Taranaki at one o'clock

I recently figured out how to find Mt Taranaki on the horizon, and it's quite easy. The mountain is only sometimes visible — best chances are a fine day with clear air and snow on the mountain.

Mount Taranaki on 22 November 2017.

Mount Taranaki on 22 November 2017. Zoom lens and circular polarising filter helped in this shot.

To spot it, stand directly facing the horizon, with your back to the Tararuas. Imagine the spot you can see is at 12 on an old-fashioned clock face.

If you point to Kapiti Island on your left you'll be pointing at roughly 10 o'clock on that clock face. If you can see the South Island to the right of Kapiti that would be around 11 o'clock.

Now look at one o'clock to your right. That's where Taranaki might be seen.

Mt Ruapehu, with filters applied.

Mt Ruapehu, with long lens and filters applied.

If you're lucky you may also see Mt Ruapehu at about 3 o'clock — it's just left of the end of the dunes north of the river. I've seen Ruapehu much more often than Taranaki.

Good news for dog owners who visit Reay Mackay Grove

After some wrangling last year, I succeeded in getting the Council to give us rubbish bins at each entrance to the beach off Reay Mackay Grove. At the time, I asked for dog poop bag dispensers as well, but that was a step too far.

Eventually though, in May 2017, I asked again for the dispensers.

A lot more wrangling went on, but finally, in November 2017, we were granted one dispenser, installed on the rubbish bin at the south track.

Poopod dog waste bag dispenser at Reay Mackay Grove. Poopod dog waste bag dispenser at Reay Mackay Grove.

Word is that these dispensers, called Poopods, cost around $800 each installed.

They're very shiny and should resist the elements well.

Made in marine grade 316 stainless steel, it holds 1,000 bags and is suitable for high traffic areas. …

The Poopod dispenser is designed to be situated in Dog Parks and popular dog walking areas. …

These dispensers have the following features:

Robustness — made from stainless steel, the design of these units makes them very strong.

Longevity — fabricated 316 stainless steel, they have a long lifespan.

Location — particularly suited to harsh environments such as coastal areas.

Now let's hope that those who take their dogs along that track put in the tiny effort to take a bag, pick up after their dog, and put the bag in the bin.

When By the Wind Sailors come to shore

About 10 days ago the winds brought a fresh covering to our beach: millions of small dead blue things that I assumed to be baby Bluebottles. Then, a couple of days ago, thanks to Blackstone — a Waikawa Friend, I learned that in fact they are Velella vellela, a relative of bluebottles, and a jelly fish.

Velella velella carpet the beach.

Velella velella carpet the beach. Photo by Miraz.

They are also known as By The Wind Sailors, using a small sail to drift on the ocean surface.

Blackstone tells us about Velella velella.

Blackstone tells us about Velella velella.

Blackstone gave me permission to use their photos, below.

By the wind sailors.

By the wind sailors.

Millions of dead Velella.

Millions of dead Velella.

A Bluebottle, with Velella.

A Bluebottle, with Velella.

The trouble with dead things on the beach, of course, is that now they smell. They also seem to be attractive to some dogs for eating. One friend down the line has had a sick dog after it ate some of these.

Other west coast beaches have been similarly affected, including New Plymouth:

Stuff.co.nz says:

Department of Conservation acting operations manager Callum Lilley said Taranaki often saw large amounts of by-the-wind sailors wash up on its coastline and wasn’t out of the ordinary to get them at this time of year.  

“In fact, it is the time of year that we are most likely to see them,” he said.

“Although they can be seen at other times, too.”

The sailors were at the mercy of the wind and currents and generally onshore winds would drive them to shore, he said.

“They have a sail that sticks up and catches the wind.”

These little creatures are rather interesting. Scripps Institution of Oceanography tells us:

A clear, chitinous semicircular to triangular sail sticks up above the water with a blue float beneath made of concentric circles of gas-filled chambers. Small tentacles extend below the circular chambers. The sail is angled left or right.

This 5 minute video, The secret life of Velella: Adrift with the by-the-wind sailor, is extremely interesting, and tells us how these creatures live and how they’re related to other jelly fish.

A gas bladder, not a tooth

I bumped into neighbours on the beach and they showed me a piece of plastic rubbish they’d picked up. Except it wasn’t — I’d come across one of these before and had spent a while researching, to discover it was the gas bladder from a porcupine fish.

Porcupine fish swim bladder.

Porcupine fish swim bladder.

What is a gas bladder? Australian Museum says:

The gas bladder (also called a swim bladder) is a flexible-walled, gas-filled sac located in the dorsal portion of body cavity. It controls the fish’s buoyancy and in some species is important for hearing. Most of the gas bladder is not permeable to gases, because it is poorly vascularised (has few blood vessels) and is lined with sheets of guanine crystals.

Porcupine fish turn up on the beach from time to time, so it’s not surprising to sometimes find their swim bladders, I guess. The bladders are curious, firm things, that definitely appear as a form of plastic. They’re not tiny, either. I didn’t measure this unfortunately, but it’s about the size of a deck of cards.

Porcupine fish.

Porcupine fish.

A kekeno seal photo shoot

As the dogs and I walked south on the beach this morning I spotted what I thought was a small piece of driftwood at the water's edge, except part of it seemed to be moving. I whipped out the small binoculars I almost always have with me and discovered a seal pup having a good scratch.

Naturally I put the dogs on the lead and then we moved as close as we reasonably could, and found a hide behind some large tangly branches, or perhaps they were roots, from where I could take photos without disturbing the pup. Thanks to my zoom lens I was able to get some shots I found very pleasing. So here are some of the best.

As I looked through the photos later it seemed as though the pup had almost posed for the camera.

DOC say of kekeno:

Fur seals and sea lions are distinguished from other seals by their external ear flaps and hind flippers which rotate forward, allowing them to move quickly on land.

New Zealand fur seals can be distinguished from sea lions by their pointy nose and smaller size. In New Zealand, fur seals also tend to be found on rocky shorelines, whereas sea lions prefer sandy beaches.

This pointy-nosed seal has long pale whiskers and a body covered with two layers of fur. Their coat is dark grey-brown on the back, and lighter below; when wet, kekeno look almost black. In some animals the longer upper hairs have white tips which give the animal a silvery appearance.

In several of my photos, if you look closely, you can see those ear flaps. Try clicking on a photo to see it larger, then you can scroll through using the arrows at each side.

Note: these photos have gone missing during a blog host move. I'll work on getting them back.

In the steps of the Takapu Road moa

I've been doing some reading up on the history of this area, and now every time I drive along Waikawa Beach Road I wonder about those who were there before us. In particular, the new blue tsunami line near Takapu Road now makes me think of how moa were roaming this area thousands of years ago.

Long before Europeans arrived at Waikawa Beach there were thriving settlements of Maori, and before them, probably of Moa Hunters. We speculate about the Moa Hunters because of moa bones found in this area.

According to the booklet issued on the 90th Jubilee of Manakau School in 1978, moa bones were found at Takapu Road in 1962. Kete Horowhenua says:

FINDING MOA BONES TAKAPU RD 1962

Photo from left: Mr W. I. Hazlitt, Dr McCann, Richard Robinson, Mr Abernethy.

9 large species.

20 small species.

Dominion Museum have appreciated work done by Mr Abernethy and have decided to work the site further at later date.

And here's the photo of that find:

Finding Moa bones at Manakau. Finding Moa bones at Manakau. Photo from left: Mr W. I. Hazlitt, Dr McCann, Richard Robinson, Mr Abernethy. Source: [horowhenua.kete.net.nz/image_fil...](http://horowhenua.kete.net.nz/image_files/0000/0010/4187/Finding_Moa_bones_at_Manakau.jpg)

Meanwhile, on the school's 100th jubilee, they had more to say — Kete Horowhenua again:

In 1962 Mr. Fred Abernethy discovered a number of Moa bones on the property of Mr. W.I. Hazlitt, Takapu Road, and many hours of work by Mr. Abernethy and local residents in recovering the bones were much appreciated by the Dominion Museum.

WAIKAWA BEACH

Ken Dalzell

Foundation Chairman of Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association

Long before the coming of the first European, Waikawa had a large Maori population, firstly probably of the ancient Moa Hunters as indicated by a collection of Moa bones found in the Takapu Road area, then of the Muoupoko people who had several Pa in the area. In about 1822 the Muoupoko were conquered and driven out by Te Rauparaha and this area was apportioned to and settled by the Ngati Wehiwehi and Ngati Tukorehe hapu of the Ngati Raukawa, having migrated from their ancestral home in the Waikato.

There are other references too, such as this line in An Eye for Country: The Life and Work of Leslie Adkin, By Anthony Dreaver, page 237:

At Manakau, a draindigger unearthed a cache of huge moa bones.

The Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Dec 1989, page 423 has this:

The Takapau Road site is 600 m down Takapau Road, near Otaki, G.R. S25 948532, series NZMS 260. It is in the middle of a peat swamp, and was found during drainage works by Fred Abernethy. He invited Messrs C.J. Lindsay and C. McCann to make a preliminary examination, which they did in 1961. Abernethy was subsequently responsible for the recovery of most of the bones now known from this site at intervals between 1961 to 1984, but J.C Yaldwyn, J.A. Bartle, and C.J. Paulin also excavated some.

Takapau Road moa. Takapau Road moa.

T.H. Worthy (1990) An analysis of the distribution and relative abundance of moa species (Aves: Dinornithiformes), New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 17:2, 213-241, DOI: 10.1080/03014223.1990.10422598, page 221 says:

A. didiformis dominated the late Holocene fauna in a lowland swamp at Clevedon, South Auckland (Millener 1981). Likewise it was the most common species in the mudhole at Makirikiri, near Wanganui (Archey 1941; Appendix 3) and the swamp site at Manakau, north of Wellington, both argued to be of Holocene age (Worthy 1989d).

That article had more details scattered throughout about the various species and what was found at Takapu Road.

Te Ara has a great article on moa, Trevor H. Worthy, 'Moa - Scientific classification', Te Ara — the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, [www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/moa/pa...](http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/moa/page-1) (accessed 7 September 2017), which tells us:

The nine moa species currently recognised are:

  • two giant moa — the North Island (Dinornis novaezealandiae) and the South Island (Dinornis robustus)
  • two moa with blunt bills and short legs — the eastern (Emeus crassus) and the stout-legged (Euryapteryx curtus)
  • four anomalopterygine moa — little bush moa (Anomalopteryx didiformis), Mantell’s moa (Pachyornis geranoides), heavy-footed moa (Pachyornis elephantopus) and crested moa (Pachyornis australis)
  • upland moa (Megalapteryx didinus).

Those Anomalopteryx didiformis, so common around what is now Takapu Road, weren't quite the huge moa we know from pictures. As NZ Birds Online tells us:

The little bush moa was the smallest and most widespread moa species, occurring in forest throughout the North and South Islands. Slender with relatively long legs, it inhabited dense forest and shrubland. It was the only species in the genus Anomalopteryx. Its relatively short, sharp-edged bill appears to have been more suited to cutting than those of other moa species. …

The little bush moa was turkey-sized, lightly-built, with a rounded head, a short, stubby, rounded bill, and relatively slender legs. Its legs were bare and scaly, and it had shaggy hair-like body feathers.

Here's a picture courtesy of Te Papa: Little Bush Moa. Anomalopteryx didiformis. From the series: Extinct Birds of New Zealand., 2005, Masterton, by Paul Martinson. Purchased 2006. © Te Papa. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (2006-0010-1/22)

Anomalopteryx didiformis. Anomalopteryx didiformis. Little Bush Moa. Anomalopteryx didiformis. From the series: Extinct Birds of New Zealand., 2005, Masterton, by Paul Martinson. Purchased 2006. © Te Papa. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (2006-0010-1/22)

So, next time you drive past Takapu Road think of the moa!

The changing river path

Where the Waikawa river meets the sea is a fascinating area, constantly changing. Sometimes the lagoon fills up, at other times it’s cut off and even dries up. Then a high tide and lots of rain will fill it again.

Local Steve Betts kindly shared a series of gorgeous photos he took of the area. Thanks Steve.

Click a photo to see it larger.

Waikawa Beach lagoon : 2016-09-10. Waikawa Beach lagoon : 2016-09-10.

Waikawa Beach lagoon : 2016-09-24. Waikawa Beach lagoon : 2016-09-24.
Waikawa Beach lagoon : 2016-11-12. Waikawa Beach lagoon : 2016-11-12.
Waikawa Beach lagoon : 2017-02-09. Waikawa Beach lagoon : 2017-02-09.
Waikawa Beach lagoon : 2017-07-15. Waikawa Beach lagoon : 2017-07-15.
Waikawa Beach lagoon : 2017-07-29. Waikawa Beach lagoon : 2017-07-29.

On a clear day you can see 200 Km

When conditions are right, usually in the winter, you can see Ruapehu, to the north along the beach. It's actually about 160 Km away, sometimes covered in snow.

Ruapehu on 30 June 2017. Ruapehu on 30 June 2017. A telephoto lens is a very handy thing.

It's also quite common to see the top of the South Island, over to the right of and a small distance from Kapiti, though sometimes you can also see a chunk of it right next to Kapiti on the right.

The top of the South Island. The top of the South Island.
More of the top of the South Island. More of the top of the South Island.

If you know where to look — straight out to sea, but angled to the north, then sometimes you can spot Taranaki. That's more rare and you have to know where it is before you can see it usually. Taranaki's some 178 Km away.

Photos are even harder to get, but it seems I managed one on 11 August 2016.

Taranaki Maunga, 11 August 2016. Taranaki Maunga, 11 August 2016.

Occasionally you can look to the left of Kapiti and spot Tapuae-O-Uenuku, in the Kaikouras, at 192 Km away.

Tapuae-o-Uenuku in the Kaikouras. Tapuae-o-Uenuku in the Kaikouras.

Then there are those extremely rare days where you can see all 3 maunga.

I recommend always taking a small pair of binoculars with you to the beach — you never know when they'll be useful.

Spanking down the level beach, in a horse-drawn coach

The beach used to be a road — so says anyone around here. In my mind, that meant that occasionally a coach would manoeuvre its way along the sand.

Cobb and Co. coach, Palmerston, Otago.

Cobb and Co. coach, Palmerston, Otago.

But apparently Waikawa Beach used to be fair thronging with travellers, as the following excerpt from a very interesting book makes clear:

From Foxton to Wellington in Cobb and Company's coach was a long day's journey, in winter a journey of infinite difficulties and delays, but in summer one of the pleasantest trips which could be undertaken. At six in the morning the coach left the company's big slab and / or-thatched stable on the southern bank of the Manawatu River, across which the passengers from the north, who had come by another coach to Foxton the previous night, had been rowed, shivering, a few minutes earlier, after a more or less satisfactory night's rest at Langley's hotel on the further bank. (Later a detour was made inland across the sandhills to take the coach to the Foxton township.)

Spanking down the level beach, the coach reached my father's accommodation house, or hotel, at 8 a.m., and was off again in a few minutes, and away, with a fresh team, for Otaki. Mile after mile along the firm sand, with the six horses swinging the heavy leathern-sprung coach along effortlessly, harness rattling as the cantering leaders tossed their heads, straining at the bits : on the right the sea sparkling mile on mile away to the bold peak of Kapiti. On the left the grassed sandhills, and the bush beyond. At the Ohau the guard would fling out a mail-bag to the boy from Kebbell's run, sitting statuelike on his horse beside the track, then across the river at the shallow mouth and away without a stop for Otaki.

Down along the wide beach it would speed at a slashing ten miles an hour, past a heterogeneous procession of men and stock, everything giving way to Her Majesty's Mail. Here in charge of a mob of wild-eyed station steers for the Wellington butchers, would ride quite capable stockmen, with fourteen foot stockwhip coiled, and trained thoroughbred stock horses, to chop back on to the road any attempt of the jostling bullocks to stampede to the sandhills ; there a mob of sheep which had left the Hokio at dawn are making for Tom Roach's accommodation paddock at the Ohau hotel for the night ; here a long line of drays carry potatoes and corn to Wellington for the pas along the coast ; there a drove of pigs a hundred strong, are being driven, some to be sold to the farmers on the further side of the Paekakariki Hill, and some for the butcher's shops on "The Beach," as Lambton Quay, one sided then and huddled insignificantly up against the steep ridge behind, was called. A smart buggy, behind a pair of clipping trotters, belongs to one of the Rangitikei squatters ; a party of horsemen are riding down from Wanganui to Wellington, in preference to taking the boat ; a settler for the Foxton Block passes with the whole of his possessions heaped on a bullock dray, on which find a place also his wife and a long string of children, whilst behind them a few cows, and perhaps a horse or two. are driven. Swaggers, drovers, pedlers, all the traffic, and all the trade of a great highway before the railways were, a collection which to modern eyes would appear of the strangest, the coach rattles past.

Half a mile north of the Otaki river the route left the beach, this being on account of the boulders at the mouth of the river, and struck inland, passing along the old road constructed by the Maoris in the 50's when they obtained the first bullock drays, past the present Convent property to the Otaki township. Tn the yard at Martin's hotel opposite the Maori church, the whole population of Otaki would gather beneath the shade of the elderberry trees waiting for the big distraction of the day. Why not? There was nothing much to do anyone could get food, and why worry about anything else? So they would gather, and smoke, and make bets as to whether the coach would be late or not.

I discovered this in a book called Te Hekenga; early days in Horowhenua, being the reminiscences of Mr. Rod. McDonald, by McDonald, Rod. A; O'Donnell, Elliott and published in the 1920s.

Note: The picture of a Cobb and Co coach is from Wikimedia Commons, Title: [Cobb and Co. coach, Palmerston, Otago], Artist: William P. Hart (1845 - 1926) – photographer, Dead in Queenstown, Date: from 1880 until 1890.

A new year at Waikawa Beach, 2017

We're coming close to the winter solstice — from 4.24 pm Wednesday 21 June 2017 the days will start getting longer, and the sun moves more southward again. It's now we celebrate the mid-point of the European year and the start of the Māori new year with Puanga Matariki:

This year the Horowhenua District Council in partnership with Muaupoko Tribal Authority are coordinating a series of events across the district for Puanga Matariki.

Beginning and ending at Horowhenua’s culture and community centre, Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-po, the week of 16 - 25 June will include events at Foxton and Shannon this year.

When the Matariki stars rise in the eastern skies of New Zealand, it signals a celebration of the Māori new year throughout the country. The Horowhenua celebrates Puanga, the new year’s star visible throughout Matariki from along New Zealand’s west coast. It is a time to wānanga, to honour the ancestors and plant hope for the future.

Puanga is known to many as the star Rigel in the constellation of Orion, while Matariki is also known as the Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters. On the star map below Matariki is circled in white. The map shows the sky at sunrise on 16 June 2017. You can see Puanga, Rigel, at top right, Venus at top left and the sun at the bottom, about to rise above the horizon.

Puanga 2017. The map shows the sky at sunrise on 16 June 2017.

Puanga 2017. The map shows the sky at sunrise on 16 June 2017.

We're lucky at Waikawa Beach to have dark skies and clean air so we can enjoy the stars.

Whether we just look outside at dawn on the 16th or join in on all the activities at Te Takere for the week we can all celebrate a fresh start.

A terrible state of confusion, in 1855

On 23 January 1855 at about a quarter past nine in the evening a massive earthquake around magnitude 8.2 on the Richter scale struck the Wellington region. It wrecked many buildings, raised the seabed by about 1.5 metres, and lifted up a huge area of land.

Thomas Bevan talks about the 1855 earthquake.

Thomas Bevan talks about the 1855 earthquake.

The full force was also felt in the Wairarapa and Manawatu, as this report from Waikawa Beach reveals — The day the earth shifted | New Zealand Geographic says:

Thomas Bevan, owner of an accommodation house at Waikawa, was seated by a large double-brick chimney with a child on his knee. When the shaking commenced he ran outside but fell on his face, with the child landing some distance ahead. Several guests were similarly thrown off their feet. Everyone was in a “terrible state of confusion,” and they could hear the cries of terrified animals and horses neighing in the stable. …

The most notable and lasting effect of the 1855 Wairarapa earthquake was the sudden uplift and tilting of the south western part of the North Island, and corresponding subsidence of the coastal area of the Wairau Valley across Cook Strait in Marlborough.

I wanted to check whether the Waikawa mentioned above was 'ours' in Horowhenua, and can confirm it is. Check the Preface to Deb Shepherd's book, Bitter Water. She also mentions a work called Reminiscences Of An Old Colonist (11 MB PDF) by Thomas Bevan Senior. Pages 25 and 26 of that document carry an interesting account of the earthquake, including a tsunami and loss of a lake. Click the smaller image above to read at full size.

Page 24 of Bevan's account says that at that time the Ohau River and Waikawa River mouths converged, making a large river suitable for trading boats and creating a picturesque lake full of fish, ducks and other game. That is the lake that is now no more.

Welcome to the (historic) swamp

This last summer has been characterised by rain, and warmth. My personal weather station shows we've had 528.1 mm rain in the last complete 6 months:

  • November 2016: 101.6 mm
  • December 2016: 56.9 mm
  • January 2017: 64.9 mm
  • February 2017: 69.8 mm
  • March 2017: 72.9 mm
  • April 2017: 162.0 mm

By comparison, the historic rainfall data on the long-standing Waikawa Beach Weather site shows a total of 235.6 mm for the same 6 complete months over 2015–2016.

So, this last summer we've had more than twice as much rain as the previous summer.

This is particularly evident if you walk along Strathnaver Drive, and watch the flooded paddocks, now home to ducks, and occasionally spoonbills.

Flooded paddocks along Strathnaver Drive. These are usually dry.

Flooded paddocks along Strathnaver Drive. These are usually dry.

The paddocks in the photo above were dry for most of the last 3 years that we've been around these parts. There might be a day or two of heavy rain and a pond would form, but it would soon disappear again. Not this year: once it arrived it stayed.

A local, who's been here a decade or so and who owns a nearby paddock, told me he's never seen the water table so high.

That's why it was especially interesting when I recently found the Visualising Māori Land web page from Landcare Research. I looked at the Historic Wetlands overlay on the map and found a swamp.

Swampy area.

All those brown blobs are swampy areas.

What's a swamp? UCSB Science Line says:

Swamps - generally have slow-moving water and reside adjacent to rivers or other moving bodies of water. The level of water in a swamp can vary considerably with the adjacent river.

Let's zoom in a bit, so we can see Waikawa Beach better. And notice that up the road a bit we had some marshes.

Marsh - Also a wetland that is adjacent to a moving body of water, but tends to not have much water movement. It also forms a transition between open bodies of water and dry land.

Swampy Waikawa Beach south of Waikawa Beach Road.

Swampy land south of Waikawa Beach Road.

Now we can see that the eastern part of Strathnaver Drive, where those flooded paddocks are, is a historic swamp area.

Here's a third screenshot, that shows the village better.

Swampy Waikawa Beach east of the village.

Swampy Waikawa Beach east of the village.

Here we can see that the swampy area lay to the east of the village.

It's rather sobering to look at the Current Wetlands layer where most of the swamps have shrunk enormously or disappeared. Clearly though, enough rain betrays the swampy origins of much of this land.

Enjoy the dark — it's a rare treasure

Step outside on any dark clear night then look up and south. You should be able to see the Clouds of Magellan, two galaxies that orbit our Milky Way galaxy.

Magellanic Clouds. Photo by European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Magellanic Clouds. Photo by European Southern Observatory (ESO).

These and all the other stars we can see from Waikawa Beach are a treasure not available to many people on this planet. For a start, the Clouds of Magellan are only visible from the southern hemisphere. But the big problem is that light pollution, even in a small city like Wellington, makes them invisible to many people who think to look up at night.

We're very lucky here that our skies are mainly fairly dark, so we can see many stars that others have lost sight of.

Recently NASA released night sky images of the Earth from space. Waikawa Beach comes out really well for having a dark sky. You can see the lights of Waikanae and Paraparaumu, Levin, even Otaki and Otaki Beach in the screenshot below, but around here it's good and dark.

Waikawa Beach is in the dark.

Waikawa Beach is in the dark.

Compare that with Sydney for example, and all along that eastern coast in Australia.

East coast Australia night lights.

East coast Australia night lights.

Bright skies, like those in Sydney or Levin, mean we can't see so many stars, we're likely to suffer sleep disturbances, and animals and insects are very badly affected. In some parts of the world people can't see the stars at all.

Dark skies, like those at Waikawa Beach, mean lots of stars and a healthier environment for all of us.

A dark sky is yet another of the taonga we enjoy at Waikawa Beach.

What can we do to help keep our skies healthily dark? It's easy:

  • Avoid having outside lights on at night unless they're needed.
  • Keep outside lights pointed downwards — there's no point burning up money lighting up the sky.
  • Avoid using lights that are brighter than they need to be.

Photo Of Clouds Of Magellan By ESO/S. Brunier (ESO) [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Game bird hunting starts 06 May 2017

Let's get out of here.

Let’s get out of here.

You’ve probably noticed all the lakes around here: Huritini, Waiorongomai and others.

The game bird hunting season gets underway on Saturday, 06 May 2017 at dawn. You may hear shots from around dawn, as shooting is permitted between 6.30 am and 6.30 pm.

Hunters around here may be going after mallard, grey duck, Paradise shelduck, NZ shoveler duck, pukeko, black swan and pheasant. There’s more detailed information at Fish and Game.

If you have dogs or other pets talk to your vet soon about ways to deal with anxious and frightened animals.

Hunters: remember you’re not allowed to discharge any firearm in the settlement.

Oops, don't eat the shellfish just now

Hmmm, do you think this shark ate the shellfish?

Hmmm, do you think this shark ate the shellfish?

Thousands of dead shellfish wash up at Horowhenua beaches [17 March 2017], an article on Stuff, says:

Thousands of potentially poisonous shellfish have washed up at two Horowhenua beaches.

The MidCentral District Health Board has warned people not to collect or eat shellfish from the west coast’s Waitarere and Hokio beaches, near Levin, after thousands of dead and dying shellfish washed up there.

In a statement, MidCentral medical health officer Dr Rob Weir said the alert covered the area between Waitarere Beach in the north and Hokio Beach in the south.

People were also told not to eat any shellfish that washed up on the beach just outside of these areas, Weir said.

Hokio Beach isn’t that far away, so take care if you’re collecting shellfish at Waikawa Beach.

Love Waikawa Beach

Waikawa Beach is a quiet gem in the Horowhenua.

This site celebrates the place and explores ideas and ways to make it even better.

Residents and visitors: let's enjoy a safe and serene community.

Waikawa Beach is our place in the sun and we love it.