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Jul 17, 2006

The Big Here - Wellington, New Zealand

Answers to Kevin Kellys 'Big Here' post questions -

1) Point north.

My desk points North(ish) it might be slightly offset in an Easterly direction.

2) What time is sunset today?

About 4.30pm - the days are lengthening slightly.

3) Trace the water you drink from rainfall to your tap.

Water collects in the hills and ranges surruonding Wellington and goes into reserviours. I thought it the closest one was in Karori but I was reading that it was decommissioned to provide an environment for the Karori Wildlife Reserve. However checking this council water supply map indicates it Karori still have a reservoir and pumping station feeding a sizable chunk of urban Wellington (the ankle/heel of the map below Karori).

4) When you flush, where do the solids go? What happens to the waste water?

I thought it worked its way to either the treatment plant in Miramar or Owhiro Bay. Not 100% sure though.

5) How many feet above sea level are you?

Americans and their quaint imperial fixations. I think we're 50 to 100 metres above sea level. At least 50 but 100 may be too high. The beach is down a hill and about 3-5 minutes walk away in Lyall Bay.

6) What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom here?

Unknown. We have some red flowers (camellias ?) in the garden at the moment - considering its still winter I suspect they're just confused by the sun over the last few days.

7) How far do you have to travel before you reach a different watershed? Can you draw the boundaries of yours?

Unknown. NZ is plenty of water and there are reserviors everywhere so its hard to know when you leave one catchment boundry and enter another. I guess based on the earlier map we'd have to travel out of Wellington towards Tawa which looks to be slightly independent of the main Wellington supply.

8) Is the soil under your feet, more clay, sand, rock or silt?

At the moment I'm in an office on The Terrace. I shudder to think what this place is built on given most of Wellingtons CBD sits on reclaimed land from a earthquake in 1848. Our house is on rock (pretty solid but very brittle).

9) Before your tribe lived here, what did the previous inhabitants eat and how did they sustain themselves?

I'm guessing the Maori lived quite well here. I guess they ate whatever they normally eat.

10) Name five native edible plants in your neighbourhood and the season(s) they are available.

No idea. We do have some rosemary in the garden which is growing wild and I understand you can eat the shoots from ferns too - these seem to be available all year around.

11) From what direction do storms generally come?

Mostly from the South. The storms are pretty brutal.

12) Where does your garbage go?

Owhiro Bay landfill off Happy Valley road.

13) How many people live in your watershed?

I guess the population of greater Wellington is almost 450k.

14) Who uses the paper/plastic you recycle from your neighbourhood?

No idea. Our recycling (bottles, paper, plastic and cans) is collected separately at the same time as our rubbish.

15) Point to where the sun sets on the equinox. How about sunrise on the summer solstice?

No idea.

16) Where is the nearest earthquake fault? When did it last move?

Um, the main faultline which pretty much splits NZ runs right through the centre of Wellington. I suspect the fault moves fairly often in very imperceptible amounts.

17) Right here, how deep do you have to drill before you reach water?

At the office ? No idea - maybe just 5 metres before hitting a storm water drain ? At home - I don't think there is any water under our house - there may be a water table down there somewhere though.

18) Which (if any) geological features in your watershed are, or were, especially respected by your community, or considered sacred, now or in the past?

The Wellington council come to the rescue again with a trail through some of the sacred landmarks in the region.

19) How many days is the growing season here (from frost to frost)?

With the exception occasional crappy winters the growing season is pretty long - tail end of winter through to mid-autumn. The sea air along the coast means we don't get to many frosts.

20) Name five birds that live here. Which are migratory and which stay put?

Tui, Sparrows, Seagulls, Magpies . . . hard pressed to list any others

I think they stay-put but I'm not sure.

21) What was the total rainfall here last year?

The Wellington council has all sorts of useful Rainfall stats. I'll have to dig around for some annual stats . . . found it Wellington gets an average of 1270mm of rainfall and 2025 hours of sunshine a year.

22) Where does the pollution in your air come from?

The airs pretty clean - the worst we get is occasional chimney smoke from the neighbours.

23) If you live near the ocean, when is high tide today?

Seems to be about 11.30pm.

24) What primary geological processes or events shaped the land here?

Earthquakes caused by tectonic movements of the Pacific plates.

25) Name three wild species that were not found here 500 years ago. Name one exotic species that has appeared in the last 5 years.

Ferrets, Possums, Rats (although these may have come with Maori much earlier)

Exotic species in the last five years ? Hmmmm . . . maybe some variety of wasp or other insect ?

26) What minerals are found in the ground here that are (or were) economically valuable?

None that I'm aware of. NZ is relatively miniral poor - there are a few coal and gold deposits around but I don't think there are big seams of iron or copper sitting around anywhere though.

27) Where does your electric power come from and how is it generated?

Primarily Hydro-electricity. There are plans to put in a wind farm close to Wellington though.

28) After the rain runs off your roof, where does it go?

Out to sea via the storm water drains.

29) Where is the nearest wilderness? When was the last time a fire burned through it?

The green belt around Wellington is about 1km away. Its kind of wilderness although it is cut through with plenty of walking tracks. I'm not sure about fires . . . I don't think its been dry enough for anything to burn through . . .

30) How many days till the moon is full?

Its a half moon at the moment - I guess it will be full in 10 to 12 days.

The Bigger Here Bonus Questions:

31) What species once found here are known to have gone extinct?

No idea. Plenty of things have gone extinct in NZ but I'm not aware of any that are specific to the Wellington region.

32) What other cities or landscape features on the planet share your latitude?

Hobart, Tasmania in Australia and maybe the tail-end of the Andes in South America. I believe Wellington is the southern-most capital city in the world.

33) What was the dominant land cover plant here 10,000 years ago?

No idea.

34) Name two places on different continents that have similar sunshine/rainfall/wind and temperature patterns to here.

Maybe Hobart in Aus and probably somewhere in the UK or Ireland on the West Coast . . . maybe Bath or Dublin ?

Permalink | 2006.07.17-04:26.00