Archive for November, 2007

We are all immigrants

November 25, 2007

There is mounting geological evidence that at one time, the whole landmass of New Zealand was completely submerged. About 85 million years ago, the continent ‘Zealandia‘ broke away from Gondwanaland. It was about half the size of Australia. Over tens of millions of years it slowly sank beneath the waves until it was completely under water. About 23 million years ago, due to the movement of the tectonic plates, it emerged from the sea, and slowly became the shape and size it is today.

This makes the legend of Maui fishing the North Island up from the sea seem to ring very true. It also means that all life on this land arrived here, rather than evolving from the beginning of life on Gondwanaland. The seeds of plants would have arrived by dispersal on the wind, and carried by migratory birds. Those birds over 20 million years evolved to the flightless moa, kiwi, and many other species that are here today. Lizards travelled on floating logs over the sea (almost every rock in the sea is covered by lizards, they are such hardy mariners). Even the ancient tuatara, for which there are 100 million year old fossils in New Zealand, have more recent fossil relatives (35 million years) from South America, and it seems likely our tuatara came from there. The theory would also explain the complete lack of ‘native’ terrestrial mammals, for they would have had no way of surviving the journey across the sea.

I like the idea that all living species in our country are travelers, all immigrants. Some of us arrived 20 million years ago, some 1,000, some a few human generations ago, and some very recently. None of us ‘own’ this land. Some, perhaps by arriving earlier, have a greater claim to the right to exist here. The right to live, in freedom, without the threat of physical or cultural extinction by those arriving later. But all of us are descendants of travelers, the courageous, the hardy. Those willing to chance a journey into the unknown, across the oceans.

I hope that this knowledge will help us to see each other (human and non-human) as equals. All valuable, unique and alive with the spirit of adventure. I hope that it will help us to respect and love each other, and to share what we have. A canoe is a small vessel, and we must take care to get along, if we are to stay afloat.

Last words

November 11, 2007

At JYF camp Pearl told me that the last words that her Grandmother could say (due to a stroke) were “I love you” and “thank you”.

I think that if you could only say two things, those are a pretty good choice.