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Archive for April, 2014

H is for Haka

H

The haka is a Maori war dance or a challenge, which is performed by males. The word haka actually means dance and in the past, women used to take part too.

These days, many of our sports teams do the haka. The All Blacks, our rugby team, do the haka before each game against another country. It’s a challenge to their opposition. Our Sevens rugby team perform the haka if they win a tournament. You might have seen them during do their haka after their recent win at the Hong Kong tournament. They take off their shirts and…

*waving face*

More about the Sevens later. Our defence forces sometimes do a haka at a funeral for fallen comrades or during other ceremonial times, such as when they ship out of a country–a kind of a farewell.

Below is a series of videos featuring the haka.

 

And it’s back to my favorite haka – the one the New Zealand Sevens Rugby team does every time they win a tournament. This is the haka they performed recently, in the rain at Hong Kong.

 

Have you heard of the haka before?

F is for Fishing

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New Zealanders love their boats and fishing. Fishing is a reasonably cheap activity since you don’t need a licence, except if you want to fish for fresh-water fish such as trout.

My husband’s family are all very keen fishermen. Me—not so much. I think the sport is cruel and I always feel very sorry for the fish. Not that my feelings stop hubby’s interest in the hobby. He goes out as often as he can. All of these photos were taken on the Hauraki Gulf, not far from Auckland.

Hammerhead Shark

This is a hammerhead shark, and it was released after this photo was taken.

Baby shark

Another shark—a different variety this time—released again after the photo.

Hubby Fishing

Busy fishing. The island in the background is the dormant volcano, Rangitoto. It’s an Auckland landmark.

Hubby with Fish

Hubby with some of his catch.

SIL Fishing

And my sister-in-law with her catch.

Do you like to fish?

E is for Earthquake

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My post today is about earthquakes.

The earth, although it seems solid, consists of a series of plates, which are a bit like jigsaw puzzle pieces. When the plates collide the layers distort and the stress builds until the crust of the Earth buckles. An earthquake typically occurs along a fault line, which is an existing fracture in the crust of the Earth.

New Zealand straddles the boundary of the Pacific and Australian plates. According to Te Ara, the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand we have earthquakes every day, but most are too small for us to feel them.

On 4 September 2010 our third largest city Christchurch suffered a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Although there was widespread damage, there was no loss of life.

Cathedral Square

This is Cathedral Square in Christchurch, taken before the 2010 quake. The Cathedral was badly damaged, and despite public calls for it to be repaired, it was too big a job.

A second quake occurred on 22 February 2011. This was a quake of 6.3 magnitude. There was major damage to land, buildings and the city infrastructure. Sadly, 185 people lost their lives.

The quakes and the numerous aftershocks have changed the landscape and during recent rain, much of the land flooded due to subsidence.

In February 1931 the Hawkes Bay area and the town of Napier suffered a 7.8 magnitude quake. This quake changed the landscape and the coastal areas were lifted around two meters. Fires burned out of control after the quake, the problem compounded by broken water mains. 256 people lost their lives and 593 suffered serious injuries.

When the township of Napier was rebuilt, the planning committee decided on an Art Deco style because the buildings were cheap to construct and more earthquake resistant. When the first building was being constructed, the planning committee urged the builders to make as much noise as possible in order to bring hope to the people of the town. The Art Deco buildings now bring a lot of tourists to the town.

Napier

Although I live in a country that has many earthquakes, I’ve never actually felt one. I’m quite happy to keep it that way!

Have you ever been in an earthquake?

D is for Dunedin

Dunedin is the second largest city in the South Island of New Zealand.

A lot of Scottish people settled in this area of New Zealand, and during the gold rush, which started with the discovery of gold in Gabriel’s Gully, the population of Dunedin swelled until it became New Zealand’s first city. These days Dunedin is the fourth largest city in New Zealand.

The Otago Peninsula, which is not far from the city, is home to the only mainland Royal Albatross colony in the world. There are also penguin and seal colonies to visit.

Dunedin Rail Station

This is the Dunedin Railway Station, a very beautiful building. The renowned Taieri Gorge Railway ride starts here.

Taieri Gorge Train

Dunedin Beach

This is one of the beautiful beaches and the lump in the middle of the photo is a seal.

Otago Heads

This is a view of part of the Otago Peninsula, taken from the roof of Larnach Castle. The castle was built by William Larnach in 1871. He built it for his first wife Eliza and it was a dream home. Eliza died and William remarried Eliza’s half sister Mary. Mary died five years later and William married a much younger lady called Constance. His daughter Kate also died, so there was a lot of sadness at the castle.

William Larnach ran into financial difficulties and committed suicide in 1898.

The castle was allowed to go to ruin until the current owners purchased it. The guide told us the castle was used as a hayshed and by a local farmer to house sheep. These days the castle is a tourist site and also a hotel and a setting for weddings. The gardens and views are beautiful, although you might come face-to-face with the ghost of Eliza, William’s first wife.

Larnach Castle

Eliza didn’t make an appearance during our visit, but I didn’t mind. The setting is gorgeous and the drive back to Dunedin stunning. Dunedin is a fun place to visit.

C is for Cook Strait

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things About Cook Strait

1. Cook Strait is the body of water separating the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

2. The strait is named after Captain James Cook who sailed through it in 1770.

3. Maori legends says Kupe (an explorer) discovered Cook Strait when he followed an enormous octopus across the strait.

4. Between 1888 and 1912 a dolphin christened Pelorus Jack used to meet and escort ships across the strait. Someone attempted to kill Pelorus Jack and a law was established to protect him.

5. The lighthouse at Pencarrow Head was the first permanent lighthouse in New Zealand.

6. It can be a very rough stretch of water. Several ships have wrecked in this region, the most famous being the Wahine disaster in 1968. The strait is part of the westerly wind belt known as the Roaring Forties, and it acts like a huge wind funnel.

7. The strait is 22 kilometers or 14 miles across at the narrowest point.

Cook Strait

8. The Narrows Basin is the deepest part of the channel with depths up to 350 meters.

9. There is a regular ferry service between Wellington in the North Island and Picton in the South Island. When it’s a nice day,the trip is fun, but when it gets rough – not so nice. I’m a good sailor but the scent of vomit isn’t pleasant!

Ferry

10. Barry Devonport was the first man to swim across the strait in 1962. It took him 11 hours and twenty minutes.

11. The first woman swam the strait in 1975. She was from the US and took twelve hours and seven minutes.

12. Abel Tasman, the Dutch Explorer thought the strait was a bay when he entered the strait in 1642.

13. The passenger ferries started back in 1875.

Sources: Wikipedia, New Zealand in History

B is for Beehive

My post today comes to you from the Beehive in Wellington. This is the affectionate name we New Zealanders call our parliament buildings because of its shape.

Beehive

The Beehive is the round building and the one on the right is Parliament House.

Parliament Buildings

Flag

Beehive Info:

1. The building was designed by British architect Sir Basil Spence.

2. It’s in Wellington, our capital city.

3. The building was opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

4. It’s ten stories high.

5. You can wander around the grounds at will. There are statues of past prime ministers and beautiful gardens.

6. You can also do a free tour of the interior (after a security check) and sometimes you’ll get to see and chat with John Key, our prime minister. This, according to our guide on the tour I took.

Beehive 2

A is for Auckland

I’m an A – Z virgin, and I’m looking forward to tackling this challenge. Since I live in New Zealand, I thought this would make a great theme for my posts. I intend to introduce you to my home country and also to some of my romance novels, which are set in my home country.

A is for Auckland

Mt Eden, Auckland

This is the view of the central business district of Auckland and the Sky Tower, taken from the top of Mt. Eden, a dormant volcano. In the foreground you can see the crater of the volcano.

Auckland Harbor Bridge

This is the Auckland Harbor Bridge that spans the harbor.

Sky Tower

Sky Tower can be seen from all over Auckland. It’s the largest tower in the Southern Hemisphere.

 

Six Things About Auckland

1. Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, although it’s not the capital. The population is spread out over a big area.

2. The city of Auckland is built on and around a field of dormant volcanoes.

3. It’s also known as the City of Sails since there are so many boats on the harbor and has excellent fishing.

4. Auckland is the gateway to the rest of New Zealand. Both cruise ships and planes arrive in Auckland.

5. No matter where you live in Auckland, a beach isn’t far away.

6. The Sky Tower in Auckland is the tallest in the Southern hemisphere.

Auckland is my home, and I’ve written several romances, which are set here. The perfect way to armchair travel to Auckland.

There’s The Bottom Line, Past Regrets, Summer in the City of Sails, Make That Man Mine and One Night of Misbehavior.

Visit the A – Z Challenge blog