10 Jun 2024

Good News: Stories that cheered us up for the week 3-9 June

10:41 am on 10 June 2024
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Photo: RNZ

A play space for traumatised PNG children, a dog in a tight spot and a new home for Invercargill's tuatara are among this week's feel-good stories from RNZ.

From Wellington to the opposite ends of the earth by rail

Greg Hill in a wheatfield outside Alaejos

Greg Hill in a wheatfield outside Alaejos Photo: Supplied / Greg Hill

Gregory Hill and his partner Anne Loeser travelled to the direct antipode - opposite land mass - of their lounge in Wellington: a wheat field in the Spanish village of Alaejos. And they did it mostly by train.

New Zealand and Spain have between them an almost unbroken land bridge. "The only difficult spots are the Tasman Sea, the Timor Sea, and three narrow channels in Indonesia," Hill said.

The rest can be travelled by train. When in Spain, modern tech allowed them to pinpoint the exact antipodal spot. "It was a pleasure to travel for travel's sake."

Top apprentice plumber wants more women in industry

Maria Contreras Huerta is an apprentice plumber at Morrinsville Plumbing and Gas Services.

Maria Contreras Huerta is an apprentice plumber at Morrinsville Plumbing and Gas Services. Photo: RNZ/Libby Kirkby-McLeod

Maria Contreras Huerta, NZ's first woman to win the top prize for an apprentice plumber, wants to see more young women encouraged to join the profession. There were no other women in her Wintec training classes and she is the first female apprentice at her company.

In total, women only make up about 5 percent of the plumbing industry. She is optimistic that the number of women in the trade will grow, especially if the industry can make it more welcoming.

Tuatara find a new home at Invercargill's Queens Park Animal Reserve

Invercargill's new tuatara enclosure will be unveiled and named on 7 June.

Photo: Supplied/Invercargill City Council

Seventeen tuatara were held at the city's old museum until early 2023, when they were shifted to make way for its demolition and rebuild. The reptiles have now been given their own facility within the Queens Park Animal Reserve.

Mana whenua representative Evelyn Cook said she was thrilled to see the enclosure come together. "It is such a privilege to have these tuatara - he taoka nō nēherā, a treasure from the past - here in our city and for them to now have their own dedicated facility is a true milestone for our role as mana tiaki."

Dog in a tight spot nabs Comedy Pet Photo award

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Photo: Comedy Pets

Gravity-defying cats, gurning donkeys and more all feature in this year's Comedy Pet Photo Awards. But a dog trying to squeeze through a small cat flap squeezed in as winner in a tight competition.

Sarah Haskell snared 2024 top prize for her photo titled, "Not just for the cats!" Haskell said she (and her dog Hector) were thrilled to have been crowned this year's winner. The annual photo competition aims to highlight the positive and vital role that pets have in our lives.

Play space aids PNG children's recovery after lethal landslide

The ground is still moving at the landslide site in Yambali village in Enga province.

The ground is still moving at the landslide site in Yambali village in Enga province. Photo: Juho Valta with UNDP Papua New Guinea

After a mass landslide took the lives of more than 600 people, displacing more than 1650, aid agencies including UNICEF have been working hard to support those left behind.

UNICEF Papua New Guinea representative Angela Kearney said a child-friendly space has been set up. "So a big tent where children can come, they can play, they can dance, they can sing, they can paint with trained volunteers from the community."

Aid supplies, including sanitation kits, are being delivered with easy access and UNICEF is working to ensure the community has a clean water source.

Baby shortjaw kōkopu released in Waitākere Ranges

Releasing of shortjaw kōkopu into the Castle Stream in the Huia catchment. About 1000 kōkopu were released at 5 sites in the catchment area.

Photo: RNZ / Lucy Xia

About 1000 of New Zealand's rarest whitebait species - the shortjaw kōkopu - have been released into streams in Auckland's Waitākere Ranges to help protect the future of kōkopu in the wild.

In 2019, Manāaki Technologies captured seven adult kōkopu from the Waitākere Ranges and has since bred about 1000 babies in captivity in Warkworth. "The species is in serious decline, endangered, so without this type of intervention, they could become extinct, quite frankly," says Paul Decker. It's an important act of kaitiakitanga.

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