Kinabalu National Park, Sabah, Malaysia

“No, I’m not climbing to the peak” I tell our excellent guide

While in Kinabalu National Park,  (Sabah, Malaysian Borneo) I’m not sure if our guide said “look up there” or I just noticed and photographed the pretty canopy outline then later heard about ‘canopy shyness’. I just know the narrow yet clear gaps between the tree crowns is attractive.

Canopy, or crown, shyness is, I now know after research, is a phenomenon in which some tree species make sure they do not touch each other: forming canopies with channel-like gaps. It’s most common among the same species.

This growth has been discussed in scientific literature since the 1920s and many hypotheses have been put forward as to crown shyness being an adaptive behaviour. Research suggests that it maybe stops the spread of leaf-eating insect larvae, and, or, also possible physical explanations such as light shading sensing by adjacent plants.

A Malaysian scholar, Francis S.P. Ng, studied (1977) the Malay camphor tree and suggested that the growing tips were sensitive to light levels so stopped growing when near other foliage due to the induced shade.

Mt Kinabalu

However, apparently, the most likely theory is that the trees simply do not want to hurt themselves in windy areas!

I wonder – I just know the gaps between the trees provided me with a couple of  striking photos.

Is this a Malay Camphor?

 

The Godwits have landed!

The very first feathered signs of spring arriving have landed in my old home city. Along with the daffodils, the godwits have landed in Christchurch (New Zealand) – arriving from the Alaskan Arctic Tundra where they raise their young.

Christchurch (and a few other places in New Zealand) is where they escape the Alaskan winter and have a summer holiday while feeding up large, building up their weight and strength before heading north again to reproduce.

godwits coming into land on the beach side the Avon-Heathcote estuary

So, in a few months, this annual, epic journey by some 80-thousand Eastern Bar-tailed godwits will migrate back to their breeding grounds.

the sand dunes are alive with bird watchers saying farewell

Their journey – of 11,500 kilometres – usually takes about six days! Its nonstop when they head south while heading north they have a few stopovers in Asia

Christchurch locals farewell them from our shores and when they return the bells peal out to welcome them back to their summer feeding grounds here on the Ihutai/Avon-Heathcote estuary such a short distance the centre of our city.

NZ’s Government House, Wellington

little girl was queen for the day

Yesterday my Monday morning walking group joined a public tour of New Zealand’s Government House.  (Check their website to book a tour )

This was my first visit there as when public events have been on I have missed out because of number restrictions or have had other engagements on. We all enjoyed it and intend making a booking for just our group to visit the gardens in particular.

I will blog about Government House (1910) and our Governor-General’s later but for today, here are a few photos of the beautiful gardens.

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Greening the Rainforest World Music Festival

My RWMF cloth bags are often commented on at my veg market

When in Malaysia (Kuching, Sarawak) I have planted trees as part of their ‘greening the festival’ programme: and helping cut my carbon footprint too. This tree-planting ceremony – at all local festivals -“helps make Kuching a livable city” I’d been told.

Once again at the Rainforest World Music Festival (20th) #RWMF I find they have found another way to green the festivals by making great bags out of the previous year’s banners! Excellent recycling.

reusing old banners to produce bags help reduce rubbish

Malaysia often receives bad press for destruction of native forests and planting oil palm plantations, so it cannot be easy to convince the often cynical foreigners they want to “take care of our environment”. It’s heartening to note that the Sarawak Tourism Board has taken the government’s eco campaigns seriously. After all Sarawak is proud of having the world’s’ oldest rainforest so they need to care for it on behalf of the world.

Here’s another story I wrote about me planting mangroves at another RWMF festival.

I got to the 20th music festival a day too late to plant trees this time – if I get to the 21st RWMF I will make sure to be there in plenty of time to dig a hole or two for a tree 🙂 🙂

Happy Suffrage Day New Zealand -and thanks to Kate

Happy 124th anniversary to New Zealand!

Annual celebrations in Christchurch 19th Sept

It’s 124 years since our wonderful New Zealand suffragists, won us the ability to vote in our general Parliamentary elections.

Some, (usually landowners) but certainly not all, women had been able to vote in various non-Parliamentary elections. Female ratepayers, that is landowners, had voted in local body elections from 1875; two years later they could stand for school committees, then in 1893, after years of campaigning, New Zealand women, whether landowners or not, became eligible to vote in the national, NZ-wide, Parliamentary elections.

Our suffragists certainly led the way, with the USA, in the face of most states allowing voting, it granted the same right to their women in 1920 (19th amendment) then in 1928 all women in Britain were able to vote before that, from 1918, only female property owners over 30 years old had been able to vote.

Given our proud and world leading history I get upset at the lack of knowledge by a wide swathe of New Zealanders, including the media, who often use the term ‘suffragette’ to refer to our suffragists. Here is an example from last week … shame on Stuff.co.nz

Did you know the term ‘suffragettes’ was coined about 15 years after New Zealand women were voting so New Zealand women were never suffragettes?

The term was first used in a British newspaper as a derogatory word but eventually was captured by the women of the USA and UK, and should never be used in relation to Kate Shepherd and our women ancestors, including my great-grandmother Elizabeth Rowe.

One of the great things about New Zealand’s 1893 Electoral Bill was that Māori women, who had fought for and been given the vote too. It was not ‘just’ women with land, but sadly, Chinese women, in fact all Chinese, did not get the vote in New Zealand until the early 1950s!

Suffrage day (19th November) is also called White Camellia day, as women who supported enfranchisement wore a white camellia, and in Christchurch women wear the flowers and lay them at the wonderful memorial in Christchurch – where our Kate was from.

The national memorial was unveiled in 1993 – the 100-year anniversary – and at the same time a new white camellia variety was created and named ‘Kate Sheppard’.  When in Christchurch, take a walk along the Avon, in the Botanic Gardens along the camellia walk and remember with gratitude the women who worked so hard to get us the vote.  That same year, 1993, a women’s program, Women on Air, began on Plains FM, and although it was scheduled for one year, it was so  successful it continued, for some fifteen years: many thanks to Ruth Todd and Morin Rout for all their hard work.

Kate’s home in  Riccarton/Ilam Christchurch

Last week I attended a performance of the rock musical “That Bloody Woman’ at the Wellington Opera house – the best stage performance I’ve seen in years. Kate would have been thrilled!

Don’t waste the courage and strength of those brave 19th century women – always vote

For more about New Zealand and the three documents, our taonga, or national treasures, the signatures that shaped our country,  visit the free, permanent exhibition He Tohu at the National Library, 70 Molesworth Street, central Wellington. (open 6 days week)

 

Bako, Sarawak: Malaysian Borneo for your bucket-list

I love Bako National Park.  Sadly, I was unable to stay overnight this time, but I recommend that if you possibly can – do so!  I also recommend you book well in advance to get a bed.

This park, which I believe is the smallest in Malaysia, and certainly the most visited because of the ease of access, from Kuching, Sarawak, is almost a different place when all the day-trippers leave.

At the bottom of this blog is a link to another story, with photos, that I wrote about Bako a few years ago after my first visit.  I’m still in love with the ‘ugliest animal you ever could see’ and of course the severely endangered proboscis monkey – most people have no idea that this monkey is even more endangered than the orangutan – once again, like many animals, in danger because of habitat loss.

A public bus from Kuching will take you to the dock where you can catch a boat to Bako.  Just remember, there are crocodiles in the water!

lunchtime

Here are some photos of those so-called ugly animals – I think ‘how could you not love the Bornean bearded pig’.

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The kiwitravelwriter reluctantly leaving Bako. photo by Chris Lambie
catching the boat to leave – by Chris Lambie (Australia)
arriving at Bako

here’s another blog I wrote, with more photos, about Bako