Sunday, 17 July 2016

Windy Welly

Sorry for leaving you all hanging for so long, we have been in Wellington and have started our internships for the month.  Our first weeks is finally over so we've been busy at work and traveling when we aren't at our internships.  Let me start up where I left off...

So my computer died and then I went to bed... then I woke up.. The End.

On a real note, we woke up and had some free time in Paihia, so we took a ferry over to one of the islands.  it was a beautiful day so we ended up hoping into the ocean and swimming.  The water was quite cold but it felt great.  We were on a time schedule so most of us headed back onto the ferry but Justin and Jana missed the ferry while waiting for cheeseburgers. They were only a couple minutes behind us but it was quite funny. We were supposed to hold the ferry for them but it decided to head off anyways.  We just told them we thought they were already on the ferry even though they clearly weren't.  Once we all arrived back to the hostel, we headed off to Auckland from Paihia and the Northland region.  In Auckland, we stopped at the Auckland Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.  John Titmus was there to greet us when we arrived.  John has some experience with International Disaster Response as well as working with non-governmental organizations including the private sector and Academia.  He talked to us about his experience in other countries when it comes to helping them respond and recover to a disaster.  It seemed like it would be a great experience to go to some of these countries and try to help them rebuild their infrastructure.  He also talked to us about some other not-so-good experiences.  When you're in a country that is below the poverty line or has no central government, then you run into different problems.  There is no structure when it comes to responding and rebuilding.  Often times you have much more crime in these areas and they don't always like the foreigners trying to come in and help, so you become a target instead of a sign of help.

After we finished up with John, we headed to Hamilton and stopped in at the Waikato ECC.  Lee Hazlewood and his team were there to talk to us about the work they are doing in their region.  Lee's team had a much different approach to how they wanted to reach out to the community during disaster.  They take advantage of the social media aspect and try to get the community involved this way.  Instead of providing a complex scientific reason for what is going on, they have added a simplistic and humorous aspect to their posts, which the public really enjoys (You can check out their facebook page at ....)  They have also talked about using Facebook as a warning system and are planning on doing a fake warning to see how many people can share the post and view it in the matter of a couple minutes. Lee also covered rural-urban distinctions in Emergency Management.  New Zealand has a population of 4.7 million people so there are many areas with small populations.  When it comes to responding to these people in rural communities or smaller populations during a disaster, they could be cut off from basic services.  One main focus is how they can reach these people if something were to happen, as well as educating them on certain risks they can face and to prepare themselves if they cannot be reached right away.

Once we finished up with Lee, we drove to National Park and stayed at a lodge by Mount Ruapehu.  It was pretty crappy weather once we arrived so we didn't do much here. Most of us had to finish our papers anyways so we stayed in.  The next morning it was still raining terribly so we had to cancel our hike into National Park.  We stayed at the lodge a little longer to relax, but then we made our way to Wellington.  The drive to Wellington was a couple hours long but we finally arrived in Wellington to begin our month long stay. 
Everyone got settled into our new home (Trek Global) for the next month and we also met up with the Communications and Marketing group who were with Massey as well.  The Com and Marketing group had been in Wellington working their internships for two weeks prior to us arriving.  Our group gets to spend two weeks hanging out with them until they finish up with their program and Internships.  Casey, Glenn, Justin and I also picked up another roommate, Kyle.  Poor Kyle was the only guy in the Comm and Marketing group with seven girls. For the next two weeks, Kyle will be rooming with us four.  We have saved Kyle and will be doing manly things since he was deprived of chilling with the bros for a month.
Our group finally got settled into Wellington and Stacey was flying home in the morning, so we decided to go out and celebrate our last night with her.  We went to the Four Kings bar to grab some drinks and watch Stacey's favourite rugby team play, the Chiefs.  She explained us the rules of rugby and the history of The Chiefs. I can now say I enjoy watching rugby better than American football for a couple of different reasons.  I'll just keep my opinions to myself to avoid controversy over this subject lol.  The All Blacks in the New Zealand national rugby team, and they have won the rugby World Cup many times in their history.  I was hoping I could catch an All Blacks rugby game but there isn't one until end of August after I have already left New Zealand.  After the game we went to another bar and met up with some of the kids from the Com and Marketing group so they could celebrate with Stacey as well.  It 'twas a great night and I hope the best for Stacey!

The next morning we woke up and had to prepare some presentations about our experience on the National Expedition.  We had to go to Massey University and present to each, as well as Mitch and his colleagues on our experience and what we got out of the expedition.  Everyone did really well with their presentations.  Mitch and his colleagues were quite impressed and happy to hear about how everything went. 

On Sunday, Jana took Glenn, Justin, Casey and I to the harbour side market.  They had some amazing street performers, tasty food, and fresh vegetables straight from the farmers.   You can't beat the cheap prices of the vegetables so many of us agreed we will be back every Sunday from now.  I ended up buying ingredients to make egg stir fry for the week, but I am now sick of stir fry. I now need to figure something else to eat for a week and get sick of. 

Once Monday rolled around we had our Internship orientation and met up with our different Internship hosts.  Justin and I are working with the New Zealand Fire Service but in different areas.  Justin will be working at Region 3 station and doing some GIS work with them.  I am stationed at the National Headquarters working with the Fire Services National Operations team.  Glenn and Casey and working at the Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office (REMO).  Nicole is working with the Ministry of Health and Augustina is working with the Ministry for Primary Industries.  Each host if very excited to have us and have some great projects for us to get started on.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016


Written by: Calvin Poznik
  Our first site visit of the day (July 2nd) was at a Geothermal Park that we walked through.  it was really interesting seeing all of the sulfur just rising up out of the park and it smelled like eggs.  Apparently it had erupted in 1905 and killed four tourists who were too close to the geothermal waters.  There were some really good views here and seeing the steaming water almost made you want to jump in since it was a cold winter morning here in New Zealand.

  After this we went to our second site visit with Clinton, at the Bay of Plenty Emergency Management office.  Clinton gave us a great talk about Maritime Disasters, change in communities, resilience, and vulnerabilities, as well as professionalism in Emergency Management.  He came to New Zealand from being a police officer in South Africa and he has great ideas to help create a more resilient community in the Bay of Plenty.  He also gave us coffee mugs so that was pretty neat.

  There was a Giant L&P bottle which we saw on our way to Auckland so we decided to take a picture by it.  L&P is a famous drink in New Zealand, kind of like sprite, but a little different flavor.

  We arrived in Auckland the other day and had to climb up a massive hill with all of our luggage to get to our hostel, and let me tell you some of us almost didn't make it.  Auckland is the largest city and has 32% of the whole population of New Zealand in it.  It also is on a massive volcanic field, but we try not to think about that one since they're supposedly not active at this moment.  Mitch set us up with two site visits this day, the first at the North Communications center with the Fire and Police, then with Richard Woods and he took us to the Auckland Museum. The North Com center was pretty neat to see how this huge city handles all of their emergency calls and sends out their firefighters/officers.  Policing over here is much different and they have much different gun laws than the USA. Officers have their guns locked in a lock box in their cars and only use them if they need to use deadly force. I understand that Americas population is much larger but there is definitely something to be learned by these different ways of police tactics and gun laws.  We learned more about the Maori culture from Stacey and Richard, as well as looking at an actual Marae. Marae's are a sacred house/meeting area for many people of the different Maori communities.  The Maori people are well known for providing for lots of their people on a short notice. We learned that they can be useful when it comes to providing shelter for people are a disaster. They also had a volcanic eruption simulator to show what would happen to Auckland if a volcano were to actually erupt. Pretty scary to see a whole city get decimated. We ended up going to Mount Eden, which was a beautiful view of the city of Auckland with a 360 degree view.  After Mount Eden Richard left and then we took a nice walk around the Auckland water front and went to a nice Thai restaurant (Mainly because they had super cheap beer for happy hour and because Augustina loves Thai food).  

We departed from Auckland and headed to the Northlands region of New Zealand.  The drive there was beautiful, and once we arrived Mitch had us set up to meet with the Northlands Emergency Management and Civil Defense team.  Victoria and her team gave us some lectures about risk reduction at the community level. Tourism in Emergency Management was another big topic that was talked about since tourism is one of New Zealand's largest imports of revenue (Especially in the Northlands).  We then headed to the Hopua Te Nihotetea Detention Dam, which helps with massive amounts of flooding that used to happen in this region.

After this site visit we drove to Paihia.  Stacy warned us that this was her favorite hostel of them all, and she once we arrived I could tell why.  The views from the kitchen were so amazing, looking over the water front and the Bay of Islands.  The day we arrived here it was July 4th in New Zealand, so like the true Yanks we are, we went out to happy hour and celebrated Americas independence day.  The bar tender was from New Zealand and kept calling us Yanks and then he started playing a bunch of America songs for us so it was quite funny.  We were the only Americans at the bar but everyone loved us.  They had some cool sayings on the wall so here is a picture of one that I snapped.

The next morning we had a site visit with the Far North District Council, Bill and Alastair took the lead on this one.  They covered Community emergency planning, Severe weather hazards for this region, local-regional response coordination, and Emergency Management Governance.  We went to an area that is known for flooding and they showed us their plans on how to try to mitigate this flooding and creating less of a risk to the people in these communities.
My computer is about to die and I am really tired, so I will finish writing tomorrow! Good night

Saturday, 2 July 2016

South to North

Written by: Calvin Poznik

The last few days have been filled with endless and exciting amounts of traveling with our awesome bus driver Stacey, listening to good music, and learning more about New Zealand and the many different hazards from Mitch (our professor).

Before we left Christchurch we stopped at the Canterbury region emergency management office. James, Jessica, and Monica gave some great lectures about earthquake preparedness in the Canterbury region, community resilience, and also different planning procedures.  We ate lunch and then hopped on the bus with Stacey and took off for Kaikoura for the night.

We left Kaikoura at 5:15 a.m. to check out some baby seals.  They get dropped off at this waterfall by the mothers and they learn many of their seal skills while they're here. After this we drove all the way to Picton to catch the Interislander Ferry to take us from the South Island onto the North Island.  It was about a three hour ferry ride but there were some stunning views on the way.

We arrived in Wellington and most of us instantly fell in love with the coolest little capital in the world (it is also the most southerly capital in the world).  Mitch had some site visits set up for us so we headed over to the Parliament building for our first one.  We headed down into the bunker of the "bee hive" which is still the parliament building, it just looks like a beehive from the outside. Inside the bunker was the National Crisis Management Center.  This is where the different departments such a fire, police, and ministry of Heath plus more meet and work together during a national level disaster.  The longest they had been open was for 67 days straight during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.  The last time they opened up was
for the Valentine's Day earthquake this year (no casualties for this one).  Once we finished up our tour of the parliament building we headed over to WREMO.  The Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office is more of a local approach to dealing with disaster and risk in the Wellington Community. After this we toured a little bit of the city and grabbed some grub then went back to our hostel and went to bed.

We woke up bright and early and headed out to lake Taupo. Mitch's boss, Dave met up with us and joined us on our journey.  He pointed out many different cool things and really helped us understand more of the New Zealand landscape and hazards. It was about a 5 hour drive from Wellington but once we arrived the drive proved to be worth it.  Stacey our driver is Maori and Irish so she has been teaching us more about the Maori culture.  The Maori people were the first to discover New Zealand and then the British colonies found the country after them.  Lake Taupo is a very sacred and spiritual place for the Maori people for many different reason.  I could write a novel on why so if you're really interested in learning more about it just do a quick Google search.

  Stacey took us to the Waikato river and the geothermal pools that run into the river.  It is winter time over here in New Zealand but we decided to take a dip into the geothermal pools.  We also made a pact with Stacey that we would jump into the freezing cold River after we went into the geo thermal pools.  It was quite ballsy but if we broke out pact with Stacey she said she would leave us there haha.  It was very cold but it was worth it and also pretty good for your joints and other joint pain.  Once the sun started to set we headed back to the hostel to change and get ready for dinner at Stacey's favorite place in Taupo.  It was called Lakehouse and we ate some stone grilled food which was amazing.  After dinner we were quite tired from traveling al day long so most of us were out pretty early.

The next morning we woke up at 7 and headed to the Waimangu Geyser park to check out the different Geysers and hear some stories of when it last erupted in 1904.
We finished up at the park and now I am currently on the bus eating pasta out of a bag writing this blog on my phone.  I surpassed Jana for the captains chair next to Stacey and I have taken over the aux cord and they are now referring to me as Dj CalPoz. We're heading too Auckland for a few days so I will update y'all again soon. Peace.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Welcome to New Zealand

Written By: Calvin Poznik

Hello Everyone,
  My name is Calvin Poznik and I am from Cleveland, Ohio.  I am studying Emergency Management and Homeland Security at the University of Akron. LeBron James and Goodyear are two things Akron is known for.  I am 22 years old and I enjoy listening to good music, going skiing, swimming in the ocean, traveling to new places and meeting new people.
After racing through the Auckland airport and almost missing my flight, I finally arrived at the Urbanz Hostel located in Christchurch.  I had been traveling for over twenty-four hours and was exhausted, but excited to start my six week adventure in New Zealand.
Once everyone had arrived (Justin, Nicole, Glenn, Augustina, and Casey), Jana and Mitch began our Orientation.  After our orientation we ate some HELL Pizza and it was hella good.  We found one of the coolest playgrounds I have ever seen in our lives and decided to join the children of Christchurch to play on this amazing thing.

The next day we woke up, had breakfast, and then broke up into two teams to do our ........ AMAZING RACE!!!!  We went through Christchurch and did a bunch of different things, which helped us learn about the Kiwi culture and the city of Christchurch.

Here we have my team, 2 Vans and a Tramp
(Calvin, Augustina, and Glenn)
We were facing off against the Fellowship of the Flying Fox, boooooo (Justin, Casey, and Nicole)

The Amazing Race was going really well, until Glenn, Augustina, and I sat down to get lunch and were distracted by a Scottish man serenading us with his guitar.   Once we realized we had a race to get back to we went to one of the stops with 185 empty white chairs.

These 185 empty white chairs represent the 185 people who lost their lives in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.  I can't remember the name of the artist who came up with this memorial but it was really touching to see and also an interesting way to pay respect to all of these victims from this disaster.

While on our Amazing Race throughout the city, we ran into many different murals along the city buildings (I hear there are even more in Wellington so I can't wait to see those as well).

This was my favorite mural from the day in Christchurch.

After we finished up our Amazing Race, we went on a team grocery shopping trip to get us through until we arrive to Wellington on Thursday.  Tomorrow morning, we take off for site tours in the Canterbury region and then we head to Kaikoura for the night.