I don’t claim any of this but the photo was so impressive I felt I should share it!! It shows  a kaka fledgling soaring over Zealandia, the Karori (Wellington, NZ) wildlife sanctuary.

kakaThis was taken by Janice McKenna and you can see more of her work here. The following data is from Zealandia‘s website.

Common name: North Island kaka
Maori name: kākā
Scientific name: Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis
Large, olive-brown forest parrot. Has orange plumage under wings and a strong curved beak. A ‘cousin’ to the alpine parrot, kea.
Has a loud ‘scraak’ call and also some beautiful songs and whistles. The word kākā can mean ‘screech’ in Māori.



There is a local phenomenon in Greymouth that is possibly unique, but is certainly notable. The town of Greymouth is built on the banks of the Grey Riverwhich exits to the sea through a very narrow gap between two impressive uplifts,the Cobden Range to the north and the Omoto Range to the south, behind the town. The Southern Alps are around 50kms to the east and when the katabatic wind flows down from the south and east the alpine effect delivers fog and low cloud and very cold temperatures down the Grey Valley- and the effect is dramatic to say the least- impressive dense cloud rolls over the rangesand also funnels at pace through the gap.The cloud that funnels through the gap at ground level lowers the temperatures in the ‘CBD’ to little more than freezing before it continues merrily on to the harbour!The wonderful thing about the Barber is that the effect of it upon the rest of the township, that further away to the south is minimal, although it does offer some spectacular views!Brrrr!

Oh! And why ‘The Barber’? Opinions vary but the consensus seems to be that it is to do with the ability of the wind to cut through you like a knife, and we all know what barbers used to do, don’t we?

ANZAC 2010

It is ANZAC Day, 2010.

For internationals who do not know what ANZAC is about, a few notes in explanation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallipoli_Campaign ANZAC is an acronym for the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, the combined forces who sailed away from their homelands in the early days of WWI to fight “for King and Country”. ANZAC Day is a day of commemoration for New Zealnders and Australians when services are held to remember all of those who served in all of the armed conflicts our nations have been involved in. The Day is always 25th April being the same day as that in 1915 when ANZAC troops landed on the shores of Gallipoli in Turkey. The Australians landed at Suvla Bay while the Kiwis were put ashore at what has become known as ANZAC Cove. Due largely to poor management of the campaign from Whitehall in far off London (our soldiers were, of course under the command of British politicians and generals) and in no way because of lack of commitment or will by the ANZACs, in January those who remained were taken off the beaches and the Gallipoli campaign was over, but only after over 8700 Diggers (Ozzie soldiers) and 2721 Kiwis (roughly a quarter of the total Kiwi contingent) had died (from a total Allied combined death toll of over 44,000). (The Turkish losses were over 80,000!!! and the Gallipoli campaign became a defining moment in Turkish history.)

This ANZAC Day is particularly special for me since my youngest child is attending the services being held at Gallipoli. I know it is going to be a very emotional time for her and will create memories she will cherish for ever. I know she will say some quiet words for her Grand Uncle Norman Murray who was killed at Crete in WW2. She will also say some words for her brother who is a serving soldier back home in New Zealand but who is shortly to return to Afghanistan as part of the next rotation of NZ forces working in Bamian Provence (he was attached to ‘The Unit’ operating out of Bagram in 2008). She will say a word or two for her cousin who is with the current rotation in Bamian.

I asked her to take these words to Gallipoli, the inscription on the Attaturk Memorial back home in Wellington. They are the words of Kemal Ataturk, commander of Turkish forces and later President of Turkey. “Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours. You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in our bosoms and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they become our sons as well.”

She will have her own private thoughts, and I am sure she will also think about those whose spirits will permeate the memorial grounds and surrounding hills, and will come away a different person.

The New Zealand National Memorial (left) and the Ataturk Memorial, Chunuk Bair, Gallipoli.