Magazine

ISSUE 086

July - Aug 2007

Ice

Climate change

State housing

Lavender

Mainland Islands

Linnaeus

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Geography

Landlocked islands

Until recently most New Zealanders were resigned to never seeing a kiwi except in a glassed enclosure. Few even knew of the existence of whiteheads, stitchbirds or North Island robins. Then came the idea of the mainland island. Get rid of the rats, stoats and possums in an area—as conservationists had on some offshore islands­ and it might be possible to bring back the birds. That was the theory—and it’s worked. Now there are dozens, even hundreds, of projects throughout the country in which people are getting their hands bloody for the good of native biodiversity—although it isn’t quite as simple as one might think.

Science & Environment

Hot air

Twenty thousand years ago, in the depths of the last ice age, the sea around New Zealand was 120 metres lower than it is today. The top of Mt Aspiring peeped out from an ice sheet that covered the Fiordland mountains. The country was one big island, from Stewart Peninsula in the south to a little north of Cape Reinga. You could walk from Golden Bay to Taranaki. In a few centuries’ time, if the Greenland ice sheet continues to melt, the sea will be lapping on the streets of central Christchurch, and Farewell Spit may have disappeared. If the West Antarctic ice sheet also melts, Banks Peninsula will be what James Cook thought it was—an island. In the long term, global warming could transform the country and the planet, but it will also have a much more immediate impact on the world we live in, with respect to both the climate we experience and the way we lead our lives.

Science & Environment

Fragile Wonderland

As temperatures around the world slowly rise, glaciers steadily retreat. New Zealand has over 3000 glaciers in its mountains, among them two of the fastest moving, most accessible and spectacular in the world—the Fox and Franz Josef. While thousands of annual visitors are impressed by the glaciers’ immensity, fewer get close enough to examine the beauty of the ice that makes up these groaning behemoths.

Society

State housing

What role should government have in providing affordable housing? The issue has been tossed back and forth between rival political parties for a century now, and with housing becoming less affordable for many, it’s likely to be debated for a while yet. Refugees, such as Nay from Myanmar, are among those who benefit from state housing.

History

Carl Linnaeus

To mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Linnaeus, a former student of taxonomy considers the life and legacy of Sweden's most famous naturalist.

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