In Our Nature
In the immortal words of Dinah Washington, "What a difference a day makes," when it comes to the fate of the unique ecology of the Denniston Plateau, not to mention the legal process in New Zealand.
The tiny gnarled native trees of the Denniston Plateau snake among the distinctive sandstone formations (Photo: Rod Morris).
Yesterday, the Minister of Conservation made a big hand-shaking show of approving access for Australian-owned company Bathurst Resources to have the right of access to the Denniston Plateau, which is on public conservation land, and therefore held in trust for the owners - you and I, the public of New Zealand.
Regardless of how you feel about the proposed mine, the issue here is one of process. Now if we can just cast our minds back to the promises made after the dramatic u-turn that the Government took after the Schedule 4 debate about mining on conservation land, this was what the Ministers of Conservation and Energy and Resources assured us at the time at the time:
As the weather turns cooler and the nights get longer, it's time for many of us to hunker down together over the winter months. The same can be said for the much-loved monarch butterflies, which gather together in large clusters creating quite a natural spectacle.
The Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust are tireless advocates for butterflies, including our less conspicuous native ones. Right now, they are calling for sightings of overwintering monarchs - large groups of monarch butterflies found resting in trees.
Monarch butterflies can be found in many parts of the world, and have been in New Zealand since the 1870s. They are famous for their incredible migration in North America, which they take over thousands of kilometres, and several generations of butterflies. This incredible journey takes them almost 5000km, from as far away as Canada toward their overwintering sites of the sheltered fir forests near Mexico City when autumn arrives.
How these butterflies "know" which way to go and when is a bit of a mystery. Do the caterpillars hatch with a "map" in their head?
Take the main road to Mackenzie
For the sky here seldom leaks,
And if you're one who's fond of shearing,
Just come along to Godley Peaks.
Ernie Slow, "The Fatman and the Beerman"
The magic of the Mackenzie Country
The big sky country of the Mackenzie Basin has long inspired people to wax poetic on the sprawling tawny-coloured tussocklands, the nearby razor-sharp Southern Alps and the aqua-blue high country lakes. It has had a long and diverse cultural history, as a home to early Maori and to early European settlers and runholders and as a drawcard for tourists.
Stop Press! Duncan the kokako's Auckland adventure is at an end.
After perhaps a couple of years of living in the bright lights of Auckland city, Duncan the kokako has been captured and returned to his fellow kokako at the safe-haven of Ark in the Park today.
Duncan's journey has been the subject of much speculation - and I must say a huge thank you to all of you who took the time to email me with your own theories on how he could have reached Glendowie from the Waitakere Ranges, some 30 kilometres away. Several of you sent me detailed routes he could have taken, favouring bush edges and parks, while some postulated that he might have been picked up and placed in Glendowie.
In any case, his journey has created a lot of interest and enthusiasm over the past month or so. After the In Our Nature broke the story on Monday morning (scoop!), the mystery of the suburban kokako hit headlines throughout the media, including featuring on TV One News over the weekend.
GUEST POST BY CHRIS PHILPOTT
My fiancée and I live alone in a small, two-bedroom place. But we have a third flatmate at the moment. His name is Brian. That isn't his real name; that's just the name we've given him. Brian is kind of unique. He hangs around outside. He eats insects. And he stares at us every time we go out our back door.
Brian is a spider. He's the biggest spider I've seen in this country, maybe ever. He's at least five to seven centimetres at the widest point of his leg span. Brian is black. I can't tell if he is leathery or hairy, because I've never been close enough to check. He appears to be a regular, run-of-the-mill garden variety spider. And I'm terrified of him.
I'm actually terrified of most bugs. Large bugs, anyway. I'm not sure why. Spiders aren't my biggest fear - that honour belongs to the praying mantis. We get lots of those around our house. Maybe they can smell fear. A few weeks ago, over Easter, I went outside and a large praying mantis dropped off the overhang outside our back door. It landed on my shoulder and looked at me, as if to say "yo, what's going on?" My reaction was a yelp, and then a panicked "get it off, get it off!"
It wasn't my finest moment.
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