Editor's note

Nau mai, haere mai - welcome to this week’s newsletter about research and issues facing New Zealand.

A study just published reveals several species of squid not seen anywhere in New Zealand waters before. Cephalopod expert Kat Bolstad, at AUT, reports that five species appear likely new to science and 28 have not been reported previously in the Kermadec region, which is part of a proposed, but stalled, ocean sanctuary.

A bill removing semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles from circulation, with some exceptions for hunting and pest control, is expected to be in force by the end of the week. Marie Russell and Hera Cook, at the University of Otago, have analysed social media pages of the New Zealand firearms community and found an aggressive online gun culture.

And just before the last season of Game of Thrones premieres on April 14, cognitive psychologists Christel Devue and Gina Grimshaw, at Victoria University of Wellington, explain how the characters from the series have helped them to identify why some people are better than others in recognising and remembering faces.

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Veronika Meduna

New Zealand Editor

Top story

This squid belongs to one of the families (Histioteuthidae) that is highly diverse but was not previously recorded from the Kermadecs. Richard Young

Squid team finds high species diversity off Kermadec Islands, part of stalled marine reserve proposal

Kat Bolstad, Auckland University of Technology; Heather Braid, Auckland University of Technology

New squid research north of New Zealand nearly doubles the known cephalopod diversity in the Kermadec region, where a proposal to create one of the world's largest marine reserves has stalled.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on military-style weapons within days of the Christchurch terror attacks. AAP/Martin Hunter

New Zealand gun owners invoke NRA-style tropes in response to fast-tracked law change

Marie Russell, University of Otago; Hera Cook, University of Otago

New Zealand's gun lobby presents licensed gun owners as sensible and responsible, but the response to gun law changes reveals an aggressive online culture.

Maisie Williams plays Arya Stark in Game of Thrones and is one of the actors whose face is part of a new test of face recognition skills. AAP

Why do we mix up faces? Game of Thrones might help us find the answer

Christel Devue, Victoria University of Wellington; Gina Grimshaw, Victoria University of Wellington

Facial recognition is a crucial skill, but difficult to test accurately. Researchers are taking advantage of the popularity of Game of Thrones to test the limits of our ability to identify a familiar face.

The Crusaders rugby club has announced an end to its pre-match entertainment of sword-wielding horsemen, as seen here ahead of last year’s Super Rugby final in Christchurch. AAP/SNPA/Ross Setford

Playing in overtime: why the Crusaders rugby team is right to rethink brand after Christchurch attack

Geoff Troughton, Victoria University of Wellington

The Crusaders rugby club has been embroiled in debate about its branding as the imagery, once widely used in New Zealand, has become embarrassing, even repugnant, following the Christchurch attack.

Fijian prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s intervention has led to the quick release of three New Zealand journalists. AAP/Darren England

NZ journalists arrested in Fiji have been released but a new era of press freedom is yet to arrive

Dominic O'Sullivan, Charles Sturt University

The prompt release of New Zealand journalists, arrested while investigating environmental degradation caused by a Chinese development project in Fiji, highlights PM Bainimarama's diplomatic dilemma.

An analysis of population statistics shows that most New Zealanders, from any groups, don’t report experiencing intolerance or discrimination. AAP

What the data say about discrimination and tolerance in New Zealand

Simon Chapple, Victoria University of Wellington

Many New Zealanders responded to the Christchurch terror attack with displays of unity and openness, and research into attitudes shows that tolerance is a widely held value.

As New Zealand law currently stands, murder is the most serious charge, even for a terror attack or hate crime. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Why it might be time for New Zealand to reconsider the legal definition of murder

Brenda Midson, University of Waikato

Under New Zealand law, murder is the most serious charge available to prosecutors. The Christchurch terror attack raises the issue of how murder should be defined to reflect hate crimes.