Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Waitangi tangi

My typically Kiwi response to today's Google Doodle, which celebrates Waitangi Day, is to be simultaneously ridiculously chuffed to see New Zealand's (somewhat contentious) national day featured in that space, and disbelieving that it's actually a global webpage feature. I've even asked my spies in the UK and US if they can see it too.* But anyway, silver fern, yellow kowhai, red pohutukawa - good to see, on this beautiful, and very hot, summer's day which began (evidently) with a Dawn Service at Waitangi followed by a barbecue at which the PM was a cook. All as it should be.
However, further down the country, near Nelson, Waitangi Day 2019 is going to be remembered for all the wrong reasons: a huge forest fire blazing since yesterday afternoon, causing evacuations of 170 houses so far, one of which has been burnt down. There are two separate fires on Rabbit Island, where I cycled just a few months ago. It's awful news - and all the worse for being so familiar. I mean, fires, floods, blizzards and droughts: it's standard news report fare these days, isn't it?
Currently it's Townsville in Queensland suffering from hugely destructive floods; while Chicago is beginning to thaw from the Polar Vortex. (Did anyone else notice - yet again - the deafening silence on the subject from Canada?) The rest of Australia is only now emerging from the red/purple spectrum on the temperature map, where it was for most of January, causing horrendous wildlife suffering and deaths, and not much fun for the people either.
Every day the newspaper and TV news report another environmental disaster discovery, which I'm not going to list because you know them as well as I do. Depressing, isn't it? Even people who are only familiar with the locations through nature documentaries narrated by the (increasingly frustrated) Sir David will be saddened to hear about it. I tell you, it's even worse when you've been to so many of these places and seen their glories in real life.
I can't decide if all this is good reason not to travel, so you don't take it so personally - or, on the other hand, impetus to get out there fast to see it for yourself. Before it's all gone.

* UPDATE: As I suspected, it's just us. Pft.
UPDATE 2: After a week of unrelenting effort by the fire-fighters, it's still not out, and 3,000 people (and their animals) have been evacuated. 

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