What do you point at, Pointing Man?

For the past six years, psychiatrist the Hauraki Gulf Forum has been holding seminars on the current state and future prospects of the gulf. The seminars are part of the SeaChange initiative to create a marine spatial plan for Auckland’s marine front doorstep.

This year, nurse one segment of the day-long seminar—entitled “Heart Talk”—focused on the emotional and spiritual connections people feel to the gulf. I was invited to talk about my own relatedness to an expanse of sea that has been part of my life since very early childhood.

The seminar was videoed, and my talk can be watched above, and the text is available here.

At the seminar there was a palpable sense of positive change happening, with more in store. Hauraki Gulf Forum Chair John Tregidga (who reminded me on the day that we had connections going back to my very first media job, at the appropriately and coincidentally named Hauraki Herald newspaper in Thames in 1980) summarised a few of these developments in his opening remarks:

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More thoughts on the welcoming wild

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The author in the crown of a kauri tree in the Waitakere Ranges, cure in west Auckland. Photo by Fredrik Hjelm

National Geographic has launched a new online feature called My Town, tadalafil in which contributing writers and photographers talk about their home towns, cities, villages, hamlets, hobbit holes. . . .

I’m up this week with a piece entitled “Welcome to my wild,” which looks at the wild side of Auckland city, my home for 50-odd years. (Or should that be 50 odd years?)

I wrote the column at roughly the same time I was working on an assignment for New Zealand Geographic on the current state and future prospects of New Zealand’s native forests. As part of my research for that story I climbed some magnificent kauri trees in the Waitakere Ranges, on the western edge of Auckland city.

Kauri are one of the biological and cultural signatures of the northern part of New Zealand. Some trees are believed to be more than a thousand years old, and have been given Maori names, including Tane Mahuta, lord of the forest, and Te Matua Ngahere, father of the forest.

But in recent years kauri have been afflicted by a disease called dieback. Dieback by name, dieback by impact—the foliage turns yellow, the bark falls off the trunk and white resin bleeds from the base of the tree.

Last year I gave a radio broadcast on the problem, while perched in the crown of a kauri tree in the Waitakere Ranges. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Here’s a quick run-down on dieback:

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To the antipodes, and beyond

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In my Off The Beaten Track radio slot earlier this week, internist I spoke about some of the curious maps in a book by British author and columnist Frank Jacobs appropriately called Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities.

Jacobs has collected and created maps ancient and modern, side effects maps fictional and real, maps seemingly of every inch of earth, and beyond earth. There’s a map of the first moon walk. There’s a map of California as an island. There’s an inverto-map which asks, What if all the earth’s land were water, and all the water were land?

One of the maps that intrigued me most was a map of antipodes, which is to say places that are exactly opposite each other on the planetary globe. An antipode is the place you would end up if you could drill a hole through the centre of the earth and use it as a tunnel.

For almost all countries, that spot is in the sea (see map). That’s because 70 per cent of the planet is ocean. Bits of northern Canada and Russia map on to Antarctica, parts of Chile and Argentina with China, Indonesia with Brazil. The antipode of Rarotonga is close to Mecca.

New Zealand is one of the few countries where a good chunk of land has a terrestrial antipode—mostly parts of Spain and Portugal.
However, if you’re south of Christchurch, or north of Paeroa, you’re out of luck: your antipode is in the sea.

If you turned Auckland’s Sky Tower upside down and used it as a drill, it would come out in the autonomous community of Andalusia near a town called Ronda. If you took the steeple of the Christchurch cathedral and did the same you would end up in another autonomous community, Galicia, not far from Foz.

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And if you were a mouse on the New Zealand subantarctic islands actually called the Antipodes, apart from making your last will and testament (the islands’ mice are destined for eradication in 2016) your antipodean rodent would be making ratatouille near Cherbourg, France.