The Natural Environment of New Zealand

Marissa Burgoyne (English 34 1993)

1. Indigenous vegetation consisted of mixed evergreen forest covering two thirds of the land, whose prolonged isolation encouraged development of species unknown to the rest of the world. For example, 90% of the plants are indigenous.

2. European settlements made such large inroads on the natural forest that erosion in the high country became a serious problem. The State Forestry Service was established to repair the damage by forest-management technology and reforestation with exotic trees.

3. Gorse, a European plant introduced to new Zealand, has acclimatized so readily that it has now become a menace, spreading over good and bad land alike, its only virtue being as a nursery for regenerating bush.

4. When the Maori arrived, no higher animal life existed in the country save two species of lizard. When the Europeans came, they also brought, in addition to their domestic animals, the red deer, introduced for sport, and the Australian opossum. These have multiplied beyond imagination and do untold damage browsing in the high-country bush. The control of goats, deer, opossums, and rabbits -- even in the national parks -- is a continuing problem.

5. The Maori, who had a great affection for the land owned by their tribe, clearly defined its boundaries, which they taught to the young. The rights of the tribe to the land it possessed were vigorously defended. Two Proverbs suggest the importance land possessed in Maori culture:

"By land and women are men taken."

"People die, are killed, migrate, disappear; not so the land, which remains for ever."

Postcolonial Overview New Zealand Australia

Last Modified: 15 March, 2002