Pūngāwerewere: Spider!

If you’re taking part in the Summer Reading Adventure this year you’ll have come across a few different challenges that ask you to go outside and take a close look at what’s around you. There’s The Upward Looking Urban Photographer which asks you to look upwards in a place familiar to you and spot something new, there’s On the Mountain – Matairangi Quest which challenges you to visit the Matairangi Nature Trail on Mount Victoria and tell us about something you learned or spotted there, there’s Nature’s Perfect Challenge where we ask you to use your senses to investigate the natural world around you, and of course there’s He Rapa Ngāngara te Mahi | The Great Bug Hunt where we challenge you to search out some creepy-crawlies outside.

One creature you might come across while you’re completing these activities is the pūngāwerewere (or spider), and we thought we’d share some of the really interesting things about spiders with you.

Have you heard of the strange phenomenon where spiders’ webs can blanket an entire area of plants including trees? The phenomenon is a survival tactic called ballooning and it is where spiders spin large webs which catch onto grass, shrubs and trees to escape threats like flooding. This happened a couple of years ago in the state of Victoria, Australia, after a storm caused flooding and left the ground covered in a ballooning blanket of webs.

Spiders are amazing creatures that have adapted to find all sorts of ways to survive. Sadly, they get a really bad rap as their scary appearance makes many people frightened of them. Did you know that the irrational fear of spiders is called Arachnophobia? This word comes from Greek mythology, where Arachne, a skilled weaver, was turned into a spider by the goddess Athena after winning a weaving competition with the goddess (Athena was not happy!).

20 fun facts about spiders

1)Black spider in web clip art, cute style 12cm | This clipart… | Flickr Spiders are not insects. Instead, spiders are known as arachnids because they only have two body segments instead of three. Other arachnids are scorpions, mites, and ticks.
2) Spiders spin webs to catch other bugs to eat, but not all spiders make webs! Some actively hunt their prey and pounce.
3) Most spiders are not dangerous to humans.
4) The wolf spider carries her babies on her back with her.
5) Most spiders live on land, but a few, like the raft spiders, live in and on water. These spiders can “run” across the water’s surface.
6) On average, it takes a spider about 60 minutes to spin a web.
7) Spiders are just as valuable to the world as larger animals, but most people don’t realize it. Many spiders are becoming endangered and are disappearing due to loss of habitat (home).
8) The average house has 30 spiders.
9) You are always three feet away from a spider.
10) Grass spiders build a web on top of the grass. Their webs form a funnel shape, which is not sticky.
11) The silk strands in a web are 5x stronger than a piece of steel the same size.
12) Spiders have short hairs on their feet that allow them to walk upside down on ceilings and over glass.
13) Spiders are found everywhere in the world except for the cold polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctic.
14) The average life of a spider is one to two years. Although the female tarantula may live up to 20 years!

I’m trying to love spiders : (it isn’t easy) / Barton, Bethany
“This fresh and very funny non-fiction picture book shares lots of fascinating facts about spiders in an entirely captivating way. If I’m Trying to Love Spiders doesn’t cure your spider phobia, it’ll at least make you appreciate how amazing they are…and laugh a lot as you learn about them.”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Bug lab for kids : family-friendly activities for exploring the amazing world of beetles, butterflies, spiders, and other arthropods / Guyton, John W.
“Prepare to cozy up with spiders, centipedes, butterflies, and bees, to name just a few! In Bug Lab for Kids, Mississippi State University associate professor, extension entomologist (bug expert), and educator John W. Guyton shares his knowledge and excitement about all things beautiful, creepy, and crawly.” (Catalogue)

Australia’s most dangerous spiders– and their relatives / Riley, Kathy
“Dangerous to people or not? Learn how to recognise the most deadly spiders – and how to help someone who has been bitten. Discover the amazing tricks spiders use to catch plenty of insects for their dinner. Find out how to tell thich sipder made the huge web that appeared in your garden overnight. Inspect some astonishing close-up photos of spiders on the hunt for food or hiding from their enemies.” (Catalogue)

Insects and spiders / Parker, Steve
“A first nature book about insects and spiders for children, this is the perfect companion for young minds eager to learn about the world of bugs. Children are encouraged to investigate and record all the creepy crawlies they find, and get hands on with the fun activities, from making your own bug hotel to collect insects in to building an ant farm.With a mix of fantastic photographs and beautiful illustrations Insects and Spiders takes you through everything you need to know about these minibeasts. Learn what termites build their nests from, how an earwig looks after her eggs, and why wasps have black and yellow stripes.” (Catalogue)


Want to read some fiction books that feature spiders?

Sam Wu is NOT afraid of spiders! / Tsang, Katie
“The brilliantly funny fourth book in the SAM WU series, starring the bravest scaredy-cat in the world! Perfect for reluctant readers and fans of Tom Fletcher, Pamela Butchart and Humza Arshad’s Badman. Sam Wu is NOT afraid of anything. Well, maybe some things. Like ghosts, sharks … the dark’s pretty worrying too. And not to mention SPIDERS! But Sam’s not going to let anyone know. And so when Tulip, the school tarantula, disappears from her cage, Sam decides it’s up to him and his friends to save the school from the eight-legged escapee … Common childhood fears dealt with in a hilarious, sensitive and accessible way. ding charity, and also writes YA fiction as Katherine Webber.” (Catalogue)

Charlotte’s web / White, E. B.
“One spring morning a little girl called Fern rescues a runt and names him Wilbur. But then Wilbur is sent to live on a farm where he meets Charlotte, a beautiful large grey spider. They become best friends and, when Wilbur is faced with the usual fate of nice fat little pigs, Charlotte must find a clever way to save him.” (Catalogue)

The spider’s song / Longstaff, Simon
“The Spider’s Song is a remarkable debut children’s book, written by Simon Longstaff and illustrated by Dutch artist Marc Van de Griendt. Lose yourself in the enchanted world of The Boffin, who as a young science prodigy dared to compete with Mother Nature and create his very own perfect world. Years go by and the Boffin enjoys his solitude, inventing creatures most bizarre: ovelwoozers, worralots, midbits and phtphts, each more weird and wonderful then the next. That is until a clever spider and a curious girl venture into his world to teach him the most important lesson of all, one he won’t find in any textbook or lab. With subtle messages woven throughout, The Spider’s Song teaches adults and children alike the value of nature, acceptance, humanity and friendship.” (Catalogue)

The very busy spider / Carle, Eric
“The farm animals try to divert a busy little spider from spinning her web, but she persists and produces a thing of both beauty and usefulness. The pictures may be felt as well as seen.” (Catalogue)

Sophie’s masterpiece : a spider’s tale / Spinelli, Eileen
“Sophie the spider makes wondrous webs, but the residents of Beekman’s Boarding House do not appreciate her until at last, old and tired, she weaves her final masterpiece.” (Catalogue)

Stink and the hairy scary spider / McDonald, Megan
“Creepy! Crawly! Criminy! Stink is bonkers about most scientific things. But dangle a spider in front of him and he goes berserk! Stink is so freaked out by spiders that he can’t read about them. He can’t look at them. He can’t think about them. And he for sure can’t touch them! Stink has arachnophobia (a fear of spiders), and he has it bad. But when a hairy backyard emergency arises, Stink is forced to face his fear–and eight beady eyes–head-on. Will he manage to tame the heebie-jeebies, or will he remain stuck in his web of tarantulan terror? ” (Catalogue)

Nesting season is here: What to do if you find a baby bird

Summer is now officially here, and all of this season’s baby birds are starting to hatch. You might be able to see a nest up a tree at home, or there might be one tucked in under the eaves of your house’s roof and you can hear the birds cheeping at night. Some of you may even find a baby bird on the ground and not know what to do to help.

Well never fear! If you’re reading this then you’ll be ready and prepared if you do find a lonely baby bird.

Nestlings

Two pink baby birds with no feathers in a nest

Two baby Tauhau nestlings (Silvereyes or Wax-eyes) ‘gaping’ – asking to be fed.
Photo: 2695117 by Robyn on iNaturalist, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 DEED

We call baby birds nestlings when they’re at their smallest. Nestlings won’t have many feathers – they might not have any feathers at all! A nestling will spend their days tucked cosily into the family nest, waiting for their parents to come back and feed them. A nestling should still be in the nest, so:

  1. if you find one out of the nest,
  2. you can see where the nest is, and
  3. it doesn’t look sick or injured,

then the best thing to do is to put it back in the nest. You can get an adult to help with this if the nest is high up. If you can’t find the nest or the nest is damaged, then the next best thing is to make the nestling a replacement nest! Once you’ve made the replacement nest and put it somewhere safe near the original nest, keep an eye on it – from a distance! If the parents don’t come by to check on their nestling within a couple of hours, then you might need to contact the SPCA or a bird rescue.

Fledglings

A fledgling Pīwakawaka (right) perches on a branch next to their parent (left).
Photo: 26966445 by Jacqui Geux on iNaturalist, licensed under CC BY 4.0 DEED.

Once the bird has grown their feathers and is starting to think about leaving the nest, we call them a fledgling. A fledgling might leave the nest to get some movement practice in, hopping between branches or the on the ground near the nest. If you find a fledgling on the ground, it may be perfectly safe and healthy and all you should do is keep your distance and see if there are any dangers about. If the fledgling is not in a safe spot, then you can move them to somewhere nearby that is safe. If they’re injured or sick, that’s when you should take the fledgling in and contact the SPCA or a rescue.

Here in Wellington our local rescue is the Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust who will take in any injured or abandoned wild bird.

The SPCA has this great flowchart that you can follow if you do find a baby bird, fledgling or nestling. They also have information on exactly what you should do if you find an injured bird, as well as a section on their education site that covers a few more situations to do with birds. These links have tips for how to move and handle any bird you find, and tips for making a replacement nest.

Cats

A small dark cat perched partway up a fence staring past the camera with wide eyes

Your friendly pet cat may not be as friendly to the local birds.

Many of us have pet cats, and many of our pet cats love to go outside. Unfortunately, cats also love to hunt and we really don’t want them hunting baby birds that can’t fly away. If your cat brings you a bird they’ve caught, and the bird is still alive, even if the bird looks healthy you should contact the SPCA or a bird rescue. Birds can become sick or get an infection from being carried around in a cat’s mouth and the rescue will know the best way to look after the bird.

If you have a pet cat, the Department of Conservation has created an easy quiz you can take to see how conservation friendly your cat is. Remember, even if your cat gets all 8 points that doesn’t mean that they won’t ever hunt any of the animals you may see in your garden. It just means that you are doing your best as a pet owner to lessen their impact.


Where to learn more

If you’d like to learn more about the birds visiting your garden, DOC has created a short guide to help you identify some of the common birds you may see. We’ve also put together a list of books that you might find interesting. Some have information about birds and bird rescues in Aotearoa, and some are stories we hope you’ll enjoy about lost or rescued birds.

New Zealand’s backyard birds / Barraud, Ned
“Guide to the birds that children see and hear in their everyday lives, those that visit our backyards. Some of those will be native birds, maybe tūi, korimako/bellbird and pīwakawaka/fantail, though just as likely they will be introduced birds such as thrush, blackbirds, or flocks of sparrows. This book brings to life our most accessible wildlife, describing the different birds we are likely to see around home, and with useful background information about birds in general”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

Squawk! : Donovan Bixley’s forest birds of Aotearoa / Bixley, Donovan
“Bright birds, cheeky birds, masked birds, clever birds, warrior birds, shy birds, big birds, tiny birds and the world’s most gigantic birds! Find out what makes the feathered friends of Aotearoa so lovable in this … book by author and illustrator Donovan Bixley. Includes moa, tui, kakapo, whio and so many more!”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

The video shop sparrow / Cowley, Joy
“Two boys rescue a sparrow trapped in a closed video shop.” (Catalogue)

Are you my mother / Eastman, P. D.
“When a baby bird hatches while his mother is out searching for food, he leaves the nest for a series of adventures to try to determine his mother’s identity.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eaudiobook.


Sylvia and the birds : how the bird lady saved thousands of birds, and how you can too / Emeney, Jo
“Part Graphic Biography, Part Practical guide to protecting out Taonga Birdlife, this remarkable Book for young readers and their Whanau is fully committed to detailing the wonders of our native Birds, the threats they face, and how we can help them. Based on the life of ‘The Bird lady’, Sylvia Durrant, it inspires a reverence for the natural world and is a call to action for all young ecologists and Environmental Activists. With an Engrossing Text, Matauranga Maori insights, Activities and How-Tos, It offers hours of enchantment and Engagement.” (Catalogue)

Kererū / Kane, Glenda
“High in a tree in a suburban backyard, a kererū hatches. At rest in its nest, it waits for its food … But another stomach is rumbling, too. Will the baby kererū survive? This unflinching tale paints a complete picture of life in the wild for these beloved native birds, and offers solutions, too. The reader is invited into the story and shown how to look after Aotearoa’s vulnerable wildlife. And at the end of the story there are exciting new beginnings”–Publisher’s website.” (Catalogue)

Ngā manu Māori = Native birds / Merewether, Katherine Q.
“Learn the Māori names for 35 of our precious native and endemic birds of Aotearoa. A beautifully presented te reo Māori and English bilingual board book. Drawn from the multi-award-winning Kuwi & Friends Māori Picture Dictionary, and collated into bite sized pukapuka. A stunning matte laminated robust book with rounded corners, for durability and longevity.” (Catalogue)

Kakapo rescue : saving the world’s strangest parrot / Montgomery, Sy
” KAKAPO RESCUE gives young readers a first hand account of the efforts to save one of the world’s rarest and more unusual birds, the kakapo. Part of the Scientist in the Field series. ” (Catalogue)

Little Truff saves the kererū / Russell, Ann
“Little Truff, the cute Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is spending the summer holidays with her family at Piha, New Zealand’s famous surfing beach. Along with her Siamese friend Chloe – highly intelligent but mischievous, Truff is asked to investigate why the kererū, native wood pigeons, are disappearing without trace. A drastic drop in numbers could lead to their extinction in the area, meaning the forest’s giant trees couldn’t regenerate – and an eco-tragedy would result … Will they find out why the birds are vanishing? And put a stop to it?”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Diwali the Festival of Lights – 2023

Shubh Deepawali! Happy Diwali!

This year Diwali celebrations kick off on the 9th of November and finish on the 14th. Diwali is usually 5 days long, and every year it is celebrated according to the Hindu calendar dates which usually fall between September and November. Diwali is mainly known as a Hindu festival but is also celebrated by Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists alike. Because of this, there are lots of different religious events, stories and deities associated with Diwali.

One of the most well-known is the story of Prince Rama and Sita. When Rama’s wife Sita was kidnapped by the ten-headed demon Ravana, Prince Rama slayed the demon with the help of Hanuman the monkey warrior. As they made their way back to their kingdom in the city Ayodhya, there was no moon to light their path, so the people of Ayodhya lit oil lamps to guide Rama and Sita home. This is why to this day, oil lamps (or diyas) are lit as a part of Diwali celebrations and signify the triumph of good over evil.

Our Diwali photobooth during an event at Ngā Puna Waiora | Newtown Library!


During Diwali, some Hindus also celebrate Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Colourful rangoli are set up in house entrances to invite the goddess in and bring good luck, and plates of handmade sweets and fruit are made as offerings.

Overall, Diwali is a time for friends and families to come together – to give gifts, wear their best outfits, clean and decorate the home together and share lots of delicious kai!

Here’s a selection of photographs taken at Ngā Puna Waiora | Newtown Library earlier this month, during our Diwali Storytelling, Sari Draping and Photobooth event!

  • Librarian Asha and uest author Rajorshi Chakraborti read some of their favourites!
  • Learning how to drape a sari!
  • Our Diwali photobooth!

If you want to learn more about Diwali, have a read online at Britannica library – a free encyclopaedia which you can access with your library card number and pin.

Check out some of our Diwali books below:


Overdrive cover Baby’s First Diwali, DK (ebook)

Celebrate Diwali with this delightful baby board book that little ones will adore.
The bright and colourful images in this ebook are the perfect way to discover Diwali together. From the shining diya lamps that gave the festival its name, to colourful Rangoli flower decorations, to sweet treats, Baby’s First Diwali features all the familiar favourites associated with India’s biggest and brightest holiday.
(Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover It’s Diwali!, Kabir Sehgal (ebook)

Count along in celebration of Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights, in this luminous picture book from bestselling mother-son duo Surishtha and Kabir Sehgal.
Count up to ten and back down again to the tune of “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” while learning about the traditions that make Diwali a fun-filled festival! Celebrated during autumn harvest, Diwali symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. From sweet treats to intricate henna designs to exciting firework displays, kids will delight in this vibrant glimpse into the Festival of Lights. (Overdrive description)

Shubh Diwali / Soundar, Chitra
“One family celebrates the Hindu festival of lights”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Rama and Sita : the story of Diwali / Doyle, Malachy
“Rama and Sita live happily in the forest until Sita is abducted by the demon king Ravana. Can Rama rescue her – and who is the little white monkey who offers to help?” (Catalogue)

Dharma’s Diwali / MacGregor, Jill

“Dharma, a young girl from Lautoka, describes how she and her friends and family celebrate Diwali, the festival of light.” (Catalogue)

All about Diwali : things to make and do / Haddow, Swapna
“Diwali is one of India’s most significant holidays. This beautiful activity book book is filled with crafts and recipes, fun activities and facts about the Diwali celebrations observed by over one billion people across faiths. Read all about why Diwali is named the festival of lights and discover the stories behind it.” (Catalogue)

Time Capsules – Time Travel Through Objects!

Recently, a time capsule was removed for safekeeping at the Te Matapihi Central Library site! The capsule was buried in 1994 – 29 years ago – and contains letters from local school students, newspapers, coins, photos of the children and other souvenirs from 1994.

But what exactly are time capsules? And why do we have them?


Wellington City Libraries time capsule being lifted out of a hole in the ground by two construction workers

LT McGuinness workers remove the time at the Central Library Te Matapihi construction site. Image: WCC supplied (September 2023)


What are time capsules?

According to the dictionary on one of our eLibrary databases, Britannica Library – Kids, time capsules are “a container holding historical records or objects representative of current culture that is placed (as in a cornerstone) for preservation until discovery by some future age.” So essentially, time capsules are like hidden treasure, stored by people of the past to communicate with the people of the future, and to tell them what life was like back then.

Time capsules are usually intended to be found and opened at a specific date and place – like an important anniversary of a school, or the anniversary of the council in the case of the capsule above – but it is possible that they can be forgotten about after all those years! You may have heard about the missing time capsule buried at Muritai school in Eastbourne (which is yet to be seen).

The Westinghouse Time Capsule of 1939

There have been many significant time capsules in recent history. Perhaps one of the earliest examples is the Westinghouse time capsule, which was made by the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company and buried on August 22, 1939. The time capsule was a dedication to the current technology and society of 1930s America, containing roughly 100 objects and 22,000 pages of text and images associated with American companies of the 1930s. For example, safety razors were included from Gilette Safety Razor Co., a makeup kit from Elizabeth Arden and even Birds Eye frozen foods was represented – you may have seen their fish fingers at the supermarket recently!



Because the 1939 Westinghouse capsule was intended to be opened in 5000 years later, (that’s the year 6939!) the capsule had to be extra secure to withstand its long storage underground (which also meant that they couldn’t put fish fingers in the capsule ☹). To ensure this, engineers constructed a bullet shaped capsule made of copper, chromium and silver and the contents were sealed in an airtight glass shell.

The capsule was buried deep beneath New York’s Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and to make sure people were able to find it in the future, the Book of Record for the Time Capsule of Cupaloy was distributed to libraries, museums and monasteries around the world. An important issue that the company also had to consider was how were the people of 6939 going to understand what the time capsule was all about? Archaeologists at the time knew that the people of the future probably wouldn’t be able to speak English, so they included diagrams to help them read and interpret the book.

Overall, the Westinghouse efforts and time capsules more generally show the desire for people to connect with each other across time and space. Time capsules serve as important artefacts from the past, mapping out how we have changed as people and as a society.

And while you may not be able to travel ahead 5000 years to meet the people of the future, the library has plenty of books to help you discover peoples of the past, as well as time capsules in general!

Time Capsule Stories

Cartboy and the time capsule / Campbell, L. A.
“Sixth-grader Hal gets a year-long journal-keeping assignment in his least favorite class, history, much to the delight of his history buff father.” (Catalogue)

Beat the clock / Parish, Herman
“In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Amelia Bedelia’s school, the whole town throws a party and a secret time capsule that was buried an entire century before will finally be dug up and opened.” (Catalogue)

The time capsule and other stories / Shipton, Paul
“This Biff, Chip and Kipper collection contains four funny stories, plus activities focusing on reading skills. This Read with Oxford Stage 4 collection is ideal for children who are gaining more reading confidence. Read with Oxford offers an exciting range of carefully levelled reading books to build your child’s reading confidence.” (Catalogue)

Zelda and Ivy, the runaways / Laura McGee Kvasnosky / Kvasnosky, Laura McGee
“In three short stories, two fox sisters run away from home, bury a time capsule, and take advantage of some creative juice.” (Catalogue)

Digging up the past

What was it like, Mr. Emperor? : life in China’s forbidden city / Zhao, Guangchao
“Have you ever wondered what it was like to be the Emperor of China? In this book, readers will get the chance to ask the emperor all the questions they might have about life in the Forbidden City. How was the emperor chosen? What was school like? How did he celebrate his birthday? Who were his friends? What were his favorite foods? How hard did he have to work? Could he be punished? Through fun and engaging stories reader will journey through the average life of an emperor and learn about the people who lived in the palace.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Digging up the past : archaeology for the young and curious / Veart, David
“Introduces young and curious readers to the story of New Zealand, from Pacific voyagers to contemporary crime scenes, that archaeologists have discovered. Along the way, readers will learn about what archaeologists actually do, from digging up shell middens to testing ancient DNA. And readers will uncover amazing facts about our past: How Māori used kuri, the native dog, as a four-legged fridge, how warplanes were hidden deep within Devonport’s North Head (or were they?), how DNA has revealed the number of people who first settled Aotearoa, and much much more.” (Catalogue)

Meet the Vikings / Woolf, Alex
“What was life really like for the Vikings? How did they interact socially? What medicines did they use? What did they think about the world they lived in, religion and other peoples? Using recreation photography and images of real historical artefacts this book will help readers ‘meet’ all kinds of Vikings, from the thrall (or slave) to the various craftspeople, farmers and even some viking children playing games.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The 20th century / Deary, Terry
“Discover the foul facts that make the history of the twentieth century so horrible – all the gore and more!” (Catalogue)

Te ao o te Māori = The world of the Māori / Naumann, Ruth
“Resource containing information and activities on Māori migration to and settlement in New Zealand. Focuses on particular aspects of Māori life and culture. Can be linked to the New Zealand Social Sciences curriculum. Suggested level: primary, intermediate, junior secondary.” (Catalogue)

Ancient Africa : archaeology unlocks the secrets of Africa’s past / Sherrow, Victoria
“Archaeology reveals the rich histories of complex cultures in the cradle of humankind. Study the Dogon people of Mali. Explore the ancient city of Jenne-jeno. Learn how computer technology has recreated the Kushite temples at Jebel Barkal and how artifacts bring new insights, helping scientists to piece together the puzzle of ancient Africa.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bodies are Weird! Books About Bodies

Bodies are weird, aren’t they?  Squishy, bony, stretchy, hairy, cuddly, bumpy, leaky, smelly, wiggly, lanky, hungry, wobbly, achy, fidgety, smooth, sometimes even embarrassing – there are endless different things our bodies can do and look like.  There is no wrong way to have a body, but sometimes you just want to know more about what bodies do and look like.  Bodies are endlessly fascinating, and luckily we have many, many books that you can read to learn more about them.  We’ve selected some of our favourite new body books below that you might like to try.

Any body : a comic compendium of important facts & feelings about our bodies / Gathen, Katharine von der
“We live in our bodies for life, so it’s a good idea to understand them. Any Body looks from the outside and the inside, answering questions about our bodies and how we feel about them. It includes interesting facts about skin, hair, and body functions alongside the questions that may affect us from puberty and beyond – gender identity, beauty, self-confidence, how other people react and relate to us, and how they make us feel. This compendium allows us to get to know and feel at home in our bodies – and have a giggle about them too.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I am not a label / Burnell, Cerrie
“From Frida Kahlo to Stephen Hawking, find out how these iconic figures have overcome obstacles, owned their differences and paved the way for others by making their bodies and minds work for them. These short biographies tell the stories of people who have faced unique challenges which have not stopped them from becoming trailblazers, innovators, advocates and makers. Each person is a leading figure in their field, be it sport, science, maths, art, breakdance or the world of pop. Challenge your preconceptions of disability and mental health with the eye-opening stories of these remarkable people.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

You & your amazing brain : a book of brains and how they work / Gifford, Clive
“Brains are fascinating! Why can’t you tickle yourself? Why do adults like foods they hated as children? How do some sneaky creatures have the ability to take over the brains of other species?  You will discover: What the different parts of the brain are and how they work; how memories, speech and sleep work; how the human brain develops from birth to adulthood; how your brain changes when you become a teenager, and how to understand these changes; how the brains of other creatures match up to ours.  And most of all how every brain works in its own special way.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Every body : a first conversation about bodies / Madison, Megan
“Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this topic-driven board book offers clear, concrete language and imagery to introduce the concept of body positivity. This book serves to celebrate the uniqueness of your body and all bodies, and address the unfair rules and ideas that currently exist about bodies. It ends with motivational action points for making the world more fair for all!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Thirty trillion cells : how your body really works / Thomas, Isabel
“Do you know what you’re made of? The answer is CELLS- about thirty TRILLION of them- all working together to form one awesome human being: YOU. The tiniest building blocks of life are crammed amongst the pages of this book, waiting to be discovered. From individual cells to complex systems, discover how your body moves, grows, breathes, senses, thinks and feels. Find out why you get butterflies in your stomach, how your brain is more complex than the most powerful computer, and that you are home to more bacteria cells than there are stars in the Milky Way.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Every body is a rainbow : a kid’s guide to bodies across the gender spectrum / Carter, Caroline
“Every child has an amazing body that is all their own! Each one is a unique shape, size, and color and has a unique mix of parts, identities, and expressions. Every Body is a Rainbow: A Kid’s Guide to Bodies Across the Gender Spectrum celebrates the vast rainbow of bodies and identities—from non-binary, to intersex, to multiple genders and expressions—and shows readers that everybody is beautifully diverse and has value. This book is for kids and families of ALL genders, abilities, and expressions who want to understand themselves and learn more about the amazing bodies across the gender spectrum!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Embrace your body / Brumfitt, Taryn
“Based on the #1 hit children’s song, this picture book encourages everyone to love who they are, inside and out. Taryn Brumfitt is the fiercely passionate thought leader behind the Body Image Movement and director of Embrace the documentary. She is determined to inspire everyBODY to celebrate their body, regardless of size, colour, ethnicity, gender or ability.” (Catalogue)

My body’s changing : a boy’s guide to growing up / Ganeri, Anita
“Growing up is an exciting time, but it can also feel scary. During puberty, your body changes on the outside and on the inside. You might have noticed some of these changes already, or they might not have started happening to you yet. This book explains what happens during puberty, and provides some friendly reassurance and advice.” (Catalogue)

Puberty is gross but also really awesome / Loveless, Gina
“Puberty… is pretty gross for pretty much everyone. It’s a smelly, hairy, sticky, and (worst of all) totally confusing time! But did you know there’s a lot about puberty that makes it REALLY AWESOME? Get the whole picture with this honest, humorous, and empowering survival guide to the tween years. It’s packed with straighforward illustrations, easy-to-understand scientific information, interesting studies, and tips from experts, covering everything from breast development and gender identity to acne and mental health.” (Catalogue)

My period / Hill, Milli
“The one stop guide to getting your period. Getting your first period can be exciting – but there are a lot of questions you might be too embarrassed to ask. Like how much will I bleed? Does it hurt? How can I prepare? And what’s the point of a period anyway? Separating the fact from the fiction, Milli Hill answers everything you need to know – from menstrual cups and period pants, to cramps and hormones. She’ll explain how incredible your body is, what is actually going on each month and why. With guidance on choosing period products, charting your cycles and preparing a first period kit, alongside profiles of ‘cycle superstars’, such as Amika George, who are working to end period poverty and start open conversations around periods, this book is the complete guide to getting your period.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bird Watchers, Get Counting: It’s Bird Survey Time!

Manaaki Whenua | Landcare Research is running its annual Garden Bird Survey again this year from 24 June – 2 July. To participate you need to spend 60 minutes in your garden, local park or reserve recording the birds you see at any one time between 24 June – 2 July 2023.

To take part, go to gardenbirdsurvey.landcareresearch.co.nz. There are heaps of resources on this website including helpful pictures of the birds you are most likely to see, printable tally sheets, quizzes, competitions, and other suggestions you can do to make a bird-friendly haven at home, school or even at your local park.

Taking part is easy:

  1. Select your garden, park, or school
  2. Choose one day from 24 June to the 2 July
  3. Look and listen for birds for ONE hour.
  4. Record the HIGHEST number of a bird species observed at one time.
  5. Submit your survey results below.

Your survey results will be analysed by the Landcare Research scientists. This will help them know and understand things like how our bird populations are changing over time, and keep an eye on any population trends (good and bad).

And if you still have some questions, jump onto the FAQ page on the website to answer the ones you have, and ones you hadn’t even thought about around all things birds + survey.


Book Jacket for: A bird in the hand : keeping New Zealand wildlife safeBook Jacket for: Discovering New Zealand birdsBook Jacket for: NZ birds

Wellington City Libraries have loads of books and resources about New Zealand birds.

Or you could browse the Non-Fiction shelves under the Dewey Number of 598.


Other useful websites:

Birds New Zealand

Department of Conservation

Forest and Bird

New Zealand Geographic

Become an ornithological expert and help understand and protect Aotearoa’s wonderfully diverse birdlife.


 

Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta: Rotuman Language Week 2023

Noaʻia ʻe mḁuri gagaj ʻatakoa! Welcome to Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta | Rotuman Language Week 2023.

Girl smiling

Download a Rotuman Language Week Poster!

What is Rotuman Language Week?

Rotuman Language Week is the first in a series of Pasifika Language Weeks that are celebrated in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

New Zealand is the only country in the world where the languages and culture of our Pasifika cousins are celebrated. Fäeag Rotuạm, the Rotuman language, is the first of nine Pasifika language weeks this year, and it runs from the 7th May – 13th May 2023.

Where is Rotuma you ask? The main island of Rotuma is about 13km by 4km and is about 580km from Fiji’s capital, Suva. Rotuma is a dependency of Fiji, so Rotumans will usually speak Fijian and English too! There are about 2000 Rotumans living on the island, and 10,000 living in mainland Fiji and globally.

More information about Rotuma Day and the history of Routma can be read or listened to in this article from Radio NZ.

This year’s theme for Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta is:

Vetḁkia ‘os Fäega ma Ag fak hanua – Sustaining our Language and Culture.

In these times, when it sometimes it feels like things are just moving too fast, we think this is a wonderful idea to reflect on.

We interviewed Kelly, a librarian who works in the South East branches and is also a proud Rotuman woman. Check out our instagram page to watch the reels: Wellington City Libraries Instagram

So how do you speak Rotuman?

Well, Rotumans roll their ‘R’s and pronounce ‘G’ with a smooth ‘ing’ sound, similar to how ‘ng’ is pronounced in te reo Māori.

Here are some key phrases in Rotuman [Row-too-man]:
Noa’ia [Noah-e-yah]= Hello, greetings.
Ka ‘äe tapen? [Car eh tar-pen] = How are you?
Gou lelei fḁiåksia [Ngou leh-lay for-yak-see-yah] = I am well thank you.
Figalelei [Fee-nga-leh-lay] = Please
Fḁiåksia [Foyak-see-yah] = Thank you
Hanis ma röt’åk [Hah-niece mah röt-ack] = Sorry
La’ ma ḁlalum [Lah mah aw-lah-loom] = Goodbye (only to those leaving)
Fu’ ma ḁlalum [Foo mah aw-lah-loom] = Goodbye (only to those staying)

Find more words and phrases in this language guide produced by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

The Ministry for Pacific Peoples provides great resources and information about our Pasifika languages and cultural events. Visit the official NZ Rotuman Language Week Facebook page, and the official website, for more information about Rotuman Language Week 2022!

Fascinating and Weird New Zealand Invertebrates

Kakapo Hugh feeds on some vibrant red supplejack berries

Photo by Jake Osborne, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Three seals on a rocky outcrop. One reaches its head up to another silhouetted against the sea

Photo by Laura Boren, Department of Conservation, licensed under CC BY 4.0

New Zealand is home to many fascinating and beautiful creatures. There’s the vibrant green Kākāpō, the endangered bird that booms in the night. There’s the Pekapeka-tou-roa, the smaller of our two native bat species, which controversially won Bird of the Year in 2021. There are Tuna, who can wriggle their way up waterfalls and can be seen in the streams around Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush. We have the blue, green, and red Takehē, who we once thought were extinct but were rediscovered in 1948. There’s the Kekeno, or New Zealand fur seal, that you can spot sunbathing on the rocks around the coast. And who could forget the Tuatara, our ‘living fossils’, that can live to at least eighty?

A tuatara crouches and looks towards the camera

Photo by Leon Berard, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

These birds, mammals (marine or otherwise), and reptiles are all amazing creatures, but what about some of the native creatures that you might not have heard about? What about our fascinating and often-weird-looking invertebrates?

Humans are vertebrates, which means that we have a backbone. If you feel your way up the middle of your back you’ll be able to feel the lumps of the vertebrae that make up your spinal column. Invertebrates are creatures that have no backbone or spinal column. Think of an octopus, that can squeeze it’s whole body through the tiniest of gaps, or a wētā that has the hard parts of its body, its exoskeleton, on the outside. Those are both invertebrates!


Let’s have a look at some of the weird and wonderful invertebrates we have living around Aotearoa:

Corals

Underwater photo of a tree-like coral with white 'leaves' and small fish swimming around it

Photo: 246922003 by sea-kangaroo on iNaturalist, licensed under CC BY 4.0

Yes, corals are animals and they’re invertebrates!

Many of the coral species in New Zealand are protected. The coral in this photo is known as a black coral, even though it looks very pale. Black corals are named for the colour of their skeletons, so a living black coral appears white and will only appear black once it has died. Black corals are hexacorals, which means that they have six tentacles and body partitions. Anemones are hexacorals too!


Ngaokeoke | Velvet worm | Peripatus

A dark blue velvet worm climbing over a piece of orange rotting wood

Photo: 79386934 by Strewick on iNaturalist, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

These ‘walking worms‘ look a bit like caterpillars with short stumpy legs. They come in a range of colours, from indigo (like the picture to the left), to grey, to orange. There are at least 30 different species of velvet worm in New Zealand, however only 9 have been described by scientists so far.

Like the Tuatara, Ngaokeoke are another ‘living fossil’ – they still closely resemble their ancestors from hundreds of millions of years ago!


Powelliphanta

A large snail with a flat black and brown striped shell crawls over some moss

Photo by Kath Walker, Department of Conservation, licensed under CC BY 4.0

Some species of this native snail can grow as big as your fist!

These snails have distinctive, beautiful shells that can come striped in patterns of reds, browns, blacks, and yellows. They are carnivorous, which means they eat things like slugs and worms, and there are at least 21 different Powelliphanta species across the motu.

Gay Hay’s wonderful book Watch Out, Snail!, about a Powelliphanta snail encountering various other animals, is currently on display as the latest installment of Te Ara Pukapuka (The Book Pathway) over at Khandallah Park.


Putoko ropiropi | Leaf-veined slug

A tear-drop shaped slug with leaf-like veins along its back crawls along a blade of grass

Photo: 11847495 by Shaun Lee on iNaturalist, licensed under CC BY 4.0

That’s not a leaf, it really is a slug in that picture! These invertebrates are included in this list for the way they look. This one looks a lot like a leaf, but some closely resemble gherkins!

There are around 30 different species of native New Zealand slugs, and they all have that leaf-like pattern to help camouflage them in the bush. Leaf-veined slugs have been spotted at Zealandia, and gardeners don’t need to worry because our native slug species don’t damage garden plants.


Salps

Close-up of several chains of transparent salps washed up on a beach

Photo by Chris Woods, NIWA, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Salps are those little clear lumps you sometimes find in the sea that can make it feel like you’re swimming through lumpy rice pudding. You can come across salps in chains, like in the photo here, or as individuals.

Salps are one of the unnerving mysterious things encountered in Things in the Sea are Touching Me, but we learn that they’re nothing to be worried about.


Wētāpunga | Giant wētā

A giant wētā perched on the photographer's hand with a friendly look in its eyes

Photo: 107125402 by Zhaoxuan Li on iNaturalist, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

There are many different species of Wētā in Aotearoa. The Wētāpunga is the largest of them all!

These impressive invertebrates only managed to survive in the wild on Hauturu-o-Toi (Little Barrier Island) thanks to habitat destruction and predators, but there are breeding programmes in place to help build numbers.

Gentle Giant: Wētāpunga has a lot more information about these threatened creatures, or you could check out No Home for a Wētā for a fun story about a young Wētā who’s sick of her rambunctious family.


If you’d like to learn more about these native invertebrates, or find out about other creatures not on this list, check out these titles in our collection:

New Zealand’s backyard beasts / Barraud, Ned
“In the garden, creeping along branches, hiding under stones or flitting from flower to flower, a whole universe of creatures is waiting to be discovered. Butterflies, moths, beetles, wasps, spiders… what have you found in your backyard? Did you know that chorus cicadas live underground for most of their life? That bumblebees have smelly feet? That some species of stick insect are all female? Or that earwigs don’t actually crawl into ears? […] From the simply curious to the budding entomologist, New Zealand’s Backyard Beasts will please and inform all age groups about the fascinating creatures found in the back garden. Whether just looking at the beautiful illustrations or absorbing the facts, this book is a must for all backyard adventurers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Animals of Aotearoa : explore & discover New Zealand’s wildlife / Candler, Gillian
“Animals of Aotearoa is a must-have compendium for children curious about New Zealand’s wild animals. Based on the award-winning and best-selling `Explore and Discover’ children’s series about New Zealand’s natural history, this book is packed full of illustrations and information about our native animals, both common and rare, as well as many well-known introduced animals. The book includes land and sea birds, frogs and lizards, many kinds of fish and other marine creatures, insects and invertebrates.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In the bush : explore & discover New Zealand’s native forests / Candler, Gillian
“In the Bush is the fourth in the popular Explore & Discover series. It includes insects and other invertebrates, fungi, ferns and mosses, birds, bats, introduced pests, vines, epiphytes, and trees. Includes removeable, waterproof reference guide.” (Catalogue)

The life-size guide to insects & other land vertebrates of New Zealand / Crowe, Andrew
“Pictorial guide to identifying common insects, spiders and other land vertebrates of New Zealand. Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary.” (Catalogue)

Tiaki : a shout-out to Aotearoa’s lesser-known creatures / Donaldson, Jean
“This book is a shout-out to the weird and wonderful endangered species in Aotearoa, those lesser-known creatures that don’t regularly make the news. But they are just as important as the ‘stars’ like kākāpō and kiwi, for they are the foundation of our unique biodiversity. Tiaki includes such exotic animals as the Smeagol gravel maggot, a sea slug found on the south coast of Wellington; the moko kākāriki, a gecko with a bright blue mouth; the kōwaro/Canterbury mudfish, which can survive out of water for up to several months; and the tiny, critically endangered pekapeka-tou-roa/ long-tailed bat.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Eid Mubarak! Happy Eid!

As Salaamu Alaykum & Eid Mubarak to our Muslim whānau!

What is Islam?

Ramadan and Eid are important events in the religion called Islam. People who follow Islam are called Muslims. Did you know there are about 1.9 billion Muslims worldwide? Islam is the second biggest religion in the world, after Christianity!

Why is it good to learn about Islam?

A local Muslim family celebrating Eid al-Fitr at Newtown Library

As the world comes together and people mix more and more, it’s good to learn about religions and cultures that maybe different to your own. You may be Muslim yourself, have a Muslim friend, or classmate, or you may not know any Muslims. But we can all learn more about Islam. Like many religions, Islam has lots of ancient wisdom and practices that help its followers to be peaceful and kind people.

Libraries are great places to learn the basic facts about religions, cultures, important celebrations and special days.

Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr

Ramadan is one of the most sacred times of the year for Muslims. During this month Muslims are expected to fast from dawn until sunset, pray, give charity and spend time with family. Generally, it is a time spent being quiet and reflecting on Allah (God). Ramadan ends with Eid al-Fitr, a celebration that marks the end of the fasting. In Arabic it means ‘Holiday of Breaking the Fast’. It is also a holiday where sharing food is very important. Yum!

Did you know there are two Eid celebrations? Eid al-Fitr is always the first one in the year and it is usually around May or June. The other Eid is called Eid al-Adha and happens around July or August.

Eid in Aotearoa New Zealand

In Aotearoa New Zealand 2023, Eid Day will fall on either Saturday 22nd or Sunday 23rd of April – it all depends on the sighting of the moon.  Traditionally, Eid al-Fitr begins at sunset on the night of the first sighting of the crescent moon. Everyone needs to give money to charity (meaning to people who are poor or needy) which is called Zakat-ul-Fitr. After that there is a special ‘Eid prayer’.

This year there is a big celebration happening in Wellington on the 22nd of April, organised by the Eid Day Trust. Everyone can go and join in the fun. You can find out more on their Facebook page.

Celebration Collection

In the Library we have a new Celebration Collection for Ramadan and Eid. This means we have a lot of beautiful new books about Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr that are available at this time of the year.

During Ramadan some of the books have even been staying at mosques around Wellington City!

As part of this special collection, we have over 60 books about Ramadan and Eid written by Muslim authors, as well as many books with Muslim characters. These books are for kids of all ages, from babies all the way up to intermediate-aged readers.

Please do come into our libraries and see our beautiful new books. Eid Mubarak!

Children’s books about Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr

The proudest blue : a story of hijab and family / Muhammad, Ibtihaj
“Faizah relates how she feels on the first day her sister, sixth-grader Asiya, wears a hijab to school.” (Catalogue)
In my mosque / Yuksel, M. O.
“A picture book featuring culturally rich artwork celebrates the joys, rituals, and traditions that are practiced in mosques throughout the world, and includes a glossary and information about many historical and significant mosques.” (Catalogue)
Aya and the butterfly / Salama, Maysoon
“Aya and her grandad grow swan plants in their garden. Dedicated to the children and whānau of the Aotearoa New Zealand Muslim community, whose lives were changed forever on 15 March 2019.” (Catalogue)
Once upon an Eid : stories of hope and joy by 15 Muslim voices
“Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas and simmering pistachio kheer, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Like the moon loves the sky / Khan, Hena
“Illustrations and prose inspired by the Quran celebrate a mother’s love and hopes for her child.” (Catalogue)
Sadiq / Nuurali, Siman (series)
“When Sadiq’s father leaves on a business trip, he worries he’ll miss his baba too much. But Baba has a story for Sadiq: the story of the Desert Star. Learning about Baba’s passion for the stars sparks Sadiq’s interest in outer space. But can Sadiq find others who are willing to help him start the space club of his dreams?” (Catalogue entry for Sadiq and the Desert Star)
Planet Omar / Mian, Zanib (series)
“Welcome, readers, to the imaginative brain of Omar! You might not know me yet, but once you open the pages of this book you’ll laugh so hard that snot will come out of your nose (plus you might meet a dragon and a zombie – what more could you want?). My parents decided it would be a good idea to move house AND move me to a new school at the same time. As if I didn’t have a hard enough time staying out of trouble at home, now I’ve also got to try and make new friends. […] The only good thing is that Eid’s just around the corner which means a feast of all my favourite food (YAY) and presents (DOUBLE YAY).” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Community languages

Please note: We also have books in different community languages about Islam, Ramadan and Eid, including Arabic, Farsi, Somali and Bahasa Malaysia.

Please do come into our libraries and see our beautiful new books. Eid Mubarak!

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

On 29th November 1977 the United Nations created the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This day is to remind people that even though the Palestinians didn’t agree to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 they still have human rights; the right to decide where they live, where they travel and who their government is.  Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in peace. The hope of the United Nations is to build a future of peace.

In 1948 when Israel was created around 750,000 Palestinians were forced to leave their homes and become refugees (Source: United Nations). This number has grown since then and there are now more than 13 million Palestinian people in the world (Source: IMEMC). Palestinian people speak Arabic, Hebrew, English, and other varieties of Arabic. You may know Palestinian people who live in Wellington or greater New Zealand who arrived here as former refugees.

If you want to read more about Palestine, Palestinians and Israel you could look up these interactive resources:

Many famous writers and poets come from Palestine. Some of these writers are; Mahmoud Darwish, Naomi Shihab Nye and Ghassan Kanafani.

Check out the books about Palestine or by Palestinian authors in our collection. (Remember joining the library is free and if there are some books you would like us to buy you can suggest them to us: Suggestions to Buy Library Items (wcl.govt.nz)

The turtle of Oman : a novel / Nye, Naomi Shihab
“When Aref, a third-grader who lives in Muscat, Oman, refuses to pack his suitcase and prepare to move to Michigan, his mother asks for help from his grandfather, his Sidi, who takes Aref around the country, storing up memories he can carry with him to a new home.” (Catalogue)

Three wishes : Palestinian and Israeli children speak / Ellis, Deborah
“Interviews with Palestinian and Israeli children examine how the war in the Middle East has affected their lives.” (Catalogue) This book is for older children 10+

Tasting the sky : a Palestinian childhood / Barakat, Ibtisam
“When a war ends it does not go away, my mother says. It hides inside us . . . Just forget. But I do not want to do what Mother says . . . I want to remember. In this groundbreaking memoir set in Ramallah during the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War, Ibtisam Barakat captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war.” (Adapted from Catalogue) This book is for older children 10+

A little piece of ground / Laird, Elizabeth
“Twelve-year-old Karim Aboudi and his family are trapped in their Ramallah home by a strict curfew. Israeli tanks control the city in response to a Palestinian suicide bombing. Karim longs to play football outside with his friends. But in this city there’s constant danger. Ages 10+” (Catalogue)

Milet mini picture dictionary : English-Arabic / Turhan, Sedat
“Introduces key English and Arabic words for plants, animals, shapes, food, and other common items.” (Catalogue)

My first book of Arabic words / Kudela, Katy R
“Simple text paired with themed photos invite the reader to learn to speak Arabic.” (Catalogue)

Israel and Palestine / Gallagher, Michael
“This series is a fascinating and informative look at the historical background to world trouble spots. Each title is packed with details, photographs and maps. Ages 10-16.” (Catalogue)

Israel and Palestine / Mason, Paul
“An informed, unbiased review of some of the world’s major conflict zones Global Hot Spots aims to fill in the facts behind the headlines, developing students’ understanding of the historical context of the events they see on TV. It provides accounts of real-life experiences and looks at ‘how history was made’ in these conflict zones.” (Catalogue)