The massive pillars rise out of the hillside as though they have always been there, surrounded by a reckless litter of leaf and bark; as though their powerful boughs, draped with hanging plants, have always held the sky away from the land.
The massive pillars rise out of the hillside as though they have always been there, surrounded by a reckless litter of leaf and bark; as though their powerful boughs, draped with hanging plants, have always held the sky away from the land.
Thank you, New Zealanders, for your overwhelming support. We now have 7000 subscribers — twice as many as our target — and all the shop copies we printed have been sold. Response to the first issue has been fantastic. Some of the scores of letters we have received from readers are printed on pages 7 and 8. One of the most exciting responses comes from Horowhenua, where a primary school has been using our first issue as the basis of its social studies programme. Colin Dunn, headmaster of Foxton Beach Primary School, took a class set of copies of the magazine and the Form One and Two students have been working through the stories one by one. The children love it! And as a result of reading the article on Goat Island marine reserve, they plan to take action to preserve the Foxton Beach area. Obviously Foxton Beach School takes geography seriously, and this became even more apparent when we visited the school and found a full-scale telescope in the schoolyard. Foxton Beach is the only primary school in the country, we believe, with its own observatory. We heard from another teacher that there was more information on our rock pool poster than in the education syllabus resource material. It's feedback like this that makes us confident we're heading in the right direction with New Zealand Geographic. We sincerely believe that this is one teaching resource that should be in every school. And not only in schools, of course, but in the home. New Zealanders are becoming more and more aware of the global threats facing Planet Earth, and we are convinced that the subject of geography must take centre stage in the education of parents and children alike. New Zealand Geographic has been launched with just that purpose in mind. We hope that each article, photograph, illustration and poster will in some way improve our appreciation of New Zealand and its people. And beyond that, to build respect for the planet and all its inhabitants. We are proud that our journal is already being used as a learning tool to make geography exciting and relevant to schoolchildren in New Zealand. Who knows, after reading this issue our Foxton fans may all become amateur beekeepers!
Gorse is on the DSIR's hit list. Since March of this year, the Entomology Division of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research has been waging biological warfare on the plant that Dr Richard Hill, the scientist in charge of the project, calls "New Zealand's commonest and most costly weed". Imported gorse spider mites have been released throughout the country in a control programme that aims to reduce the abundance, growth rate and regeneration of gorse. Local authorities in 76 counties are contributing around $2,000 each in a cooperative five-year operation to bring not just gorse under control, but also ragwort, Californian and nodding thistle, broom and alligator weed. Gorse spider mites are a brick-red colour and are no bigger than a grain of sand. They live in colonies of several thousand inside webs which they spin on to gorse branches, and feed exclusively on gorse, piercing the plant's cells and extracting the chlorophyll. The mites live for about a month and adults lay one to two eggs per day. Although they are capable of killing off whole plants, their expected effect on the country's gorse problem will be more of a thinning action, rather than total eradication. At present gorse covers almost 10,000 square kilometres of land, and 1985 estimates of annual control costs ran to $17 million. If the gorse mite can establish itself successfully, it should be able to keep gorse at low to medium levels and stop it from taking over productive pasture and forestry land. Says Judy Grindell, extension manager for the weeds programme, "Gorse will still be a common plant, but hopefully it will be unable to form the huge, impenetrable blocks of 'old man gorse' which have been such a problem to farmers and foresters." The gorse mite programme suffered a temporary setback late last year, just after the first shipment of mites was brought in from England. While the mites were being held in quarantine, it was noticed that some were infected with a fungal disease. The mites were successfully treated with a fungicide, but with an unexpected outcome: all the offspring were male. A fresh shipment of mites was required, and now a mass-rearing programme is in full swing at DSIR Lincoln. The first releases were made in South Otago in early March, and by the end of autumn the mites will have been released as far north as Mangonui. Each release consists of five colonies of mites, each containing 50 - 100 adults and 200 - 300 offspring. Each colony is housed on a single gorse shoot which is tied to the host bush. Left to themselves, the mites spread by wind or spun threads, but to speed up the process DSIR staff and noxious weeds officers will "harvest" new colonies and relocate them to suitable sites. The DSIR does not expect biological control of gorse to replace conventional herbicidal control, but there are advantages. "Bio-control is environmentally more acceptable than the wide-scale use of herbicides," says Grindell. It is also cheaper and self-sustaining." One previous attempt has been made in New Zealand to curb the spread of gorse with an introduced insect. In 1931, the gorse seed weevil began efficiently destroying gorse seeds each spring, and can still be found in gorse pods. Unfortunately, New Zealand gorse, unlike the UK variety, blossoms in autumn as well as spring, and the weevil is not active during the autumn bloom. The DSIR is presently looking at three other gorse control agents: the shoot moth, pod moth and gorse thrip. Between all five, gorse in New Zealand shouldn't stand a chance.
An area around Banks Peninsula in Canterbury has been declared New Zealand's first marine mammal sanctuary. The former Minister of Conservation, Helen Clark, accorded special status to these waters in December 1988 to provide protection for the local population of Hector's dolphins. The diminutive Hector's dolphin is unique to New Zealand and is thought to be the world's rarest oceanic dolphin. Surveys have put its numbers at fewer than 4000 animals Averaging just 1.5m in length, Hector's dolphins are recognisable by their distinctive grey and black markings and rounded dorsal fins. These likeable animals are attracted to any water craft, around which they cavort in small family groups, body surfing and bowriding in the boat's wake. Graceful and intelligent though they are, the dolphins are in considerable danger from commercial and recreational setnetting activities. In the past four years at least 223 animals have drowned in setnets in the Canterbury region. This loss represents between a quarter and a third of what is thought to be the dolphin's largest breeding population. Given the dolphin's relatively short lifespan (18 years) and low reproductive rate (females give birth in two or three year intervals from the age of seven to nine upwards), such a drop in numbers poses a serious threat to the dolphin population. The highest number of deaths occurs during the summer holiday season, when recreational setnetting is at its peak and dolphins move inshore for calving. From November to February the mothers gather in "nursery groups" less than 800m from the shore and there they suckle their young all year. One six-month-old calf was found dead in a net at Akaroa only metres from the shore. An autopsy revealed tooth marks on its snout, indicating that the frantic mother had struggled to free her calf from the net. The sanctuary concept was put forward to drastically reduce the chances of entanglement during the critical calving period. Now, with a ban on the use of setnets between November and February in the 1130 sq km protected area, the population may have a chance to recover. Further restrictions on net size and catch per boat are designed to help build up fish stocks in the area. These had been severely depleted by heavy setnetting over many years. The plight of the dolphins was only realised recently, by two zoologists studying for their PhD at Canterbury University. Elizabeth Slooten and Steve Dawson began a survey of Hector's dolphin four years ago with an epic 8400km circumnavigation of New Zealand. They were surprised at the small population size, between 3000 - 4000, but were horrified when they learned of the numbers being lost by drowning. The problem, Dawson explains, lies in the dolphin's behaviour when close to shore and in familiar territory. It has been known for some time that dolphins and other cetaceans navigate using a remarkably sensitive inbuilt "sonar". Initially it was thought that thin nylon fishing nets were invisible to the sonar signals sent out by the dolphins. Now it appears likely that they temporarily "turn off" their sonar in familiar waters; they fail to detect the nets in time and simply blunder into them. "It's similar to driving at excessive speed and failing to take a bend," says Steve Dawson. Once snagged, the animals are unable to reverse out of the net and are trapped underwater, drowning within minutes. Like all marine mammals, Hector's dolphins must surface to breathe — even a two-minute dive is exceptionally long. New Zealand is following the example of several other nations in putting restrictions on setnetting to safeguard marine mammals. A similar ban has been implemented in California, where restrictions have reduced the number of harbour porpoise drownings. In Australia the use of gill nets has been prohibited in all states except Tasmania. With growing concern about the effects of offshore "wall of death" nets, it is likely that further netting restrictions will surface in the future. Meanwhile, the country's first marine mammal sanctuary offers new opportunities for tourism in Canterbury. Whale-watching is a multimillion dollar industry in Hawaii and Boston, and the South Island already has one dolphin- and whale-watching company operating from Kaikoura. With the right promotion, Hector's dolphins could be a big hit in the South.
A supergiant iceberg floating in Antarctica's Ross Sea is providing scientists with valuable new data on how icebergs form and the direction of currents in Antarctic waters. The tabular berg, known as B-9, broke away from the eastern part of Ross Ice Shelf in October 1987 and has now drifted more than 1000km around eastern Ross Sea (see map page 14). When B-9 formed it was approximately 154km long and 36km wide — one of the largest bergs on record. The shape of the berg was largely determined by weaknesses in the ice shelf. As early as 1971 huge rifts (one of them 100km long, 5km wide and extending almost the full 300m depth of the ice shelf) had been observed in the area. Such zones of weakness are natural "fault lines" along which big bergs form. The actual calving process is probably triggered by flexing of the ice sheet due to ocean swells. Ross Ice Shelf is basically a glacier, or more accurately, the confluence of a number of glacial flows extending from the Antarctic continent. Ice forming on the land spreads outward under its own weight into the sea to create a wedge-shaped shelf. The pressure of new ice flowing over and under the old results in a massive thickness of ice which, in the case of Ross Ice Shelf, is estimated to extend 50m above sea level. After 17 months B-9 is still wandering around the cold waters of the Antarctic continental shelf.The berg hasn't changed much and is still about 140km long. Antarctic icebergs finally melt when they drift into warmer waters between latitudes 68 and 45 South, but B-9 is still several hundred kilometres from such waters and it may take several years to reach them. Since it formed, B-9 has drifted in a slow but complex manner. It has been pushed at an average speed of about 2.5km per day by a succession of ocean currents. Between late June and mid December 1988 it followed an almost circular course perhaps suggesting a huge current gyre in the Ross Sea. By studying such a large, easily identifiable iceberg we can learn a lot about how and where icebergs drift, and their behaviour. This information will help us predict how possible offshore mineral activities in the region would be threatened by icebergs and, on the other side of the equation, how the Ross Sea ecosystem could be affected by environmental changes. More immediately, the formation of B-9 throws light on how large bergs are created, and the mechanisms by which ice shelves, and on a larger scale the entire Antarctic ice sheet, lose mass. This information is important because the ice sheet exerts a major influence over processes affecting the world's climate and sea levels. The information B-9 is providing on currents in Ross Sea is important for several reasons. These currents influence the annual freezing of the sea around Antarctica, and sea ice drift and melt; they also affect the marine ecosystem (including krill, penguins and whales) by influencing availability of food and habitat, and hence breeding success. Ross Sea currents may also play a part in determining how the greenhouse effect could influence Antarctica.
Automation has brought to an end the tradition of lighthouse keeping in New Zealand. By mid-1990 the switch will be complete and the manned lighthouse will be no more. Tony Reid visited four of the remaining keepers to discover what draws these people to their unique and seemingly romantic way of life.
On the night of Monday March 13, 1989, New Zealanders were treated to a spectacular display of the Aurora Australis or "southern lights". Many parts of Australia also witnessed this breathtaking display which resulted from a large solar flare occurring a few days earlier. Solar flares, which last for about 20 minutes, are caused when the normally 5000°C gases above the Sun's surface are suddenly heated to 10,000°C. At 5.38am NZST (New Zealand Standard Time) on March 10, a flare some 36 times the size of the Earth erupted and shot 100,000km into space. Electrically charged particles (electrons and protons) accelerated by the flare travelled at 500km per second, arriving at the Earth in a little over three days to cause the aurora. Earth has a strong magnetic field by planetary standards, and this is usually sufficient to deflect most electrical particles streaming from the Sun. However, under flare conditions these particles can collect behind the Earth and a sort of magnetic explosion takes place, hurling some of the collected particles into deep space and squeezing the rest back against the Earth to spiral down the magnetic field lines. These particles collide with the upper atmosphere and cause it to glow from a height of 100 to 200km – an effect similar to the glowing gas of a neon sign. This glow is the aurora. It spreads in a large ring centred on the magnetic pole, and in our part of the southern hemisphere normally reaches only as far north as the sub-antarctic islands. During a strong influx of electrical particles from the Sun the ring expands, and on rare occasions, such as the March 13 aurora, it can reach much further north. That night the aurora was observed from at least as far north as Exmouth in Western Australia, at latitude 21.8°. Invercargill, in the south of the South Island, is well placed for observing aurorae. On the evening of March 13, even before the twilight of the setting sun had disappeared, an eerie, pale green glow was evident in the south, with areas of cloud low on the horizon appearing dark against it. For the next hour this glow gradually filled more and more of the sky, finally stretching past the zenith (the point directly above an observer's head). Simultaneously, a faint, pale green rainbow-shaped arc slowly moved higher and higher in the sky until by 10.00pm NZST it stretched west to east and passed through the zenith. Soon after this two broad rays from the western horizon rose high into the sky – one pale green, the other bright red. The red one moved up the arc, and within 15 minutes many more red and cream-coloured rays were reaching up to near the zenith from all parts of the sky. At this stage the aurora was so bright it was casting a faint shadow. Just as when you look up into rain, and the falling drops appear to radiate from a point, so too these colourful auroral rays appear to radiate from a point near overhead, creating a feature referred to as a corona. The radiant point is known as the observer's "magnetic zenith", and from Invercargill this is slightly north east of the true zenith. By 11.00pm the aurora had faded back to a glow, but the early morning hours of March 14 were witness to resurgences of the bright red colouring. Over the next two or three years, more large, bright aurorae are likely to be seen, particularly from southern New Zealand and Australia. This is because the Sun is approaching what is called its "maximum" of activity. For reasons not yet understood, the Sun has quiet periods, where the flares are few and weak and the sunspot numbers are low, and active periods (such as now), when it develops extremely energetic flares and numerous sunspots that are often very large. These periods of minimum and maximum activity, the "solar cycle", occur on an 11-year basis. Not all maxima are as active as others, but the present one appears set to break all records. It rose from a 1986 September minimum very rapidly and is essentially a year ahead of schedule. Sunspots are a useful indicator of the Sun's activity and many amateur astronomers contribute to our knowledge by counting them daily. Sunspots are regions on the Sun's surface, often very much larger than the Earth, where gases rise, cool, and sink back down. In cooling to 3000°C they appear dark against the 5500°C surface. Some of the largest spots or groups of spots can be seen with the naked eye, although they must be viewed through a dark piece of glass or a welder's helmet to prevent eye damage. Never look at the Sun through binoculars or telescopes, as this will result in instant blindness! An enormous group of spots was associated with the March aurora-producing flares, and was followed by observers for two weeks as the Sun's rotation carried it across the surface facing us. This region was very active, producing flares approximately once a day during the time it was visible. It only needs this region (which may survive several 28-day solar rotations), or a similar one, producing more flares in our direction, to create another spectacular aurora. It is therefore worthwhile keeping a close watch on this winter's night skies.
While mountaineers Rob Hall and Gary Ball prepare to strike for the summit of Everest, a Second New Zealand expedition is waiting for an official go-ahead to cross the Tibetan border. Both expeditions, sponsored by New Zealand Geographic, are attempting something new in Everest mountaineering history. The Ball-Hall team has joined with two sherpa climbers Fincho Norbu and Apa Sherpa in a lightweight attempt on the 8848m mountain's south pillar. Rob Hall said his small team was taking a stand on the issue of base camp pollution by back loading the team's non-burnable rubbish. Tin cans and glass will be crushed and carried down the valley by yaks to be buried off the glacier. Mike Perry and the nine-member New Zealand Everest expedition intend climbing the difficult North Face route, climbing without bottled oxygen or sherpa climbing back-up. If successful, they will be the first New Zealanders to climb this route, which has seen only six climbers make it to the summit. Their attempt depends on martial law being lifted in Tibet in time for their planned schedule, with serious climbing beginning on April 24. Perry is confident the expedition, planned for five years and with a budget of $100,000, will go ahead.
For the last 25 million years New Zealand's shores have been receiving a constant influx of Australian immigrants: plants and animals which have been blown across the Tasman by the prevailing westerly winds. Most successful among the travellers have been the birds, and their continuing arrival provides a bright spot on our often bleak ornithological record of extinctions and endangered species.
With the advance of autumn the constellation Corvus, the crow, soars almost directly overhead. Of all the 88 constellations, Corvus is one of the few in which the pattern of stars is recognisably related to the named object, in this case a crow flying east to west. Appropriately, the bird of ill omen brings the winter constellations in its train. Looking south, Crux, the Southern Cross, stands upright with the two bright Pointers immediately east of it. Alpha Centauri, the brighter and more easterly of the Pointers, is the third-brightest star in the sky and is actually a system of three stars. The two brightest, orbiting their common centre of mass, form the star seen by the naked eye. Around this pair orbits the faint dwarf, Proxima Centauri, which at 4.3 light years is the closest star to the sun. Due north from Corvus the eye sweeps through Virgo and, immediately below it, Coma Berenices, the hair of Berenice. These two constellations are notable for the large number of bright galaxies in their area as well as the great Coma star cluster which is well seen with the aid of binoculars. The Coma/Virgo cluster of galaxies has over 3000 members, each a star system comparable to our Milky Way galaxy. About 100 of these are visible in 150mm to 200mm diameter telescopes on a clear, moonless night when well away from urban sky glare. To the eye, even when aided by a large telescope, the majority of even bright galaxies appear as little more than patches of ghostly light. Long exposure photographs reveal them to be huge collections of stars counted in tens and even hundreds of millions, forming galaxies of various types from the egg or ball-shaped ellipticals to the great spiral systems like our own. Although this group of galaxies is the nearest such association to us it is nevertheless estimated to be rather more than 40 million light years away. Thus the light we perceive today set out about the time when the early mammals were beginning to dominate the land, and not long after the end of the Carboniferous, which saw the final extinction of the dinosaurs. Fifteen degrees ENE of Corvus is the bright star Spica, Alpha Viginis, another double star but in this case with the primary much brighter than the secondary. Arcturus, Alpha Boot, is twenty degrees NNE of Corvus and is the brightest star north of the equator. On cold nights, when the stars are twinkling, it flashes white through to orange, forming a spectacular celestial jewel. This huge, old star is in fact only a temporary neighbour. It is passing almost at right angles through the equatorial plane of the galaxy and will in a few thousand years be growing fainter as it races away from us out of the Milky Way disk. North-west of Corvus is Leo, the constellation figuring a crouching lion which features in both eastern and western mythology and astrology from the earliest times. The head and chest form a distinctive sickle shape and its rising just before sunrise heralds the beginning of spring. Leo was of particular importance to the ancient Egyptians because it heralded the annual flooding of the Nile. To Southern Hemisphere viewers the head and chest of the lion lie in the sky like a sacking hook — a more familiar shape here, though less romantic. Regulus, the Little King or Alpha Leonis, is the very bright star marking the lion's chest. It is known to the Arabs as Al Kalb al Asad, the heart of the royal lion. This large, very hot, blue-white star is another example of a multiple system, for it has a distant, faint companion which is itself a double star. In fact, few stars form in isolation; most are members of multiple systems. The great clouds of gas and dust which are the raw material from which new stars arise are so large and complex that as they contract and heat up multiple centres of fusion arise. These in turn may initiate still further protostellar activity and more stars.
"How doth the little busy bee, Improve each shining hour..." observed hymnwriter Isaac Watts in the 18th century. Bees are remarkable creatures, and they have captured our fascination since ancient times. Indeed, their social organisation and language skills can make them seem almost human.
As rumours of gumboot shortages, washed-out highways and damp cricket matches drifted down the island, it finally dawned on sun-dazzled Wellingtonians that the North was not enjoying the glorious summer weather that they were. Among the many expressions of sympathy that flowed north was the suggestion that the 1990 Commonwealth Games be transferred to Wellington, and support was offered for an Auckland bid for the Winter Olympics! Why was Northland's summer so wet when Canterbury was suffering from drought and Wellington was doing nicely on a touch less than average rainfall? The short answer is that the airflow was often northeasterly over the North Island during the summer, bringing moist tropical air over Auckland. At the latitude of Christchurch, on the other hand, there was frequently an anticyclone bringing dry weather. During much of January the weather map showed a northeast airstream stretching from the Kermadec Islands to Auckland and Northland. As warm air moved away from the tropics towards New Zealand it was cooled from below by the ocean. This caused some of the invisible watervapour in the air to condense to the tiny liquid droplets that clouds are made of. The area of low pressure (called a depression, or simply a "low") just north of Cape Reinga caused the air nearby to rise, which cooled it further, leading to more cloud droplets and the formation of rain as the droplets coalesced. The rain in eastern Bay of Plenty and Coromandel was intensified by the hills. As the wind was easterly, it blew from the sea towards the land. The hills forced the air to rise rapidly, leading to rapid cooling of the air, and rapid production of rain from the condensing water vapour. The presence of the anticyclone meant that the South Island and Wellington were dry, apart from some brief coastal drizzle in Canterbury and Otago. And why were there more northeasterlies than normal this summer? Aucklanders can blame them on the extremely positive phase of the Southern Oscillation, a giant weather system which affects the whole of the Southern Hemisphere. It has been noticed that when air pressure between Tahiti and South America is lower than average there is a tendency for higher than average pressure around the New Guinea/ Darwin area. Conversely, when pressures around Darwin are lower than average, then Tahiti's pressure tends to be higher than average. This see-sawing of pressure between the east and west of the Pacific is known as the Southern Oscillation. When Darwin is up and Tahiti is down the Southern Oscillation is in a negative phase, sometimes called El Nifio; when Darwin is down and Tahiti is up it is in a positive phase,sometimes called La "Nina. The useful thing about the Southern Oscillation when it comes to forecasting is that if it is strongly positive or negative in the spring, then it tends to stay that way throughout the summer. A strong positive Southern Oscillation correlates with more frequent northeasterly weather over the North Island and anticyclones in South Island latitudes, which is what happened in the summer of 1988/89. It has also been blamed for last year's drought in the American mid-west and severe flooding in Bangladesh. On the other hand, a strong negative Southern Oscillation correlates with southwesterlies over New Zealand and a ridge of high pressure to the north. It is also blamed for drought in Australia and Southeast Asia, for floods in California, Peru and Ecuador, and for tropical cyclones reaching as far east as Hawaii and Tahiti. All of which happened in the summer of 1982/83. In New Zealand that summer the wind never seemed to stop blowing. Southwesterlies brought more rain than normal to Buller, Westland, Fiordland, Otago and Southland. Elsewhere there was less rain than normal, especially in Gisborne and Hawke's Bay, where there were drought conditions. In eastern districts there was less rain because the wind blew mostly from land to sea and they were in the rain-shadow of the mountains. This also applied to Manawatu, Wellington and Nelson, which were sheltered by the Tasman Mountains to the west of Nelson. Further north, even though the wind blew from the sea to the land in Taranaki and Auckland, there was less rain than normal because the ridge of high pressure nearby prevented the air from rising and cooling. Also the air had come from the subantarctic area and was warmed as it moved north and this made it relatively dry. Normally the New Zealand Meteorological Service does not issue forecasts for more than five days ahead. However, in light of knowledge about the Southern Oscillation, successful forecasts were made months in advance for the weather during last summer and also the summer of 1982/83. There has been speculation that this summer's weather has been a further sign of the global warming expected from the enhanced greenhouse effect. This is not so. In fact, the global average temperature may well drop a little due to the cold sea surface temperatures in the Tropics associated with La Nifia. It is possible that there will be more frequent summers like this in the future, but on the other hand it is also expected that at times we will have summers like 1982/83, when the negative Southern Oscillation brought cooler than average temperatures to the whole country.
Digging into placenames inescapably pushes us into our own colonial history. The colonists came seeking a new and better life, but Britain was still home. Old patrons and old heroes remained. Britain hadn't made life easy for the New Zealand Company, but on the muddy shores of Port Nicholson the company's Principal Agent, Colonel William Wakefield, patriotically chose "Britannia" as the name for his fledgling settlement. Governor Hobson approved. So did the New Zealand Gazette which promptly added "Britannia Spectator" to its name. On August 22, 1840, it commented: "It [Britannia] is a good name, because till now unappropriated by any town ... and further, in being agreeably associated in the minds of all Britons with their fatherland ..." "Fatherland"! Colonel Wakefield's superiors were unimpressed. Their displeasure surfaced in an "earnest wish" that the town be named after the Duke of Wellington "... to commemorate the important support His Grace had lent to the cause of colonisation." Head office's "earnest wish" could not be ignored. On November 28, 1840, just four months after the New Zealand Gazette and Britannia Spectator had lauded the choice of name for the embryo town on Lambton Bay, the journal announced further change. "Wellington" had replaced "Britannia." The Gazette, now incorporating "Wellington" in its masthead, again approved: "The directors always contemplated calling the town of their principal settlement after the illustrious warrior of modern times ... The directors of the New Zealand Company have made this settlement familiar to thousands throughout Great Britain by associating it with the name of the Great Captain of the Age..." Meantime, life in the Bay of Islands wasn't proving easy for Governor Hobson. He was unsure where the capital of the new colony should be. Eventually, he settled for a location a few miles along the beach from brash and booming Kororareka and named it "Russell". He was honouring "the courage and the capacity" of Lord John Russell who, as Colonial Secretary a year earlier, had bluntly rejected New Zealand Company claims that Cook's landing on New Zealand soil had vested sovereignty in Britain. Kororareka settlers were not amused. Russell beame "Hobson's Folly", doomed from the start. Kororareka was the biggest and bawdiest town in the colony; the land speculators had been busy and everyone confidently expected it would be named the capital. The settlers who wouldn't then accept "Russell" were not to know that a few years later the name would drift along the beach and be adopted almost without question by Kororareka. With Russell unacceptable, Hobson sought an alternative. He crossed to the Hokianga, found a site suited to his purpose and named it "Churchill". But like the original Russell, Churchill remained a mark on a map. Before the surveyors moved in Hobson discovered the Waitemata. His search was over. There was no European settlement there — something Hobson's detractors in newly-named Wellington were quick to point out — but the potential was great. He called the place Auckland and a debt was repaid. Three years earlier Lord Auckland, then First Lord of the Admiralty, had recalled him from obscurity as a retired naval officer on half-pay and won him command of the India Station ship Rattlesnake. His voyage to New Zealand in 1837 marked him for greater things. To the chagrin of Wellington — which had petitioned the Governor "humbly expressing the hope of the [Wellington] settlers that His Excellency would decide upon fixing the seat of Government at a spot so admirably adapted for it as Port Nicholson..." Auckland mushroomed and grew rich. The genesis of an ongoing rivalry between the two cities was established. More importantly, a pattern had been set. The names of Britain's great and famous proliferated as new settlements appeared. Palmerston in both the North and South Islands nodded deferentially towards the Foreign Secretary who had given Hobson his Governor's brief. Nelson honoured the hero of Trafalgar; Napier remembered "one of the greatest and best Indian Captains"; Alexandra took the name of the Danish Princess who was to become consort of Edward VII; Gladstone in the Wairarapa and in Southland paid tribute to a British Prime Minister; Lawrence remembered the defender of Lucknow. Auckland remained the capital for a quarter of a century but pressures of politics and growth, coupled with strident calls for South Island independence unless political and geographic imbalances were remedied, saw the seat of Government transferred to Wellington in 1865. Even then, there was something to make Auckland smile wryly. It took an invited commission of Australians to direct the Government into change.
On Waitangi weekend, 1989, the tiny central North Island town of Minginui was at the centre of a massive military operation. Troops and artillery flowed into the town in a last-ditch effort to quell a (mock) rebel uprising. The townspeople, mostly spectators in the army drama,had reason to reflect on the significance of the clash: in many ways Minginui itself is facing its darkest hour.
Tony reid describes himself as "unashamedly urban in background, tastes and living skills." Understandably, the idea of visiting lighthouse keepers in some of New Zealand's wildest and most remote locations caused the former Listener editor some apprehension. "I was protected by luck and an Austrian photographer named Arno Gasteiger," says Tony. "While the weather forecasts were threatening we never struck one of those legendary storms that lighthouse keepers enjoy talking about. And the skills Arno learned as a truckdriver in Europe were put to good use negotiating the often hair-raising road access to some lighthouses." A background in rock-climbing came in handy for Arno as he clambered up and down windswept cliff faces to seek out the perfect photographic angles. "Even the keepers were amazed at some of the places he got to," says Tony. Arno's unusual command of the English language turned out to be a great ice-breaker on the lighthouse stations. "He might politely say, 'I am thinking a very interesting picture. And now we will please go outside and make it, okay?' You watched the keepers and their wives just melt in the face of such a charmingly expressed request. I am convinced I would be a more successful interviewer if I could learn to speak English the same way!" Even so, Tony managed to fill six notebooks with material from more than 70 hours of interviews. "Although the visits were brief they were also intense and I felt we had made friends with some terrific people. We were privileged to be shown around some places that most New Zealanders know nothing about." For Yvonne van Dongen, leaving the plush offices of Brierley Investments Ltd, where she was researching material for a book on Sir Ron Brierley, for the rigours of Minginui was something of a shock. "Now I know what the tourist phrase 'New Zealand — land of contrasts' really means," she commented, on returning after five rain-soaked days. "Actually, that's more sad than funny. Even worse than the unemployment and isolation of Minginui is the despair that many locals feel." Yvonne, formerly a reporter with National Business Review, says that her short stint as a make-believe war correspondent has not whet her appetite for the real thing. "If those bullets were really flying around I'm sure I'd never be in the right spot for the action and if I was I'd be so petrified I wouldn't be looking!" Getting up close to bees proved to be quite a challenge for photographer Michael Schneider, commissioned to provide images of life in the hive for THE AMAZING BEE feature. Apart from the physical demands of photographing through a veil while fully decked out in protective clothing (in searing midsummer heat) there was the difficulty of being present at the exact moment when the queens and drones were hatching. To solve the problem, beekeepers Ben and Dorothy Rawnsley built Michael a glass-sided hive, which he kept under observation in his bedroom. The generic name for kauri, Agathis, comes from a Greek word meaning "ball of thread". For writer Vaughan Yarwood researching the KAURI story was like unravelling a very large ball of thread, with many side pieces spliced in and not a few knots! As Vaughan and photographer Geoff Osborne (who worked on the 'Wild Horses' feature in issue 1) travelled around the North, they both felt that they were going on a personal journey of discovery, looking at an important part of New Zealand's heritage. Ian Macdonald, who worked on the kauri story, is no newcomer to photographing the forests of New Zealand. His work in the 1970s on Whirinaki Forest made an important contribution to conservation awareness at that time. We hope that something of the mana of the kauri, which each of the contributors has felt, comes through to you the reader.
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