Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search

 


Neikrie’s Notes: The Last Frontier

As the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes – a fresh, green beast of the new world. Its vanish trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald was wrong, wasn’t he? The last virgin landmass on earth wasn’t America, or Long Island. It was New Zealand, glimpsed through the inevitable haze and rainfall by the Polynesians between 1250-1300 CE. And once that rain or haze cleared, maybe then they could’ve achieved that sense of awe and humility, a capacity for wonder exceeding even that of the Dutch sailors. If Fitzgerald saw Long Island as ultimate product of natural force, divine power, and raw beauty, he needed to get out more.

Traveling around the North and South Islands, it’s hard to believe such a majestic place could go untouched for so long. But in some of my travels–repelling into the Waitomo Lost Caves, kayaking on the appropriately named Doubtful Sound¬–I almost dared to believe that I too was witnessing an untouched creation, one of the last vestiges of natural beauty.

Staring at fjords rising out of the water, it’s easy to forget that man-made pollution has destroyed the Ozone layer above your head, that the Moa are extinct, and that the lands are largely devoid of the forests that once covered them. It’s easy to forget that you haven’t discovered a forgotten land.

Somehow it all feels more palpable here. Because New Zealand remained isolated for so long, the effects of millions of years of evolution are all around you. There are the trees that have developed harsh, pointy leaves right up to eight-and-a-half feet (the average height of a Moa), at which point they promptly revert back to their normal, soft shape. There are the birds, historically bereft of predators, who walk up to you without a care in the world. We have destroyed the ecological balance in much of the world. But when you come to New Zealand, you almost believe it can still be saved.

I wanted to write a reflection of my three months in New Zealand, but I am paralyzed by an almost simultaneous dearth and deluge of comments. What more can you say about the scenery of New Zealand that the people of Middle Earth have not heard before? I have written about Kiwi political and social adaptability, about the New Zealand attitude toward American Exceptionalism, and about the overwhelming national pride for the All Blacks. But how can you describe the uniqueness of Kiwi culture to a group of people so isolated that their uniqueness is almost ubiquitous?

All I can say is, I hope you appreciate what a great country you’ve got here.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 
Culture: Rare Hundertwasser Conservation Posters Found After 40 Years

When Jan and Arnold Heine put a roll of conservation posters into storage in 1974 they had no idea that 42 years later they would be collectors items. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: The Stolen Island: Searching for ‘Ata by Scott Hamilton

Reviewed by Michael Horowitz
Located even further south than temperate Noumea, Tonga’s tiny island of ‘Ata might have become the jewel of the kingdom’s burgeoning tourist industry. Imagine a Tongan resort that would not only be mild in winter, but pleasant in summer. More>>

Reviewed by Michael Horowitz
Located even further south than temperate Noumea, Tonga’s tiny island of ‘Ata might have become the jewel of the kingdom’s burgeoning tourist industry. Imagine a Tongan resort that would not only be mild in winter, but pleasant in summer. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: No Pretence. No Bullshit. Fine Poem.

John Dickson doesn’t publish much; never has. Indeed, this new collection is his first such in 18 years. As he wryly and dryly states,

I’ve published two slim volumes, and spent all
My time working on the next.
(from Wasp p.67) More>>

Scoop Review of Books: Extraordinary Anywhere: Essays On Place From Aotearoa NZ

The New Zealand landscape undoubtedly is very beautiful, but so is the British one, and my attachment to this country is much more about some particular places, and the memories and emotions that in them combine, than it is about the landscape as a whole. More>>

Canonisation Fodder: Suzanne Aubert Declared ‘Venerable’

Suzanne Aubert, the founder of the Sisters of Compassion New Zealand’s home grown order of Sisters, has been declared ‘venerable’, a major milestone on the path to sainthood in the Catholic Church. More>>

“I Have Not Performed Well Enough”: Ernie Merrick Leaving Wellington Phoenix

Ernie Merrick has stepped down from his position as Wellington Phoenix FC Head Coach. The club would like to thank Ernie for his contribution to Wellington Phoenix and wish him all the best in his future endeavours. More>>

Ray Columbus: NZ Music Icon Passes Away

60s New Zealand music Icon Ray Columbus has passed away peacefully at his home north of Auckland... Ray Columbus enjoyed more than three decades at the top of NZ entertainment as a singer, songwriter, bandleader, music manager and TV star. More>>

Review: Bernard Herrmann's Scores For 'Vertigo' & 'Psycho'

Howard Davis: The NZSO's adventurousness was richly-rewarded, as the deeply appreciative Wellington audience was given the opportunity not only to see a couple of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films, but also to hear fine renditions of two of Bernard Herrmann's most accomplished film scores. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Culture
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news