International Fetal Medicine & Surgery Society 31st Annual Meeting 30th March-4th April, 2012 Crowne Plaza Hotel Queenstown, New Zealand   Welcome It will, indeed, be a pleasure to welcome the membership of the Society to New Zealand. For a select few, this will be a return visit. There was a previous meeting in Rotorua in 1990. Others of you will have visited New Zealand before. New Zealand is, of course, a long way from anywhere. Regardless of any prior experiences, our goal is to make this meeting both another fascinating exploration of the frontiers of fetal medicine & fetal surgery and also an enjoyable social occasion. The quality of the scientific component is, of course, totally dependent on what those of you who come to the meeting choose to bring and present. I am looking forward to what I expect will be yet another great meeting of the Society. Queenstown is said to be one of the adventure capitals of the world. This does mean that there will be lots of attractions that may tempt some of you to abscond from the scientific sessions. In the hope of reducing that temptation, we have scheduled a half day for free activities on the Sunday afternoon. We will also have an afternoon excursion on the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station for Afternoon Tea and a Farm Demonstration. We will also offer both pre-conference and post-conference tours for those who want to spend some extra time in New Zealand. The Hotel has provided accommodation at a very reasonable rate. Most of the rooms have a stunning outlook either over the lake or over the top of the hotel to the mountains beyond. The meeting is timed for the early autumn. The leaves will be starting to change colour, but the weather will be variable with temperatures ranging from the low 20's (Celsius: the low 70s Fahrenheit) to as low as 5°C (41°F).   The Logo                 This Logo was designed in consultation with the Hokonui Runanga, representing Ngai Tahu, the largest Iwi (or tribe) in the South Island, who share a joint interest as "Tangata Whenua" (People of the Land) with other (Murihiku and Otakau) Runanga for the Lake Wakatipu (Queenstown) area. The mountain is based on  Cecil Peak, which is the mountain directly across the lake from the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The lake represents Lake Wakatipu. Wakatipu (or Whakatipu:- according to most sources, this is the correct original spelling) means to grow and nurture as in raising children and families.  The story goes that this was a place that whanau and hapu (or local families) would retreat to following a battle.  They would then rest and recuperate and regain their strength before returning to their lands in an effort to reclaim them.  The Flax bush has been chosen because it is a common native plant in the region, and also because there is a parallel between the biology of the flax bush (Harakeke, in Maori) and our Society. The flax has a central "parental" part that should not be harvested, or this Taonga (special treasure) species will die. This is represented by the large plant in the centre of the bush. In the Logo, they symbolize the "Founding Fathers"  (or “Founding Mothers”) of  the Society. The outside leaves can be harvested, but if left to themselves will bud off and eventually develop into "parental" plants themselves. The two smaller outside plants on the Logo represent the whole membership of IFMSS. The stalks are flower heads, representing the embryos, fetuses and children that we treat. The seeds that eventually arise from these are the legacy that we, collectively and individually, leave behind. It should also be noted that the harakeke (flax) had an important part to play in Maori Medicine. Various parts were used for the treatment of several different diseases.   The Legend of Lake Wakatipu Geologists tell us that Lake Wakatipu was carved out of the landscape by glacial action during the last ice age.  Although the water level is usually approximately  about 310m (1017feet) above sea level (with the level of the lake varying by several metres, depending on the inflows both into the lake and into the Shotover River catchment), the deepest part is below sea level. The Maori, however, have a legend that describes the formation of this beautiful lake. According to this legend, the formative action was fire, not ice. “In the deep south lived a beautiful girl, known throughout the region for her shiny black hair and chocolate brown eyes. She was the daughter of a chief. Her name was Matana, and she had a young lover, Matakauri.  Unfortunately, her father disapproved of this relationship, as he did not think Matakauri was good enough for his beloved daughter, and he forbade them to see each other. “One morning when the village arose, they discovered Matana was missing. She had vanished in the night. The villagers searched everywhere but couldn’t find a trace of her. Suddenly some yelled out that they had found a footprint. Not just any footprint however, this was big enough to build a house on. Everyone knew what had happened, she had been taken by Matau, the biggest and most feared giant in the south. Matau was as big as a mountain, and, what’s more, he had an evil temper!   “The chief begged all the warriors in the village to go in pursuit of his daughter but they all refused. “It’s too dangerous,” they all said. But one, Matakauri, was not afraid. He strode off in search of his love, determined to bring her back and so win her hand.   “Matakauri sneaked in to the giant’s lair. There was the giant, fast asleep, with Matana tied to the sleeping monster with ropes made from nearby bushes. Knowing that he would be killed if the giant awoke, Matakauri crept past careful to stay downwind. He climbed on to the ropes and swung his pounamu (greenstone) axe. To his surprise, nothing happened. He tried to cut the ropes again but still, not even a mark. Again and again he tried without any visible effect on the ropes holding his love to the giant. Manata gave up hope of being freed and begged Matakauri to leave before the giant awoke. She began to cry, her tears falling on the ropes that held her prisoner. Suddenly they began to untangle and she was able to escape. Matakauri led her to a safe place and then returned and built a huge fire surrounding the giant’s lair. The resulting conflagration killing the giant and leaving the giant’s sleeping form moulded into the land for ever, with his head at Glenorchy, and his feet at Kingston.” It is a fact that the lake level rises and falls 12cm every 5 minutes. Western science has an explanation for this, based on the action of wind on the surface of any lake. The Maori explanation for this phenomenon is that the rise and fall of the lake is due to Matau’s heart beat, with the giant still sleeping in the depths of the lake. This does, of course, leave the possibility that he might awaken some day. To some extent, I prefer the latter explanation. Kevin Pringle Convenor