1 Landmarks (1981) A Land Apart

For millions of years birds had these islands to themselves only they could ride the winds and overcome the country’s isolation last lonely remote the oceans cut off this land from all others when man came much later in the piece he too had to come to terms with the elements when man did get here that lowland there was a wilderness of swamp and these hills were still continuously carpeted in trees all the men who did reach New Zealand played a part in transforming the face of the land and they did so more ruthlessly more completely and in much shorter time than in any country anywhere so that today native forest is hard to find and practically all our soils are man-made hills have been leveled and there are just about as many artificial lakes as there are natural ones in this series of programs we are going to demonstrate just how compelling just how staggering those changes have been but there’s one thing that man hasn’t changed and it in fact has been the making of New Zealand and New Zealanders the weather a complex depression lies over the central Tasman Sea and from it a cold front extending south east winds across the South Island between South Westland and South Canterbury for the coastal areas of Southland and Otago fresh squally southwest winds with some heavy showers but occasional clear sunny periods the weather improving with longer fine periods a deep depression southwest of Stewart Island is moving rapidly eastwards and there is a strong northwesterly flow over the tasman sea for the west coast of the South Island and Fiordland strong northwest winds with heavy rain and widespread low cloud turning later in the day to the West or Southwest with the wind change the rain will become less persistent future outlook showers and scattered cloud a topical storm like 200 kilometres to the west of the Aupouri Peninsula is moving steadily South Eastwards as it advances gale force winds are spreading southwards now for Northland Auckland and Bay of Plenty northeast winds up to gale force cloud thickening and rain spreading south by evening some heavy and persistent falls and areas exposed to the Northeast especially on the coast of the Coromandel Peninsula and northern Bay plenty warm and humid from whatever direction they come the air masses approaching New Zealand are laden with moisture the rain they bring made this a land of trees

the New Zealand combination of rain all the year round and no extremes of temperature is found in very few places in the world it’s our greatest blessing and we owe it to that encircling sea when man arrived trees were everywhere they covered all but the highest mountain ranges and they grew in all but the driest and the windiest spot many of them were exceptionally valuable timber trees none quite so precious as the Kauri now all but gone among the rotting remnants of those Kauris in Northland man now grows something which provides him with a regular annual income growing grass is not always as easy elsewhere in New Zealand as it is here in this rainy winterless northern peninsula New Zealand climate does have its light and shade its regional variety indeed some parts of the country are cut off almost entirely from the influence of the encircling sea. Here in winter the air is clear and cold and dry immigrant Scouts from the coldest part of Britain find themselves at home by the time the winds reach this part of New Zealand they’ve dropped their moisture as rain or snow on the other side of the ranges it’s as if Central Otago were a thousand kilometres from the ocean but elsewhere other New Zealanders choose to live as close as they can to the warmth of the sea New Zealanders enjoy a range and variety of climate as great as you’ll find in the whole of the United States I must admit that the sea and the surf and the Sun were amongst the things I had in mind when I came to New Zealand 40 years ago from the industrial north of England there you’d be lucky to get one day in a year as good as this I lived at first in Christchurch and I liked it very much indeed but like thousands of other New Zealanders at the first opportunity that presented itself I joined the drift of the north 9 out of 10 New Zealanders live within sight of the sea more and more of them in the north and especially here near Auckland looking out to sea we turn our backs on the difficult country and we forget the three quarters of New Zealand is steep and broken and mountainous most of the mountains are in the South Island the Southern Alps are New Zealand’s dominant Landmark they divide the South Island in two the mountains have a climate of perpetual ice and snow any mark made by

man is difficult to find although the Southern Alps repel most people they’ve always attracted climbers young enough fit enough and experienced enough to enjoy them but until the turn of the century it took even the most accomplished climber three days simply to get himself from Timaru on the coast to the Hermitage at Mount Cook cutting down that travel time making the journey more comfortable required new ideas new skills new methods but before you develop new methods new skills you’ve got to have a vision of the future and a firm conviction that it can be achieved the New Zealand we know was largely fashioned by men who had both both imagination and determination one of them was a South Canterbury farmer and farm contractor and he loved these mountains and he wanted other New Zealanders to enjoy them just as he did his name was Rudolph Wigley 1906 Wigley had been the first to drive a motor car from Timaru to the Hermitage the journey took 22 hours but at least he now knew that it could be done in 1908 he imported this 40 horsepower nine seated Darracq service car from France to take tourists to the hermitage not in three days or in the 22 hours that it had taken him in 1906 but within the hours of daylight what a nerve it must have taken to shuttle those first tourists to the Hermitage on shingle roads across rivers without bridges and not a garage or a mechanic within as much as a hundred kilometers Wigley’s vision paid off within a few years tourist parties large and small were enjoying the new accessibility of the mountains and this was only the start Rudolph Wigley’s soaring imagination had just barely taken off after World War one British military aircraft were going begging Wigley asked the New Zealand government for one and got seven one of them made the first ever flight from Timaru to Auckland from that flight on weekly established firmly in his mind an even bolder dream the possibility of a regular passenger air service along a main trunk line from Auckland to Invercargill inevitably a branch line would take passengers from Christchurch to Mount Cook and to another of his favorite tourist spots Queenstown Rudolph Wigley was a New Zealander far ahead of his time his son Harry inherited not only his father’s love of the mountains but also his burning interest in aeroplanes they both learned to fly in the 1930s Harry Wigley became a fighter pilot in the second world war he returned to take over his father’s company Harry Wigley own flying in the Alps had shown him that the most spectacular mountain scenery still lay beyond the reach of all but the hardiest climbers

if only he could land this plane up there on ice or snow. That would need skis on his aircraft but to take off and land again at the Hermitage would still need wheels skis then would have to be retractable in 1955 Harry Wigley was the first man to land a plane fitted with retractable skis high on the Tasman glacier eventually tourists followed today they come in their thousands and from all over the world so that Rodolph Wigley’s vision of 60 years ago has been made into a reality. The Wigleys have destroyed the isolation of the mountains they’ve created a whole new industry too Elsewhere in New Zealand ingenuity and innovations of the same sort have transformed the face of the land here the trick has been to leave it just as it was the ski planes also take skiers and their skis much higher up the glacier and from there it’s an uninterrupted 9 kilometers glide downhill all the way the only marks anybody leaves are gone next morning but lower down nature herself has disfigured the glacier as the ice melts the glacier shrinks to expose the load of rock and debris it’s ground from the slopes of the mountain where the glacier terminates water takes over. Now icy torrents pick up the glaciers load. Today tourists braved the Tasman River in rafts tunnelled along by the surge of water just as countless builders and masses of shingle were swept along by enormous floods in prehistoric times such floods repeated time after time after time built up the Canterbury Plains and the plains of the Mackenzie country the rivers have dwindled to occupy only a fraction of their former beds they’re now no longer capable of shifting the massive shingle indeed man has taken over now he decides where the river shall run and what they shall do he’s tamed the rivers of the Mackenzie Basin the Pukaki the Tekapo the Ohau and channeled it through canals deep enough to float an inter island ferry he’s harnessed that water power to produce hydro electricity. Even in the enormous sweep of the Mackenzie country man’s handwriting remains impressive

ever since Europeans came here man’s always had the urge to meddle with nature and to take on and to overcome the obstacles he found in his way and here he found obstacles enough to demand all his ingenuity and skills This is the modern counterpart of the sort of earth-moving equipment that the McKenzie country run holder started to design and to manufacture in the workshop on his sheep station 50 years ago. By comparison his pioneer version seems crude and primitive but hauled by what was one of the first caterpillar tractors in New Zealand it worked this Mackenzie country squatter used his scoop to excavate two hectares of shingle that those rivers had dumped here he needed a more regular supply of power for his fast expanding workshop until then it simply diverted water from the river to his generator along an open shallow water race now while he and his workshop staff played ice hockey on the dam the water flowing from beneath the ice kept his generator turning and such was this do-it-yourselfers response to any challenge that he even built a combined mechanical sweep scraper and polisher to save time preparing the ice for play the dam and the generator and the busy workshop were all miles out of town in the heart of the McKenzie country on a sheep station this one man designed and constructed an endless range of devices from earthmovers to pumps and air conditioning units he did it in the workshop he built between the homestead and the wool shed everything was a response to the stimulus of this distinctive New Zealand landscape local solutions to local problems but that extraordinarily inventive New Zealander is remembered most of all for something else something quite different this old boat has in it the first of the second type of jet propulsion units designed and built in the early 1950s here at Irishman’s Creek by Bill Hamilton he tested it out on this Dam Sir William Hamilton this he became first experimented with the jet boat on his dam at Irishmans Creek but as Lady Hamilton remembers the real challenge and the real inspiration came from those strange mackenzie country shingle rivers we always used to go camping one day we’ll coming back from Wanaka and we found a little road going down to the confluence of the rivers the Pukaki and the Ohau and the Tekapa just lovely absolutely lonely and quiet I said oh do let’s camp here it’s lovely. Bill looked up to me and he said well it may all right would be nothing to do unless you had a boat and he said oh you

could get a boat to go up so then he finally started one on the first jet I think would only do about 11 miles an hour what have made it horrible exciting and then when he got the water coming out at the back instead of under the boat then that increased the speed enormously. They always say that he did it to go round his sheep of course he didn’t do it. He did it really for fun before the feeling of exploring a river There can hardly be a better illustration of how man has triumphed over the unaccustomed elements he found in this new land so William Hamilton developed the jet boat for fun and in New Zealand they’re still used for pleasure elsewhere they used as fishing boats search and rescue craft and patrol boats this though is their natural habitat the jet boats a typical New Zealand response to a typical New Zealand situation despite jet boats and ski planes there are in New Zealand still remote little known areas cut off from the rest of the country in the north island in the Ureweras isolation comes not from ice and snow and lofty elevations here it’s a question of damp impenetrable bush just about the only people who disturbed the silence of the rainforest are hunters. The hunters penetrate the forest in pursuit of animals that man has brought to New Zealand deer pigs and opossums. Until the Europeans came in this land knew neither grazing nor browsing animals but sometimes even hunters born and bred in the Ureweras get lost. All right fellows the position is this for the last two or three months Selena and Ngaire Apirana have been possuming from the campsite where we marked here each day they’ve been traveling up this In the winter of 1980 all New Zealand held its breath for a week when two Maori girls went out to check a line of possum traps and didn’t come back they were due back at this campsite at 3 o’clock that afternoon they haven’t returned you take all the details from the particular search and rescue who is contemporary New Zealand’s response to the challenges posed by terrain like this we found a number of articles of clothing belonging to the girls we found

this hat a short distance from their camp we know that they are in possession of this hat when they left the camp the last time they were seen we’ve also found this shirt on top of a ridge very near to a trapping line they were about to check I feel we are becoming concerned about their welfare now the conditions have been fairly severe and their clothing is inadequate search-and-rescue depends in part on up-to-date technology. Bruce check in to base from party one we have nothing to report over but there’s hope fades the girl’s father places his faith in the Maori’s traditional knowledge of the land or uh uh you know I have confidence you know that they will be found and never gave up hope we have our own methods you know hoping that there will be looked after it has to be that way it’s a reasonable conclusion I think that those two girls survived because they were Polynesians their forebears have known this land intimately for generations and long ago had learned how to live in the bush it’s another example of how the land itself provides the stimulus for the acquisition and development of skills Maori skills were simple of course than the Wrigley’s or Bill Hamilton’s but exactly the same principle was involved the Maoris passed on their intimate knowledge of the land and detailed information about their ancestors just as they passed on their myths and legends from one generation to another by word of mouth [Speaks Maori] the North Island certainly looks as if it’s been hacked about and chopped up and in several places there’s clear evidence that New Zealand has indeed been raised from beneath the sea this cutting on the Napier Taupo highway is 700 meters above sea level yet here there are thousands and thousands of shells from a great variety of shellfish they obviously lived and died like cockles and pippies today in some shallow estuary and some force arrived and raised them hundreds of metres above the sea Few motorists who speed through this cutting ever notice the evidence of the violent forces in New Zealand’s geological past yet the landmarks left behind in the unfolding of the geological history of

New Zealand are laid out everywhere sometimes in orderly sequence sometimes in violent disarray to understand the basic structure and the mountainous nature of New Zealand it’s important to appreciate that it sits astride the zone of contact between two major segments of the Earth’s crustal plates geologists call them and they float like rafts on the Earth’s molten interior one of those plates extends from the zone of contact in New Zealand here all the way across the Tasman and Australia into Southeast Asia and the other extends under the whole of the Pacific Ocean the last time these two plates came into violent contact with each other in this part of the Pacific was about twelve million years ago and at that time the underlying rocks in the New Zealand area were old and hard and brittle and submerged beneath the sea except for the oldest of all here in what is now the South Island as the two plates ground against each other the enormous pressures they created cracked and fractured the old hard rocks creating separate blocks some were forced up and some were forced down the first one to emerge from beneath the sea was this one here it moved south westwards rising as it went it ultimately became the main Alpine block and was at one stage several times higher than Mount Cook itself is today when it struck these the oldest rocks in New Zealand it split them apart tore them into two and like a gigantic bulldozer it shoved this half southwards ahead of it this became Fiordland and this Stewart Island and this half still forms most of Marlborough and Nelson the nose of the bulldozer itself disintegrated under the pressures of contact into a series of smaller blocks that today form the basins and ranges or Otago and South Canterbury later the tale of the alpine block flicked and split up into a series of parallel blocks they today are the Kaikoura Ranges in Marlborough the structure of the North Island is much younger so too is its mountain system the blocks there though are much less massive less elevated narrower and roughly parallel and they continued right through to the Bay of Plenty this is the basic structure of New Zealand its most important element is the Alpine Fault one of the greatest structural features on the earth’s crust here it is it runs straight and uninterrupted for hundreds of kilometres and though it’s less distinctive in the North Island it runs through to the Bay of Plenty and far out into the Pacific although this latest phase of mountain building started 12 million years ago it’s still in progress today especially as you go further and further north so it’s in the north island interior that you find New Zealand’s still active and recently active volcanoes but not all volcanic activity builds conical mountains like these look for example what happened at Taupo Lake Taupo sits in the basin created by an enormous explosive eruption here where the Earth’s crust is thinnest it simply split wide open ejecting into the atmosphere millions of tons of fiery pumice ash the ash seared and buried everything in its path as far out as the Bay of Plenty and even across the ranges into poverty Bay wherever the ash piled up as much as a meter higher it created a desert that’s bare and barren and still today accept from tussock and moss and scrub here again you can read the story for yourself this time in the banks of the

Rangitaiki River on the volcanic plateau each of these layers of ash represents a separate explosion this grey layer here may well be several thousand years old in the latest way up on top there that’s nine hundred and fifty years old and the next one that’s due any day out in the Bay of Plenty the process of mountain building proceeds before our very eyes White Island is the most continuously active of all New Zealand’s volcanos it’s a risky business just setting foot on white island even if you’re not caught by this week’s eruption of ash you still run the risk of being gassed by poisonous fumes and yet the people of New Zealand have built their largest city amidst a cluster of volcanoes very much like this one the only difference of course is that for the time being Auckland’s volcanoes are asleep there are more than a score of them many like Mount Eden have been dormant now for twenty or thirty thousand years one of them though the Rangitoto has been asleep for only 250 years it could wake up again any day or another volcano a new one could be born tomorrow it’s not really a question of whether there’ll be another big bang but when the odds though on whether it will happen this year next year or a hundred years hence are impossible to calculate but then New Zealanders have always enjoyed taking a gamble a racecourse like this may actually be a very good place to demonstrate what a late starter New Zealand has been in the course of the world’s history the track here at Alexander Park in Auckland is just a thousand meters round and this horse is going to pace one lap of the track for us naturally it’s not a race it’s not even a time trial but we’ll use it leisurely 1000 meter journey to represent the 6000 million years of the Earth’s history that have elapsed so far

and as it goes will point out at what stage in the course of that history New Zealand made its appearance for our starting point we take the moment when the earth spun off from the Sun it took an extraordinarily long time a third of the Earth’s history 2,000 million years simply to cool and to solidify the earth had run three quarters of its course before New Zealand’s first rocks were even formed New Zealand wasn’t thrust out from beneath the sea to form for the first time a separate land until now but the events that really matter for us today can be separated only by the photo finish camera that alpine block emerges from the ocean man first walks upright on earth man finally reaches New Zealand in that immeasurably brief instant of geological time man’s achievements here in New Zealand have been quite spectacular in fact in little more than a thousand years man has done more to transform the face of this land the nature herself did in a hundred thousand years before man left the first human footprint in the sand on some New Zealand shore. It’s been my good fortune to spend most of my life studying out in the open the marks that men have made here and learning how we’ve handled this environment how we’ve molded the New Zealand habitat has been a most congenial task I’ve enjoyed indeed I still savor every moment the chance to see New Zealand again and to see it in a new way has been one of the memorable experiences of my life what impressed me this time has not been so much the extent and variety of the stamp men’s imprinted on this land but the pace at which in town and country alike the changes are still going on faster today than ever before