Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby: Not sir by chance

Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby was given a knighthood for his service to Māori on this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

He is known by many names: Papa Hec to some, Hector to others. And now Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby. You may not have heard of him but it is a name you should know.  His name is known all over the Pacific for his huge contributions to the revitalisation of celestial navigation, as a master carver, Te Rarawa elder, a font of cultural knowledge, for the revitalisation of waka building and waka hourua (double-hulled boat), as kaitiaki of Waitangi waka Ngātokimatawhaorua, and as he man responsible for the first return journey of Māori to Rarotonga by traditional methods after more than 600 years.

In February, I was extremely lucky to attend ACE Aotearoa’s Hui-Fono (an annual conference for Pasifika and Māori educators working in the Adult Community Education space) in Te Tai Tokerau – the Far North where we got to hear Sir Hec speak at his beautiful home in Aurere. Turning onto the Doubtless Bay Road after Te Awanui if you are heading north, you drive a few kilometres to the turn off to Aurere. There is no sign. Just a bridge that leads to a dirt road. Our two coach buses crossed that bridge, and although we couldn’t see the bridge under our bus we were assured that it was safe as Papa Hec was a bridge builder before he retired to carve waka and learn celestial navigation.

About two kilometres up the dirt road, we came to a clearing. A grassy hill, bordered by a warehouse, a carved whare, a waka hourua resting under a tarpaulin, and a house that had been extended several times looking out onto the expanse of the Doubtless Bay Sound.

On top of the emerald green, grassy hill was a ring of pou. And inside the ring was a group waiting to welcome us on. Papa Hec sat in the middle on a seat next to his golf cart. The scenery was breath taking. When Papa Hec began to speak his reo was so fluid, initially our group of over 100 sat far away from him. But as his sharing continued we crept forward mesmerised by his kōrero, and even when the Northland skies decided to sprinkle us with rain we still sat there listening intently.

Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby sitting next to his golf cart
Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby sitting in his special chair next to his golf cart

The circle that we sat inside was actually a compass. Each of the 32 pou, set 11 degrees apart represented a direction, and when he began to swivel in his chair we realised that through his own design Sir Hector had manufactured a seat centred in the middle of his compass, complete with adjustable sights to study the night sky. It was here that Sir Hec began to study celestial navigation guided by Master Navigator Mau Piailug who came to stay with Sir Hec at Aurere to teach wayfinding and navigating using the sun, stars, clouds, other indicators of nature, and the importance of finding true north.

32 pou on a hill at Te Aurere
32 pou on a hill at Aurere

I came away from Aurere, the lucky winner of a copy of Sir Hec’s biography written by Jeff Evans. I devoured that book, hungry for more and inspired by the ability of our ancestors to traverse the largest ocean in the world with ease. The things that are shared in that book made me realise that our hour with Sir Hec shed very little light on his amazing achievements and contribution to navigation worldwide.

Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby and Jan-Hai with a copy of his biography
Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby and Jan-Hai with a copy of his biography

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to hear such a man speak in person at his beautiful home in Te Tai Tokerau, and we as a community that spans the Pacific Ocean are immensely grateful for your efforts and willingness to share your knowledge and inspiration to find our true North.

Thank you Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Ngai-Iwi Busby.

Find out more

Jan-Hai
Libraries Learning Specialist

Annihilation

I’ve done it again. I’ve stumbled on to a book with a premise that really intrigues me and then leaves me floundering with more questions than answers. This drives me crazy. Other people love this book. I love answers. Fully committed though, I launched myself upon the movie when it turned up on Netflix.

More confusion as the writers took another turn with the story. My frustration now consumes me, but at least there was some resolution in the movie. But what is this story that managed to evoke such a range of emotions? Read on…

Cover

Annihilation is the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s  Southern Reach trilogy. Southern Reach has control of Area X. This is an area of land that has apparently inexplicable changes happening to the environment, people and animals that live or have lived within it. Southern Reach has been sending teams into Area X for 30 years and up to this point, there has been a very high failure rate. One by one the teams either go crazy, kill themselves or return a shell of their former selves. Nothing stays untouched by the environment inside Area X. I say ‘inside’ but in reality there is no visible barrier that separates the real world and the one that is evolving inside Area X.

Southern Reach have decided that for their 12th mission it is time to send forth an all-female team consisting of an anthropologist, a psychologist, a surveyor and a biologist. They remain nameless for the duration and the chasm that exists between each of them is palpable and one wonders if it is deliberate. The very experiences that should bring them together are ripping them further apart due to an underlying distrust. Encounters with the inexplicable and alien continues the downward spiral as they search for answers.

Then my mind wanders and I can’t help but wonder, “Only 12 expeditions in 30 years?” That doesn’t sound quite right to me. History dictates that in our desperate need to find reason where there is none, we would have bombarded the area with specialists and most of all, military. Certainly not fluffed around so that there was more than 2 years between missions while Area X steadily grows larger! And the questions continue.

Hopefully you do better than me in your search for answers. Maybe you don’t need any and are happy to just immerse yourself in the possibilities alone. More than likely I gave up far too easily and just need to get stuck into VanderMeer’s next two books in the Southern Reach series, Authority and Acceptance and keep searching for those elusive answers.

Cover Cover

Alternatively try something completely different, if you gave up like I did:

CoverCover

 

Sensors, maps, number crunching, and the Internet of Things: Reflections on the Smart Cities Expo

As the dust settles on Tech Week 2018, which was brilliantly opened in appropriate fashion by our prime minister appearing as a hologram, I thought I’d report back on the Smart Cities Expo, which was held in Christchurch last Monday. This was an opportunity for Christchurch City Council, and their commercial partners, to demonstrate some of the new technology they, and other cities around New Zealand, are using to increase their efficiency and provide better services to their citizens, while keeping costs as low as possible.

The smart city concept is essentially made up of three parts; (1) collection of data – often enormous amounts of it – about some aspect of the quality of the urban environment, or how the city is being used, (2) number crunching and visualization – often on maps – to make sense of all this information, and (3) using the results to make changes that improve the functioning of the city and enhance its citizens’ wellbeing.

Cover of The internet of thingsEasy to say, but hard to do! To take a simple example; sensors inside rubbish bins could be used to tell refuse collectors whether they need emptying, so that needless trips can be avoided, and resources can be deployed more effectively. To take this idea to its extreme, we can imagine a day when most of the things we own are collecting and sharing data that is used to improve the overall efficiency of the vast interconnected system to which they belong, to all our benefits. This has sometimes been called the Internet of Things (IoT) – a phrase that was ubiquitous throughout the Expo.

The focus of the Expo was mostly on technology, but there are, of course, significant social, legal, and ethical issues to be considered. For Smart Cities to work, we must be happy for these data to be collected, shared, and used for this purpose. We also need to be sure that the data are secure. Imagine the chaos that might ensue if someone was able to hack into the systems that run our city. Nevertheless, the feeling at the Expo was, as one might expect, optimistic that these challenges can be met, and there was even some talk of making data open access, available to everyone (suitably anonymized, of course) to empower all citizens to use it themselves in whatever way they see fit. In fact, a lot of data collected by government (both local and central) are already available, if you know where to look and how to make sense of it. For example, freely available data from the last year’s general election were used to make an interactive map of how party votes were distributed across different polling stations.

Many of the exhibits at the Expo focused on the first part of this triangle. There were devices for detecting and sensing all manner of things such as traffic, pollution, noise, vibration, etc. etc., to name just a few – the list is endless. In most cases, the data being collected are objective and easily quantifiable, but one particularly interesting application comes from a tool called Sensibel, which enables cyclists to record their subjective experiences as they cycle around the city. They can record a thumbs-up or thumbs-down at any point on their journey by pressing a button attached to their bike.

Using GPS, this records the location where it was pressed so that later on they can log in and give a lengthier explanation of what made them feel the way they did. As they do so they are presented with a view of the street where they were to jog their memory. Data collected in this way can be used to make improvements that will hopefully make cycling in the city a much more enjoyable experience, perhaps increasing the number of people prepared to ditch their cars and switch to a bike. The possibilities for using real-time data about personal experiences to make changes that will enrich our lives seem almost limitless, as long as we are prepared to share that information.

The second part of the triangle – data analysis – is harder, but again there were lots of fascinating exhibits demonstrating that rapid improvements are being made in this area. Perhaps the hardest thing of all is to translate all of this into meaningful actions – either short-term responses, medium-term policy development, or longer-term strategic directions.

It’s still early days for the Smart Cities approach, and there is much more progress to be made, but one thing is for sure, our data are increasingly going to inform how our city is run, so to be fully engaged we all need to be a bit more aware of how our data are collected and used. There has been a slew of excellent popular books about the uses and abuses of what is sometimes called “big data” published recently. Why not check some of these out of the library and explore what our future city might look like? Here are a few places you might like to start…

Big data

List created by robcruickshank

Books about the uses and abuses of “big data” and statistics. A toolkit for life in the digital age.

Cover of Automating inequalityAutomating Inequality – Argues that the use of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk modelling by governments and law enforcement agencies selectively disadvantages the poor, reinforcing existing power relationships and inequality in society.

The Efficiency Paradox – Questions whether, in our relentless pursuit of efficiency, we may as a society be missing opportunities to benefit from “the powerful potential of serendipity”.

Cover of Human + machineHuman + Machine – Explores the many ways – good and bad – that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the workplace.

Randomistas – Looks at how randomised controlled trials are increasingly being used outside their traditional home of medical science in areas as diverse as social policy, politics, business, and law enforcement.

View Full List

Find out more about Christchurch City Council’s Smart City Programme

Introducing Gale Interactive: Science – Make Science Come “Alive”

“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure ‘science.’” – Edwin Powell Hubble

Famed astronomer Hubble articulated simply what great science teachers have always known:  science is based on exploration, interaction, and engagement. When students connect with concepts in a meaningful, tactile way, they learn in a more meaningful way.

That belief is the foundation of Gale Interactive: Science, a new resource with interactive 3-D models and authoritative, digital content that helps students experience science, not just study it.

Designed to supplement science course materials in a fresh, unprecedented way, the resource is brimming with relevant images that can be rotated, magnified, and closely examined to enhance experiential learning.  Students can explore on their own to assist with homework and research assignments, or teachers can use the online resource in the classroom to demonstrate concepts and expand discussion. Content supports the study of biology, chemistry, and earth sciences – making it an ideal resource for high school students.

For example, when studying insects, students can find images of specific insect types which can be manipulated to allow different views.  It’s like examining each bug in person – but possibly even more useful, as unique features can be explored by zooming in. And with different resources available, such imagery as cross-sections and other scientific views are available to support in-depth investigation.

Two other Gale Interactive products are available to extend you scientific knowledge further –

Gale Interactive: Human Anatomy

Gale Interactive: Chemistry

The Gale Interactive series all features special content and functionality that support learning, such as:

  • Self-quizzing capabilities at the end of every session to review key concepts.
  • Guided interactive lessons, as well as “anytime” student interaction with models.
  • Ease of use on computers, laptops, interactive whiteboards, or a projector.
  • Accessible through multiple browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and MS Edge. (not compatible with Internet Explorer)
  • Authoritative content from resources such as Gale’s Science In Context, Academic OneFileand more.
  • 3-D printing with installed driver and an optional 3-D printer to print teaching models for use directly in the classroom.
  • Interface and content available in multiple languages.

With eResources like these, science will become a fun, exciting subject. Gale Interactive takes the struggle out of science and it is at your fingertips 24/7. Take it for a test drive and see for yourself at: 

Find more information about these products:

Science and the city

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and this number is continuing to rise. As more and more of us are crammed into these cities at ever increasing densities, there is an urgent need for innovative ideas that enable us to live together happily in comfort and good health. To achieve this, city planners are increasingly turning to science and technology for what are sometimes called smart city solutions.

As part of Techweek 2018, on Monday 21 May, Christchurch City Council’s Smart Cities programme will be hosting the 2018 Smart Cities Innovation Expo at Novotel Hotel, Cathedral Square Christchurch. Entry is free, and from 10am – 4pm visitors will be able to see a wide range of interactive exhibits showcasing local and national cutting-edge ideas for improving city life, from urban augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, and smart sensors, to rapid earthquake response systems, cycling innovations, and interactive apps. In anticipation of this event, I’ve put together a list of books that explore the many ways that science and technology can help us to understand cities and make them better places to live. Enjoy!

Science and the city

List created by robcruickshank

Books about how science and technology help us to understand cities and make them better places to live

Cover of AerotropolisAerotropolis – A look at one possible future for the world’s cities

Built – This fascinating history of structural engineering from ancient times to the modern day

Built on Bones – What happened when we started living together in cities? – the archaeological evidence

Christchurch: Our underground story – A brilliant locally produced “lift-the-flap” book for children about what lies underneath our feet here in our very own city.

Darwin Comes to Town – Why cities are the best places to study evolution

Cover of The endless cityThe Endless City – A look at the future of cities around the world from the Urban Age Project at the London School of Economics – also check out the sequel – Living in the Endless City

Feral Cities – A fascinating account of urban wildlife around the world and how animals are adjusting to city life

Happy City – A travelogue the looks at the psychology of urban life around the world and how we can make cities happier places to live

Cover of The history of future citiesA History of Future Cities – A fascinating look at how four global cities have each developed and embraced modernity in their own unique ways.

View more titles in the full list

Recreational non-fiction – a mid year review

I’m a pretty avid reader and mostly I love good fiction, but this year I have made a determined effort to read more non-fiction, but not just any old non-fiction – what I was after was “Recreational Non-Fiction”!

After a great deal of library exploration, and some very, VERY dry encounters with some non-fiction authors and their writing, I soon discovered that I’m particularly drawn towards non-fiction that is;

a) interesting / informative (gotta love what you’re reading about, right?)

b) conversational (this is very important to me!)

c) about an individual’s own explorations on a subject (it’s great to go along for the ride while someone makes discoveries!), and

d) based on the natural sciences (that’s just what floats my boat I guess!)

And I’ve been building a list this year to keep track of the “recreational non-fiction” titles that I have really loved, and here they are along with some notes on each;

2018 – The Best of Recreational Non-Fiction

List created by DevilStateDan

These are my best titles for the year under the banner of “recreational non-fiction”. Most of these titles are new releases, some are from decades ago, all are great! I do have a particular liking for the natural sciences so most of these books will be on this topic…

New Zealand Geographic – I love this magazine for championing and celebrating all the good things in New Zealand’s natural world. Every issue is packed full of interesting scientific projects being undertaken, updates on the status of various endangered species, and how humans are impacting on the environment and what we can do about it as individuals.

Cover of Smith journalSmith Journal – This is a great periodical, full of insight, information, and learning opportunities. Stories about potentially world-changing initiatives mix with current trends in sciences, and the revolution of traditional crafts, all from around the world. Very entertaining read!

The Secret Life of Flies – Do you like chocolate?!?! Then you’re relying on the humble and, misunderstood fly – they are the only pollinator of the cacao tree! Shocking hey!? Flies have so much more to offer the environment than we realise. Have a read of this entertaining and informative book, it may change the way you view these annoying pests for good!

Curious Encounters With the Natural World – This is a masterpiece of recreational non-fiction! Written conversationally (like you sitting with the author at the pub over a couple of pints discussing the natural world!), hugely informative, and hilarious, this book offers a very real access point for those who don’t read non-fiction or find in inaccessible. If you’re interested in the natural world, here’s one for you!

Cover of The truth about animalsThe Unexpected Truth About Animals – Another brilliant book about some of the lesser known creatures of the Earth and their own particular nuances. It’s very easy to read and pretty funny, making the science really attractive and easy to digest. Great dinner party fact fodder!

Blowfish’s Oceanopedia – The story of the seas from the coast to the deep. This book is divided up into quickfire digestible facts on all manner of issues and powers of the most abundant ecosystem on the planet. A great read for lovers of natural science.

Cover of SpinelessSpineless – Juli Berwald really likes jellyfish and this book proves it! Follow her story as she travels the globe learning about the state of jellies in our oceans, how they are coping with climate change, and what’s leading to the huge and unpredictable super-blooms of jellies. There’s so much information in this book about this underrated creature of the seas that it makes you wonder why we know so little about such a successful and abundant animal. A solid, insightful, and entertaining read and I look forward to seeing her future work.

Cover of American WolfAmerican Wolf – Follow the committed souls who observe the wolf packs of Yellowstone National Park. Wolves have only recently been reintroduced to the wild in this region and careful monitoring has led to some quite simply amazing discoveries about the ecological balance of a region. But not everyone is so keen to have the wolves back and as we follow the pack that she-wolf O-Six we learn how hard it is to survive in the wild under diminishing environment and increasing threats. One of my books of the year, this one!

Cover of The soul of an octopusThe Soul of An Octopus – In this book we follow the author as she becomes increasingly enamoured with all things octopus! We get to share the experience of learning SCUBA and see first hand behind the scenes at the New England Aquarium – a facility dedicated to sea life and full of passionate and knowledgeable staff and volunteers. And throughout the narrative we think on the idea of consciousness and emotions in all life – did you know that fish dream?!?

View Full List

I’ll continue to add to this list as the year progresses and I have a feeling that this is only just the start of a beautiful relationship between myself and recreational non-fiction!

Be an Eco-Champ for Science Week

Start championing the environment. Become an Eco Champ –  here’s how:

This year’s Primary Science Week (14-18 May) is where the action is. Have a look to see how you can take part.

  • Find something that is important to your school
  • Record observations like the number of pieces of litter picked up on the beach, how many grams of soft plastic collected at school, the number of footprints on tunnel traps, chew marks on cards, observe number of birds at the local park or collect weed seeds off socks and count them.
  • Collect and record data over time and analyse it.
  • Discuss the changes you observed and suggest how you could find solutions.
  • Look at what happened after you made changes, what happened before and after.
  • Communicate what you did.

Take a look at our Science Fairs page and books for more information on getting scientrific!

Gardening

So why not pick a project you want to champion and get stuck in cleaning up the environment? Why not start a worm farm or compost heap at school for all those apple cores from your lunch boxes then use all that lovely compost to start a school vegetable garden? Be part of Sustainable Christchurch at home, in school or out in the community.

Become an environmentally friendly school with the help of Enviroschools and see what’s growing near you by visiting a community garden.

School Gardens

Learn how to grow your own food in school and start a school garden. There are lots of resources to help take a look at:

Recycling

Clean up rubbish at your school beach or local park or start a recycling scheme at your school or find out more about soft plastics recycling  Check out information on tackling litter and resources for school  from  Keep New Zealand beautiful. Check out how the Recycling plant (Material Recovery Facility) works and how to recycle right with these videos:

Find out all about recycling  and the 4R’s Reduce Reuse Recycle and Rebuy in these resources:

Eco-pests

Learn about what pests visit your school or park by making a tracking tunnel and chew cards. Find out how you can remove them from your school and community from Predator Free New Zealand. 

Become a weedbuster by cleaning up a local beach piece of bush or participate in the restoration of a local stream. Take a look at what to plant streamside in this handy booklet on what to plant produced by Christchurch City Council.

More information

Does your school already do a lot? Then share what you have done by making a poster, infographic, display or video.

Tell us what you are doing for National Primary Science Week. We’d love to hear.

Earth Day, Every Day for Canterbury Kids

Love the Earth? So do we! Earth Day is celebrated globally on 22 April each year and Christchurch City Libraries is kicking off an Earth Smart programme for kids this April school holidays as part of the Christchurch City Council’s commitment to sustainability and climate change initiatives. The following initiatives, programmes and resources are a great introduction to ‘environmental literacy’ for our tamariki, the future guardians of the Earth.

Reduce reuse Recycle

Earth Smart – school holiday programmes 

A school holiday programme with an emphasis on sustainability and recycling. Children explore environmental issues with a focus on connecting to the planet around them using books, interactive activities, digital media and craft.

If you miss these sessions, look out for more later in the year.

Eco-conscious Books and Resources for Kids

Borrowing from the library is the ultimate in recycling – check out these eco-friendly reads!

Environmental Picture Books 
These picture books and narrative non-fiction books contain valuable messages about the environment, pollution, recycling, the importance of trees, water as a resource, sustainability and saving the Earth. These environmentally-friendly themed resources include eBooks and apps and New Zealand content.

Non-Fiction Environmental Children’s Books
A selection of non-fiction informational text and how-to guides for kids on related topics around recycling, climate changing, caring for the earth, sustainability, composting and water resources. Includes craft activities.

Every little bit helps… What can you do in Canterbury?

Join the Kiwi Conservation Club for kids and participate in activities with the local branch in Canterbury.

Recycle Right!

Watch two Christchurch kids show us how to ‘recycle right’ !

When you toss your plastic bottles and containers into the recycling bin, are you unintentionally doing more harm than good? Christchurch people are great at recycling but a few common mistakes are causing issues at the city’s recycling plant. See how to make it easier for council to recycle.

Note sure which bin something goes in? You can download the Christchurch City Libraries Wheels Bin App to check, for iOS and Android devices.

Car share with Christchurch City Council’s electric Yoogo cars

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden and Lianne Dalziel recently launched the Christchurch City Council’s co-shared fleet of electric cars operated by Yoogo. The public can sign up to borrow these cars too!

Credo DK Eyewitness eBooks for Kids

Credo Reference is a great series of online eBooks that you can search and browse. Filled with pictures as well as information, they make a perfect starting point for that school project, or a interesting resource to satisfy a curious mind. Keep the kids entertained (and still learning) in the holidays, with this collection of eBooks.

Whatever they want to do when they grow up, we have it covered.

Meteorologist

Palaeontologist or Archaeologist

Astronaut or Astrophysicist

Geographer

Marine Biologist

Historian

Spy

Stephen Hawking 101

Stephen Hawking has been called the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Albert Einstein. FI loved his appearances on the Simpsons and the fact he had a fan club. I also love the fact that whenever I hear a computer generated voice I associate it with the astrophysicist. From what I have read, he was very witty and had a great sense of humour as well as a brilliant mind, so he wouldn’t mind my blog about him. So here is some information about Stephen Hawking and about his work — learn about Quantum Mechanics and cosmology and black holes from my selection of class readings for Stephen Hawking 101.

I started with eDS (eResource Discovery Search) eDS search Stephen Hawking and which covers articles and books in our eResources collection.

Books

CoverRead Stephen Hawking’s bestseller A Brief History of Time that has sold more than 10 million copies. It only contains one equation E=mc² as Hawking was told the readership would be halved with every equation included.

Or try an eAudiobook if you would prefer to listen.

Articles

First off start with the basics, learn about black holes with this article by Stephen Hawking and his daughter Lucy Hawking

What is a black hole? By: Lucy, Hawking, Stephen, Clark, Dave, Ask, 15354105, , Vol. 10, Issue 6

Then once you have your head around the basics of black hole you may want to delve a bit deeper with this article from our Scientific American Archive.

The Quantum Mechanics of Black Holes pp34-41 by Stephen Hawking

More articles from Scientific American Archive

Science Reference Center has a selection of excellent scholarly articles –

Biographies

Find out more about Mr Hawking with these great biographical sources:

Biography in context has excellent information and even has ReadSpeaker text to speech technology so you can hear the biography been read in computer generated voice similar to the technology that Stephen Hawking used himself.
Biography Reference Center has a selection biographies from different sources.

CoverOr check out this eBook Introducing Stephen Hawking

If quantum mechanics is getting a bit much for you try this kids book written by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking which is a great introduction to cosmology: George’s Secret Key to the Universe.

What I have learnt from reading about Stephen Hawking and his work is that I need to know more about astrophysics and not be scared of science.

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