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 and set of activities that can be shared among your family to fill our days at home together. Mauri ora.

Receive Together at Home by email

Enter your email to join the mailing list.

Science & Environment

Sep 24: The war on koi

Invasive koi carp now writhe through wetlands from Auckland to Marlborough, displacing native species and destroying freshwater habitats. For 25 years, bowhunters in Waikato have ministered their own brand of pest control, the World Koi Carp Classic, resulting in prizes, and 70 tonnes of puréed fish.

Geography

Sep 22: The weed eaters

Edible plants grow throughout our towns and cities: in verges, margins, berms, parks and empty sections, along driveways, pavements and hedgerows. The trick is knowing what to look for.

Travel & Adventure

Sep 21: First ascent: finding unclimbed walls in the Darrans

The Darran Mountains lie deep in the marrow of northern Fiordland—a chunky, perplexing range of diorites and sandstones, gneisses and granites. This is a land of extremes, with the country’s most remote summits, the greatest rainfall and the longest, hardest-to-climb alpine rock walls. Adventurers have been coming here since William Grave and Arthur Talbot in the late 1800s, to test themselves and forge new routes through this vertical landscape.

Science & Environment

Sep 20: Hauturu - Resting Place of the Wind

Mountainous, densely forested and bounded by cliffs and boulders,Little Barrier Island (Hauturu) crouches in the outer reaches of the Hauraki Gulf, a relic of a wild New Zealand now largely vanished. Set aside as a nature reserve over a century ago, the island houses a matchless cargo of wildlife inhabiting an unusual diversity of forest types.

History

Sep 16: Up the Creek (without a paddle)

Sometime in the mid-1950s a young boy asked “Would you like to come for a ride in my boat?”, and the world has been saying yes ever since. The jet boat’s unrivalled performance in the shallowest of rivers revolutionised water transport and remains a quintessential New Zealand invention, perhaps our greatest contribution to the world of engineering. And the man who perfected it, in a farm workshop of a remote high-country station, was our original “bloke in a shed”, an inspiration and a role model for generations of Kiwi tinkerers, inventors and innovators.

Living World

Sep 14: In search of the Grey Ghost

The South Island kōkako is widely believed to have died out a half century ago, but some committed bird experts are convinced there are signs a few remain: disturbed moss, glimpses of grey wings and orange wattles, an occasional haunting call. Yet despite decades scouring southern forests, the kōkako has remained elusive—a single feather is the closest the searchers may have come to proving the bird still exists.

Geography

Sep 10: The power of Taupo

Lake Taupo lies in the caldera of an active supervolcano, the site of the world’s most violent eruption of the last 70,000 years. Just 10 km beneath it sits another lake of molten rock 50 km wide and 160 km long. With a growing need for alternative energy sources, plans for tapping this latent reservoir are hotting up.

Society

Sep 9: The Roaring Game

Curling requires perfect weather conditions for its national tournament, the bonspiel, to take place. For the first time in 84 years, the frosts aligned and New Zealand’s gathering of curlers returned to the Central Otago town where it all began in 1879—Naseby.

Society

Sep 8: Tiny houses

The idea of minimal living, an international fad, has fallen on fertile soil in New Zealand, thanks to our national housing crisis and shifting ideas about the way we want to live. For some people, a tiny house is the only home they will ever afford to own. Others are stepping off the treadmill of modern life to ask: How much space does a person really need?

Science & Environment

Sep 7: Under the Ice

Antarctica’s fragile ecosystem is a barometer for the warming and acidification of Earth’s oceans. Over the last decade, NIWA scientists have been diving under the ice as part of Project IceCUBE to gauge just how the ecosystem might cope with these threats.

Living World

Sep 6: The great retreat

Some species just like it cooler. Others have withdrawn little by little to higher altitudes, making new homes where it’s too cold for their enemies to follow. But warmer seasons allow predators and diseases to gain ground and advance above the bushline—meaning that the alpine zone is no longer the refuge it once was.

Society

Sep 3: Volunteer firefighters

Gaza, Beetle, Lily and Jaq, Inky, Tootle, Shrek and Skippy—every town and community has them. They style themselves as ordinary people but their lives and service are anything but ordinary. Unpaid and unheralded, they are our first line of rescue in 65,000 emergency calls a year, routinely saving the lives and assets of people they don’t know.

Science & Environment

Sep 2: Three feet high and rising

With predicted increases in sea level of a metre or more by the end of this century, present-day problems of coastal erosion, flooding and salt-water intrusion into groundwater are going to get much worse. As world leaders gather in Paris to seek a political solution to climate change, it’s timely to ask how we in New Zealand are responding to the challenge of rising seas.

Travel & Adventure

Sep 1: Rock stars

In the heart of the Waikato there’s a multimillion-dollar industry based on a gnat. Glowworms are big business, attracting well over half a million people a year to Waitomo and prompting some to shift from working the land above ground to commercialising the creatures below it. But keeping the caves and their thousands of tiny performance artists in good health requires round-the-clock care.

Living World

Aug 31: When birds get sick

Diseases can take a huge toll on wild animals and hasten rare species towards extinction. In New Zealand, scientists, vets and conservation volunteers are teaming up to try to beat the viruses, parasites and fungi threatening some of our rarest bird species.

Geography

Aug 30: Possum. An ecological nightmare.

Brushtail possums are a protected species in their native Australia. Across the Tasman, they have established themselves as New Zealand's most voracious and intractable pest, attacking simultaneously the beauty of our forests and the good name of our farming products.

Living World

Aug 26: Blood suckers

Lampreys have done without bones—even jaws—for 360 million years, making do instead with a mouthful of rasps designed for shredding. But those teeth are no match for a new and invisible enemy. Are pesticides killing the lampreys? Scientists are scrambling to find out.

Science & Environment

Aug 25: The underground forest

Buried in the soil are the lattices and networks of another kingdom of life, one that’s inextricably connected with what grows above the ground. Fungi determine the types of trees that thrive, and change the quality and health of soil. So, what exactly are they up to down there—and what powers do fungi have that humans could harness?

Living World

Aug 24: Where the seabirds go

During winter, dozens of seabird species take flight from New Zealand on epic migrations across the planet—and recent advances in tracking technology mean we can now follow them. What we’re learning has upended scientists’ ideas about the lengths animals will go to in order to raise a family.

Living World

Aug 20: The whales are back

Last century, southern right whales were hunted until there were none left—none that we could find. A small group of these whales, also called tohorā, hid from the harpoon. Deep in the subantarctic, the survivors birthed and nursed their young. Now, tohorā are returning to the coasts of New Zealand. Are we ready for them?

Living World

Aug 19: Blue Water Islands

A thousand kilometres north-east of the mainland, the Kermadec group basks in a subtropical environment and two decades of marine protection. In May this year, scientists scoured this untouched world to catalogue, collect and expand the list of species found there, and discovered an ecosystem unlike anything else in the country.

Living World

Aug 28: What happened on Stack H?

The Mokohinau stag beetle is one of the world’s most endangered species, occupying less than an acre of scrub on a rocky tower in the middle of the ocean. Its habitat is so precarious that Auckland Zoo and DOC are hoping to safeguard a population of beetles on the mainland as a form of insurance—that is, if there are any left.

Society

Aug 27: Auckland's green heart

In 1845 Governor George Grey set aside 80 hectares of central Auckland for a park. On the crest of an ancient volcano, it is a memorial, a recreation space, a green heart for the city and its citizens.

Living World

Aug 26: Silence of the Fantails

The fantail is one of our commonest native birds, loved for its flamboyant tail, acrobatic flight and inquisitive friendliness. Yet life is no bed of roses for these charming little birds. Between August and February each year they pour their energy into reproduction, only to have almost all of their infant offspring devoured by rats and other predators.

Living World

Aug 25: Where are all the spotted shags?

Seabird scientists are creating a fake home for shags on the Noises, an island group off the coast of Auckland, in the hope that the Hauraki Gulf’s rapidly diminishing spotted shag population will be fooled into thinking it’s a great place to start a family.

History

Aug 24: The governor's island

In a succession of difficult postings—South Australia, New Zealand, South Africa—the energetic George Grey proved himself one of the British Empire's most able governors. Yet when he returned to New Zealand in 1861 for a second term, the magic was fading. The colony was on the brink of civil war, and local politicians were unwilling to allow Grey his former power. As an escape from the increasing pressure and frustration of public life, Grey purchased Kawau Island, building a grand house there amid exotic gardens and filling it with treasures. On the centenary of the death of Sir George Grey—soldier, statesman, explorer, philanthropist—we pay a lingering visit to Mansion House.

Science & Environment

Aug 21: Return of the ancients

Sea turtles survived a meteor that killed the dinosaurs, millions of years of predator attacks, even the slow warming of the seas, only to be threatened by nylon fishing lines and plastic bags. Those that wash up in New Zealand almost always need the help of humans.

Living World

Aug 19: Bird Island

The spade brigade, as they were dubbed, planted 280,000 seedlings—a city of trees—into which a host of rare birds and reptiles were released. Within sight of New Zealand's largest city, Tiritiri Matangi is now a template for island restoration and endangered species management.

Living World

Velvet underground

It may look like a subterranean soft toy, but a prowling peripatus is anything but cuddly. The "velvet worm" is a voracious predator with a startling method of catching prey, and one of the forest's more unlikely denizens.

Living World

Aug 17: No Take Zone

Rolling a fresh cigarette, Bill Ballantine gives a sardonic laugh as he recalls the headline in the local newspaper when New Zealand’s first marine reserve was opened in 1977—“Nothing to do at Goat Island Bay any more.” He had fought for 12 years to protect five square kilometres of marine habitat on the Northland coast. That protection was finally in place. To Ballantine it was the start of a new era. To the newspaper, voicing community opposition, it was the end of one.

Travel & Adventure

May15: South by Kayak

Pushing through a field of brash ice, an intrepid New Zealand expedition closes in on the bottom of the world. Their goal: the Antarctic Circle. Their route: wherever wind, wave and ice permit a passage along the western shore of the Antarctic Peninsula. Their means: three fibreglass kayaks and a fair measure of grit.

Science & Environment

May 13: A new day for solar power

The sun powers our planet and provides us life. It’s as simple as that—though the processes can be mysterious and the applications surprising. In December last year, a bunch of Kiwis with a budget of less than $40,000 proved that it was possible to drive the length of the country using nothing but sunlight.

Living World

May 12: Best in Show

New Zealanders boast one of the highest dog ownership rates in the world—one third of households own at least one dog and 300 kennel clubs across the country run hundreds of dog shows a year. The competition will always be fierce, but there can only be one Best in Show.

Documentary

May 11: Australia

The epic journey of the world’s most arid continent has driven the evolution of its bizarre pouched mammals, until Australia became the realm of marsupials.

Geography

May 8: Mana Island

In fading light, a fairy prion returns to its roost on Mana Island as a host of nocturnal creatures are just beginning their day. After concerted conservation efforts, the island is now a hive of activity after dark.

Science & Environment

May 4: Citizen science

You don’t need a PhD to find a new species, unearth a rare fungus or name an asteroid. New Zealanders with no specialist training are contributing to scientific research by monitoring streams, spotting rare plants, counting the birds visiting their back gardens, and putting GPS trackers on their cats.

Documentary - Our Big Blue Backyard Series 2

May 3: Chatham Islands

Perched way out in the Pacific, Rangatira Island is pockmarked with thousands, maybe millions, of seabird burrows. Its forest remnants and rocky platforms also shelter some unique and critically endangered birds. But even endangered birds can make a tasty snack and, on a crowded island, there might not be enough room for everyone to rear their chicks.

Society

May 2: Kelly Tarlton

Although he is best remembered for the Underwater World on Auckland's waterfront which still carries his name 22 years after his death, that project was just the last in a life brimming with adventure, discovery, originality and zest.