Living World

Making possums pay

Introduced over 150 years ago as the basis for a fur trade, the Australian brush-tail possum has instead become an ecological plague, chomping its way through millions of tonnes of forest foliage a year. In 1992, when New Zealand Geographic first covered the possum problem, the fur market was moribund. But now, as global fashion trends swing back in favour of fur, the possum is again serving its original purpose—if not for its fur pure and simple, then for the latest innovation, its fur as fibre.


Living World

Salmon: the miracle fish

Dawn finds a palisade of anglers knee-deep in surf at the mouth of the South Island’s Rangitata River. When rivers are low, chinook salmon, known locally as quinnat, linger at sea, waiting for higher flows before running upstream to spawn. On foot, by farm bike or in jet-boats, anglers will give chase, eager for the sport of playing a 10–15 kg fighting hen or jack. The introduction of salmon to this country is a story of grim determination, unstinting labour and a sizeable amount of luck. With catches in decline, however, many anglers consider it a small miracle if they land one of these prized fish.


Within the corridors of power

Politicians enjoy the limelight of public attention for a season or two and are then forgotten—apart from a few, such as premier John Ballance, immortalised in stone outside the Parliamentary Library. But Parliament, the theatre in which they strut, endures. Imposing, sometimes grand, it is more than just these buildings in downtown Wellington. It is an institution governed by rules and traditions rooted in 17th-century England and populated by an army of civil servants who facilitate the business of governing a nation.


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