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What's the number 1 feedback about New Zealand's Rivers?

I have had really amazing feedback from people who have read New Zealand's Rivers. I thank every one of you who has taken the time to get in touch with me to tell me about what the book has meant to you - I appreciate it very much. The number one feedback so far has been how accessible the book is - people say it is an "easy read". Some writers might take this to mean that the book is not "academic" or profound enough. But I couldn't be more thrilled, as this was exactly my intent in writing the book. Rivers are an important to us as New Zealanders (along with the rest of our natural environment), and New Zealanders should not have to wade through complex, technical language or jargon to lea

Fancy an inkle anyone?

In continuation of my very loose 'word of the day' series (see The joy of words - an 'anodyne kitten'), I was found the recent interview with the outgoing Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary intriguing. It demonstrated so clearly how dynamic the English language is - not only is it constantly welcoming new words such as 'emoticon' and 'post-truth' into the lexicon, some words are being lost from use altogether. John Simpson shared some of these examples with Kathryn Ryan, but my favourite has to be the verb form of the noun 'inkling' - 'to inkle'. This came into the English language in Medieval times - its first use is recorded as around 1150, with the meaning 'to utter or communic

The joy of words - an anodyne kitten

Like many of us, I enjoy words - though my vocabulary is nowhere near as diverse as I would like it to be (I would be lost without my thesaurus!) So I am always on the lookout for words that I can introduce into my writing, or just slip into daily conversation to impress people! One that I came across the other day while reading Malcolm McKinnon's The Broken Decade: Prosperity, depression and recovery in New Zealand 1928-39 (Otago University Press, 2016), was "anodyne". The context was: But Labour leader Harry Holland, eschewing the convention of anodyne comment, looked back and out in anger - or despair, stating in a debate in Parliament in 1932: "... the supreme tragedy of history ...[ is

Have our rivers got better or worse in the last 100 years?

Another question I was asked in my most recent interview, on RadioLIVE, was, given the more 100-odd years of abuse suffered by many of our rivers, have our rivers on the whole recovered from their historically degraded states, or not? As always, the answer is not a straight-forward one. In part because, 100 or 150 years ago, we did not have freshwater scientists measuring the health of our rivers using metrics that could be compared over time, as we do now. The sort of measurements we make now have only been made in a systematic way for the last few decades. As I explained in the interview, the source of pollution in the past was mainly what we call point-source discharges, effluent piped in

Braving the tremors to talk Rivers in Wellington

Things looked a bit dicey there for a while, in the wake of the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake the week before. But luckily there were plenty of intrepid people willing to brave the seismic uncertainty to come along to the North Island launch of New Zealand's Rivers at Unity Books in Wellington on 24th November. It was a hugely enjoyable event - thanks to the host, Unity Books, and the fabulous Isobel Ewing, TV3 Newshub reporter, who came armed with some great questions. As did the audience ... Thanks to everyone who came along, there was lots of stimulating discussion and a few laughs too!

More 'moments' from the launch of New Zealand's Rivers

Here is my last collection of photographs from the Christchurch launch of New Zealand's Rivers. These are the photos of the book signings - I was privileged to have lots of interesting conversations with people from a wide range of backgrounds and interests when they came up and asked me to sign their books. One woman had bought my book a couple of weeks before but had come along to the launch especially to tell me how much she enjoyed it! It is moments like that that I will always remember. See also Launch of New Zealand's Rivers a success, and Where you there? Launch of New Zealand's Rivers

How many rivers are in New Zealand?

One of the questions I got asked in a recent interview, broadcast on RadioLIVE's Outdoors Hour, was "So, do you know how many rivers there are in New Zealand?" That had me stumped - to be honest, I am not sure I have even come across a figure in all my research. On investigation, I found to my relief that I wasn't as silly as I felt - even Wikipedia doesn't offer a number - just a very long list! By my calculation, there are over 1,000 on the list - possibly about 1,200. Which is obviously quite a few. But as I explained too in the interview, sometimes the naming of a waterway is a pretty arbitrary business - how big does it need to be called a river rather than a stream or a creek? There is

Were you there? Launch of New Zealand's Rivers

I have compiled a slideshow of all the great pictures of people mingling over wine and nibbles at the launch of New Zealand's Rivers at Scorpio Books in Christchurch. See if you can spot yourself! See more photos in: Launch of New Zealand's Rivers a success

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