Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Why can we smell the rain before it actually arrives? A weather expert explains

Why can we smell the rain before it actually arrives? A weather expert explains
21 Sep

Some say it’s a stony smell, others say sweet. But we all know what it is: That distinctive earthy scent in the air just before and after fresh rain.

It’s a phenomenon called petrichor, and we’re instinctually programmed to love it, MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths told TVNZ1’s Breakfast today as she answered a question from a viewer.

“A lot of people can’t describe it but they actually really like it,” she said. “And it’s historical, we have an affection for this smell because originally it was survival. We relied on rain to live.”

The smell, which is especially distinctive when the rain is just about to break a dry spell, is the result of oil in rocks that becomes an aerosol when humidity in the atmosphere reaches just about the same point that causes rain, she said.

The term petrichor, a reference to the blood of Greek gods, was coined by Australian scientists in 1964 who did a series of studies about what caused the smell.

“Basically, they tested in the lab — they steamed distilled rocks from the Australian outback or somewhere nice and dry to see what would happen,” she said. “And they identified what the smell was. It was actually a yellow oil that came out of the rocks.”

Since then, some enterprising amateur geologists have tried to bottle the oil in attempts to make money off our natural affinity for the smell, Ms Griffiths said.

“I’m not sure if they were successful,” she said.

The Government’s new Crown Māori portfolio ran the risk of looking tokenistic when it was first announced, and now the released detail of its scope all but confirms this.

Kelvin Davis spent months travelling the breadth of the country on a consultation roadshow.

He labelled it the start of a “new way of working” and promised not to repeat past mistakes when it came to the Crown-Māori relationship.

But it seems there was one person the minister forgot to consult with, Winston Peters.

The NZ First leader forced both Kelvin Davis and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to pull back on announcing detail of the portfolio at a media event last week.

The stage was set – the 10th floor of the Beehive, no less – and included a raft of notable Māori dotted around the Cabinet table.

“We are no longer at the negotiating table,” Ms Ardern said.

“We now sit at the cabinet table.”

It was a symbolic gesture aimed at creating a picture of true partnership.

The problem?

Mr Peters has always maintained the Crown never agreed to a “partnership” with Māori when both signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

“I’ve never believed that, and I said so back in 1986 when Justice Cooke made that claim,” he said.

And so, while a bunch of journalists waited at ground level of the Beehive, and the media event regarding the portfolio was delayed by around 45 minutes, Cabinet ministers on level 10 debated the scope of the role with NZ First vehemently opposed.

What unfolded a short time later was nothing more than a photo opportunity and a chance to hear “one last submission” from the group of Māori sitting around the Cabinet table – or so the rhetoric went.

It was a public blunder and an embarrassment for the Government.

The coalition can attempt to double down on the facade there’s “nothing to see here” – but they’ll be going blue in the face before they convince anyone paying attention.

When 1 NEWS asked Mr Peters if he had vetoed the announcement, he requested the question be submitted in writing.

Is there trouble in coalition paradise? The Inside Parliament reporters discuss the developments. Source: 1 NEWS

“I can’t answer that question because I don’t have any recall of that,” he claimed.

The irony was baffling.

A deputy prime minister who could not recall what took place only two days earlier in Cabinet but could state categorically his position on Crown Māori partnership – in 1986 – when Justice Cooke made “that claim”.

A day later and the NZ First leader was happy to report “we’ve fixed it” and “it’s all solved”.

The detail though – as has been the case on this portfolio – was not forthcoming. 

The end result saw the scope of the role announced a week later featuring a watered-down rebrand of units already in action now amalgamating as one.

Meanwhile, key themes to emerge from submissions were ignored completely.

One of those was a plea to reform New Zealand’s constitution.

Several submitters – including the Human Rights Commission – said constitutional reform was necessary and pointed to the need for particular emphasis on the Treaty of Waitangi.

But the idea of any such reform would never have gone down well with NZ First and it seems they made their view crystal clear.

1 NEWS asked if NZ First would support the new portfolio looking at constitutional reform, to which Mr Peters’ replied, “that is not going to be its focus”.

When stated it was one of the bullet points in a press release on the matter, he responded “yes, but not in the way that it originally was”.

This means the original intent around constitutional reform was shelved.

Mr Davis also confirmed it was part of the draft discussions but claimed it was “not a priority” at this stage.

What was signed off was a vague commitment for “constitutional arrangements” supporting partnerships between the Crown and Māori into the future.

That does not go anywhere near constitutional reform.

So much for a symbol of finally taking the relationship seriouslyMaiki Sherman

Another key theme in submissions was the placement of the Crown Māori portfolio with many suggesting it be a standalone agency to reflect the importance of the partnership.

The reality though will see it sit within the Ministry of Justice with Kelvin Davis saying it was a “cheaper” option.

So much for a symbol of finally taking the relationship seriously. 

One thing’s for sure there is no new money allocated to the portfolio, with the budget coming from within current baselines.

In fact, the minister couldn’t even say how many staff the agency would have, only to say it would start off “relatively small”.

What the Government was keen to boast about though was the name had changed – proudly pointing to the fact the word ‘Māori’ would now be placed before the word ‘Crown’.

Thus, revealing the Māori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti (The Bridge) portfolio.

While the name is all good and well – the substance within the role falls short of anything particularly meaningful.

It looks like a tokenistic toothless taniwha – as is so often the case with Māori legislative attempts heralded as the next best thing.

However, it’s been gutted as a result of a strong-headed coalition partner and a minister who failed to fight for what was meant to be the dawn of a new era in the Crown Māori relationship – or make that, Māori Crown relationship.

Mr Davis has spoken of the need for a business case to be put forward to establish the office with the hope of completing that by the end of the year.

While this has the potential to create further headaches for the minister, it could also be a lifeline of redemption.

The challenge is whether he can bring in a bit more weight behind the new portfolio.

A word of advice though – don’t forget to run it past Mr Peters. 

Christchurch’s St Bede’s College will appoint an independent reviewer to look into its handling of a child sex abuse complaint in 2011.

St Bede’s College, Christchurch. (Phil Pennington) Source:

This follows Christchurch man Peter Boock demanding the school’s rector Justin Boyle be sacked.

Mr Boyle allowed a teacher, Robin Pettit, to continue teaching until he retired, even after he admitted to abusing Mr Boock several decades ago.

The school’s board said its inquiry would run alongside one the Education Council was running into the matter.

It would not make any more comment, adding that media coverage had been unhelpful because of a lack of due process and respect for privacy.

Earlier, Mr Boyle wrote to the school’s parents, defending the investigation in 2011.

“Mr Pettit has had a long and distinguished teaching career and there have been no complaints about his conduct during his time at St Bede’s College, or at other schools he has worked,” he wrote.

“I want to assure you that our priority is always to provide a safe environment for our students and staff.

“As we have in the past, we will always ensure that any complaint of misconduct is thoroughly and promptly investigated and appropriately addressed, while respecting people’s right to privacy and proper process.”

But the rector’s letter was “appalling”, the Network of Survivors of Abuse in Faith-based Institutions and Their Supporters said in a statement.

“Nowhere in this message does the school condemn Mr Pettit or his actions,” the network’s Murray Heasley said.

“On the contrary it praises him and, in failing to acknowledge the lifelong trauma and damage he has caused, encourages parents to think of him as the victim.”

– Reporting by RNZ’s Phil Pennington

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s partner has told an audience about former US President Barack Obama’s “lovely, soft nose” and an invitation he’s received from Melania Trump.

Ms Ardern is this week leaving for New York to speak at the United Nations General Assembly, with her schedule including high-profile appearances on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the Today Show and a lengthy interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

The trip will also be the first overseas outing for daughter Neve, who was born in June.

Partner Clarke Gayford – who has taken on a full-time fathering role – will also attend.

Speaking at an event on Thursday night, Mr Gayford, a television and radio presenter, reportedly told an Auckland audience he had received an invite to a reception for leaders’ partners from President Donald Trump’s wife, describing it as “tea and scones with Melania”.

“It’s pretty funny. I sent it to a few friends and said, ‘You will not believe this invite I just got’,” the 40-year-old said, pulling out his phone to read the message, according to

During a question-and-answer session, Mr Gayford also recounted meeting Mr Obama, including a hongi – a traditional Maori greeting which involves the touching of noses.

“I was one of the first ones up and I was pretty nervous – and he’d only done one before either. Lovely, soft nose,” Mr Gayford said.

He was also reported to have described as former Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull as “actually, really quite personable”.

While Ms Ardern is expected to receive an enthusiastic welcome in the US, her trip ends a rough month in domestic politics for her Labour Party, following the firing of one government minister this week and the resignation of another just weeks ago, both amid scandals.

Police today chastised students who opted not to intervene or call for help this week as a bullying incident was filmed at a Canterbury school.

Two students at Darfield High School are expected to appear before the school board today after school officials reviewed the video, which emerged yesterday on social media. In it, a boy lay on the ground as two others kicked and pummelled him.

“Police are particularly concerned that other students who saw what was happening, didn’t intervene or get help from a teacher,” Senior Sergeant Kelly Larsen said in a statement released to 1 NEWS. “Instead, they watched and took videos.”

Darfield principal James Morris has described the incident as assault.

Police said they were alerted about the incident Tuesday afternoon, shortly after it happened.

“Bullying behaviour is not OK and has serious consequences,” police said. “Rather than being a bystander, Police encourage anyone who witnesses an assault, or knows about other bullying behaviour to become someone who stands up against bullying, and does something about it.

“Bullying is wrong. We all have a responsibility to do something to stop it.”

An outcome of the school board hearing is expected on Monday.



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