Wednesday, July 29, 2009


A view over the Rimutakas and Wairarapa from the summit of Mt Climie

Mt Climie sits back from Upper Hutt city like a lion. It sits there quietly and deceptively, the only indication of its height being the aerials that pop up from its bush clad summit.

It is almost reminiscent of the Ventoux. The giant of the Tour de France. But lacks its deforested, blistered scrotum aspect.

Ramash wanted to make the most of his annual leave, so we were out there, parking up at tunnel gully. A pleasant picnic area most infamous as the site of kidnap plot where the victim was planned to be kept in a hole. Dirty Harryesque. From the carpark the 4wd track rises consistently to the top shrouded often by mist forest. Near the top there is a narrow band of subalpine vegetation, probably the legacy of past fires and storms, we recovered briefly then shot back down. Bikes are fast downhill. Good times capped off by a long coffee in the Pauatahanui Cafe.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Waiotauru Track

It was only a late whip around of emails on Friday night that got us out there on Saturday morning for a little mission. Ramesh, Caspar, Penny and I running the Waiotauru track from Akatarawa saddle to Otaki Forks, while Jo kindly drove around and ran in to meet us.

It is an interesting area. One of those modified remote environments, still regenerating from logging and fire and now criss-crossed by 4WD tracks. The track rolls up the low ridges towards the southern Tararuas, which lay balnketed by snow. The landscape has an upside down cake aspect. Mature forest on ridgelines where the loggers couldn't reach is lapped at by the lighter green scrub stretching up from the valley floor.

After my recent injury problems it was great to get out there on a mission. The hills beckon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Freeport....Tragedy continues

An Australian man has been shot while working at the Freeport mine in Papua province. The Indonesians are blaming the Papuans, the Papuans are blaming the Indonesians...but what about the Americans.

This is what they have done to one of the most special eco-systems on earth. and more photos from a recent visit here

They gained permission to do this by paying off the corrupt Suharto regime. It was in fact one of Suharto's first actions on taking power, along with being complicit with the ethnic cleansing of Chinese people from Indonesian villages.

It is a disgrace that the Western world, including the Australian man that has been tragically killed, can profit from this environmental cataclysm.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What's be Happen

I had a blog going for a little while called "What's be Happen". It was named after the Herbs first album, an experimental anti-apartheid manifesto. I decided in the end that I couldn't be bothered separating life and thoughts, so I reverted to the single blog for our adventures.

But "What's be Happen"? Well I've been working a little, for money, for a change (as opposed to working for change for spare change). The Kennet Brothers, principally Jonathon, now Simon has succumbed to the lure of the bureaucracy, have been giving me a couple of days a week work making mountain bike trails, and I couldn't be happier. It is rewarding work, spinning yarns and making sweet switchbacks.

The skyline track traverses the ridges high above Wellington linking the south coast with Mt Kaukau and beyond

Jonathon is a bit of a legend in my regard. Him and his brothers were pioneers of mountain biking in New Zealand. They started the Karapoti race, the wrote and continue to write the Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike guide book. Jonathon with others also wrote "Classic New Zealand Adventures" which I have long admired for its fun loving promotion of getting out there on tubes, foot, bike and many other vectors of movement to enjoy the NZ outdoors. Most importantly though they have pioneered a movement which I am going to seek to promote and contribute to called "mountain biking ecology"....they have taken regenerating areas of scrub, and not only built mountain bike tracks on them, but also planted trees and controlled predators. In doing so they have laid the path for mountain biking to follow in New Zealand. Down this path mountain bikers are, and will continue to be, accepted by other more established outdoor users and exist sustainably in our landscapes.

Otherwise What's be happen? Well we had a nice run on the edges of the Tararuas, which I will report from when I get the photos off Caspar, and I am trying to make progress on a variety of projects, most prominently at the moment the rock wren conservation project in Arthurs Pass and the Evans Bay Coast Care group that I have started...and then there is the job hunting...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Beyond the Political

And up on the hills. I went geo-caching with an old friend Mark Hudson, who is addicted. Geo-caching is a global sport where people race each other over their life times to visit as many geo-cache sites as possible. Sites are places where people have hidden little plastic boxes with notebooks which you record your name in. You find the sites by using GPS co-ordinates.

What I didn't realise is that there is different type of sites. "Traditional" - just a box, "Multi" - the first box contains clues to find more box/es, "Earth" - where you learn something geological, "Puzzle" - where you have to solve a complex number orientated puzzle to find the box. It goes on. We found 5 sites in our relatively short walk along the Wellington skyline, see maps, so these boxes are everywhere around you!

Mark is on of those who gets texts on his cellphone and races to get new caches placed near where he lives. He described vividly a sleepy drive to Ekatahuna in the middle of the night. Whatever gets people out in hills enjoying nature is a good thing!

Weeramantry Festschrift

Warning dry legal content

Google alerts came up trumps for me this morning. With this link to a festschrift for esteemed jurist and one of my hero's Christopher Weeramantry. I knew Weeramantry for his decisions as a Judge of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of Nuclear Weapons and the development of the jurisprudence on Sustainable Development. Then discovered his books during my later time at law school. He is above all a liberal humanist straining the law out of traditions, morals and practice when required.

A little quote, "the rights of future generations have passed the stage when they were merely an embryonic right struggling for recognition. They have woven themselves into international law through major treaties, through juristic opinion and through general principles of law recognised by civilised nations". Its great that material like this is freely available through Google Books.

"The News"

Think Global Act Local is a great maxim, as long as you get around to acting. Today I have been thinking. What depresses me most at the moment is the media. I read two weekend papers and local internet today. Published New Zealand journalism and columns make Time magazine a read to savour.

It is churn, a vortex, a whirlpool of misunderstanding which in time most follow to their deaths. The "gentle dark of a human daydream" as Baxter said. It obscures and arguably perpetrates conflict. It is the centre of the passive aggressive nature of our globalisation.

I think Jack Johnson expressed it well in his song, "The News"...

A billion people died on the news tonight
But not so many cried at the terrible sight
Well mama said
It's just make believe
You can't believe everything you see
So baby close your eyes to the lullabies
On the news tonight

Who's the one to decide that it would be alright
To put the music behind the news tonight
Well mama said
You can't believe everything you hear
The diegetic world is so unclear
So baby close your ears
On the news tonight
On the news tonight

The unobtrusive tones on the news tonight
And mama said

Why don't the newscasters cry when they read about people who die
At least they could be decent enough to put just a tear in their eyes
Mama said
It's just make believe
You cant believe everything you see
So baby close your eyes to the lullabies
On the news tonight

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Animations for Palestine

Our media might be focusing on the latest fads of swine flu, Michael Jacksons aftermath and David Bain. But out there in the world the big issues are still simmering. Here are a couple of short animations advocating for the plight of the Palestinian people still suffering under the oppressive thumb of Israel. The young Palestinian people.


It remains true that, as the Once-ler concluded, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not."

I was reminded of this Dr Suess quote by this informative web page examining the plight of Sumatran forests. The webpage includes a link to a new site displaying the loss of Indonesian Rainforest on Google Earth.

What caught my eye though was a link to academic displacement theory. Is this new information and effort going to help prevent deforestation? Is it just one more forest mapping program? I don't know. The website seems well intentioned and up to date, but the thought behind the questioning certainly connects with my thoughts about the failure of some research to result in conservation benefits in New Zealand. Particularly it seems in the marine area which I have been trying to come to grips with recently.

And further on displacement. The article got me flashing back to our time in Indonesia. The abandoned tourist hub of Ketambe, with the orangutans in the jungle, where we went walking through the illegal logging above the village. The stories of the charismatic fauna Sumatran Tigers, Rhinoceros's and others, wandering through this area in increasingly fragmented and dispersed populations. Mr Jally and the hubris of his hippie trail bungalows on the edge of his wilderness. His men trying to etch a living as conservation police.


James K Baxter in the Jerusalem Daybook translates mahi as "work undertaken for communal love". I'm with him. And there is nothing better than getting out there in your community.

We woke with the grogginess of gin this morning but were quickly out the door to the Island Bay Coast Care planting that we had heard about. This great little group protects and restores a small remnant piece of native duneland looking out over the marine reserve. The last pingao dune "between Karori rock and Eastbourne" according to local sculptor Nick.

Caspar, Penny and I planted Pingao in deteriorating weather, chatting to the locals, before heading to our personal conservation endeavours amongst the rubbish of Evans Bay, where we idled the afternoon away tearing rubbish from amongst the building debris dumped on the foreshore to prevent erosion.

We will never be able to clean this place up or keep it clean without otherwise influencing either the environment, and its ability to capture rubbish, or the rubbish disposal habits of Wellingtonians. So we spent time scheming about both. Straws are a big one, we picked up handfuls upon handfuls of washed up straws, what are the alternatives. And bottle tops. What a disgrace! How many bottle tops now accumulate in our oceans.

We finished the day off by a drive and rubbish pick around the end of Point Jerningham, checking out the potential for revegetation, and the prevalence of rubbish and disfigurement. Plenty of ideas, need to follow a few up!