January 22, 2024

Blog – New Zealand – Willing to do the Hard Things … Together

About the Author: Suzanne Wagner
By Published On: January 22, 2024Categories: Blog Daily

Blog – New Zealand – Willing to do the Hard Things … Together


As we were driving back from the adventures and places of the Lord of the Rings, our driver could not help but try to enlighten people to the plights of the creature’s native to this unique world of New Zealand.
Possums were introduced from Australia hoping that they would create an industry for their pelts and the fur trade. Of course that did not happen. Instead, a few possums turned into 40 million possums that devastated the ground dwelling populations of birds that had no such mammal here for millions of years.
New Zealand created a goal in these islands for zero possums, rats, and a few other introduced mammals by 2050. Since starting the program, they have trapped and humanely euthanizing 20 million of them.
While that sounds like a devastating thing to do, in order to save this country’s unique indigenous creatures, they had to take out those that were introduced that have devastated the populations here and have caused so many massive extinctions.
One of the things that is so interesting is that since the possums were introduced, they went from being herbivores to being carnivores, bent on eating eggs. So even if they were brought back to Australia, they would then devastate the bird populations in Australia.
Boy, can mankind sure make a mess of things quickly.
However, these possums are a bit slow (speed wise), so they end up as roadkill often.
Such roadkill they call “squassoms” rather than “possums.”
And they leave them for the Swamp Harrier Falcon. Because everything needs to eat.
While we were driving, he told us that if we were driving along and if we see a falcon, try to slow down to give them a chance to fly away or to get to the side. He said, they were often seen on the roads going after the “squassoms” and he asked all of us to remember to be kind.
I love the honest mentality of this country. They know they have a problem; they know that they caused the problem and they know that they have to fix the problem.
He continued to explain that the rarest honey in the world is the Manuka honey because it is harvested from bees that are drawn to the small white flowers of the Manuka tree. But once again, imports became a problem, and the native plants here were not colorful or flashy. The flowers were often small and white.
But the people wanted to have more color so they would randomly spread lupine and lilac seeds around and the sheep and cattle loved to eat the lupine and so it seemed like a good idea. But once again, the bees were not used to these new species and the birds and small creatures did not know what to do with them, but the bees were suddenly very attracted to all the color. Thus, ignoring the Manuka trees and going for the more colorful plants and flowers instead. This is why the Manuka honey is so outrageously expensive. It is very difficult to produce and so they have to create places where they have to kill off the lupine and other colorful flowers especially around Manuka trees.
I see a country actively trying to do the right thing while I see our country actively trying to block the things that really need to be done.
The people here have a life and a type of connection to the land, and they see themselves and stewards and that they are doing their best to set an example. In New Zealand, I see a people who are working but at a sane pace and they create a lifestyle that is easier to maintain.
My experience is that they are doing things in a way whose focus is to preserve and protect. These people are so much less self-focused. They see that the way to work is together. They see that they must actively do the hard things in order to save what makes this place unique and special.
We could learn a lot from these people.
I have learned a lot just from being around them and seeing how their presence shifts so many behaviors that I used to consider a part of being an American.
I suggest that at some point in this life to go visit this special place. And while I recommend that, I almost don’t want to have any of you come. I fear that so many tourists could tear down these unique qualities that I see. But something inside me says that they have something so special that they have no intention to have our beliefs and behaviors influence them. I think they do see that what they have is unique and very special. I don’t think they will let it go anytime soon. There is a special something here that is not human. It is an energy, a power that comes off this land with many mountains and glaciers. They have kept over a third of their land national park and most of that is inaccessible. I believe that while the land can remain wild … this powerful presence can possibly lead us all into a better future. If we will listen, learn, and be willing to do what it takes.
I am listening. I believe something inside is forever changed. I know that my eyes have been opened to a very new reality. It feels as if this feeling will now lead me forward. Where it goes, I have no clue. But I know that it leads me to a better place.

~Suzanne Wagner~


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