Arno Gasteiger

Together at Home

Here we are—a nation of parents, grandparents and children all in the same boat, together at home. He waka eke noa. Every day of the lock-down we will post a story or video that can be shared among your family. The first few are below, and with them some talking points to fill our days at home together. Mauri ora.

Geography

Wed 8: Songlines

After centuries of whaling that nearly silenced the song of humpbacks, the singing giants are making a steady recovery in most places. Yet the population of the South Pacific that was hardest hit by Soviet whaling in Antarctica remains endangered, numbering fewer than 4000 individuals.

Living World

Tue 7: Dead heat

Giant carnivorous land snails don’t ask for much: moist leaf litter to burrow into, earthworms to suck up like spaghetti. But if the lower layer of the forest is nibbled away, if sunlight reaches the soil, and if one month of drought follows another, molluscs relying on damp homes struggle to survive.

Documentary - Our Big Blue Backyard

Mon 6: Kaikoura

New Zealand’s Kaikoura Peninsula is home to the world’s most acrobatic dolphin species, some of New Zealand’s most robust young fur seals, and an unconventional group of red-billed gull families who defend their chicks from dangers both within and outside the colony.

Science & Environment

Sun 5: The long haul

Antarctica is a puzzle that science is racing to solve. The continent shifts from stable to unstable, frozen to melting, without much warning—and we don’t know why, or how. A New Zealand-led expedition journeyed to the heart of the Ross Ice Shelf to find out.

Geo News

Sat 4: Freefall

Albatrosses are good omens for sailors, but are not having too much luck themselves. The population of female wandering albatrosses that nests on Antipodes Island has plummeted by two-thirds in the past 14 years.

Living World

Fri 3: Bat signals

Nightfall, and the forest comes alive with squeaking. Or it used to. Lesser short-tailed bats are clinging on in a handful of places, their populations blinking out of existence. Yet researchers are only just beginning to learn about our bat species—New Zealand’s only native mammals—and what they’re finding out is pretty weird.

Living World

Thu 2: Torpedo carnivore

Reaching more than six metres in length with a bite force of nearly two tonnes, the great white shark is the most fearsome predator on Earth. Yet despite their reputation as maneaters, great whites are protected in New Zealand as a vulnerable species.

Living World

Tue 31: Life on the edge

Like New Zealanders, penguins occupy the margin of land and sea, being dependent on both habitats, and vulnerable to changes in either as well. Their fate is wedded to our coasts, and as scientists have begun to understand, they are a perfect indicator of the health of this fragile boundary too. What can penguins tell us about our seas and shores?

Documentary - Our Big Blue Backyard

Sun 29: Goat Island

The creatures of New Zealand’s oldest marine reserve are safe from humans, but that doesn’t mean life is easy. They are under constant attack from marauding dolphins, diving cormorants, and the sharks and the marlin that live beyond the boundaries of the reserve.

Geography

Sat 28: The longest walk

Last October, Chris and Jorinde Rapsey and their two children set off from Cape Reinga to walk Te Araroa, the 3000-kilometre track that runs the length of New Zealand. They lived outdoors for five months and walked an average of 20 kilometres a day. For nine-year-old Elizabeth and six-year-old Johnny, it was an immersive education—a form of learning increasingly absent from the lives of young New Zealanders, even as international research affirms the importance of children spending time in nature.

Living World

Fri 27: Kākāpō

In a land renowned for its unusual birds, the kākāpō—a giant flightless nocturnal parrot with a bizarre breeding system—has to be one of the strangest.

Living World

Wed 25: Lizards anonymous

Many of our skinks and geckos are so new to science that they don’t even have names. Much of what we do know about our lizards is thanks to an amateur herpetologist from Invercargill with no academic training.

Living World

Tue 24: Rarest of the rare

Rowi are a species of kiwi so critically restricted in distribution that they were almost done for. But a last-ditch effort has changed the fortunes of the most imperilled kiwi in the world.