Radio New Zealand National. 2015-12-28. 00:00-23:59.
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A 24-hour recording of Radio New Zealand National. The following rundown is sourced from the broadcaster’s website. Note some overseas/copyright restricted items may not appear in the supplied rundown:
28 December 2015
===12:04 AM. | All Night Programme===
Including: 12:05 Music after Midnight; 12:30 On Going to the Movies (1 of 7, RNZ); 1:05 Hear Our Voices We Entreat (1 of 5, RNZ); 2:30 NZ Music Feature (RNZ); 3:05 A Day at the Races, by Michael Gifkins (RNZ); 3:30 Science (RNZ); 4:30 Kate's Classics 5:10 An Awfully Big Adventure, by Jane Tolerton (1 of 15, RNZ)
===6:00 AM. | None (National)===
An early miscellany of music, stories and random thoughts
===7:00 AM. | Summer Report===
Teresa Cowie and Ian Telfer present two hours of summer news and information, including interviews with the newsmakers, plus sport, business, weather and features
Top Stories for Monday 28 December 2015
Five people have drowned already this summer - we'll ask why the water safety message isn't getting through and the Victorian bushfires wipe out 116 homes.
Festive season marred by drownings
The start to the festive season has been marred by grief after a string of drownings
The latest on the Victorian bushfires
Authorities in the Australian state of Victoria say 116 homes in the Wye River and Seperation Creek areas have been destroyed in the Christmas Day bushfires..
Tags: Australia, fires
Hundreds of crashes as roads fill up
It's been a bad start to the holiday period on the roads - since Christmas Eve there have been more than 370 crashes.
Boxing Day record for retailers
Figures show this Boxing Day was a record one for retailers.
Tags: Boxing Day, sales
Three leading candidates for Auckland mayoralty
Driverless car trials, a regional fuel tax and taking a knife to Auckland Council costs are among the opening shots from the leading contenders to be the next mayor of Auckland.
Regions: Auckland Region
American could win Sydney to Hobart
An American could claim the Sydney to Hobart race after rough weather forced a number of yachts to pull out of the annual race.
Tags: Sydney to Hobart race
Rowers Eric Muray and Hamish Bond talk Olympic hopes for Rio
Today the first in a series we are running this week where we talk to some of our top sports people.
Summer movies with Sarah Watt
To the movies now - and the Sunday Star Times film reviewer Sarah Watt is here to tell us about her favourites from 2015.
Sports News for 28 December 2015
An update from the team at RNZ Sport.
Resident wants boat ban on Otago lake
People living near Blue Lake in Central Otago are asking whether a 12-year-old boy's death on the lake could have been avoided.
Tags: Blue Lake
Water safety could be taught differently
An Auckland swimming expert, who's part of an international taskforce developing a new approach to help prevent drownings, says water safety needs to be taught differently.
Victoria state businesses counting cost of latest bushfires
The Christmas Day bushfires which ripped through parts of Australia's Great Ocean Road have destroyed homes and cost business millions of dollars.
Tags: Australia, fires
A huge Boxing Day period
Large queues and parking shortages were a common hassle for shoppers as thousands flocked to Boxing Day sales.
Regions: Auckland Region
Tags: Boxing Day sales
Chch's Hagley Oval venue for second ODI against Sri Lanka today
To cricket and the Black Caps play their second one dayer against Sri Lanka today, the seocnd in a row at Christchurch's Hagley Oval.
Tags: cricket, Black Caps
What lies behind some of the news stories
This summer we are trying to explain what lies behind some of the news stories you hear about every day.
Tags: news stories
Christmas lights a passion for some
Christmas might be over, but for some, the show, and the glow, still goes on - for a bit longer at least.
Tags: Christmas lights
===9:06 AM. | Summer Noelle===
A holiday season of interviews, features, music and stories from all over New Zealand and around the world, with your host Noelle McCarthy
Noelle talks to Cliff Curtis about his 20 years as an actor and his latest work.
During his 20-plus years in the film industry working with the likes of with Martin Scorsese, M Knight Shyamalan and George Clooney, actor Cliff Curtis has always kept one foot here in New Zealand.
He tells Noelle McCarthy that if the acting roles dry up there's always his cousin's lawn mowing business in Rotorua.
Tags: Cliff Curtis
Donna Field joins Noelle from Australia to discuss the latest news there.
Noelle talks to activist and feminist Gloria Steinem about her book, 'My Life on the Road'.
Noelle talks to activist and feminist Gloria Steinem about her book, 'My Life on the Road'.
Topics: author interview
Tags: Gloria Steinem
Daily Feature - Roads
We talk to author Bruce Ansley about his book which looks at New Zealand roads.
Topics: author interview
Tags: Bruce Ansley
Poet CK Stead joins Noelle to talk about his favourite poem and gives us a reading.
Tags: poem, CK Stead
Songs of our lives
Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon is with Noelle to talk about the songs have the most meaning in his life.
Tags: Meng Foon
Classic Film Club
Writer and Director Louis Sutherland talks about why The Princess Bride is his all time favourite flick.
Tags: The Princess Bride
9:05 Feature interview
Noelle talks to Cliff Curtis about his 20 years as an actor and his latest work
9:45 Australian Correspondent
Donna Field joins Noelle from Australia to discuss the latest news there
10:05 Feature interview
Noelle talks to activist and feminist Gloria Steinem about her book, My Life on the Road
10:35 Daily Feature - Roads
We talk to author Bruce Ansley about his book which looks at New Zealand roads
11:05 Poetry feature
Poet CK Stead joins Noelle to talk about his favourite poem and gives us a reading
11:10 Songs of our lives
Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon is with Noelle to talk about the songs have the most meaning in his life
11:51 Classic Film Club
Writer and Director Louis Sutherland talks about why The Princess Bride is his all time favourite flick
ARTIST: Cocteau Twins
TITLE: Heaven Or Las Vegas
COMP: Cocteau Twins
ALBUM: Heaven Or Las Vegas
TITLE: Flesh without Blood
ALBUM: Art Angels
ARTIST: Julia Holter
TITLE: Feel You
ALBUM: Have You In My Wilderness
ARTIST: The Beatles
COMP: Lennon, McCartney
ARTIST: Ngati Poneke Maori Club
TITLE: E Rona E
ALBUM: Aku Mahi
ARTIST: Frank Sinatra
TITLE: My Way
COMP: Anka, Francois, Revaux
ALBUM: My Way
ARTIST: Kiri Te Kanawa
TITLE: Ave Maria
ALBUM: Ave Maria
TITLE: Ong Ong
COMP: Albarn, Coxon, James, Rowntree
ALBUM: The Magic Whip
===Noon | Midday Report===
A round-up of today's news and sports, including: 12:12 Worldwatch
Midday News for 28 December 2015
The holiday drowning toll rises to six, with the discovery of a body at Mt Maunganui.
Midday Sports News for 28 December 2015
The Sri Lanka batsmen have lost four wickets in the first hour of play to put themselves in a precarious position in the second one-day cricket match against the Black Caps in Christchurch.
===12:30 PM. | Matinee Idle===
Phil O'Brien and Simon Morris present an afternoon of alleged music and dubious entertainment
12 - 1 pm
Artist: Sly and the Family Stone
Title: Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be)
Composers: Ray Evans, Jay Livingston
Album: Fresh (1973)
Artist: Stevie Ray Vaughan & Dick Dale
Composer: Dick Dale
Album: The Real Deal - Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
Artist: Tape Five
Title: Cool Cat in Town
Composer: Tape Five
Album: Tonight Josephine!
Label: Soulfood Music Distribution
Artist: Cat Stevens
Title: Here Comes My Wife
Composer: Cat Stevens
Album: New Masters
Artist: Jonathan Edwards
Title: Paper Doll
Composer: Jonathan Edwards
Album: Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy
1 - 2 pm
Artist: The Pussycat Dolls
Title: Tainted Love / Where Did Our Love Go
Composer: Bricusse, Newley, Dozier, Holland, Cobb
Artist: The Coasters
Title: Three Cool Cats
Composer: Lieber & Stoller
Album: 50 Coastin' Classics
Title: Here Kitty
Album: Hello Young Lovers
Composer: Mael & Mael
Label: In the Red
Artist: Petula Clark
Title: The Cat in the Window (The Bird in the Sky)
Album: Ultimate Petula Clark
Composer: Bonner, Gordon
Artist: The Rural Alberta Advantage
Title: Eye of the Tiger
Album: Drain the Blood (single)
Composer: Sullivan, Peterik
Label: Saddle Creek, Paper Bag
Artist: Merle Kilgore
Title: Dig Dig Dig Dig
Album: Dig, Dig, Dig, Dig (There's No More Water in the Well)
Composer: Carl Spencer
Artist: Homer & Jethro
Title: El Paso
Album: Homer and Jethro Go West
Composer: Marty Robbins
Artist: Stray Cats
Title: Runaway Boys
Album: Cutting Edge 80s
Composer: Slim Jim Phantom, Brian Setzer
Artist: Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Title: Sea of Love
Album: Ka Ano'i
Composer: John Phillip Baptiste
Label: Discos Tropical
Artist: Sly and the Family Stone
Title: Dance to the Music
Composer: Sylvester Stewart
Artist: The World Famous Bluejays
Title: 10 Pin Boogie!
Album: 10 Pin Boogie!
Composer: Godfrey, Tepper
2 - 3 pm
Artist: Stevie Wright
Title: Evie Pt.2
Composer: Vanda, Young
Artist: Lorne Greene
Title: Dig, Dig, Dig, Dig
Album: Bonanza: A Ponderosa PArty
Composer: Carl Spencer
Label: Bear Family
Artist: Jess Conrad
Title: C'Mon Everybody
Album: Golden Boy of the Sixties
Composer: Eddie Cochran
Artist: Carl Perkins
Title: Put Your Cat Clothes On
Album: Original Sun Greatest Hits
Composer: Youg, Young
Artist: Choir for Young Believers
Title: Hollow Talk
Album: This is For the White in Your Eyes
Composer: Jannis Noya Makrigiannis
Artist: The Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Nashville Cats
Album: The Lovin' Spoonful Collection
Composer: John Sebastian
Artist: Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys
Title: Good Old Rock 'n' Roll
Album: The Street Giveth... and the Street Taketh Away
Composer: Chin, Equine, Michaels, Packer, Smith
Artist: Darlene Love
Title: River Deep, Mountain High
Album: Introducing Darlene Love
Composer: Spector, Barry, Greenwich
Label: Wicked Cool
Artist: The Ramrods
Title: (Ghost) Riders in the Sky
Album: Riders in the Sky: The Amy Records Story
Composer: Stan Jones
Label: One Day
Title: Sound of Silence
Album: Planet Reverb
Composer: Paul Simon
2 - 3 pm
Artist: UK Squeeze
Title: Cool for Cats
Album: Cool for Cats
Composer: Difford, Tilbrook
Artist: Oakenfold ft. Brittany Murphy
Title: Faster Kill Pussycat
Album: Now That's What I Call Music
Composer: Oakenfold, Green, Alli
Artist: Jonathan and Darlene Edwards
Title: Tip-Toe Through the Tulips
Album: Sing Along with Jonathan and Darlene Edwards
Composer: Burke, Dubin
Artist: 69 Boyz
Title: Kitty Kitty
Composer: Da S.W.A.T. Team
Artist: Mike Oldfield ft. Roger Chapman
Title: Shadow on the Wall
Composer: Mike Oldfield
Artist: Pussy Riot
Title: Deliver Pavement
Composer: Pussy Riot
4 - 5 pm
Artist: Glass Tiger
Title: Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone
Album: The Thin Red Line
Composer: Glass Tiger, Jim Vallance
Artist: Nina Simone
Title: Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Album: Feeling Good - The Very Best of Nina Simone
Composer: Benjamin, Marcus, Caldwell
Artist: Frazey Ford
Album: Indian Ocean
Composer: Frazey Ford
Artist: Public Service Broadcasting
Album: The Race for Space
Composer: J. Willgoose, Esq., Wrigglesworth
Label: Test Card Recordings
Artist: The Cat (Red Dwarf)
Composer: Naylor, Goodall, Grant
Artist: Joe Jackson
Title: We the Cats Will Hep Ya
Album: Joe Jackson's Jumpin' Jive
Composer: Cab Calloway
Artist: Jane's Addiction
Title: My Cat's Name is Maceo
Album: Kettle Whistle
Composer: Jane's Addiction
Artist: Slim Gaillard
Title: Potato Chips
Album: The Best of Slim Gaillard: Laughin' in Rhythm
Composer: Curtis Ousley
Artist: Missing Persons
Title: Destination Unknown
Album: Living in Oblivion - The 80's Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
Composer: Bozzio, Bozzio, Cuccurullo
Artist: Neko Case
Title: Bowling Green
Album: The Virginian
Composer: Slater, Ertel
Artist: Kyu Sakamoto
Composer: Rokusuke Ei, Hachidai Nakamura
===5:00 PM. | None (National)===
A round-up of today's news and sports, including: 5:12 Worldwatch 5:30 News headlines
===5:32 PM. | Outspoken===
A half hour of current affairs presented by some of RNZ's most experienced presenters and correspondents
===6:06 PM. | Great Encounters===
Memorable exchanges with RNZ guests during the past year (RNZ)
===7:06 PM. | TED Radio Hour===
8:06 Windows on the World: International public radio features and documentaries
===9:06 PM. | Our Changing World===
Time Travelling through Mead Stream Gorge
A fieldtrip through Mead Stream Gorge, north of Kaikoura, which provides a continuous record of 80 million years of geological history.
by Veronika Meduna
'In this area, the gorge cuts through a sequence of rocks that span the entire geological history of New Zealand from about 90 million years ago right through to the present day.' _James Crampton
Mead Stream Gorge, about halfway between Blenheim and Kaikoura, is one of New Zealand’s geological wonderlands.
Geologists come from all over the globe to study the exposed rocks and the gorge is possibly the only place in New Zealand where you can travel through 90 million years of geological history in one day.
Geologists and paleontologists from GNS Science have led field work in the gorge for several decades, working closely with the Murray family, who own Bluff Station inland from Kekerengu on the Marlborough coast.
Paleontologist James Crampton says the gorge is one of the most accessible in the region, but also represents the most continuous geological record, spanning from the slow drowning of the Zealandia landmass following its split from Gondwana, through the geological boundary that marks the demise of the dinosaurs, and on to a period of mountain uplift that continues today.
'The rocks lowest down are from a time when there was still tectonic movement going on and New Zealand was breaking off Gondwana, splitting away and drifting into the South Pacific by continental drift. Then, for a long time there was no tectonic activity and New Zealand gradually sank.'
Further up the gorge a layer of huge boulders provides evidence for the start of a new tectonic phase and mountain uplift when the Alpine Fault formed, about 25 to 35 million years, and finally, right at the top of the gorge, is the active Clarence Fault, one of the country’s fastest moving faults.
One of the significant – albeit perhaps least obvious – sightseeing stops in the gorge is the geological boundary layer that marks the end of the Cretaceous epoch and the extinction of the dinosaurs, together with about half of all other creatures that lived at the time.
It was the second largest extinction event of all times, but all that remains of it today is a thin dark sliver of clay, measuring a few centimetres, that marks the moment when a meteorite hit Earth and covered the planet in dust. This layer is commonly known as the K-T boundary (T stands for the Tertiary, and K comes from Kreidezeit, the German term for the Cretaceous).
Chris Hollis, at GNS Science, says the K-T boundary at Mead Stream was very difficult to pinpoint, and represents one of only two places in the world with an unusual signature of the meteorite impact. Two types of evidence usually identify the boundary: a high level of Iridium (an element that is extremely rare in the Earth’s crust, but abundant in most asteroids and comets) and the sudden extinction of microscopic organisms called foraminifera, or forams for short. “This Iridium anomaly in this case is found only in the burrows in the top of the Cretaceous,” he says.
'What’s happened is that the meteroite hit the Earth, the dust cloud enveloped the planet, the Iridium-rich clay settled down through the oceans, fell on the seafloor, filled the burrows and all the things inside the burrows died. Then it was swept clean by some current, possible a tsunami from the impact that swept the surface clean so there’s only normal clay deposited afterwards and all the Iridium, all the evidence of the impact, is actually in the burrows in the top of the Cretaceous.' _Chris Hollis
Further up the gorge, a layer of conglomerates – rocks that are made of lots of cobbles and pebbles – signify the beginning of a new period of tectonic activity and mountain uplift. James Crampton says this marks the instant when the modern plate boundary and mountain uplift started in this area. “Tectonic activity suddenly switched on here, mountains started going up really fast and eroding, and all this gravel was falling into deep water off the edge of the mountains – exactly what’s still happening off Kaikoura today with the Kaikoura Canyon.”
Right at the top, GNS Science earthquake geologist Russ van Dissen studies the Clarence Fault, one of a cluster of active faults that branch off the Alpine Fault and trend northeast through Marlborough and towards the North Island. “It’s one of the four big faults of the Marlborough fault system,” he says. “This fault zone transfers the motion from the subduction zone in the North Island, and as we move south these four faults distribute the strain and then all that gets dumped down onto the Alpine Fault further to the south and on the west coast of the South Island.”
The Clarence Fault moves about five millimetres per year and is one of several fault lines Russ van Dissen studies in an effort to piece together the region’s earthquake history. He says the Clarence Fault has produced large earthquakes in the past, on average every 2000 years, with the last one about 1700 years ago. “If we do that for all major faults … that all gets put into the building code. One of the outcomes of the work we’re doing here is how to prescribe the appropriate earthquake loadings for buildings.”
The team also explored a layer that represents the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM. During this episode, some 55 million years ago, the Earth warmed rapidly and went through a major climate change and extinction event. Our Changing World will feature this part of the research next month.
Tags: geology, K/T boundary, dinosaurs, Gondwana, Zealandia, Clarence Fault
Rare Mudfish, the Farmer and the School
A population of rare South Canterbury mudfish are benefiting from a community project involving the St Andrews School, the farmer and the Working Waters Trust
By Alison Ballance
The secret to having good numbers of one of New Zealand’s most endangered species living on a South Canterbury farm is a natural spring - which provides water even during a drought – plus a farmer who is motivated to fence out stock and work with the local primary school to improve and expand the habitat.
The fish in question is the Canterbury mudfish, the farmer is Ross Rathgen, and the school is St Andrews. Also in the mix is Lan Pham from the Working Water’s Trust.
“Ross is the reason this is happening,” says Lan. “He’s been wanting to do something with the site for years … [and now] it really just feels like all different aspects of the community coming together
This population of Canterbury mudfish is fortunate to have a sympathetic farm owner, as there is currently no legal protection under the Wildlife Act for any species of freshwater fish in New Zealand, expect for the extinct grayling, so conservation measures rely on the goodwill of landowners.
When cropping and dairy farmer Ross bought the farm seven years ago there was a population of Canterbury mudfish living in the drainage ditches, but not much in the way of fencing. He fenced off the ditch first, kept stock away from that part of the farm, and with Immediate Steps funding from Environment Canterbury’s Orari-Opihi-Pareora Zone Committee and support from the Department of Conservation, he has just completed fencing off just over a hectare of mudfish habitat.
To enhance the area for the mudfish twenty mudfish ponds were dug in the swampy ground near the drainage ditches at the end of 2014. Lan laughs and says they had to explain to the digger driver that they didn’t want the ponds – which are about a metre deep, five metres long and three metres wide – to be tidy, but rather they wanted rough gently-sloping edges where the mudfish would be able to find shelter. Water from the spring and wetland area quickly filled the ponds, and many of the ponds soon had a healthy growth of pondweed on the surface.
On the 1st May 2015 Lan, Ross and a class from the school headed out to see how the mudfish had survived the intense summer drought – and whether any of the new ponds had been naturally colonised by the mudfish. The day before, Lan Pham and Sophie Allen from Working Water’s Trust, and South Canterbury mudfish expert Leanne O’Brien from Ichthyo-niche, had set fish traps baited with marmite – and the first trap they checked from one of the new ponds had caught nine mudfish. Mudfish can move between ponds by slithering across wet grass. The original ditch was teeming with mudfish, and Leanne decided that these would be liberated into a couple of the new ponds that she thought the mudfish might have more difficulty reaching themselves.
Canterbury mudfish are listed as Threatened - Nationally Critical, and are the most endangered of the five mudfish species. They are the second most endangered species of freshwater fish in New Zealand.
“The number of Canterbury mudfish populations that need attention is just huge. We literally are losing them really quickly, particularly with the drought.”
Lan gives the example how one significant population of Canterbury mudfish disappeared this year, because the habitat dried up in the drought and there were no regulations to stop the landowner from then digging it up and installing a centre pivot irrigator. Lan says the main problem is a lack of knowledge about the mudfish, with many landowners not realising they even have populations on their property.
Ross says he has plans to protect all the little wetlands and streams on the farm, and that his aim is to covenant the fenced area that the school is involved in. In the long term, Ross, St Andrews School and the Working Waters Trust would like to put a boardwalk through the reserve, which is adjacent to State Highway One, and invite the public to walk through the reserve, and learn about the Canterbury mudfish.
Department of Conservation freshwater ranger Peter Ravenscroft, who works with many threatened freshwater fish populations in Otago, joined Lan and the St Andrews school on Ross’s farm, and he was very impressed with what was happening.
“Ticks all the boxes, doesn’t it?" says Peter. "Local community with a local farmer looking after local values, with support from passionate people like Leanne and Lan, and a little bit of financial support from the likes of DoC and Ecan to provide the resources. And then benefit to a nationally critical animal – I couldn’t be happier, to be honest.”
Topics: environment, science, education
Tags: freshwater fish, wetlands, streams, South Canterbury mudfish, St Andrews School, farming, whitebait, Department of Conservation, habitat restoration, conservation
Tracking the Lapita Expansion Across the Pacific
Veronika Meduna joins Pacific archaeologists at the oldest cemetery in the pacific to find out about the Lapita and their epic voyage of discovery.
by Veronika Meduna
The whole Lapita story is an extraordinary chapter of human history. These are the first people that get beyond the main Solomons chain.
Stuart Bedford, Australian National University, Vanuatu Cultural Centre
Stuart Bedford has spent many years scouring Vanuatu’s volcanic soil for evidence of the archipelago’s first inhabitants, but one of his best discoveries came when he wasn’t looking. A digger driver who was excavating soil for a prawn farm on Vanuatu’s main island Efate discovered a richly decorated shard of pottery – and recognised it as something unusual.
Bedford and his colleague Matthew Spriggs, both archaeologists at the Australian National University in Canberra, were called in and immediately identified it as Lapita.
The serendipitous discovery soon led to a major project which unearthed not just more pottery but human remains. More than a decade later, the site at Teouma is now famous among Pacific archaeologists as the oldest Lapita cemetery, reaching back three millennia to the very beginning of an epic voyage of discovery.
The Lapita are ancestors of modern Polynesians, who later went on to explore all corners of the Polynesian triangle, from Hawaii to Easter Island and ultimately New Zealand. But 3000 years ago it was Lapita seafarers who heralded the last major prehistoric wave of migration by sailing to Vanuatu and from there out into an area known as Remote Oceania.
In July, Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila hosted the 8th Lapita conference, which brought together scientists from disciplines as far apart as archaeology, linguistics and genetics to discuss the latest findings about the Lapita, from the techniques they used to produce their unique, elaborately decorated pottery, to their burial practices, their health, their impact on the archipelago’s ecology - and of course their Pacific sailing itinerary.
"Teouma is the first kind of really core Lapita site … so it’s given us unique insights into who the Lapita people were," says Matthew Spriggs.
From the bones and teeth, the team gleaned information about their diet and health, but most importantly perhaps, the Teouma bones confirm the Polynesian link.
We can compare the skull shape of the Lapita people and see who they resemble most among living populations today and they fit very neatly within the Polynesian/Asian mode rather than the Australian, Aboriginal and Melanesian mode.
Matthew Spriggs, Australian National University, Vanuatu Cultural Centre
Spriggs says that it was during the relatively short period of Lapita expansion that change happened and, while the people at Teouma are ancestors of Polynesians, later Lapita site are more closely linked with modern Melanesians.
“It’s only during Lapita that we have evidence of extensive interactions between all the archipelagos, so from New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, through to the Solomons, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and out to Fiji. There’s extensive exchange networks, contact between these areas.”
At the Teouma cemetery, archaeologists also discovered 68 burial sites, and the bleached bones almost certainly belong to the first people to make landfall in Vanuatu. They unearthed clear evidence that the Lapita used their highly decorated pottery for ceremonies and rituals, but for Frederique Valentin, an archaeologist at the National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris, the bones tell a fascinating story of ritual burial practices – with headless skeletons and deliberately rearranged bones.
Hallie Buckley, a biological anthropologist at the University of Otago, has coordinated the excavation of the bones and has studied them for signs of disease.
These same bones also tell a story of hard work, and of people suffering from gout and what we now know as metabolic disease. But Anna Gosling, also at the University of Otago, says the gout may be an evolutionary consequence of protection against malaria.
Gout is a result, usually, of high serum urate levels. Pacific Island people, throughout the Pacific, have been found to have quite high levels of this particular chemical in their blood compared to most other populations worldwide, which is suggesting that there is some sort of genetic link.
Anna Gosling, University of Otago
Urate has several important function: it helps maintain blood pressure, it is an anti-oxidant, and it plays a role in the body's innate immune response. During a Malaria infection, urate levels increase to stimulates an immune response.
"The argument we're trying to make here is that if you already have slightly higher urate levels in your blood, you need less red blood cells to ... burst apart before your immune system kicks in and tries to resolve the infection, which would give you quite an advantage."
The human settlement of the Pacific and the origins of the Polynesian people have been topics of intense debate for decades, and scientists have sought to chart the path of the Lapita expansion. Collectively they have accumulated evidence that points to an origin in island Southeast Asia, but with more clarity in some of the detail comes increasing complexity of the total picture.
The first wave of colonisation in the Pacific region began when people fanned out across an area known as Near Oceania, sometime around 40,000 years ago. Sea levels were lower then – New Guinea, Australia and the island of Tasmania were still one landmass – and these first explorers had to navigate smaller gaps of ocean. They spread as far as the Bismarck Archipelago north of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific.
Patrick Kirch, an anthropologist at the University of California at Berkeley and an expert in Pacific prehistory, says for 30,000 years, the sea gap between the main chain of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu was an invisible boundary. But then, around 3000 years ago, the Lapita, breached this voyaging barrier. Their unmistakable comb-toothed pottery is the most distinctive cultural signature they left behind, and it now helps to reconstruct their journey.
You can use the pottery and other material culture to trace the movement very clearly and with the assistance of radio carbon dating we’ve put a timeframe on that.
Patrick Kirch, University of California at Berkeley
This Lapita “bursting out into this part of the Pacific that had never been occupied by humans” ended at about 800BC in Tonga and Samoa, but just what motivated the rapid expansion is still a point of debate.
Population pressure is often discussed as one option, but Kirch thinks people were pulled rather than pushed. “By pull I mean things like new resources. We know in Vanuatu they had these tortoises and pigeons, they were great food items.”
Also, he says, there could be social factors such as a hierarchical clan structure in which younger sons may have wanted to establish elsewhere.
Although the dentate pottery – edged with toothlike projections – is the most consistent Lapita identifier, it’s clear that the people carried with them a suite of other skills, including open-ocean navigation, boat-building, fishing and agriculture. Archaeologists prefer to use the term Lapita Cultural Complex, rather than implying that Lapita was a homogenous group of people defined largely by their pottery design style.
Linguistically, the origins are clear. Lapita is just one chapter in the Austronesian diaspora.
Austronesian is unusual among language families: it’s extremely large, with more than a thousand modern languages, and it’s the most widely dispersed in the world (until the post-Columbus expansion of Indo-European languages). It extends from Madagascar to Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, and spans over 70 degrees of latitude, from Hawaii to the southern tip of New Zealand. All modern Polynesian languages are daughters of this family.
Like drawing up an evolutionary tree from the genetic diversity found in living organisms, modern languages can also be used to reconstruct ancestral proto languages and their relationships to each other. When this is done, Taiwan emerges as the most likely origin of Austronesian.
The archaeological record supports the notion that the Lapita journeys were a deliberate effort to colonise new land. Lapita sites discovered so far are close to the beach and, in Near Oceania they are mostly on small off-shore islands. The choice of coastal sites also suggests a dual subsistence economy, relying on both fishing and agriculture. Excavations have also revealed that the Lapita toolbox included a range of fish hooks made from shell, nets, spears and different types of stone adzes.
Intriguingly, the most complex patterns of decoration are associated with the oldest sites, and plain ware and more simply decorated pots make up a growing proportion of assemblages found in later settlements.
Why the Lapita might have abandoned the rituals and practices they had so treasured remains a mystery. Matthew Spriggs says once you move beyond Samoa and Tonga, the area of sea compared to the area of land “increases massively and there was probably a threshold of relatively easy travel back and forth”.
Topics: science, environment
Tags: Pacific migration, Lapita, human migration, Pacific, Teouma, Vanuatu, Lapita pottery, burial rituals, Austronesian languages, archaeology, gout, Polynesian ancestors
To Catch a Trapdoor Spider
Trapdoor spiders live on mud banks in long silk-lined tunnels with a camouflaged trapdoor, and Vikki Smith has developed a cunning way of luring them out
By Alison Ballance
Spider expert Vikki Smith has invented a novel way of luring reclusive trapdoor spiders out of their long burrows – ‘beetling’. The standard technique that arachnologists use is vibrations from an electric toothbrush, but New Zealand Cantuaria trapdoor spiders are too clever to fall for that old trick - which is where Vikki’s secret spider attracting device comes into its own.
“I have this beetle,” says Vikki. “His name is Terrified Pete - and he’s a mealworm beetle. He wears a little harness and I walk him along in front of the trapdoor spider burrow. The spider is attracted by him because he’s prey and comes out. Oh, and the beetle usually gets away unscathed.”
The patter of tiny beetle feet and the small vibrations that the beetle sets off as it negotiates a minefield of silk strands radiating from beneath the camouflaged trapdoor are what alerts the resident spider to a passing meal. This sophisticated system of beetle detection is necessary as the spiders never leave their silk-lined burrows – they rely on their food walking to them. All the more remarkable is that female trapdoor spiders may reside in their burrow for up to 25 years – and never leave home once. For all that time they lie in wait, only erupting forth to grab an unwary insect and drag it down to devour in the privacy of their own ‘home’.
The only nocturnal visitor the female trapdoor spider doesn’t devour is the occasional passing male, out wandering in search of a mate. He’s presumably invited into the burrow for a spot of sex, before carrying on his way.
Trapdoor spiders live on mud or clay banks, and as the sons and daughters – when they eventually leave home after 6-18 months - set up residence right next to mum, a small area of bank can end up liberally honeycombed with tunnels that can be up to 30 cm long. The size of the trapdoor and the width of the tunnel are directly related to the size of the resident spider – over time, the growing spider excavates it to accommodate its expanding size.
Trapdoor spiders belong to a group of spiders known as mygalomorphs, which includes tunnel web spiders and tarantulas. Cantuaria spiders are endemic to New Zealand, and are the only New Zealand representatives of a family called Idiopidae, which has some Australian relatives. The taxonomy for the Cantuaria group is up in the air at the moment – spider expert Ray Forster described many species that Vikki and Canterbury Museum spider expert Cor Vink think are probably just one or two species. To do further taxonomy the pair require more male trapdoor spiders; during winter the smaller long-legged males leave their burrows to wander in search of females, so if anyone finds and collects one of these Cor would love to have it.
Vikki is studying trapdoor spiders as part of her PhD research, funded by scholarships from the Miss EL Hellaby Indigenous Grasslands Research Trust and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Trust. She is using techniques such as a molecular clock to establish whether Cantuaria spiders have been in New Zealand since the break-up of Gondwana 65 millio years ago, or whether they have dispersed here more recently, like most of New Zealand’s biota. Vikki says that their ‘homebody’ lifestyle makes it unlikely that they dispersed here, unlike many other spider species that have a ballooning life stage when they are young and can be blown long distances by wind. If her molecular techniques show that the spiders have been here a long time it will lend support to the idea that islands persisted during the Oligocene, about 25 million years ago, when much of what is now New Zealand was below sea level.
Topics: science, environment
Tags: arachnids, spiders, invertebrates, beetles, trapdoor spiders
===9:30 PM. | Insight===
Karen Brown explores elective surgery - how many more are getting it and how many might be missing out?
===10:00 PM. | None (National)===
===10:15 PM. | Late Edition===
The day's best interviews from RNZ National
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Justin Rowlatt takes a close look at how the global economy works from the perspective of the chemical elements, the basic building blocks of block the universe (BBC)
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Elena See presents a selection of traditional and contemporary folk, Americana and roots music from classic and new releases, as well as in-studio and live concert recordings. (9 of 13, PRX)
Reference number 274558
Media type AUDIO
Collection Sound Collection
Ngā Taonga Korero Collection
Radio New Zealand National, Broadcaster
Date 28 Dec 2015