Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Famous Tree Sparks Debate On Discovery Of NZ

Famous Tree Sparks Debate On Discovery Of New Zealand

A pohutukawa tree at 'the end of the world' has stirred up debate on whether the Spanish were the first Europeans to reach New Zealand, ahead of the Dutch and the British.

The giant pohutukawa is a big attraction in the Spanish north-west coastal city of La Corunna, capital of the province of Galicia. This province was thought until the time of Columbus to be at the end of the world.

La Corunna's mayor has chosen the tree as the city's floral emblem, and many locals believe it to be 400 to 500 years old. However, because the tree is a New Zealand native, this could mean that the Spanish sailed to New Zealand before Captain James Cook in 1769, or Abel Tasman in 1642. A Spanish helmet found in Wellington harbour about 1880 is one clue that the Spanish were here earlier.

Landcare Research botanist Dr Warwick Harris has recently returned to New Zealand after a tour that included an invitation to talk about New Zealand native plants in La Corunna. He caused a flurry of local media coverage when he stated his belief that the tree could not be more than 200 years old.

"No-one knows exactly how the tree got to La Corunna, and it has not been scientifically aged.

"However, I have the romantic idea that it was brought into Spain by the British during the Napoleonic wars and can be linked to the heroic story of Sir John Moore."

Moore took a small British army into Spain in 1808 to check the French invasion, but was forced t o make a strategic retreat over mountains, pursued by Bonaparte himself and a huge army. Neverthele ss, the British mission saved Spain from full occupation by the French. Moore eventually led his me n more than 400 kilometres to La Corunna where British ships were waiting, but in the last phase of the evacuation his arm was blown off by a French cannon. He saw the end of the battle and died, a nd his hurried burial was immortalised in a famous poem by Sir Charles Wolfe.

Dr Harris says the history relating to Moore indicates it is likely there was a British garrison in La Corunna in the early 1800s. "At some stage the British must have recovered Moore's body, and laid him in a tomb in what is now the Garden of San Carlos, created in 1834. Most likely there was a British involvement in the creation of the garden, and it is a romantic thought that the pohutuk awa came to La Corunna at that time.

"We know that Captain Cook brought back plants from his first voyage to New Zealand, and within ten years there was commerce in those plants in England. We don't know about pohutukawa specifically , but we do know that the British were largely responsible for introducing New Zealand plants to Europe".

Links to Christchurch Dr Harris says the mayor of La Corunna, Dr Francisco Vasquez, is interested in forming a sister relationship with Christchurch, its antipodal city.

"If you drilled a whole through the earth from Christchurch, the nearest city you'd come out at is La Corunna.

"So the famous pohutukawa is about as far away from home as it could possibly get."

Pohutukawa quite at home in Spain While pohutukawa struggle in some parts of New Zealand, Dr Harris says they thrive in the coastal regions of Galicia.

"Pohutukawa there are not subjected to possums. The frost-free conditions in coastal areas suit them nicely. New Zealand cabbage trees are also common in La Corunna, as are flaxes.

"There's actually some concern that New Zealand plants might become invasive, as have Australian Eucalypts, which create a fire risk.

"But as Galicia regularly has very dry summers, our natives probably wouldn't spread from where they are planted to survive in the wild".

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Trade: NZ Trade Deficit Widens To A Record In September

Oct. 27 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's monthly trade deficit widened to a record in September as meat exports dropped to their lowest level in more than three years. More>>


Animal Welfare: Cruel Practices Condemned By DairyNZ Chief

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming.

Tim says the video released today by Farmwatch shows some footage of transport companies and their workers, as well as some unacceptable behaviour by farmers of dragging calves. More>>


Postnatal Depression: 'The Thief That Steals Motherhood' - Alison McCulloch

Post-natal depression is a sly and cruel illness, described by one expert as ‘the thief that steals motherhood’, it creeps up on its victims, hiding behind the stress and exhaustion of being a new parent, catching many women unaware and unprepared. More>>


DIY: Kiwi Ingenuity And Masking Tape Saves Chick

Kiwi ingenuity and masking tape has saved a Kiwi chick after its egg was badly damaged endangering the chick's life. The egg was delivered to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua 14 days ago by a DOC worker with a large hole in its shell and against all odds has just successfully hatched. More>>


International Trade: Key To Lead Mission To India; ASEAN FTA Review Announced

Prime Minister John Key will lead a trade delegation to India next week, saying the pursuit of a free trade agreement with the protectionist giant is "the primary reason we're going" but playing down the likelihood of early progress. More>>



MYOB: Digital Signatures Go Live

From today, Inland Revenue will begin accepting “digital signatures”, saving businesses and their accountants a huge amount of administration time and further reducing the need for pen and paper in the workplace. More>>

Oil Searches: Norway's Statoil Quits Reinga Basin

Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil company, has given up oil and gas exploration in Northland's Reinga Basin, saying the probably of a find was 'too low'. More>>


Modern Living: Auckland Development Blowouts Reminiscent Of Run Up To GFC

The collapse of property developments in Auckland is "almost groundhog day" to the run-up of the global financial crisis in 2007/2008 as banks refuse to fund projects due to blowouts in construction and labour costs, says John Kensington, the author of KPMG's Financial Institutions Performance Survey. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news