Cook's arrival in New Zealand was an unimaginable shock to the native Maori who inhabited the islands. In chapter 4 of Blue Latitudes, there is an account of the arrival of the Europeans from the perspective of the Maori. Te Horeta, who was just a boy at the time of Cook's arrival, described the appearance of "goblins" with "thunder walking sticks." They came to the island on a "floating island" or the wings of a great bird. At one point, the "goblins" gave a nail to Te Horeta; he wore the nail around his neck as a talisman until he lost it later when his canoe capsized.
Te Horeta's interpretations and descriptions of European technology was the most interesting part of the reading for me. He was attempting to describe objects that he had never seen before based on his experience as a Maori. It was an interesting look on objects that I take for granted as knowing what they are. I tried to understand why Te Horeta would describe each object as he did.
There were two facts that surprised me in the reading. First, that New Zealand is thought to be the last major land mass to be populated by humans, and second, that some of Cook's maps were used until 1994. I had not realized how "young" of a country New Zealand is. I had always thought of the United States, but New Zealand was first populated by humans after North America. Additionally, New Zealand was first discovered by Europeans (in 1769) around that time that America was declaring independence from Europe. The fact that some of Cook's maps were used until 1994 further highlights this point.
On my trip to New Zealand, I would like to see all of the ecology of the area that I possibly can. The reading mentioned the number and diversity of the biota that Cook encountered when he first landed in New Zealand. I have always been interested in nature and the environment, and this may be my only chance to experience the unique flora and fauna of New Zealand. I am also excited to learn about the geology, although I know a lot less about it.
Additionally, I hope to learn about the culture of New Zealand. I feel that it would be a shame to visit a foreign country and not learn about the people who live in that area. I would like to see what the towns are like and what the people do for fun. I feel that there will not be a huge amount of difference between our cultures, but I'm sure that there will be plenty of unique aspects for me to discover.