Matariki – the Māori New Year – will take place on Pipiri 6 June 2016. During Matariki we celebrate our unique place in the world. We give respect to the whenua on which we live, and admiration to our mother earth, Papatūānuku.
Our theme for Matariki 2016 is Akoranga: Teaching and learning – Te Kete Aronui: Third kete of knowledge.
Matariki Festival at Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre – Saturday 11 June
Don’t miss this free, family fun day! Storytelling, Science Alive Star Dome, arts, crafts, 3D printing, virtual reality, kapa haka and more! Find out more.
It’s been a miserable, dark, rainy afternoon – I admit, it’s the first time in a long time but even so I’ve got used to good weather now …
As Autumn, (crisp and blazing riots of red and orange hued leaves) becomes clumps of wet, slippery mulch on pavements and in gutters, my thoughts turn to hugely enjoyable reads in the warm and dry ‘Inside’ that will blot out the slowly encroaching cold and wet ‘Outside’.
My reading recommendations normally come in the guise of ‘Have you read?’ conversations with friends; looking at the If you like… website page or the close scrutiny of library blog posts such as those recently written by the Library Angels attending the Auckland Writers Festival – I hastily place a hold on the work concerned and cross my fingers that the entire population of Christchurch are a little slower off the mark than me.
Today, I engaged in a spot of ‘playing around’ within the Bibliocommons catalogue and found the following. If you type ‘Rainy’ in the search box and then choose the option ‘List’ from the Keyword drop-down menu you locate page upon page of lists created by people around the world who have the word ‘Rainy’ somewhere in the List headings they have created. Not just recommendations of books you understand, but DVDs, music, crafts for all age groups.
Of course the drawback is that you spend a long time wading through the information and writing down titles to put in your ‘For Later’ shelf but still it’s another way to locate a hidden gem that needs to be read, listened to or watched.
Anyone else out there utilise this facility? Anyone make their lists public for all to see and glean information from? Or place anything of interest in their ‘For Later’ Shelf from these Lists?
Worsley was born in Akaroa in 1872 and the New Zealand Antarctic Society has republished an epic poem about him ‘Worsley Enchanted‘ written by New Zealand-born poet Douglas Stewart and illustrated by Myra Walton. The poem takes readers through his experiences on the Endurance Expedition – which has become legendary – and reflects on his relationship with the rest of the crew.
Construction is due to start in August on a combined library, community facility and museum in Sumner to replace those lost as a result of the 2011 earthquakes.
The building will include a library, museum exhibition and storage space as well as a hall (with stage), and kitchen facilities.
The design draws inspiration from the local landscape, incorporating natural timber, the colours of the seaside and architectural features from the demolished Sumner Community Centre. The facility will open next year.
All the design decisions have been made but one crucial piece of the puzzle is still missing and you can help. We need a name for this new multi-use facility. So if you’ve got any thoughts about what we should call it, please submit your idea. Submissions are open until 12 June and the best suggestions will be open for a public vote with a winner announced in July.
We are looking for a catchy name with environmental, historical or cultural relevance to the Sumner area.
I am concerned, as I enter the main auditorium at the Aotea Centre, on the last day of the Auckland Writers Festival, that I may not have the brain power left to fully appreciate a session on Gravitational Waves. It’s been a long festival and I think I may have already overstuffed my brain with Big Ideas and Deep Thoughts.
As a yawn escapes, I’m expecting the worst.
Fortunately Janna Levin is a brilliant and engaging communicator. I needn’t have worried. I’m able to follow the concept of waves in gravity, caused by the distant collision of black holes… quite well, actually. She throws a couple of oranges around, as a way of demonstrating how gravity curves spacetime (without gravity, the trajectory of a thrown orange would be a straight line), and this unexpected kineticism helps cement the idea.
Basically she’s explaining the science and significance of the big scientific announcement we all remember from February of this year but which most of us are a bit unclear about, in terms of what it all means. Thanks to Professor Levin, I understand a lot more about this.
The actual working behind all these ideas requires the kind of maths that most of us find bewildering – fortunately we have people like Janna Levin to do all that complicated numbers stuff and happily almost none of that makes it into her presentation. Instead she peppers her talk with a range of pop culture references (Third Rock from the Sun, Alien, Doctor Who).
In particular, This OK GO music video, filmed in a single take on a gravity defying “vomit comet” as she calls it, shows us what gravity actually is – namely falling. Falling towards a mass, in our case, the Earth (which is itself falling through space in an orbit around the sun). Most of us think about gravity in the wrong way, as the landing.
Though the music video above could make you believe otherwise, gravity is actually quite a weak phenomenon (compared to light, for instance) and therefore difficult to detect. We feel its effects here on Earth, of course, but if a gravitational wave originating in a far off galaxy were to pass through you now, would you even notice?
The answer is it has and you didn’t. But luckily scientists have been trying to record such an event for a while now and on September 14, 2015 at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (09:51 UTC) two installations called Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatories (LIGO), one in Louisiana, the other in Washington State, recorded gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes that happened 1.3 billion years ago.
How? Well, they do it with mirrors…and a laser inside a 4km long concrete vacuum.
Imagine two ships bobbing on a calm ocean with a taut rope between them. Should a wave come along you’d be able to detect a change in the relative positions of the boats because of the movement of the rope. In this case, the boats are mirrors and the rope is a laser, and there’s two of these pairs stationed 3000km apart in America. And I’m sure it’s a lot more technical than that (and involves a lot of maths) but that’s the basic idea of how you detect gravitational waves. The sound of these gravitational waves is within an audible range. If they weren’t so very weak and quiet, you’d be able to hear them.
After months of checking and re-checking the maths, they made their announcement on what they’d found earlier this year.
Questions at the end of the session wondered about the possibility of multiple universes – most scientists working in this area seem to think this is likely – and one older gentleman went well out of scientific realms and into spurious sociology remarking that Levin was “a very attractive woman” and was therefore surprised that she’d be interested in science and maths since, in his opinion, those two things didn’t go together very often.
At this point you could actually feel the rest of the audience cringing and trying to collapse in on itself, like so many black holes.
Fortunately Levin had a fantastic answer for this which she communicated in a straightforward manner – if society tells women that their purpose is to be attractive, and you’ve already achieved that then why would you do anything else? But that’s not what it was like at her house.
A complex idea, communicated simply. Just like the rest of her lecture.
If you are aged between 12 and 15, come and join us for a Matariki themed workshop with Lyttelton poet, Ben Brown. You’ll be reflecting on memories and crafting those memories into poetry.
You can book at Shirley Library or ring 9417923 to reserve a spot.
All you need to bring is something to write on (it can be pen and paper, or a tablet/laptop – whatever suits best).
More about Ben Brown
Ben writes children’s books, non-fiction and short stories for children and adults. Born in Motueka, he has been a tobacco farm labourer, tractor driver and market gardener. Since 1992, he has been a publisher and writer, collaborating with his wife, illustrator Helen Taylor. Many of Brown’s books have a strong New Zealand nature background.
25 May is Towel Day – here’s why you might like to carry a towel with you tomorrow.
I first encountered The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a very long time ago on an old black and white TV. BBC TV produced the series based on the radio series. It starred Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, David Dixon as Ford Prefect, Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox, Sandra Dickinson as Trillion and Peter Jones was the voice of The Guide.
According to The hitchhiker’s guide, a towel is a necessity. To know where your towel is means to be in control of your life. The book lists many uses for a towel (including the traditional drying yourself) and goes on to explain that if you have a towel, a non-hitchhiker will lend you anything you need. Based on the assumption that you have lost your luggage, but still have your towel. I have put a towel to many uses: A bandage, a blanket, a sarong, a mop, a hat, a scarf, and have even used it to dry myself, but I have never tried travelling with a towel, but no toothbrush, brush, comb, shoes, or spare clothes, so I have never put Douglas Adams’ theory into practice.
Douglas Adams was born on 11 March 1952. He died of a heart attack on 11 May 2001. He was only 49. On 14 May 2001, one of his fans, D. Clyde Williamson, posted a tribute to Douglas Adams suggesting that a date two weeks after his passing should be observed as Towel Day. May 25th continues to be observed annually as Towel Day as an ongoing tribute to Adams. The fans are asked to carry a bath towel conspicuously with you for the day. Choose a towel that you like, and preferably isn’t tatty. Make sure it’s clean and have it with you.
Do you know where your towel is? Are you mostly harmless? If you answered ‘No’ to both of these questions, I recommend the following books:
Before his death, Adams was considering writing a sixth novel in the Hitchhiker’s series. Eoin Colfer wrote And Another Thing… from Douglas Adams’ manuscript. It was published on the thirtieth anniversary of the first book, 12 October 2009.
Crime writing has evolved from the puzzle-like mysteries of Agatha Christie and Christchurch’s own Ngaio Marsh to modern novels delving deeply into people and places. It is the world’s most popular form of storytelling.
2016 Ngaio Marsh Awards entrants Ray Berard, Katherine Hayton, and Deborah Rogers will discuss what drew them to crime writing, how they craft memorable characters and page-turning stories, and the impact of our New Zealand setting on tales of crime and mystery.
Whatever your political leanings or beliefs about feminism, there is no denying that Gloria Steinem’s life has been an extraordinary one.
At the Auckland Writers Festival recently she discussed her beliefs, hopes for the future, and life’s journey as encompassed in her memoir My life on the road.
The audience was full of feminists of all ages. Teenagers to grandmothers, gathered to hear what she had to say. And as it turned out, to talk to each other about it afterwards. By far, of the all the sessions I attended at this year’s festival, this was the one that had the most noticeable sense of community about it, even as disagreements occured – but more on that later.
I arrived early, and was treated to an unexpected glimpse of the woman herself – off to the side in a roped off area in the balcony concourse of Aotea Centre – Gloria Steinem was addressing a small crowd in some kind of reception hosted by the US Embassy.
Later when she walked out on stage to sit down with Nick Barley, The director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, there were a higher than average number of “whoops” from the crowd, which led me to wonder if the Americans in the audience might be responsible, and sure enough, Steinem herself confirmed that the mayor of Los Angeles was in attendance.
Given the incredible life that Steinem has had, it’s difficult to recap that here and this session, even with it running slightly over time, was never going to be long enough.
But here are just a few things that stood out for me the most –
Steinem reading out the dedication from her book which is to the English doctor who provided her with an abortion when she was 22 years old, had just broken off her engagement, and was en route to India. It was illegal at the time and the doctor made her swear to secrecy. This is not a topic that women often discuss this openly and plainly and for that reason alone it made an impression.
Her discovery in India of “talking circles” and the realisation that the ability to talk about terrible experiences is transformative.
All movements start this way, with consciousness raising groups – now we call them book clubs…
Her mild (I can’t believe it’s only mild) annoyance that, in her eighties, she’s still described by people as an ex-bunny because of the 1963 exposé she wrote on conditions for the women working at the Playboy Clubs. She was a journalist and went undercover for a time as a bunny in order to reveal shocking practices like telling women that they were required to undergo an gynaecological exam in order to serve liquor in New York State.
At my advanced age people still introduce me as an ex-bunny. It has been a blight in some ways… People say “What does she know? She was a bunny”.
Her thoughts regarding feminism and the trans community.
Anything that blows up the gender binary is a good thing… It’s fundamentally the right thing because it’s dispensing with false categories.
On the younger generation of feminists, and the concerns that some mothers have that their daughters aren’t sufficiently well educated about feminism.
Women say to me with some alarm, “my daughter doesn’t know who you are!”
But does she know who she is? Because that’s the whole point.
As you would expect there were some really challenging questions from the audience covering topics as broad as decriminalising prostitution, if feminism is supportive enough of women in non-Western countries with different cultural norms, how to promote feminism at your high school (answer: find something that’s sexist and unfair and fight to fix it) and abortion law in New Zealand (over which there was some confusion and disagreement in the audience, but is, as one woman asserted, covered by the Crimes Act 1961.) One woman read out a question which she had rather appropriately written on the back of her birth control prescription!
But probably the best part was that Steinem threw the mic open, not just to questions, but to women wanting to make announcements for upcoming events and “troublemaking meetings”. She also encouraged everyone, as they left, to talk to two or three other people and to try and make connections. Because, I suppose, this is how movements that aren’t just book clubs happen.
No doubt there was a lot of talking and making of connections in the book-signing queue after the session as it was so long it nearly made it out the door and into Aotea Square. An hour later Steinem was still signing.