Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Otautau has a long history of flooding thanks to the town's proximity to the Otautau Stream. But unlike New Orleans, USA, for example, where the engineer, Bienville, made the wrong decision on where to put the settlement - in a bowl below sea level - our settlement, Hodgkinson, was originally supposed be away from the lowland of the stream, on high ground above the Aparima River. We can't blame any engineers - it was just a preference of those early residents to stay put right next to the stream.
Some of the floods of the last century have been captured in photographs and are on display at the Otautau Museum. These include floods from 1913, 1935, 1948 and of course 1984.
What is missing though are some first-hand accounts of what those floods were like. Some people think their own stories of 'how it used to be' are inconsequential but nothing could be further from the truth. If you would like to have your stories recorded for posterity, the Museum may be able to help. They have the technology, all they need are volunteers. Contact me if you'd like to be interviewed on flooding or any other aspect of our district's history.
The first image is of a female guarding her nest during a shower of rain. She is probably of the Dolomedes aquaticus species. She will protect her nest until her spiderlings eat their way out.
This spider is the same species but sitting on a water lily leaf. They are quite large spiders and they walk on water. They don't construct webs to catch insects, but use the water surface as a web, feeling for vibrations of insects struggling on the surface and then running across the surface to seize their prey. Apparently they can inflict a painful bite, but it is not dangerous.
If you have spiders in your garden that you would like to identify, check out Te Papa's What Spider is That? page.
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