Sep - Oct 2004

Transit of Venus



Sea surface

John Morton




Science & Environment

John Morton

In 1968 The New Zealand Sea Shore by John Morton and Michael Miller was published, and it quickly became the cornerstone of marine biology in this country. In September 2004 a successor to that volume—Seashore Ecology of New Zealand and the Pacific, by John Morton, is being released. To mark the occasion, we offer a brief sketch of Morton, a man who has made a difference in an unusual range of fields.

Living World

Life at the top

The surface of the ocean is a place we associate with waves and weather rather than life, yet those top few metres are the key to the sea’s great food web. A wealth of creatures—some small like this 30 mm leatherjacket, others long salps that resemble 10 metre plastic bags—drift through this vast light-filled domain, seeking to devour smaller organisms and avoid being devoured by larger.



As a hopeful world waited for an end to hostilities late in 1918, an influenza epidemic of unparalleled ferocity swept the globe, killing tens of millions in just a few months. Inhalations of zinc sulphate were a popular public health preventative, although the practice would find little favour today.

Science & Environment

Transit of Venus

“We are now on the eve of the second transit of a pair, after which there will be no other till the twenty-first century of our era has dawned upon the earth, and the June flowers are blooming in 2004. When the last transit season occurred the intellectual world was awakening from the slumber of ages, and that wondrous scientific activity which has led to our present advanced knowledge was just beginning. What will be the state of science when the next transit season arrives God only knows. Not even our children’s children will live to take part in the astronomy of that day. As for ourselves, we have to do with the present ...” William Harkness, 1882


Volunteer Service Abroad

A group of Masai in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area take a break from pastoral duties. VSA launched its Tanzanian programme in 1987 and has since placed some 63 volun­teers in the country, working on everything from agriculture to health and local govern­ment. Over the last 42 years, VSA has mounted programmes in 32 coun­tries. As VSA’s manager for Africa (1988–1996) and external relations (1999–2003), Trevor Richards is well placed to examine the chang­ing face of VSA, aid and development.


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