National Geographic : 1952 Apr
460 Cave Art Mirrors the Canoes That Carried Maori Pioneers Across Uncharted Seas New Zealand's Polynesians descend from bold voyagers who, navigating by stars and bird flights, chal lenged the unknown to discover and settle a new land thousands of miles from their overcrowded homelands, possibly Hawaii or Tahiti (page 421). They fashioned their sturdy craft from logs 60 to 100 feet long. An unknown artist long ago carved this rock face in the Rotorua district. ported the country's first post office and cus tomhouse. In the beginning of the 19th cen tury it harbored hundreds of whaling vessels. Rough-and-ready crews crowded some 20 ho tels and grogshops. Today deep-sea fishing craft fan out from here for waters known to big-game anglers around the world. From the Bay of Islands the colonial capital moved in 1841 to a Maori village on a mag nificent harbor and called itself Auckland. Now a place of more than 300,000 people, it moves rapidly toward its destiny of big city. In the last five years population gained another 42,000 along with the usual housing worries (pages 424, 429, 430, 441). Living Fossil a Reptilian Remnant At his home in the Auckland zoo, a tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) couldn't care less for the city's future or his prehistoric past (page 444). Grayish-black, scaly and spiny, the lizardlike species once possessed a so-called pineal "eye." Now, lethargic in its move ments, it scarcely bothers to bat one of a lateral pair. The tuatara is believed to occur nowhere to day except on a few rocky islands off New Zealand's coast: Stephens, at the northern point of South Island; Brothers, in Cook Strait; and Karewa, in the Bay of Plenty (map, page 423). "Some have been in this zoo for donkeys' years and a little," said the caretaker. "What do they eat?" I asked. "Seem to live mostly on fresh air and a bit of water." Also peculiar to New Zealand alone is the toheroa (Amphidesma ventricosum). This marine bivalve somewhat resembles a large quahog. On a sandy beach near Auckland friends showed me where and how to dig for the clams. Law forbids keeping any toheroa less than three inches long and limits one day's take to 20 per person or 50 per vehicle (page 431). That evening I enjoyed a legitimate bowl of the most palatable and satisfying soup I ever tasted anywhere, including France. So I added another item to the list of things which fill this pocket world of wonder. Unlike Alice's Wonderland, however, New Zealand is one of real people. Here brown men and white have settled together. Among themselves they have wrought a way of life born of mutual respect and liking. And they are shaping a hopeful heritage for genera tions to come-an encouraging example for a troubled world.