Whirinaki Forest

Ngati Whare shares Whirinaki, one
of the world's most precious rainforests
at Te Whaiti, Te Urew
era, Aotearoa, NZ



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Te Urewera

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Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi

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Valuing our rainforests for the ecosystem services they provide for Life

This page has moved CLICK HERE to find the program that has grown from it


Get access to our School's on-line weather station data here (includes 2010 catchment records) and technical details of how we built it
Be amazed by our patron David Bellamy's Our World video from 1984 - Whirinaki Forest; The World's Best Kept Secret

What all these weather station readings mean!

TEMPERATURE: (normally shown on graphs as red - bold for outside temperature)

This measures how much heat energy something has. Something with a higher temperature tends to lose its heat energy to things with lower temperature in three main ways (that we understand at present, but also magnetic fields also transfer energy(heat) - see electric toothbrush picture below)

(a) Conduction - when we touch something cold, heat is transferred from our hand to it
(b) Convection - when a gas or fluid passes by something - eg hot air rises to the top of a room
(c) Radiation - when heat is transferred through space - we feel a fire's warmth across a room
note: a dull black object transmits / absorbs heat radiation best - shiny white things reflect it

We measure a number of different temperatures:

(1) TEMP - Outside air temperature (shaded in a white ventilated box 1200mm above ground level)
(2) Soil - Soil temperature 300mm below ground - it remains much more stable
(3) Black plate temp - heats up in the sun and gets colder than outside temp on clear frosty nights
(4) Classroom 1 temperature - allows us to see when heaters are left on after school
(5) eg Classroom 2 temperature - a portable sensor we can use for experiments
(6) eg Ponga Whare) temperature - another portable sensor (coming)

(7) Pole top Temperature - measured by the anemometer
(8) Wind Chill Temperature - We calculate this from the anemometer pole top outside temperature and wind speed This indicates the extra risk we face from hypothermia in high winds particularly if we are wet

Frost: Caused by surface heat radiated out into space on clear nights


HUMIDITY: (Normally shown on graphs as blue - bold for outside humidity)

This measures how much moisture (dampness) the air holds. As the temperature of air rises it can hold more water vapour. When it holds the maximum it can for that temperature it is said to have reached its "saturation" point . Our humidity sensors actually measure "relative humidity" which is a percentage of saturation ( eg 60% means the air is holding 60% of the total amount of water it could hold at the current temperature). This means that when the temperature rises (eg when the sun come out) the humidity goes down. We measure

!1) Outside air humidity (shaded in a ventilated white box 1200mm above ground)
(2) Classroom 1 humidity - allows us to see when heaters are left on after school
(3) eg Classroom 2 humidity - a portable sensor we can use for experiments
(4) eg Ponga Whare humidity - another portable sensor (coming)
Dew Point Temperature - The temperature at which dew forms - calculated by anemometer on pole top

RAINFALL (normally shown on graphs as light green)

Rain, hail and snow and snow works in a similar way to above. Clouds coming in from the across the sea arrive carrying a lot of moisture. When they hit the cold air above our forest clad mountains the water condenses out and falls as rain. If it freezes in the clouds it falls as snow, if the rain freezes on the way down, it falls onto us as hail.

We measure and accumulate data for this

RAIN / 1Hh - rain for last hour included in retained statistics and graphs
Rain / 24 hr - rainfall readings for the last hour
Historical rainfall records by month, year etc

On our weather page we point to the Metview 7 day rain forecast map. Be sure to check this if you want to go tramping in our area.

BAROMETRIC PRESSURE: (normally shown on graphs boldly in dark green)

As air gets warmer by getting heat from the sun, from the warmer ground or wherever other means, it expands in volume so it tends to rise. This means that the air pressure around the globe varies. It is measured as maximum at sea level reducing as our altitude increases and moving towards zero at the outer edge of our earth's atmosphere.

The Barometric Pressure is actually the weight of the column of air above it divided by the area of the bottom of the column eg it has a unit of Kilograms per square metre or equivalent.

Our weather station adjusts the actual pressure measured at the altitude the station is at to an equivalent sea level reading so different results from different places and altitudes can be compared.

Generally speaking, if the barometric pressure is rising, then we probably have good sunny weather with clear skies coming. If it is falling, we can normally expect lots of clouds and rain. Before we had a weatherstaion to graph this, we used to tap the barometer on the wall to see if the pressure needle moved in the rising or falling direction.


WIND: (normally shown purple on graphs)

If the barometric pressure is high at one place the air will tend to flow to other places where the pressure is lower. We call that wind. The Metrological Service publish a weather map where the lines "Isobars" join points where the pressure is the same. Where the isobay lines are close together, we can expect a lot of air movement, winds and storms. In high pressure regions the wind tends to rotate clockwise in the Southern hemisphere and anti clockwise in the Northern hemisphere. We have anticyclones where the pressure is low that bring bad weather whereas in the northern hemisphere we hear about cyclones bringing storms and tornados.

The Anemometer (Wind gauge) is on the pole top 9 metres high and measures:

(1) hourly wind velocity. (2) wind gust velocity, (3) Wind direction

UV RADIATION: (normally shown bold yellow/gold on graphs)

Our weather station measures Ultraviolet levels using a sensor on the top of our pole to try to reduce its measurements being effected by ground level morning mist.

The UV Index tells us when the risk of skin cancer is highest, warning us to shield and protect ourselves from the sun. On the positive side it also is a source of Vitamin D


BLACK PLATE ABSORBTION AND RADIATION (Something special we measure)

black plate Sensor 1black plate sensor

We have built our own black plate sensor to try to learn about the level of radiation we get from the sun by day and what happens to it. This causes the temperature of the plate (which we measure and compare with the ambient air temperature) to rise , particularly if there are no clouds in the way. This you can see in the following daily reading graph. We found this on an amateur weather guru discussion group where they called this sensor a "Black plate in a jam jar sensor " or "A night-time cloud detector"

What really surprised us was that the black plate temperature fell below ambient air temperature on clear cloudless and cold nights (often before a frost the next morning). We think that our plate was radiating its energy out towards the coldness of space.



(a) Cold frosty cloudless winter day

(b) Evening after a brilliantly clear still day - - note how fast the air temperature (RED) drops as soon as the sun goes down. The back plate is radiating over that time


c) Daytime UV peaks at different times - also the difference between frosty and snowy morning


Notice that for the frosty morning the wind (PURPLE) was very low whereas the snowing evening had plenty of wind and high gusts

Notice that for both seemingly clear days ( eg smooth black plate temperature rise to peak and fall) the UV peak did not match this and was very different for two adjacent days.

Here is another example that we can't explain?

uv peak 22/3/11

RQ: .... Can we look at north and South cloud cover to see if that UV is coming from the sun in the North or through the ozone hole in the South?


GLOBAL TEMPERATURE BALANCE MECHANISMS (we are trying to relate our observations to these)







Learn what Kaitiakitanga means to us


Guided Tours - Local guides will share their treasure with you
Mountainbiking - ride the spectacular Whirinaki MTB track
Tramping in Whirinaki. - Experience our place
Camping at Mangamate Waterfall - upgraded for your next hols
Disabled or impaired - Local support and guides are available
Accommodation - to make your Whirinaki experience

WEMZ Project - The Whirinaki Ecological Management Zone
Our Right Royal Kiwi, Princess Beatrice adopted by Prince Andrew
Other species recovery projects - Kiwi, Weka and Kaka

Powhiri - our formal welcome to visitors (see marae visits)
What we and our school are up to download videoclips

David Bellamy "Moa's Ark Revisited" Whirinaki 25 report, Sept 09 Dialoque in our rainforest with Hunter Lovins - US environmentalist

Information - menus at the top of every page access our local services


Download our free Matariki Calendar


Whirinaki weather / webcam on line
c) 2001 onwards Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi. All intellectual property protected under the provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi 1840 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Adopted by General Assembly 13 Sept 2007) - details www.tewhaiti-nui-a-toi.maori.nz


This site is under constant development thanks to assistance from teams at AUT.  An * in a menu is used to show a function that is not yet available. We are working to establish a multimedia organisation in our community to carry out ongoing development. (Our students at Te Kura Toitu o Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi were awarded third place in the 2003 NZ school web challenge).  Feedback please to temporary webmaster.

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