A magnitude 7.5 earthquake centered near the inland South Island town of Hanmer Springs, New Zealand has been felt (literally) throughout both major islands of the nation. A tsunami warning was downgraded late this morning. Major damage has been seen in the Christchurch and Wellington areas (photos), and deaths have been reported in Kaikokura. Massive aftershocks continue to shake the country. A massive incoming storm threatens to hamper relief efforts. Live updates here.
In 2013, New Zealand passed a law creating the world’s first set of regulations to allow the clinical testing and approval of new recreational drugs. Much as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does for medicines, New Zealand’s system stands to create a government-regulated market for legal highs—an attempt to tame the industry not by stamping it out, but by guiding consumers to safe, reliable products, and giving suppliers an incentive to bring such products to market. [more inside]
You're Drinking the Wrong Kind of Milk: "The A1/A2 debate has raged for years in Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Europe, but it is still virtually unheard of across the pond. That could soon change..." [more inside]
I've been greatly enjoying the NZ MetService weather blog for a while now. There are posts about cloud formations, weather pioneers, forecasting, and all kinds of other weather geekery. It does have an NZ slant in places but everyone has weather, and the technical information included is fascinating whatever your location. [more inside]
New Zealand Police announced this afternoon that they believe that all 29 miners missing at Pike River are now presumed dead. After several days of raised and dashed hopes, a second explosion at the coal mine has devasted hopes that the miners could possibly be alive.
Legends from New Zealand held that there was a large predator bird, known as pouakai, that was big enough to carry human beings off to its nest or den. Some people associated stories of Pouakai with the giant flightless Moa, extinct in 1773. Others thought it might be another extinct giant bird on the South Island, Haast's Eagle (Harpagornis moorei). The eagle, locally known as Te Hokioi, has been extinct for 500 years, overlapping with the early settlers by some 200 years. There was some speculation that the giant eagle was a scavenger due to partially protected nasal openings, which are benefit to protect nasal cavities when digging into carcasses, analogous to features found on accipitrid vultures. Recent studies have provide there is proof that the Haast's Eagle was a fearsome predator, with talons like tigers and the ability to dive on prey at 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph). [more inside]
The New Zealand Net Awards have announced their finalists. Picked by a panel of people including Web saavy magazine editors, personal Web site operators, and tech-radio deejays, the NZ awards seem much more even handed, open, and real than the Webbies (albeit only for NZ sites...) And, as far as I can tell, they're doing it on almost no budget. Pretty impressive. Why doesn't this community start something like it?