it’s going in the right direction," he tells The Detail. Find out how to listen and subscribe to The Detail here. 

All aboard? The cruise ship comeback
0:00 / 22:28
Science and environment

Government investment in plant based food producer

The government is investing in Sustainable Foods, a plant based food producer on the Kapiti Coast. As part of the strategy by the government to develop a low emissions high skill economy that meets global demands. Sustainable Foods will get a loan of up to 1.25 million dollars to continue expanding its range and compete in the Northern Hemisphere market. Justin Lemmens is co-founder and CEO of Sustainable Foods, he talks to Wallace.

Government investment in plant based food producer
0:00 / 13:43
Science and environment

Transforming Recycling plan

How will the Government's new recycling plan across the country and will it make recycling less confusing? The Ministry for the Environment's proposed Transforming Recycling plan includes a 20 cents return scheme for most drink containers, though excludes dairy. It's one of three key elements in the proposal to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. The other two proposals in the plan are for standardised kerbside recycling collections across all regions and for households and businesses to separate food scraps from general waste. Roderick Boys, Principal Advisor at the Ministry for the Environment, explains the plan, and we'll discuss with Sophie Mander, Chair of the Territorial Authorities' Officers (TAO) Forum, the nationwide body run by Waste Minz - who have submitted to to the proposal and Marty Hoffart, Chair of the Zero Waste Network.

Transforming Recycling plan
0:00 / 20:44
Science and environment

Professor Craig Cary: exploring extreme bacteria in Antarctica

A robot that can sample planktonic communities under the Antarctic ice shelf is the latest tool developed by Professor Craig Cary and his colleagues to help forecast the future impacts of climate change. A microbial ecologist, Cary has studied bacteria in the world's most extreme environments, including deep sea hydrothermal vents and our own geothermal areas. He is the director of the International Centre for Terrestrial Antarctic Research at the University of Waikato, and has clocked up 22 deployments to Antarctica looking at the continent's bioscience - from what is in the soil and ice, to examining penguin guano. Cary is currently conducting work on Mount Erebus and remote North Victoria Land.

Professor Craig Cary: exploring extreme bacteria in Antarctica
0:00 / 30:24
Science and environment

Jonathan Drori: saving bananas and rediscovering orchids

Author, plant lover and former BBC documentary maker Jonathan Drori joins the show for a chat about recent botanical news. This week, experts from Cambridge University look set to save the humble banana from extinction after developing a technique to graft different species of the fruit together, something previously thought impossible. And a mignonette leek orchid, which was last documented in 1933, has been rediscovered in Australia - which is home to approximately 1550 species of Orchidaceae. Drori is the author of Around the World in 80 Trees and Around the World in 80 Plants.

Jonathan Drori: saving bananas and rediscovering orchids
0:00 / 19:28
Science and environment

Black hole image “incredibly exciting” development

Last week was an epic week for astronomers, mathematicians and astrophysicists around the world with the capturing of the first picture of a black hole in this galaxy. The picture shows a halo of dust and gas, tracing the outline of a colossal black hole 55 million light years from Earth. Known as Sagittarius A* the object is a staggering four million times the mass of our Sun. It was a particular thrill for the University of Canterbury's Canterbury Distinguished Professor Roy Kerr as it proved a his theory - posited more than 50 years ago -when he found the exact solution of Albert Einstein's equations that describe rotating black holes. Dr Kerr's colleague and University of Canterbury Professor of Physics David Wiltshire says it's an incredibly exciting development that will enhance understanding of the crucial role that supermassive black holes play in the life cycle and ecology of galaxies.

Black hole image “incredibly exciting” development
0:00 / 25:53
Science and environment

Public invited to choose new Scott Base colours

In other news, Antarctica New Zealand wants your input on the Scott Base redevelopment by choosing the building's colour. The buildings will be surrounded by ice... so designers are offering the options of kakariki green, karaka orange and kikorangi blue. At the moment kakariki has more than half of all the votes in the online poll. The Scott Base redevelopment project director Jon Ager told Charlotte Cook how they whittled the colours down to three.

Public invited to choose new Scott Base colours
0:00 / 3:19

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