Chatham Islands

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This article is about islands of New Zealand. For islands elsewhere, see Chatham Island (disambiguation).
Chatham Islands
Native name: Rekohu, Wharekauri
Chatham-Islands map topo en.svg
Topographical map of the Chatham Islands
NZOffshoreIslandsMap.png
Map locating the Chatham Islands
Geography
Location Southern Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 44°02′S 176°26′W / 44.033°S 176.433°W / -44.033; -176.433Coordinates: 44°02′S 176°26′W / 44.033°S 176.433°W / -44.033; -176.433
Archipelago Chatham Islands
Total islands 10
Major islands Chatham Island, Pitt Island
Area 966 km2 (373 sq mi)
Highest elevation 294 m (965 ft)
Highest point Maungatere Hill
Country
Largest city Waitangi
Demographics
Population 650 (According to Chatham Islands Council)
The Chatham Islands from space. Chatham Island is the largest, Pitt Island is the second largest, and South East Island is the small island to the right of Pitt.

The Chatham Islands form an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean about 680 kilometres (420 mi) southeast of mainland New Zealand. It consists of about ten islands within a 40-kilometre (25 mi) radius, the largest of which are Chatham Island and Pitt Island.

The archipelago is called Rekohu ("misty sun") in the indigenous language Moriori, and Wharekauri in Māori. It has officially been part of New Zealand since 1842, and includes the country's easternmost point, the Forty-Fours.

Geography[edit]

See also: Chatham Rise

The islands are at about 43°53′S 176°31′W / 43.883°S 176.517°W / -43.883; -176.517, roughly 800 kilometres (500 mi) east of Christchurch, New Zealand. They cover a total of 966 square kilometres (373 sq mi), almost all of which is in the two main islands.

The islands sit on the Chatham Rise, a large, relatively shallowly submerged (no more than 1,000 metres or 3,281 feet deep at any point) part of the Zealandia continent that stretches east from near the South Island. The Chatham Islands, which emerged only within the last four million years, are the only part of the Chatham Rise showing above sea level.[1]

Chatham Island is the antipodes of the French department of Hérault (Languedoc-Roussillon).

The islands are generally hilly with the coasts a varied mixture including cliffs and sand dunes, beaches, and lagoons. Pitt is more rugged than Chatham (Rekohu), although the highest point (299 metres or 981 feet) is on a plateau near the southernmost point of the main island, which is dotted with numerous lakes and lagoons, notably the large Te Whanga Lagoon, as well as Huro and Rangitahi. Chatham has a number of streams, including Te Awainanga and Tuku. The climate is cold, wet, and windy with average high temperatures between 5 and 10 °C (41 and 50 °F) in July, the Southern Hemisphere winter.

Chatham and Pitt are the only inhabited islands, with the remaining smaller islands being conservation reserves with access restricted or prohibited. The livelihoods of the inhabitants depend on agriculture, with the island being an exporter of coldwater crayfish in particular, and increasing tourism.

The names of the main islands, in the order of occupation are:

English name Moriori name Māori name Remarks
Chatham Island Rekohu Wharekauri
Pitt Island Rangiaotea Rangiauria
South East Island Rangatira Rangatira
The Fort Unknown Mangere The Māori name has supplanted the English name for this island.
Little Mangere Unknown Tapuenuku
Star Keys Motuhope Motuhope
The Sisters Rangitatahi Rangitatahi about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) north of Cape Pattison, a headland in the northwestern part of Chatham Island
The Forty-Fours Motchuhar Motuhara the easternmost point of New Zealand, about 50 kilometres (31 mi) from Chatham Island.

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Chatham Islands (1981−2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 17.9
(64.2)
18.2
(64.8)
17.1
(62.8)
14.9
(58.8)
13.0
(55.4)
11.3
(52.3)
10.5
(50.9)
11.0
(51.8)
11.9
(53.4)
13.1
(55.6)
14.4
(57.9)
16.4
(61.5)
14.1
(57.4)
Daily mean °C (°F) 14.9
(58.8)
15.2
(59.4)
14.3
(57.7)
12.4
(54.3)
10.6
(51.1)
9.1
(48.4)
8.2
(46.8)
8.6
(47.5)
9.4
(48.9)
10.6
(51.1)
11.7
(53.1)
13.5
(56.3)
11.5
(52.7)
Average low °C (°F) 11.9
(53.4)
12.3
(54.1)
11.5
(52.7)
9.9
(49.8)
8.1
(46.6)
6.8
(44.2)
5.9
(42.6)
6.2
(43.2)
6.9
(44.4)
8.0
(46.4)
9.1
(48.4)
10.7
(51.3)
9.0
(48.2)
Rainfall mm (inches) 54.9
(2.161)
63.9
(2.516)
84.7
(3.335)
75.7
(2.98)
87.9
(3.461)
107.8
(4.244)
84.7
(3.335)
84.4
(3.323)
71.1
(2.799)
63.4
(2.496)
66.7
(2.626)
66.3
(2.61)
911.3
(35.878)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 7.9 7.7 11.3 11.1 14.4 16.0 14.8 14.5 11.9 11.2 9.8 9.4 140.1
 % humidity 82.2 83.5 83.2 83.4 85.7 85.8 86.9 85.8 83.4 84.0 82.5 82.7 84.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 191.3 145.5 124.2 106.3 81.2 61.8 74.4 101.0 109.1 129.7 148.9 164.0 1,437.3
Source: NIWA Science climate data[2]

Chathams time[edit]

The international date line lies to the east of the Chathams, even though the islands lie east of 180° longitude. The Chathams observe their own time, 45 minutes ahead of New Zealand time, including during periods of daylight saving; their time zone is distinctive as one of very few which differ from others by a period other than a whole hour or half-hour. (New Zealand Time orients itself to 180° longitude.)

Subdivision[edit]

The Chatham Islands are subdivided into seven survey districts:

  1. Rangitihi Survey District 43°41′50″S 176°37′46″W / 43.69722°S 176.62944°W / -43.69722; -176.62944 (north)
  2. Rekohu Survey District 43°44′11″S 176°20′48″W / 43.73639°S 176.34667°W / -43.73639; -176.34667 (northeast)
  3. Tawirikoko Survey District 43°48′37″S 176°50′00″W / 43.81028°S 176.83333°W / -43.81028; -176.83333 (northwest)
  4. Te Whanga Survey District 43°49′26″S 176°32′26″W / 43.82389°S 176.54056°W / -43.82389; -176.54056 (center-north)
  5. Oropuke Survey District 44°01′28″S 176°36′53″W / 44.02444°S 176.61472°W / -44.02444; -176.61472 (south)
  6. Rangimene Survey District 44°02′28″S 176°19′58″W / 44.04111°S 176.33278°W / -44.04111; -176.33278 (southeast)
  7. Rangiuria Survey District 44°16′49″S 176°14′58″W / 44.28028°S 176.24944°W / -44.28028; -176.24944 (Pitt Island)

Ecology[edit]

Massive phytoplankton bloom around the islands.
Chatham Islands Forget-me-not (Myosotidium hortensia)

The natural vegetation of the islands was a mixture of forest, scrubby heath, and swamp, but today most of the land is fern- or pasture-covered, although there are some areas of dense forest and areas of peat bogs and other habitats. Of interest are the macrocarpa trees, with branches trailing almost horizontally in the lee of the wind. The ferns in the forest understory include Blechnum discolor.

The islands are home to a rich bio-diversity including about fifty endemic plants adapted to the cold and the wind, of which Chatham Islands forget-me-not (Myosotidium hortensia), Chatham Islands sow-thistle (Embergeria grandifolia), rautini (Brachyglottis huntii), Chatham Islands kakaha (Astelia chathamica), soft speargrass (Aciphylla dieffenbachii), and Chatham Island akeake or Chatham Island tree daisy (Olearia traversiorum) are among the best-known.

The islands are a breeding ground for huge flocks of seabirds and are home to number of endemic birds, some of them seabirds and some of them living on the islands themselves. The best known species are the Magenta Petrel (IUCN classification CR) and the black robin, both of which came perilously close to extinction before drawing the attention of conservation efforts. Other endemic species are the Chatham oystercatcher, the Chatham gerygone, Chatham pigeon, Forbes' parakeet, Black Swan, Fairy Prion, the Chatham snipe and the shore plover. The endemic Chatham Shag[3] (IUCN classification CR), Pitt Shag[4] IUCN classification EN) and the Chatham Albatross[5] (IUCN classification VU) are at risk of capture in a variety of fishing gear, including fishing lines, trawls, gillnets, and pots.[6]

For accounts and notes on seabird species seen in the Chathams between 1960 and 1993 see Imber 1994.

A number of species have gone extinct since European settlement, including the three endemic species of rails, the Chatham raven, and the Chatham fernbird.

Also, a number of endemic mammals are found in the waters of the Chathams, including New Zealand sea lions, leopard seals, and southern elephant seals.

Much of the natural forest of these islands has been cleared for farming, but Mangere and Rangatira Islands are now preserved as nature reserves to conserve some of these unique flora and fauna. Another threat to wildlife comes from introduced species which prey on the indigenous birds and reptiles, whereas on Mangere and Rangatira, livestock has been removed and native wildlife is recovering.

History[edit]

Moriori tree carving, or dendroglyph, found in the Chatham Islands

Moriori[edit]

Main article: Moriori people

The first human habitation of the Chathams was by migrating Polynesian tribes who settled the islands about 1500 CE,[7] and in their isolation became the Moriori. The belief as to their origins was overturned late in the 20th century. The former belief, which arose in the 1800s, was that the original Moriori migrated directly from more northerly Polynesian islands, just as with the settlement of New Zealand by the ancestors of the Māori. However, linguistic research indicates instead that the ancestral Moriori were Māori wanderers from New Zealand.[8][9][10][11] As Howe (2003) puts it,

Scholarship over the past 40 years has radically revised the model offered a century earlier by Smith: the Moriori as a pre-Polynesian people have gone (the term Moriori is now a technical term referring to those ancestral Māori who settled the Chatham Islands).'[12]

The plants cultivated by the Māori arrivals were ill suited for the colder Chathams, so the Moriori lived as hunter-gatherers and fishermen. While their new environment deprived them of the resources with which to build ocean-going craft for long voyages, the Moriori invented what was known as the waka korari, a semi-submerged craft, constructed of flax and lined with air bladders from kelp. This craft was used to travel to the outer islands on 'birding' missions.[11] The Moriori society was a peaceful society and bloodshed was outlawed by the chief Nunuku after generations of warfare. Arguments were solved by consensus or by duels rather than warfare, but at the first sign of bloodshed, the fight was over.

European arrival[edit]

The name "Chatham Islands" comes from the ship HMS Chatham of the Vancouver Expedition, whose captain William R. Broughton landed on 29 November 1791, claimed possession for Great Britain and named the islands after the First Lord of the Admiralty, John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham. A relative of his, Thomas Pitt, was a member of the Vancouver Expedition. Sealers and whalers soon started hunting in the surrounding ocean with the islands as their base. It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the indigenous Moriori soon died from diseases introduced by foreigners. The sealing and whaling industries ceased activities about 1861, while fishing remained as a major economic activity.

Chatham Islands date their anniversary on 29 November, and observe it 30 November.

Māori conquest and genocide[edit]

On 19 November 1835 and later in 5 December, about 900 Māori armed with guns, clubs and axes arrived on the brig Lord Rodney. The first mate of the ship had been kidnapped and threatened with death unless the captain took the invaders on board. The Māori included men, women and children, along with 78 tonne of seed potato, 20 pigs and 7 waka.[13] The Māori came from two tribes, Ngati Tama and Ngati Mutunga. Initially they were cared for by the local Moriori. When it became clear they intended to stay the Moriori withdrew to their marae at Te Awapatiki. The Moriori debated what to do about the Taranaki Māori invaders. They decided to implement their policy of non-aggression. After this hui (consultation) the invaders began to takahi, or walk the land, to lay claim to it. They proceeded to ritually massacre about 300 Moriori, who are thought to have totalled about 2,000,[13] cannibalise the dead and enslave the survivors. A Moriori survivor recalled: "[The Māori] commenced to kill us like sheep.... [We] were terrified, fled to the bush, concealed ourselves in holes underground, and in any place to escape our enemies. It was of no avail; we were discovered and killed – men, women and children indiscriminately". A Māori conqueror justified their actions as follows: "We took possession... in accordance with our custom and we caught all the people. Not one escaped. Some ran away from us, these we killed, and others we killed-but what of that? It was in accordance with our custom."[14]

Ernst Dieffenbach, who visited the Chathams on a New Zealand Company ship in 1840, reported that the Moriori were the virtual slaves of Māori and were severely mistreated, with death a blessing. By the time the slaves were released in 1862 only 160 remained, 10% of the 1835 population.[13]

After the invasion, Moriori were forbidden to marry Moriori, or to have children with each other. All became slaves of the invaders until the 1860s.[15] Many died in despair. Many Moriori women had children by their Māori masters. A number of Moriori women eventually married either Māori or European men. Some were taken from the Chathams and never returned. In 1840 Ngati Mutunga decided to attack Ngati Tama at their pa. They built a high staging next to the pa so they could fire down on their former allies.

Fighting was still in progress when the New Zealand Company ship Cuba arrived with the idea of buying land for settlement. The Treaty of Waitangi, at that stage, did not apply to the islands. The company negotiated a truce between the two warring tribes. In 1841 the New Zealand Company had proposed to establish a German colony on the Chathams. The proposal was discussed by the directors and John Ward signed an agreement with Karl Sieveking of Hamburg on 12 September 1841. However when the Colonial Office said that the islands were to be part of the colony of New Zealand and any Germans settling there would be treated as aliens, Joseph Somes claimed that Ward had been acting on his own initiative. The proposed leader John Beit and the expedition went to Nelson instead. [16]

The company was then able to purchase large areas of land at Whangaroa and Waitangi from Ngati Mutanga and also large areas of land from Ngati Tama. This did not stop Ngati Mutunga from trying to get revenge for the death of one of their chiefs. They were satisfied after they killed the brother of a Ngati Tama chief. The tribes agreed to an uneasy peace which was finally conformed in 1842.[17]

An all-male group of German Lutheran missionaries arrived in 1843. After a group of women were sent out to join them three years later several marriages ensued, and many members of the present-day population can trace their ancestry back to the missionary families.

In 1865 the Māori leader Te Kooti was exiled on the Chatham Islands along with a large group of Māori rebels called Hau Hau, who had murdered missionaries and fought against government forces, mainly on the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The rebel prisoners were paid one shilling a day to work on sheep farms owned by the few European settlers. Sometimes they worked on road and track improvements. They were initially guarded by 26 guards half of whom were Māori. They lived in whare along with their families. The prisoners helped build a redoubt of stone surrounded by a ditch and wall. Later they built 3 stone prison cells.

Present day conditions[edit]

The Moriori community is organised as the Hokotehi Moriori Trust.[18] The Moriori have received recognition from the Crown and the New Zealand government and some of their claims against those institutions for the generations of neglect and oppression have been accepted and acted on. Moriori are recognised as the original people of Rekohu. The Crown also recognised the Māori tribe: Ngati Mutunga[19] as having indigenous status in the Chathams by right of 160-odd years of occupation.

The population of the islands is 650, including members of both ethnic groups. In January 2005 the Moriori celebrated the opening of the new Kopinga Marae (meeting house).

Modern descendants of the 1835 Māori conquerors claimed a share in ancestral Māori fishing rights. This claim was granted. Now that the primordial population, the Moriori, have been recognised to be former Māori—over the objections of some of the Ngati Mutunga—they too share in the ancestral Māori fishing rights. Both groups have been granted fishing quotas.

Population[edit]

An agricultural scene on the islands

Chatham and Pitt Islands are inhabited, with 609 residents in the 2006 Census.[20] The town of Waitangi is the main settlement with some 200 residents. There are other villages such as Owenga, Te One and Kaingaroa, where there are two primary schools. A third school is on Pitt Island. There are also the fishing villages of Owenga and Port Hutt. The population is mainly of European, Māori and Moriori background; 64% said they identified as Māori (which includes Moriori), and around 75% identified as European or New Zealander.[21]

Waitangi facilities include a hospital with resident doctor, bank, several stores, and engineering and marine services. The main shipping wharf is located here.

Transport[edit]

Visitors to the Chathams usually arrive by air from Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington (around 1.5 – 2 hours from Christchurch on a Convair 580) to the airport on Chatham Island. While freight generally arrives by ship (4–5 days' sailing time), the sea journey takes too long for many passengers, and is not always available.

The Chathams are part of New Zealand so there are no border controls or formalities on arrival, but visitors are advised to have prearranged their accommodation on the islands. Transport operators may refuse to carry passengers without accommodation bookings. There is no scheduled public transport but accommodation providers are normally able to arrange transport.

Tasman Empire Airways Ltd (TEAL) initially serviced the Chathams by air using flying boats. With the withdrawal of TEAL, the RNZAF maintained an infrequent service with Short Sunderland flying boats. NZ4111 was damaged on takeoff from Te Whanga Lagoon on 4 November 1959 and remains as a wreck on the island. The last flight by RNZAF flying boats was on 22 March 1967.[22] For many years Bristol Freighter aircraft served the islands, a slow and noisy freight aircraft converted for carrying passengers by installing a removable passenger compartment equipped with airline seats and a toilet in part of the cargo hold. The air service primarily served to ship out high-value export crayfish products.

The grass landing-field at Hapupu, at the northern end of the Island, proved a limiting factor, as few aircraft apart from the Bristol Freighter had both the range to fly to the islands and the ruggedness to land on the grass airstrip. Although other aircraft did use the landing field occasionally, they would often require repairs to fix damage resulting from the rough landing. Hapupu is also the site of the JM Barker (Hapupu) National Historic Reserve (one of only two in New Zealand) where there are momori rakau (Moriori tree carvings).

In 1981, after many years of requests by locals and the imminent demise of the ageing Bristol Freighters, the construction of a sealed runway at Karewa, Tuuta Airport, allowed more modern aircraft to land safely. The Chathams' own airline, Air Chathams, now operates services to Auckland on Thursdays, Wellington on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and Christchurch on Tuesdays. The timetable varies seasonally, but generally planes depart the Chathams around 10.30 am (Chathams Time) and arrive in the mainland around noon. There they refuel and reload, and depart again at around 1 pm back to the Chathams. Air Chathams operates twin turboprop Convair 580 aircraft in combi (freight and passenger) configurations and Fairchild Metroliners.

Black Robin Freighters operates shipping services from Timaru.

There is a small section of tar sealed road between Waitangi and Te One, but the majority of the island's roads are gravel.

Government[edit]

Chatham Islands Flag (unofficial, but widely used on the Islands)

Electorates[edit]

Until the 1980s, the Chathams were in the Lyttelton electorate, but since then they have formed part of the Rongotai general electorate, which mostly lies in Wellington. Annette King is the MP for Rongotai. The Te Tai Tonga Māori seat (held since 2011 by Rino Tirikatene) includes the Chatham Islands.

Local government[edit]

Local government on the islands, uniquely within New Zealand, involves a council established by its own Act of Parliament, the Chatham Islands Council Act 1995 (Statute No 041, Commenced: 1 November 1995).[23] The Chatham Islands Council operates as a district council with regional council functions, making it in effect a unitary authority but with not quite as many responsibilities as the others. Some Regional Council functions are being administered by Environment Canterbury, the Canterbury Regional Council.

In the 2010 local government elections, Chatham Islands had NZ's highest rate of returned votes, with 71.3 percent voting.[24]

State services[edit]

Policing is carried out by a sole-charge constable appointed by the Wellington police district, who has often doubled as an official for many government departments, including court registrar (Department for Courts), customs officer (New Zealand Customs Service) and immigration officer (Department of Labour – New Zealand Immigration Service).

A District Court judge sent from either the North Island or the South Island presides over court sittings, but urgent sittings may take place at the Wellington District Court.

Because of the isolation and small population, some of the rules governing daily activities undergo a certain relaxation. For example, every transport service operated solely on Great Barrier Island, the Chatham Islands or Stewart Island/Rakiura need not comply with section 70C of the Transport Act 1962 (the requirements for drivers to maintain driving-hours logbooks). Drivers subject to section 70B must nevertheless keep record of their driving hours in some form.[25]

Health[edit]

The partially elected Hawke's Bay District Health Board provides the islands with health services.

Education[edit]

Three schools are located on the Chathams, at Kaingaroa, Te One, and Pitt Island. Pitt Island and Kaingaroa are staffed by sole charge principals, while Te One has three teachers and a principal. These schools cater for children from year 1 to 8. No secondary school is present on the Chathams. The majority of secondary school-aged students leave the island for boarding schools in mainland New Zealand. A small number remain on the island and carry out their secondary education through correspondence.

Economy[edit]

Most of the Chatham Island economy is based on fishing and crayfishing, with only a fragment of adventure tourism. This economic mix has been stable for the past 50 years, as little infrastructure or population is present to engage in higher levels of industrial or telecommunications activity.[citation needed]

Air Chathams has its head office in Te One.[26]

Electricity generation[edit]

At present, two 200-kW wind turbines provide most of the power on the island, while diesel generators provide the rest.

In popular culture[edit]

Fiction[edit]

  • In Jules Verne's Robur the Conqueror, Robur anchors his flying vessel Albatross over the Chathams after the horizontal propellers are damaged in a storm.
  • The novel Cloud Atlas and its 2012 film adaptation includes the diary of a fictitious 19th century American traveller who passes through the Chathams.
  • In Joe Buff's futuristic nuclear submarine warfare book Crush Depth (ISBN 0-06-000964-0), Chatham Island is destroyed by an Axis planted atomic bomb.

Television[edit]

The TVNZ series How the Other Half Lives (2008) had a segment on the Chatham Islands. Country Calendar TVNZ program, Hunting Aotearoa Māori Channel, "What Now" children's television.

Residents of the Chatham Islands were the subject of an episode of TVNZ's "This Town" on November 9, 2013.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ McGlone, Matt (21 September 2007). "Ecoregions: The Chatham Islands". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  2. ^ "Climate Data and Activities". NIWA Science. Retrieved October 15, 2013. 
  3. ^ Phalacrocorax onslowi onslowi
  4. ^ Phalacrocorax featherstoni
  5. ^ Thalassarche eremita
  6. ^ Rowe, S (August 2010). "Level 1 Risk Assessment for Incidental Seabird Mortality Associated with New Zealand Fisheries in the NZ-EEZ". 
  7. ^ McFadgen 1994
  8. ^ Clark 1994: 123–135.
  9. ^ Davis and Solomon 2006
  10. ^ Howe 2006
  11. ^ a b King 2000
  12. ^ Kerry R. Howe (2003). The Quest for Origins: Who First Discovered and Settled New Zealand and the Pacific Islands? Auckland:Penguin, page 182
  13. ^ a b c King, M. (2004). Being Pakeha. Penguin. p 196.
  14. ^ Diamond 1997: pp. 53-54
  15. ^ Rekohu[full citation needed]
  16. ^ Patricia Burns (1989). Fatal Success: A History of the New Zealand Company. Heinemann Reed. pp. 243,244. ISBN 0-7900-0011-3. 
  17. ^ Musket Wars. p354-356.R.Crosby. Reed. 1999
  18. ^ Hokotehi Moriori Trust
  19. ^ Ngati Mutunga
  20. ^ Quickstats about Chatham Islands Territory
  21. ^ Ethnic groups, birthplace and languages spoken, QuickStats About Chatham Islands Territory, 2006 Census. Wellington: Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
  22. ^ www.seawings.co.uk, flying boat forum. "Short flying boats in New Zealand". Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  23. ^ text of the Act posted by The Knowledge Basket.
  24. ^ New Zealand Herald, 15 October 2010
  25. ^ New Zealand Gazette 14 August 2003
  26. ^ "Contact Us." Air Chathams. Retrieved on 29 November 2011. "Address: North Road, Te One, Chatham Islands, 8942"

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • New Zealand (2008). Chatham Islands: Heritage and Conservation (Rev. and enl. ed.). Christchurch, N.Z: Canterbury University Press in association with the Dept. of Conservation. ISBN 978-1-877257-78-0. 

External links[edit]