Thursday February 8, 2018
Few drinking fountains in Wellington playgrounds: study New research has found that only a fifth of childrens’ playgrounds in the lower North Island of New Zealand had drinking fountains (11 out of 54 playgrounds). The University of Otago, Wellington study, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, found that only one of 17 council areas in the study had drinking fountains that worked in all the playgrounds sampled in their area, while eight of the council areas had no fountains at all in any of the playgrounds sampled. The study follows another
published last year which found only six percent of Wellington City playgrounds had drinking fountains. The researchers found fountain quality varied greatly, with three fountains having discolouration on the metal surround (for example, from biofilm) within 1cm of the nozzle of the fountain. Some fountains did not properly collect the waste water from the drinking nozzles. Some also did not have suitable surfaces for the water to drain away, resulting in soft, wet or muddy ground around
the fountain. “We even found a fountain with grass growing out of the drainage sink part,” says one of the study authors, Professor Nick Wilson. “In an era of climate change with increased risk of heat waves, drinking water in public places will be an increasingly important civic investment. “Ideally, Government should consider regulations that require at least one drinking water fountain in all NZ playgrounds and parks, especially those with sports fields,” Nick
says. New Wellington City councillor Fleur Fitzsimons is surprised by the very low number of fountains in the city. “It is something we can remedy,” says Fleur, who campaigned for better playgrounds during last year’s southern ward by-election. “I think that provision of drinking fountains and adequate shade and modern equipment is an important issue that I intend to bring up when consultation on the council’s long-term plan kicks off in April.”
Matchmaking zoo keen to get imported ‘bachelor’ breeding Pepe, a 19-month-old male capybara, has arrived at Wellington Zoo to join the zoo’s three females, to hopefully contribute to the breeding of capybara in this region. Capybaras, which are native to Central and South America, are the largest rodents in the world. Although not endangered, their populations are affected by hunting and habitat loss. Pepe has arrived from Auckland Zoo, thanks to an international online matchmaking service for zoo animals. Wellington Zoo works with other animal welfare accredited organisations and progressive zoos around the world to pair best-matched animals for regional and international breeding programmes. Matching up potential breeding partners at the zoo is a complex process and requires a high level of scientific expertise, using an international online database called Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) run by Species 360.
The records of 22,000 species and 10 million animals include things like an animal’s age, its parents, sex, place of birth, and it helps organisations plan for international breeding programmes. “We sometimes feel like an online dating service where we’re matching animals together, and sending them on blind dates,” says Jo Richardson, animal care manager. “Pepe is a sweet and gentle-natured animal and we’re hoping the females will like him just as much as we do. “Capybaras are pretty easy going, so they will generally get on well with each other and other animals. It shouldn’t be too difficult matching them up, they’ll ‘swipe right’ to most, so to speak,” says Jo. The zoo is also playing matchmaker for a few other species just in time for Valentine’s Day, including Goliath Bird Eating Tarantulas, a male Little Blue Penguin and a Sumatran Tiger.
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inbrief news Mayor hopes for more mentors Wellington is hoping to double its involvement in a national Māori mentoring programme this year, Mayor Justin Lester says. Since 2011, Wellington’s Mayor has mentored a rangatahi (young person) each year as part of the Local Government New Zealand Mayors Taskforce for Jobs Tuia programme. Tuia aims to develop the leadership capacity of young Māori by pairing them with mayors and/or deputy mayors, who mentor them on a oneon-one basis. “We want to expand this programme in Wellington and hope to be able to mentor two rangatahi instead of one,” Justin says. “This initiative has been powerful and rewarding for past participants.” Two rangatahi will be selected for the 2018 programme if enough applications were received. Applications have now closed.
Young men grieve in silence: study
Pepe the capybara roams around its new surroundings at Wellington Zoo. PHOTO: Supplied
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New research from Victoria University of Wellington reveals that a key aspect of young men’s experiences of suicide bereavement is ubiquitous silence. In the first study of its kind, education lecturer Dr Chris Bowden found men aged 17-25 who lost a close male friend to suicide, suffered, grieved and eventually changed in silence. “Early on, the men were unable to describe what they were experiencing to others,” he says. “In public and social situations, the words and actions of others and their fear of being judged as weak and vulnerable often silenced them.” Chris says they chose to break their silence only with those they trusted, who understood what they were going through and who “were there for them”.
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Cook Strait News 08-02-18