Nau mai haere mai, welcome to this week’s newsletter.

After two years of a global pandemic, you might be feeling ready to relax and “go back to normal”. But winter is coming and, with it, a resurgence of other respiratory viruses.

According to University of Canterbury and Auckland researchers, New Zealand’s health system is in for a battering over the coming winter months.

As Dr Matthew Hobbs and his co-authors write, “Conditions are also primed for potential outbreaks of other illnesses including measles, whooping cough and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

"If we are to weather the coming storm, there will need to be a recommitment to public health measures that slow the spread of respiratory infections, as well as a renewed drive for widespread vaccination.”

The problem is, people are tired of mask wearing and vaccinations. Hospitals are already struggling to cope with early winter infections. But there is more we can do now, and longer term, to avoid the worst this winter has to offer, as they also explain.

You can read that and much more here and on our homepage, including an excellent analysis on the heavy environmental toll farming takes on our water resources and a look at a new approach to manage the stinking seaweed plaguing Caribbean beaches.

Until next time, take care and mā te wā.

Debrin Foxcroft

Deputy Editor, New Zealand – The Conversation Australia & New Zealand

Resurgent COVID-19, flu and other viruses are pushing New Zealand’s health system to the limit – and now winter is coming

Matthew Hobbs, University of Canterbury; Alex Kazemi, University of Auckland; Lukas Marek, University of Canterbury

The last time New Zealanders even had a flu season was in 2019. The flu, along with COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, is expected to hit hard this winter.

Stinky seaweed is clogging Caribbean beaches – but a New Zealand solution could turn it into green power and fertiliser

Saeid Baroutian, University of Auckland; Terrell Thompson, University of Auckland

Rotting seaweed has plagued the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, US and West African coasts for a decade. So we’ve developed a new approach to turn what’s now rubbish into green electricity and fertiliser.

11,000 litres of water to make one litre of milk? New questions about the freshwater impact of NZ dairy farming

Mike Joy, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

A new study of dairying in Canterbury shows previous estimates vastly underestimate the impact of intensive farming. A 12-fold reduction in cow numbers could be needed to meet safe water standards.

How did ancient moa survive the ice age – and what can they teach us about modern climate change?

Nic Rawlence, University of Otago; Alexander Verry, Université de Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier; Kieren Mitchell, University of Otago

DNA from ancient eastern moa bones is unlocking the secrets of their survival during the last ice age, and providing lessons for today’s threatened species.

Whose ‘identity’ are we preserving in Auckland’s special character housing areas?

Carolyn Hill, University of Waikato

The debate over new urban density rules is further dividing an already divided city. The challenge for Auckland is stop social and spatial fragmentation being baked into its character forever.

From our foreign editions

Drawing data: I make art from the bodily experience of long-distance running

Cherine Fahd, University of Technology Sydney

I have been re-drawing my data to make visible what Strava cannot. The unheroic stuff: emotions, persistent thoughts, body sensations, lyrics from the songs, the weather.

Haiti has suffered hugely over centuries but its revolution was stunningly innovative

Anna Plassart, The Open University

The Haitian revolution was the first by a former slave colony and was to inspire other emancipation movements across the New World.

Royal jubilees have always been surprisingly religious affairs

Philip Williamson, Durham University

The monarch is the head of the Church of England but as Britain has become more diverse so has the approach to religion in jubilees.

Ukraine war: despite Russia’s success in Donbas, this is only the end of the beginning

Frank Ledwidge, University of Portsmouth

Both sides are now bracing for a long and bloody war of attrition.

What it will take for South Africa’s ailing power utility to keep going

David Richard Walwyn, University of Pretoria

If South Africa fails to implement the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, it will lead to the demise of Eskom as an energy producer as users turn to alternative electricity sources.

What US re-entry into Somalia means for the Horn of Africa and for bigger powers

Stig Jarle Hansen, Norwegian University of Life Sciences

The decision to redeploy in Somalia represents a renewed emphasis on the old rivalry with Russia.

Nasal COVID-19 vaccines help the body prepare for infection right where it starts – in your nose and throat

Mayuresh Abhyankar, University of Virginia

Research suggests that giving a person a vaccine through their nose can provide a better defense against future exposure to the coronavirus compared to a shot in the arm.

Arming teachers – an effective security measure or a false sense of security?

Aimee Huff, Oregon State University; Michelle Barnhart, Oregon State University

Putting guns in the hands of schoolteachers is a popular idea among gun-owners and conservatives, but research suggests it may pose more problems than it solves.