New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands - 2008

Chapter 2. Some Present Day New Zealand Facts This island nation is about the size of Colorado in land area: 103,737 square miles. To draw a more familiar comparison, Florida comprises 58,560 square miles of land territory. Florida’s peninsula is 447 miles long while it is 1000+ miles from the tip of New Zealand’s North Island to the bottom of the South Island. Florida is 361 miles wide at its most expansive while the New Zealand’s broadest area is on the North Island and measures a slimmer 186 miles across. Florida’s human population has swelled to 15,982, 378 in a smaller territory while New Zealanders number 4,173,460. Needless to say, Florida’s native flora and fauna have suffered devastating human pressure just like New Zealand’s, but Homo Sapiens Floridiensis has not yet undergone the evolutionary shift described above as characteristic of New Zealanders. A couple of specific factors about the make-up of New Zealand’s human population are also relevant to this sea change observed in ecological awareness. The median age is 36 so we have a relatively young, but nonetheless mature group of people living there. 70% of the people are of European stock, Maoris make up 8%, but people who describe themselves as mixed between Maori and European are 12% (Asians & Polynesians make up the other 10%) of the population). Perhaps this relative homogeneity is a factor in the development of ecological sensitivity. Maybe the fact that Maoris and other New Zealanders have lived together for 200+ years in peace since the original conquest has helped the two cultures which have so impacted their native land see the biological situation similarly. It is obviously true that the Maori minority is definitely a working part of the nation’s attempts to restore the country to a stable and healthy biota. Another factor that no doubt facilitates the enormous environmental program is New Zealand’s governmental form: a parliamentary democracy in which Maoris have full rights and representation. A change Kay & I noticed immediately on this visit is the much greater visibility of Maoris in the overall culture: supporting that observation is the ubiquity of the Maori language in printed materials, on signage, place and street names, general recognition of the contributions of the Maoris to New Zealand history, Maori symbols as

Made with FlippingBook Online newsletter