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Archive for the 'Memes' Category

H is for Haka

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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

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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

13 Things About the Mystery Genre

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Today, in honor of the contest below, my TT is all about mysteries and mystery writing.

Thirteen Things About The Mystery Genre

1. Mysteries as we know them, weren’t available to the reading public until Edgar Allen Poe introduced his fictional detective, Auguste C. Dupin in 1841.

2. His book, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, is an example of a locked room mystery. This is where the murder victim is discovered inside a sealed enclosure of some description.

3. Katherine Anne Green became the first woman to write and publish a detective mystery in 1878. Her book featured a detective who investigated a murder that occurred within a small group of people.

4. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced Sherlock Holmes and his friend Doctor Watson in 1887.

5. The golden age of mystery fiction arrived in the 1920s.

6. Agatha Christie is probably the most famous mystery writer with 50 plus books to her name.

7. Police procedurals entered the market in the 1940s.

8. Some of the most popular mysteries have been written for children such as the Nancy Drew Mysteries, the Hardy Boys, Famous Five and Secret Seven.

9. The mystery genre is a popular one, and there are many subgenres including cozy mysteries, hard-boiled detective, police procedural, whodunits, capers and some mysteries drift toward thrillers.

10. It’s said that the lack of mystery fiction before the 1800s occurred because there was no organized police force.

11. Fictional detectives usually fall into four categories: amateur, private investigator, police detective and forensic specialists.

12. Sherlock Holmes is very popular at present with two television series featuring modern retellings. There is Sherlock and Elementary. Other detectives such as Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple have also made our screen.

13. My favorite on screen mystery show is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries featuring Phryne Fisher. It’s set in the late 1920s and is based on Australian Kerry Greenwood’s books.

Are you a mystery reader, and if so, which type do you prefer? Do you have a favorite series?

Sources: http://kids.mysterynet.com

CONTEST: Whether you’re a mystery reader or not, I hope you’ll enter the Not Your Usual Suspects mystery contest below. Complete the rafflecopter below to enter the draw to win a mystery.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

13 Facts About the Tower of London

Thursday Thirteen

If you’re a tourist in London chances are you’ll spend some time at the Tower of London. I’ve wandered through the tower, gawked at the crown jewels and checked out the ravens and beefeaters. It’s a place that breathes and sighs history.

Thirteen Facts About the Tower of London

1. The Tower was originally build by William the Conqueror and used as a palace and fortress.

2. It was never supposed to be a prison, but the inhabitants discovered that the fortress kept people in as well as keeping people out.

3. During World War II the tower was used to house prisoners of war.

4. Ravens have always been kept at the tower. At least six ravens are kept and they’re replaced if they die. It’s said if the ravens leave the tower bad luck will arrive.

Tower of London Ravens

5. The Tower of London is home to the crown jewels and has been for centuries.

6. Every night at 9:53 pm the ceremony of the keys takes place where the Queen’s Guards and the Chief Yeoman Warder lock all the gates.

7. On 6th November 2012 the keys were stolen. *gasp*

8. Only 22 executions have taken place inside the Tower of London. Most took place at nearby Tower Hill.

9. The last execution was of Lord Lovet, a Jacobite, on 9th April 1747.

10. The Tower housed the royal menagerie, which included lions, an elephant and a polar bear. The polar bear was allowed to hunt for fish in the Thames while on a leash.

11. The Duke of Wellington closed the menagerie in 1853. The animals became the first in the London zoo, which is in Regent’s Park.

12. Several ghosts haunt the tower, including Anne Boleyn, Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey, the Princes in the tower and a grizzly bear. I didn’t see any of these during my visit.

13. The Tower has been a tourist destination since Elizabethan times.

Source: www.royalcentral.co.uk

Have you visited the Tower? If not, what would you like to see?

13 Facts About Baboons and Frogs

Thursday Thirteen

Recently I’ve been plotting and planning a new series called Middlemarch Capture. One of the fun things about writing is you get to research all sorts of interesting things. This week I’ve been researching baboons and frogs for the first two books in my series.

Thirteen Things About Baboons and Frogs

We’ll start with baboons:

Baboons

1. The muzzle angles very sharply from the braincase and the face is free of hair.

2. The buttock area is naked of fur too.

3. All fingers have fingernails.

4. They hang out in troops of varied ages. If threatened the adults will protect those weaker and there are marked ranks within the troop.

5. They have powerful canines and are fierce fighters. Their main enemy is the leopard.

6. They are omnivores and eat grasses, insects, young gazelles and antelopes and sometimes others within the troop. They have also been known to kill human children.

Frog

7. Frogs are found on every continent apart from Antarctica.

8. A worrying number of frogs are becoming extinct each year.

9. Frogs are amphibians. They hatch as tadpoles and change to frogs. There are some frogs which develop directly and this enables them to live away from water.

10. Scientists call frogs an indicator species since they help to show how an ecology is functioning.

11. Frogs eat insects.

12. Different species of frogs have different shaped and colored eyes. They can be catlike, round or even heart shaped and the colors can be brown, bronze, green and red.

13. Frogs breathe and absorb moisture through their skin. Some frogs secrete a mucous through their skin. Some frogs shed their skin on a daily basis, while others stick to weekly shedding of skin. By all accounts this looks pretty freaky.

I found some very cool facts to twist and fit into my sci-fi romances. A very productive day!

What is the strangest thing you’ve researched?