I love New Zealand. It’s such a magical mix of rolling green hills, glacier-carved valleys, steep mountains, mist, rain, great food, weird animals. I’ve ticked two more items off the bucket list (Hobbiton and Rotorua), learnt heaps, met people and generally had an overall good time.
Yes, there will be blogs but I have been persuaded the Saturday Blog should remain sacrosanct, the bit where I comment on our world and what’s happening in it. Still and all, our visit OS is a part of that.
Australian flora and fauna has been decimated since Europeans arrived and that’s equally true of New Zealand. But it wasn’t just Europeans. The Maori hunted the moa, enormous, slow, flightless birds, to extinction. With the moa gone the enormous Haast eagle soon followed. The moa was its primary food source. Australia is much larger than New Zealand (I’m sure you’ll want to thank me for explaining that) but I’ll bet the arrival of the aboriginal people also led to local extinctions. By that I’m saying it isn’t about ethnicity. It’s what humans do.
Like us, NZ has feral goats, pigs, cats, horses, dogs, rabbits, deer. But unlike us, NZ has feral stoats and weasels. Remember that song about the old lady and the fly? She swallowed the spider to catch the fly etc. The stoats and weasels were brought in to control the rabbits, rats, and mice the Europeans brought with them. The stoats and weasels promptly ignored the rabbits and went for the vulnerable, slow-moving native birds. Tasmanian possums were introduced to create a skin trade. But possums aren’t vegetarian, they like eggs and baby birds. They also grow much larger over there than over here so any Kiwi (both birds and people) will tell you the only good possum is a dead one. At least there are no foxes over there. That worked in Oz, didn’t it?
We learned a bit about Maori history and culture, too. The Maori lived in villages in a tribal system not unlike a society in Europe. They farmed and were very willing to learn farming techniques from the new settlers. In fact, that was often why they accepted missionaries – to learn from them. These days there are schools that teach traditional Maori skills and kids can learn the Maori language. Mind you, a written Maori language was created as recently as 1815. Before that, it was all oral history. But there was enough commonality for the Maori language to cover all the tribes – with some room for local dialect. In contrast, in Australia there are hundreds of aboriginal languages and cultural beliefs that have diverged over thousands of years.
Covid is still leaving its mark here, in New Zealand, and I expect all over the world. The biggest issue for tourists is shortage of staff in travel, accommodation, and hospitality. Indeed, one of our group caught covid a few days before the trip ended. I felt for her. The travel company organised that knock-out drug that works if you catch the illness early enough but even so, it was a seven-day isolation on her own (she was a solo traveller).
The women’s rugby world cup was on in Auckland the day after we arrived. It was great to see the city packed and a sell-out crowd at the game. Women’s sport is finally getting some well-deserved recognition. And it was nice to see NZ get the win.
Speaking of sport, the Football World Cup (the round ball game) is becoming quite interesting with some of the big names failing to deliver. Yes, I know Australia has made it to the round of sixteen but I’m sorry Albo, I don’t think that justifies yet another public holiday. Maybe if we win…
I note that the retrial of Bruce Lehrmann for the alleged sexual assault of Brittany Higgins will not go ahead because of the possible impact on Ms Higgins’ health. I’ll bet Bruce Lehrmann’s mental health isn’t all that great, either. He’s the one facing the prospect of going to jail. The media has had a wonderful time sensationalising this case. The journos will move on and two young people will have to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start all over again. I hope Mr Lehrmann will get the same level of support that Ms Higgins will receive.
And here’s a view of Hobbiton and the Green Dragon pub.