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New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has given Santa Claus a border exemption so he can visit Aotearoa to deliver presents this Christmas.

Effectively this means New Zealand has started a travel bubble with the North Pole.

In a message last week, Ardern confirmed Santa won’t need to isolate for 14 days upon their arrival. This is the current rules for anyone entering New Zealand.

Earlier this year while New Zealand was in lockdown the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were deemed essential workers so could continue their work despite the alert level 4 restrictions.

An injured sea turtle that was rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the ocean in March 2019 has returned to SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

Connie the green sea turtle arrived back at the aquarium two weeks ago after a fisherman found her stranded at Rangiputa Beach in Northland and called the Department of Conservation.

According to Andrew Christie, Curator at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s, Connie is estimated to be between 10-15 years old and is in a much better condition than when she first arrived at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in December 2018;

“Connie first came to us after being found stranded at Henderson Bay. She underwent rehabilitation with us for four months before we released her back into the ocean at the Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve. Over the past year Connie has put on over 5kgs, which shows she has been successful at feeding herself in the wild.”

“We are still yet to determine why Connie washed up a second time, but it highlights the harsh reality of sea turtles’ plight in the wild, with only one in 1,000 sea turtles making it to adulthood. It is also quite remarkable that Connie had returned to the same area where she was first found in December 2018,” continued Andrew.

Connie is currently suffering from buoyancy issues. The team at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s is tube feeding her every three days and treating her with an antifungal drug. The aim is to release Connie back into the wild once again at the end of summer if all goes well with her treatment.

Connie’s rehabilitation is a collaborative effort from SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s, Auckland Zoo and the Department of Conservation, with support from Countdown Supermarkets.

All turtles the team release back into the ocean are given a flipper tag with a unique code so they can be identified if they are found again. The organisations all urge anyone who comes across an injured or stranded turtle to call 0800 DOC HOT.

During the upcoming summer school holidays, kids can discover the Teeth & Tails of incredible aquatic animals as they journey through the underwater world at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s. The aquarium is taking guests on a deep dive into the form and function of sea creatures’ body parts with an activity trail, ‘Meet the Keeper’ talks, colouring-in stations and an artefacts station from Saturday 19 December 2020 to Sunday 31 January 2021.

All visitors must pre-book their tickets online in advance. Visit www.kellytarltons.co.nz for updates, tickets, opening hours and health and safety information.

Did you know you could help support someone’s freedom with just the flick of your pen? Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights campaign is here again. It’s the world’s biggest human rights campaign, each year garnering millions of letters calling for justice for people who have spoken up for human rights and in turn have had some of their rights oppressed or withheld from them.  

Often, the human right effected is their freedom of expression, which is the right for all of us to freely express our opinions and beliefs.  Sometimes when people speak out about the way they live, their beliefs and actions get them in trouble with their government. Sometimes they may have written a poem that said something the government didn’t like, or maybe they wore something their government didn’t like; some governments who disagree with people’s opinions may put them in prison to stop them speaking out. In human rights terms, and in international human rights law, we call this an abuse of people’s freedom of expression.  

Write for Rights gives other people the resources to support the person whose rights are being limited or oppressed completely.  

And your support matters! 

Last year over six and half million actions were taken – an annual increase for the 18th consecutive year. These are mainly people writing letters of support, or writing letters or signing petitions that ask certain governments to do certain things. The case of Yasaman Aryani in Iran received over one million actions alone, her sentence for handing out flowers on a train unveiled was reduced. Last year’s campaign also saw people who had been put in prison unjustly freed from prison and reunited with whānau.  

Amnesty International Community Manager Margaret Taylor says the campaign is for everyone. 

“Anyone can do it; you don’t have to be an expert on human rights to see when someone has been wronged. These messages and drawings of support are like a hug, letting human rights defenders know they are not alone. It’s why I encourage everyone to get involved, at school, in your lunch break, or at a social gathering; pull people together ahead of Christmas and be a part of this life-saving campaign in the season of giving. The millions of people who take part in Write for Rights each year stand for the freedom and dignity of all people.”  

Click here to get involved! 

A Bar-tailed godwit has broken a world record.

The bird travelled more than 12,000km from Alaska to New Zealand in just 11 days

This sets a new world record for bird completing a non-stop flight.

The satellite recorded a point-to-point flight of 12,854km. It is estimated that the total flight time was 224 hours. The previous longest recorded non-stop flight by a bird, of 11,680km, was recorded in 2007.

The bar-tailed godwit set off from south-west Alaska on 16 September and arrived in a bay near Auckland 11 days later, having flown at speeds of up to 55mph.

The male bird, is known as 4BBRW. This comes from the blue, red and white rings fitted on its legs. It also had a 5gm satellite tag harnessed on its lower back to allow scientists to track its progress.

It was one of four birds to be tracked from the Alaskan mudflats where they had been feeding on clams and worms for two months.

New Zealand Prime Minsters Jacinda Ardern has declared a climate change emergency.

As a response, New Zealand will aim to be a carbon-neutral government by 2025.

New Zealand becomes the 33rd nation to formally acknowledged the global crisis by declaring a climate emergency.

The declaration of a climate emergency was supported by the Green Party and Māori Party and opposed by the National and Act parties.

Speaking in parliament after its introduction, Ardern said the country must “act with urgency”.

She said the government will be required to buy only electric or hybrid vehicles, the fleet will be reduced over time by 20% and all 200 coal-fired boilers used in the public service’s buildings will be replaced.

New Zealand’s only colony of Sub-Antarctic penguins has welcomed two new arrivals! The Gentoo penguin chicks hatched at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium last month and can be spotted nestling under their parents in their icy domain.

The babies hatched on 4 November and are under the watchful eye of their protective parents. Despite being the exact same age, one chick weighs 2500 grams and the other weighs 1600 grams. In the team’s experience, this is likely to indicate that the larger chick could be male and the smaller one female.

“We’ve had two wee Gentoo chicks hatch and are totally enamoured with our latest arrivals. We haven’t decided on names yet as we are waiting for their little personalities to start shining through,” said Laura Seaman, Penguin Team Leader at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s. 

“The larger chick is being raised by first time parents Humphrey and Myrtle, who have been doing an excellent job, which is lovely to see. The smaller chick is being raised by seasoned parents Tua and Al, who have parenting down pat.”

Gentoo penguins are the third largest penguin species, known for their charisma and swimming abilities. It won’t be long before the new chicks have fledged and can begin learning how to swim! 

In additional to the popular Sub-Antarctic penguin colony, SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s is also home to sand tiger sharks, tuatara, rescued sea turtles and more! For opening hours, tickets and further information, visit: visitsealife.com/auckland

One of New Zealand’s most famous walks, the Milford Track, has opened for the first time since February.

Devastating floods hit Fiordland in February damaging some of the Milford walking tracks.

Repairs included a new bridge to replace the one that was wiped out by flooding.

Bookings for summer opened a few months ago, and were sold out within a few hours.

The government has announced that there will be more Maori language in schools.

Last week they announced that they want all education providers, from kindergartens to universities, to use te reo Māori every day.

The statement of National Education and Learning Priorities said schools, early learning centres, and tertiary institutions should meaningfully include Māori language and tikanga in their everyday life.

It also said they should ensure they were safe, inclusive and free of racism, discrimination and bullying.

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins sadi that the statement provided schools and other education providers with a checklist of things to work on.