(Design: Archi Banal)
(Design: Archi Banal)

PartnersJuly 12, 2022

Introducing a new environment newsletter that is hopeful about the future

(Design: Archi Banal)
(Design: Archi Banal)

Sign up to Future Proof, our new newsletter covering the environment, and go in the draw to win a year’s free power from Electric Kiwi. 

As a science writer I’m lucky to get to meet incredible people who are deeply passionate about the environment and Aotearoa’s future. It’s these people who give me hope for our shared natural environment and the future of the planet. 

Tomorrow is the launch of Future Proof, a new Spinoff newsletter written by me, Ellen Rykers, and produced in partnership with Electric Kiwi. At its heart Future Proof is about sharing the stories of those people who are working so hard for the planet. 

Future Proof will be arriving in your inbox every Wednesday afternoon with a curated selection of the environmental stories you need to know to stay informed, empowered and inspired about the future of our environment. It will keep you up to date on all the developments in climate and environmental news, with a strong focus on New Zealand. 


Electric Kiwi are offering a year’s free power* to one lucky subscriber! To enter, sign up to Future Proof now and go in the draw to win. We will announce the winner in the August 10 issue of the newsletter.

*Free power consumption up to the value of $3,000 over 365 days. Must be signed up to Electric Kiwi within 60 days of winning. Full promotion T+Cs here.


Last week, I braved the wild wet to visit some penguins. In fact, the world’s teeniest penguin species, found right here in Aotearoa, the kororā. You might remember them from that time they had to be escorted by police from a Wellington sushi shop for causing a ruckus.

The plight of our kororā has been in the spotlight recently, with hundreds of penguins washing up dead on Northland beaches, and others evicted from their rocky homes on Waiheke Island to make way for a giant marina that it seems few on Waiheke really want.

The particular penguins I’d hoped to meet live just down the road from me: along the rugged rocky coastline around the fishing village of Leigh, about an hour and a half north of Auckland. Unfortunately, they were all out at sea during the day I visited, hunting for kaimoana. But I did meet an absolutely top bloke, Neil, who is part of a small group of locals trying to help our waddling neighbours. 

The kororā are the world’s smallest penguins. They are approximately 30cm tall, weigh around 1kg as an adult, and live to about 8-10 years old. (Photo by Sanka Vidanagama/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The group does predator trapping, has put up signs to let dog owners know to keep their pups on leash, and has provided the penguins with bespoke nest boxes. Of course, the penguins seem to prefer their homes either au naturel, in rocky crevices or deep caves, or positively opulent, in people’s garden sheds or under their houses. The nest boxes are adorable though, with some painted in bright colours by local schoolkids and emblazoned with ‘PENGUINS ONLY’.

Neil proudly showed me the odd nest box which had attracted regular occupants, and pointed out the rugged terrain he’s traversed to map out tens of natural burrows along the cliffs. 

This visit reminded me why I love writing stories about the environment and science. Yes, the animals are cool. But really, it’s the passionate, quirky, interesting people who I get to meet that are eager to share their enthusiasm and knowledge.

That’s what I want to distil into newsletter form: something quirky and interesting and passionate. Yes, we’ll deal with some serious stuff. But we’ll avoid the dry stats, the false balance, and the fear-mongering that have led so many people to switch off from environmental news. Because the natural world out there, and the people in it, are bloody fantastic. 

That’s why we think this Future Proof fills such an important space and why I’m so excited to bring it to you. I have a background in science, which means I know how to trawl through dry and jargon-laden academic text to pull out the juiciest morsels. I’ve worked in science policy, so I can navigate the murky waters at the science-politics nexus. And now as a science writer, I work with heaps of cool and smart people across environmental advocacy, research, industry, and media. 

Ultimately, I love spinning a good yarn – one that celebrates the weird and wonderful (plants, animals, people, places…) or transforms boring but important stuff into something accessible and, well, fun to read. And that’s what I want Future Proof to be: a highlight in your inbox, that showcases the environment and people and solutions in a hopeful, fun and honest way. 

Each week, I’ll round up my top picks of news, views and media from the natural world here in Aotearoa and beyond. We’ll cover climate change, the environment in all its crazy cool glory, fabulous people, interesting innovations, sustainability tips, and put science into context. Sometimes we might take a deeper dive into a single issue, or feature a person or organisation doing good stuff for te taiao. There will be something for everyone, since nature is something all of us New Zealanders share: from our cities built on volcanoes and fault lines, to our iconic mountains and our big blue backyard. 

I hope you’ll join me on this journey to future proof ourselves, our communities and our home here in Aotearoa. Because it’s so much more fun when we can share and talk and achieve things together. If you have a story I should definitely cover, get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.


Electric Kiwi are offering a year’s free power* to one lucky subscriber! To enter, sign up to Future Proof now and go in the draw to win. We will announce the winner in the August 10 issue of the newsletter.

*Free power consumption up to the value of $3,000 over 365 days. Must be signed up to Electric Kiwi within 60 days of winning. Full promotion T+Cs here.

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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