Forget water, food and shelter – Kiwis now believe WiFi, smartphones, a daily coffee and hot showers are the basic necessities of life according to new research.
The Rinnai Smart Cylinder survey found that almost half (48%) of New Zealanders said a hot shower is a greater necessity of life than the internet (29%), a smartphone (13%) and coffee (10%).
A good soak isn’t a priority for all generations however; more than half (53%) of millennials aged 18-24 ranked WiFi as a greater essential than a hot shower, with just a quarter (25%) of respondents in this age group voting for the latter.
And when it comes to having those light bulb moments, half of Kiwis (50%) felt their bed was the best place in the house to think, with the shower the next most popular place for almost a fifth (18%) of those surveyed. Almost a tenth (7%) said the toilet was the most thought-provoking part of the house for them, while a further six percent said the kitchen.
With winter not far away, almost three quarters (74%) of New Zealanders believe they could reduce their hot water usage if required with millenials more likely (84%) to believe they could conserve water than those in the Generation X or Baby Boomer (62%) age brackets.
When asked what activities they engaged in while showering, singing was the most common with six in ten Kiwis passing the time in this way while washing – another 48% said they listened to music as well. Half (50%) of New Zealanders admitted to sharing the shower with a partner while six percent of respondents said they liked to multitask and ate food while showering.
Debt lead the charge when respondents were asked what they would do with the money if they were to save 10% on their water heating costs. The majority (57%) said they would put this towards paying down some form of debt such as the mortgage or credit card.
However more than a quarter (28%) – and a higher proportion of the youngest and the oldest respondents, said they would spend it on travel, while more than a tenth (12%) said they would go on a shopping spree. Just three percent of Kiwis said they would donate the windfall to charity.
People who hog the shower have been a catalyst for household hot water arguments according to more than four in ten (41%) respondents. The incidence of ‘hot water’ related tension was more likely to have occurred among younger respondents and decline with age.
Rinnai managing director Ray Ferner says as we move away from the traditional Kiwi quarter acre lifestyle, with more people living under one roof, greater pressure has gone on hot water supply.
“Kiwis are now more likely to live in intensified housing environments than past generations but the capacity of the hot water cylinder hasn’t really changed over time to accommodate – their cylinder may be several decades old but the number of people flatting or living together is significantly higher than when their dwelling was first constructed.
“This can mean more pressure on water supply, increased strife amongst household members, especially as they compete for a hot shower,” he says.
The research was carried out in conjunction with the launch of the company’s new Rinnai Smart Cylinder which learns a household’s water usage habits and only heats what’s needed, allowing for lower power bills and less stress on renewable energy resources.
Kiwi programmers have successfully taught a computer to distinguish between a cat’s face and its rear-end in a move developers say will help improve relationships with the notoriously aloof animal.
The team of programmers who created the digital technology spent months training the computer to make the physical distinction.
The three strong team leveraged an artificial intelligence network which can identify objects within images. The developers labelled over 8,000 images showing dozens of different breeds of cats from different angles. They then trained a deep neural network by manually highlighting the unique characteristics of the cat’s features within each image until software could make the distinction by itself.
This field of machine learning technology also has applications in protecting wildlife – for example a computer can be taught to identify a poacher stalking a tiger from a real time video feed streamed from drones – using facial recognition software to identify the animal and a human face in close proximity. The software can then automatically alert authorities with the location – giving them the chance to rescue the animals.
Lead developer David Arcus said while there was a light hearted purpose behind this version of the technology, they hope that others will be inspired to use it for the benefit of animals.
“What we wanted to do was find a fun way to bring cat owners closer to their pet.
“Kiwi cat owners can upload an image of their cat to a free website set up by the developers. If the computer’s AI identifies it as the rear end of a cat, it determines that the owner needs a closer relationship with their pet and will send them a new type of food product called Creamy Treats designed to be hand-fed to cats; thereby giving them more face-to-face time with their pet.
Arcus says while cats can have a reputation for being antisocial, some experts suggest this is a myth. The reason behind this is a natural protection mechanism, where they are always alert to their surroundings and remain constantly onguard – something humans misinterpret as disinterest.
Thousands of Kiwis are set to benefit from a charitable initiative which will see $1million allocated to community organisations that help a range of health, cultural, environment, education and other causes.
An online platform has been launched which allows Kiwis to vote for the charities they feel are most deserving of funding, which will benefit their local community. Anyone can vote for the cause of their choice each day, with $5 provided by the fund for every vote cast.
More than 30 projects were chosen to receive funding from 148 charitable applicants. The applications were received from a diverse range of causes which include a counselling programme for victims of child abuse, air rescue services and an awareness campaign to reduce the number of dog bite injuries among children.
Simon Wickham CEO of ‘The Trusts’ West Auckland says the million dollar charitable initiative is an example of how the model is able to support charities while at the same time provide a model for the sale of alcohol with better community outcomes.
“Most of the profits from liquor sales around New Zealand are retained by store owners or overseas owners says Wickham. Under our model the proceeds are retained in this community owned social enterprise and returned to the community both now and in future.”
“By the end of this month the Million Dollar Mission, in its second year after launching in 2017, will have given back a total of $2million to the community it was raised in,” he says. “The Million Dollar Mission forms one of many ways we’ve been investing in our community for decades.”
The causes were chosen by a panel which included Sir Bob Harvey and former Silver Fern Linda Vagana and local board members who selected the 32 finalists.
Anyone can register one vote each day at milliondollarmission.co.nz until the end of March 2018 or until all funds have been distributed.
The 32 charities vying for donations include: Well Foundation, Royal Road School, 1st Mt Albert – St Jude’s Scout Group, Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, Auckland Land Search and Rescue, Western Quilters Circle Inc, Gecko NZ Trust, Waitakere Hindi Language and Cultural School, Zeal Education Trust – West Auckland, Piha Surf Life Saving Club, Victim Support Waitakere, Henderson High School, Child Cancer Foundation Incorporated, Fair Food Trust,YMCA of Auckland, The Order of St John Northern Region Trust Board, Ranui Primary School, Kelston Primary School Board of Trustees, StarJam Charitable Trust, Lupesina o Samoa, Family Action, VisionWest Community Trust, Sport Waitakere, Generation Ignite Trust, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Hoani Waititi Marae, Ranui 135 Leadership Team, Kelston Boys High School, The Whau River Catchment Trust, New Lynn Rugby League Football Club Inc, Kids Safe With Dogs Charitable Trust, Waitakere Arts & Cultural Development Trust, and Life Education Trust Auckland West.
Hi res image found here
Written on behalf of West Auckland Trusts Services, by Impact PR. For more information or images, please contact Mark Devlin [email protected] (021509060)
Members of the public are being treated to a unique culinary experience from So Good, in the form of an entirely man-made edible pop-up garden at Takutai Square in Auckland’s Britomart this February 8th and 9th. In a concept never before seen in New Zealand, guests will be invited to pluck some very unusual fruit and vegetables from some very special trees.
Already well known for their delicious range of dairy free almond and soy milks and healthier frozen desserts, this latest initiative from the Sanitarium So Good range showcases their latest plant-based products in the form of over 3,000 hand-crafted edible fruit and vegetable replicas, stuffed with a diverse range of ingredients and So Good nut milks, all encased in a vegan white chocolate shell.
At the pop-garden, tasters will be treated to a range of ingenious fruit and vegetable creations, filled with some surprising and delicious flavours, designed to challenge some of the more traditional concepts of what a plant-based diet can look and taste like.
The So Good edible pop-up garden of goodness will be open to the public on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th February, from 11.30am – 2.30pm.
Parents are being warned to monitor digital device use over the Christmas holiday season as the impact of loud music can cause Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) among Kiwi children, according to a leading expert.
Dr David Welch, head of Auckland University’s audiology department, says listening to loud music may be addictive in a similar way to cigarette smoking, and more needs to be done to address its impact on society and children in particular.
His warning comes following international research which shows a rise in the rate of hearing loss among youth.
Dr Welch says global studies show around 14 percent of children may have noise induced hearing loss which could be a result of prolonged exposure to personal listening devices.
Noise-induced hearing loss is hearing impairment resulting from exposure to loud sound.
“People with this condition may have a measurable loss of hearing in a range of frequencies, but may also have impaired perception of sound in noisy environments, and this may occur alongside tinnitus, or ringing in the ears,” he says.
Dr Welch says that the maximum safe level for prolonged listening is generally considered to be 85 decibels – with most smartphones capable of producing volumes of up to about 120 decibels.
“The general trend appears to be that devices like smartphones are getting louder over time – with the latest model from one of the most popular brands capable of producing 25 percent higher volume than its predecessor,” he says.
Dr Welch says if volume increases beyond 85 decibels, the threat to hearing rises and after two hours of listening to a device at 91 dB the child has incurred a similar level of exposure to working a shift in a noisy factory where hearing protection would be required by law. .
“One girl I met through a hearing health promotion programme we run in schools lives in a crowded household and she has trouble getting to sleep, so at night she plugs the phone into the wall, puts her headphones on to the highest volume and goes to sleep. With the volume at the maximum level this would be well in excess of 100 decibels and she was going to sleep each night like this,” he says.
“Parents look at ways to limit the amount of time their children spend listening to loud music, whether it is in the car, at concerts or on devices,” he says
Dr Welch has researched the psychological reasons why we listen to music at high volume and says it’s the social function music plays in bringing people together which is partly responsible for impacting hearing health.
“There is a cultural acceptance of loud music, it’s something we have come to expect whenever we celebrate or come together as a group. For kids there is a sense that listening to loud music is cool, and it makes them feel both part of a group but also they are able to lose themselves in it, it gives them a splendid isolation and a feeling of being able to cut themselves off from anything that’s bothering them,” he says.
Dr Welch says in addition to the psychological arousal, there is a strong physiological or tactile response on our bodies which occurs when listening to loud music.
“It’s almost an addictive process of conditioning which results from the repeat exposure. That’s one of the reasons why we enjoy music in a concert setting or in a dance environment, we get the bass notes running through our whole bodies,” he says.
Dr Welch says change needs to come at a societal level with better awareness of the permanent damage which is occurring in some everyday environments.
“We can draw a parallel with smoking, which is also harmful behaviour, but one that as a society we’re just not accepting anymore. We are much more tolerant of loud music even though we know it causes a permanent injury which can destroy our lives and cut us off from the people we care about. The strange thing is that even though we know this, it still it doesn’t seem to be a deterrent,” he says.
“I’ve had people tell me that losing their hearing has felt like a ‘’living death’ to them and it’s brought tears to my eyes, to hear them suffer from something which is utterly preventable,” he says.
“There no opportunity for intimacy with people because that just goes out the window when people have to shout at someone.The only time people talk to you is when they’re shouting at you,” he says.
Dr Welch says hearing is damaged through apoptosis where noise-damaged sensory cells in the inner ear will shut down and quietly kill themselves so they can’t cause further harm.
“This process causes scarring which prevents new cells growing in their place. What’s more, the nerve fibres that convey information from the ear to the brain are also thought to be threatened by exposure to loud sound.
“We are worried that this could become an epidemic of the digital generation – our children not aware of the potential impact and may be vulnerable to long term damage as a result,” he says.
Lee-Ann Verry from Puro Sound Labs, a distributor of children’s headphones which automatically restrict maximum volume began importing the product after becoming concerned about her own children’s digital device use.
“We originally started bringing in the headphones because we were worried about the high volume our kids we’re being exposed to and we have been working hard to raise awareness of this issue in schools around the country,” says Verry.
Verry says there is a growing understanding among parents and schools that there is a real health risk associated with ongoing exposure to music at loud volumes.
“One of the concerns is that schools will often buy the least expensive headphones on the market which can produce a poor quality sound – as a result of the background noise, children will often turn the volume up to the maximum setting in the classroom – we are trying to educate against this,” she says.